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The signing of arguably Arsenal’s greatest ever player

These are the Arsenal anniversaries that we have found for this day.

A full list of all the anniversaries for the year appear in the month by month listings on this site.  See the index in the left column or on our home page.  Today’s headline story comes from 1929.

17 May 1901: Thomas Briercliffe signed from Stalybridge Rovers.  He came into the team at outside right for the first match of the season against Burnley which Arsenal won 2-1,  and scored his first goal in the second match of the season on 7 September 1901, a 2-0 defeat of Leicester Fosse.   It was the first time ever that Arsenal had won their first two matches of the season!

17 May 1918: To try and overcome the problems with conscription in Ireland (which Sir Henry Norris had argued strongly against in the War Office)  the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Lord French, invented the notion of a treasonous plot being hatched between Sinn Féin and Germany, and on this pretext ordered the arrest of seventy-three Sinn Féin leaders.  There being no evidence of such a plot, the inevitable happened: support for Sinn Féin grew.

17 May 1919:  With Arsenal and Chelsea now re-elected to the First Division for the 1919/20 season, Arsenal played their third post-season charity friendly an a crowd of 5000 watched Arsenal 1 Chelsea 2 as thoughts moved on to re-starting the Football League which had been suspended for four years.

17 May 1929: Cliff Bastin signed from Exeter where he had been since 1926.  He was beyond any doubt one of the greatest players of all time for Arsenal, winning the league five times, the FA Cup twice, gaining 21 England caps and scoring 12 England goals.   He played 350 times for Arsenal in the league and scored 150 goals, and was reputed to be utterly ice cool when taking penalties.

17 May 1931: Danish XI 1 Arsenal 5 (10,000).  Haynes, who had played two league games in the season, got a run out, and Brain, Parkin, Thompson and Bastin got the goals, with one own goal.  

17 May 1959: Eddie Magill signed from Portadown and started playing for Arsenal in December.  In 1961 he also started playing for N Ireland for whom he got 26 caps.

17 May 1975: Singapore National XI  2 Arsenal 3 (40,000) (Kidd, Cropley, Radford).  The third of four matches in the post-season Far East tour.

17 May 1977: Rotenborg  0 Arsenal 4 (Macdonald 3 Stapleton) (7500).  It was the third of five games in the post-season European tour.

17 May 1983: Final appearance of John Devine. He moved to Norwich City and then Stoke but a broken leg finished his career at the higher levels.  He played later in Norway and India before working as a coach with Shelbourne and Sporting Fingal in Ireland.  This was also the final appearance of John Hollins.  He played 123 league games for Arsenal, across four seasons.  After playing 939 matches all told he moved into coaching Chelsea, QPR, Swansea, Rochdale, Raith, Crawley and Weymouth.

17 May 1993: David O’Leary’s farewell game v Manchester United.  He played 622 games for Arsenal before going into management, where he was involved with Leeds, Villa and Al-Ahli.  For an example of his management style see this review of a Leeds game.  In 2011 he was sacked by Al-Ahli and with Fifa’s help he gained $5.2m compensation.   He does not appear to have worked in football since.

17 May 1993: “Shouting for the Gunners” entered the hit parade – a matter on which one should say as little as possible.

17 May 2000: Arsenal v Galatasaray Uefa cup final.  Arsenal lost on penalties (Suker and Vieira missing) exactly as the club did in the FA Cup and League cup that season.

17 May 2003: David Seaman’s last game for Arsenal, in the FA Cup Final victory.  Arsenal 1 Southampton 0.  The roof of the stadium was shut, thus making this the first “indoors” final. He went on to play 19 games for Manchester City.

17 May 2006: Arsenal lost in the European Cup final to Barcelona 1-2.  Lehmann was sent off, but Arsenal still took the lead and were leading until near the end but ultimately the pressure of playing a lot of the match with 10 men showed.

17 May 2014: FA Cup Final – Arsenal v Hull.  Arsenal equalled the all time record for most final appearances, and Arsène Wenger made it five cup wins with Arsenal.  Hull took a 2-0 lead but Arsenal fought back to 3-2 with Ramsey scoring the winner.  See also the hour by hour blog of the day.


The current series being explored on this site is “Henry Norris at the Arsenal” – details of all the other series we have covered can be found on the home page.  Some are given below

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