by Andy Kelly
Ingrained within the heritage of The Arsenal is the long standing latin motto “Victoria Concordia Crescit”. Over the years there have been a number of variations of the translation but all are roughly the same: “Victory Grows Through Harmony.”
But when was this motto first attributed to The Arsenal, and why?
I recently stumbled across the answer whilst looking for something else. A clear case of serendipity which frequently happens as the members of the AHS read through old newspapers, programmes, books and other documents.
As you are no doubt aware, Woolwich Arsenal moved from Plumstead to Highbury 100 years ago this summer. The last season in Plumstead had been dire as the club recorded its worst ever performance on the pitch. It would be another 70 years before another team had such a disastrous season in the top flight. Attendances hit rock bottom as well and the directors had no option but to move the club to a more accessible area.
So, Woolwich Arsenal started the 1913-14 season in the Second Division and with a new home. The change of scenery worked wonders as the first three league games were won, as was a friendly against QPR. This left Woolwich Arsenal sitting pretty at the top of the table and people from all over London and the suburbs were coming to watch them. Things were going swimmingly for North London’s top team.
As part of the re-branding, a new programme design was also introduced, expanded from 8 to 16 pages and edited by George Allison under the pseudonym “Gunners’ Mate”. At the front was a section titled “Our Weekly Chat by The Directors”. As to who wrote this we are not 100% certain. However, it was more likely to be Henry Norris rather than William Hall who tended to keep away from the limelight.
After this fantastic start, the programme notes for the game against HullCity on 20 September 1913 were very upbeat. So much so that The Directors attributed the success to “concord” within the club and the Latin motto “Victoria Concordia Crescit” was mentioned for the first time. The relevant page from the programme is shown below (click to enlarge).
In the current climate maybe it is worth giving this a second thought – Victory Grows Through Harmony.