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121 Years ago today – Royal Arsenal’s last trophy

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by Andy Kelly

Following on from my last article celebrating Arsenal’s first ever silverware, today is the 121st anniversary of the last trophy won by the club in its amateur days. On 7th March 1891, Royal Arsenal won the London Senior Cup. At the time this was the most prestigious competition in the South of England after the FA Cup.

Having lost 0-1 to Old Westminsters in the 1890 final, the club went one better the following season. Here is how they progressed to the final:

Round

Date

Opponents

Venue

Score

1

13 December 1890

Old Westminsters

Leyton

4-1

1

31 January 1891

Old Westminsters

The Oval

4-5

2

21 February 1891

Casuals

H

3-2

Semi-final

28 February 1891

Clapton

The Oval

3-2

 

The first round was something of a messy affair. On arriving at the ground the Old Westminsters lodged a complaint about the icy state of the pitch. Following the game they successfully appealed to the London FA and a replay was ordered. Attempts to play the game on 20 December at The Oval and 10 January at Leyton were foiled by bad weather. Old Westminsters played the first 25 minutes of the replay with only 10 men as Sandilands was late turning up. It appears that he was worth waiting for as he scored a hat-trick including the winning goal. Following this game, Royal Arsenal then appealed on the grounds that Page of the Old Westminsters was ineligible to play. A further game was ordered to be played on 21 February but Old Westminsters dropped out of the competition before the game was played. A rather odd decision when you consider that they were the holders of the cup.

The winter of 1890 was particularly bad as Arsenal did not play any games between 13 December 1890 and 17 January 1891.

The next two rounds were tight affairs with Royal Arsenal coming from behind in both games to win 3-2 against two of London’s biggest clubs at the time.

And so on to the final. Seven days after the semi-final Royal Arsenal met St Bartholomew’s Hospital at The Oval. A crowd of 6,000 lined the pitch to see the following players line-up for the reds:

E. Bee

P. Conolly     J. McBean

D. Howat     W. Stewart     J.W. Julian

A. Christmas     H. Offer     H. Barbour     D. Gloak     W.E. Fry

This eleven could be considered the best that had played for the club in its 4½ year history. Here is the match report from the Woolwich Gazette for the game:

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 ROYAL ARSENAL

v.

ST. BARTHOLOMEW’S HOSPITAL

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THE REDS WIN THE LONDON CUP

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So the much coveted trophy of southern footballers will come to Woolwich this season, our local cracks having won the London Association Cup. Well done Arsenal! Although perhaps a definite victory over the late holders, Old Westminsters, would have been more glorious, still you deserve great credit for your victory. They have not had to stand the matches of the qualifying round as did their opponents of Saturday last, but still have to come through the remaining rounds with a fairly clean sheet. This is the third time this season that the Reds have met the Hospital men, twice in friendly fixtures when the difference was only one goal on each occasion in favour of the Arsenal, but both times on the Invicta Ground, so that a conclusion was well merited that a tight game would result on Saturday last. But, alas, a very one-sided game resulted, the experience of the Reds in cup tie games standing them in good stead, as they simply outplayed their opponents at all points of the game and won in the easiest of fashions.

The Reds half-backs played a sterling game, and seldom allowed the Saints to obtain the ball, or at any rate to retain it if once they got possession. And for once in a way the forwards of the Arsenal combined in all their old style, Barbour, Fry, Gloak, and Offer being continually dribbling, passing, and shooting with admirable precision. Julian, Howat, and Stewart were grand in the extreme, and left little for McBean, “Peter”, and Bee to do. Once only the latter looked like being beaten, when he caught a smart shot from Fernis and stepped back , for which a goal was claimed but not allowed. Roughness, the bane of the previous Saturday’s match with Clapton, was conspicuous only by its entire absence, and the most ardent followers of the beaten teams who come to jeer and snarl could only find a word of praise for the good play of the winners. The weather was not of the brightest, and a smart rain storm made matters uncomfortable for all, and especially the Press who were ill provided for and had to spread overcoats out to take a few notes, but luckily the game only called for remarks as regards the winners.

At 3.25 the game was started by the Hospital team, and Connolly had to kick away a shot from close quarters, Gloak taking the ball and making round, Fernie just missed scoring by putting the ball over the bar. Barbour soon obtained the leather from Coulby and returned it with a terrific shot, which the Saints custodian saved grandly. Offer, however, put it through, but was offside and had the point disallowed. He had his revenge a few minutes later, however, as receiving a well-timed pass from Christmas he safely steered the leather through and opened the Reds account. Fernis and Macintosh were powerless against the terrific onslaught of the Reds, and corners fell to them in quick order, from one of which Faber kicked away to Connolly, who from a long kick at back added to the score, the ball going just under the bar.

Re-starting, Gloak had hard lines, but Barbour dribbling fine added another point to the Reds score. A flash up by the Saints for a few minutes enabled Dixon and Bond to have a try at Bee, but their efforts lacked dash and precision and the fray was forced back to the other goal and Barbour soon found another opening and scored the fourth goal for the Arsenal, to which score Fry and Gloak with a neat piece of play added another before half-time was called.

Re-starting, the Arsenal allowed their defence to warm themselves, but the Hosptial could not get through, Howat, Connolly, and Julian being far too much for the opposition forwards. Then the play brightened up a bit when the Reds came again and Coulby to save gave a corner, which was well placed and Fry had no difficulty in adding to the score, which at the call of time stood

ARSENAL                                        SIX GOALS

ST. BARTHOLOMEW’S                               NIL

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Two months after winning the London Senior Cup, Royal Arsenal turned professional and, as the London FA only accepted amateur teams, did not have the opportunity to defend their title. It would be another 39 years before an Arsenal team won a major honour.

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Under Mr Wenger Arsenal score 5 goals+ once every 20 EPL games.

Iconic Moments 11: After 17 years of nothing, Arsenal finally win a major trophy

The anniversary of Arsenal’s first ever trophy

2 comments to 121 Years ago today – Royal Arsenal’s last trophy

  • mark andrews

    Andy,

    While it was the last trophy won by Royal Arsenal FC as amateurs, was it also the last won by Royal Arsenal FC?

  • Mark

    Yes it was. The only competition that the professional Royal Arsenal FC entered was the FA Cup. The reserves only played friendlies during those two seasons.

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