Anniversaries come in all shapes and sizes.
Just a month ago, at the end of 2009, we had the 100th anniversary of the first ever league match against Tottenham Hotspur. In 2010 we have three big ones.
First in 2010 is the 100th anniversary of the forming of the modern club. In January 1910 Woolwich Arsenal announced that the money had run out, and the club was ready to go into administration. Henry Norris came along at that point, and attempted to buy the club.
But it was not a clean purchase. The League and FA objected to several of his plans, and several different attempts were made to float a new club without involving Norris.
But the change did happen and by August 1910 Norris and his allies had taken over Woolwich Arsenal. This change led directly to the move to Highbury, the return to the First Division in 1919 and the arrival of Herbert Chapman – all engineered by Norris.
The full details of this story – and it really is one hell of a story – are written up through the eyes of a Fleet Street journalist in MAKING THE ARSENAL which is available through www.Amazon.co.uk or via the publishers on the link above.
Our other two big anniversaries are easier to pin down to an exact date.
In 1930 we won our first major trophy: the FA Cup, with Chapman as manager.
And in 1970 we won our first European trophy: the UEFA Cup.
Because those two events can be linked to a single date they are of course going to get a lot more coverage than the 100th anniversary of Norris’ takeover, and yet the implications for the club of the events 100 years ago were far more long lasting, and far more profound than the two cup wins.
Indeed had it not been for Norris 100 years ago we would either no longer exist as a club or would be playing non-league football in a junior league in Kent.
Meanwhile, on other matters, and reflecting on this weekend’s victory over WHU in the FA Cup, Woolwich Arsenal entered the FA Cup in 1910, along with other First Division teams, in round 1, which was played on January 15th. I’ll come back to that event, and the organisation of the Cup 100 years ago, in a later article.
(c) Tony Attwood 2010