by Andy Kelly
One of the many myths of Arsenal’s history is that the club has never been relegated. Unfortunately, this is not so. Even worse is that when they were relegated it was with one of the worst records ever.
The fateful day when Arsenal were relegated was 12 April 1913. Prior to this date they had been hanging on by the skin of their teeth, mainly because Chelsea were having a pretty poor season as well. That morning the bottom of the First Division table looked like this:
Back then only the bottom two teams were relegated at the end of the season. Teams level on points were then graded on goal average (“goals for” divided by “goals against”). Mathematically Arsenal could still stay up but they would have to hope that Chelsea would lose all of their games, as well as having to make up a 20 goal difference.
Derby County journeyed down to Plumstead hoping to join the long list of teams that had taken points from Woolwich Arsenal that season. The locals were obviously expecting the worst as a meagre 5,591 of them paid to watch the game.
Arsenal’s team was:
Grant Randall McKinnon
Lewis Flanagan McLaughlan Devine Burrell
Derby led 1-0 at half-time and nailed Arsenal’s coffin well and truly shut a minute into the second-half when they scored a second goal. Charlie Lewis scored a consolation goal after 67 minutes but that was it. The local paper reports of the game agreed that the game had gone the same way as so many Arsenal games at the start of the season – Arsenal having the best chances but not being able to convert them into goals. The final score was 2-1 to Derby.
The First Division table that evening looked this:
And so it passed that Woolwich Arsenal were relegated. If there was a positive to be gained from the defeat against Derby it was that we weren’t sent down due to the result of the following game – a 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal – crowd behaviour at the early matches
Other sites from the same team…
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