There’s no indication that the Woolwich Arsenal players had anything to do with the two momentous meetings held in Woolwich Town Hall on 22 January 1910 – the meetings which set in train the events that ended up with the formation of the modern Arsenal. After all they had a game to play, and they just got on with it – and obviously no one knew quite how extraordinary these events would be.
The last five league results for Woolwich Arsenal of four defeats and one draw had left the club in the relegation zone at the foot of Division I, and things were looking far from bright.
Indeed the only hope was that Middlesbrough, their opponents on that day, were in as much trouble as Arsenal. Both clubs were on 14 points, but Woolwich Arsenal had the worst goal average in the league, and so were in the relegation spot.
One of the lovely things about Middlesbrough is that they were founded by a group of enthusiasts who had been attending a tripe supper for the local Cricket team – not many other clubs can equal that. They’d been in the league since the turn of the century, and had been in the first division since 1902.
Middlesbrough has won the FA Amateur Cup in 1895 and again in 1898, turned professional in 1889, and went back to being amateur status in 1892. Then back to professional again in 1899. It looks like they couldn’t quite make up their minds!
They had moved to the rather gruesome Ayresome Park in 1903 and stayed there to the mid 1990s.
Of most interest to us however is the fact that in 1905 they had bought Alf Common for a world record fee of £1000. Interesting because later in 1910 Alf Common moved to Woolwich Arsenal.
They were now a regular middle of the table team having a poor run this year.
Given the fact that the two meetings held on 22 January were about the club’s dire finances the shareholders were obviously hoping for a decent crowd on the day, but the match against Middlesbrough brough the lowest crowd of the season – just 7000.
However the result with Arsenal winning 3-0. took us up to 17th with the bottom of the table looking like this
- Woolwich Arsenal 16pts
- Tottenham Hotspur 15pts
- Middlesbrough 14pts
- Bolton W 12 pts
That, and the end to the dreadful run of five league games without a win, were the main signs of hope. Although Jacko Jones writing in the Chronicle managed to find a third reason to be cheerful – noting that it was the second game running when the club had got three.
Buckenham, Neave and Lawrence scored. Next up – Bolton at home.
To read the whole story of Arsenal in 1910 click here.
To read “Untold Arsenal” – the record of Arsenal in the present day – click here.