By Tony Attwood
I have a memory as a child being given a copy of Tottenham Hotspur’s last programme of their Double Winning season, which (if my memory is correct, and it was a long time ago) had the headline “An Eventful Season”.
If remembered aright, it was a masterpiece of understatement, and I think even as a young child I appreciated that point.
But if that was Tottenham’s “eventful season” what, I wondered, was Arsenal’s? Of course we have had many since then, but there was one earlier season which might been singled out for special commendation.
That was 1934/5 – the season in which Arsenal won the league, and indeed won it for the third time running, and indeed even more, won it three times running under three different managers to wit:
1932/3 under Herbert Chapman, finishing four points above Villa, and scoring 118 goals
1933/4 under Joe Shaw, finishing three points above Huddersfield Town and scoring 75 goals
1934/5 under George Allison, finishing four points above Sunderland and scoring 115 goals.
Within this final season of triumph Arsenal went on a 13 match unbeaten run which included within it this away victory over Tottenham, an 8-0 home win over Manchester City and a 5-3 away win over Leicester.
But less you think any of this was a fluke that season we also had these results earlier in the season:
- Arsenal 8 Liverpool 1
- Arsenal 5 Birmingham 1
- Arsenal 5 Tottenham 1
- Chelsea 2 Arsenal 5
- Arsenal 7 Wolverhampton 0
- Arsenal 8 Leicester 0
- Arsenal 5 Preston 3
You could say we rather liked scoring goals. In fact Ted Drake liked scoring goals. He played 41 league games that year and scored 42 goals! Cliff Bastin – the Boy Bastin – scored a mere 20 from 36 games.
It was also Alf Kirchen’s first game for Arsenal, playing at number 7, and reports suggested he overshadowed Bastin – which is possible because he scored two, Drake got two, Dougall and Bastin got one each, as Tottenham tried to beat Arsenal with an offside trap which failed.
Alf Kirchen was born 26 August 1913 in Norfolk and died 18 August 1999. He started out with his local Norwich City and Arsenal signed him for £6000 in March 1935 aged 21. By 1936/7 he was the first choice outside right. In 1937 he got three England caps.
With Arsenal he won the 1937/8 title, and during the war served his country in the RAF as a physical training instructor, playing 116 times for Arsenal, scoring 8 goals.
However in 1943 he was injured playing a wartime game and retired having played 101 league and cup games for Arsenal scoring 45 goals.
He returned to Norwich as a trainer, and then as a farmer, before becoming a director of Norwich City, and President of the Norfolk Arsenal Supporters Club.
As for the whole team on that fateful day in March 1935 it was
Moss, Male, Compton, Crayston, Sidey, Roberts, Kirchen, Davidson, Drake, Dougall, Bastin.
What is interesting is it was a fairly patchwork team, with five of the players for Arsenal making one of only a small number of appearances each.
Compton played 5 that season, Sidey 6, Kirchen 7, Davidson 11, and Dougall 8, and still we won 6-0.
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