By Tony Attwood
The London Challenge Cup was a competition that Woolwich Arsenal FC entered from 1908/9 season (when the competition was first formed) onwards.
In its early years the competition ran through four rounds with the semi-final and final being played on neutral grounds. This changed in 1933 when all rounds were played on the ground of one of the participating teams (the home team being the first drawn from the hat, as in the conventional style).
From the start, the competition attracted both Football League and Southern League teams plus leading amateur teams – Arsenal for example playing Bromley in 1909 and Tufnell Park in 1914.
There was an unofficial change in the early 1930s when the first division clubs moved over to playing their reserve teams. This change was similar to that which Arsène Wenger introduced with the League Cup many years later – the selection of the players was entirely a matter for the clubs and not a formal matter of policy by the London FA who organised the competition.
However change was afoot, and by 1966/7 it was compulsory for all league clubs to enter the Football League Cup (until that date some clubs, including Arsenal, refusing to take part). The London Challenge Cup was thus of even less significance than before, and it finally ceased with the 1973/4 competition.
It was revived in 1990 for non-league teams, before being discontinued once again ten years later.
Arsenal’s first ever match in the competition was on September 28 1908 –a 1-0 away victory over Fulham. The club’s final match was on November 12 1973 in the semi-final, played away to Tottenham in which Arsenal lost 0-3. The team on that final occasion is worth recording as it includes a few famous names:
Barnett, Rixon, Nelson, Powling, Tones, Matthews, Chambers, Hornsby, Ritchie, Price, Brady.
Arsenal reached the final on 16 occasions, winning the competition eleven times.
|December 7 1914||Millwall||1-2|
|May 8 1922||Crystal Palace||1-0|
|December 10 1923||Charlton Athletic||3-1|
|November 9 1925||West Ham United||1-2|
|May 5 1931||Tottenham Hotspur||2-1|
|May 7 1934||Tottenham Hotspur||4-0|
|May 4 1936||Brentford||4-2|
|May 3 1937||Tottenham Hotspur||0-1|
|March 29 1954||Chelsea||3-2|
|March 7 1955||West Ham United||2-1|
|March 17 1958||West Ham United||3-1|
|December 5 1960||Chelsea||1-3|
|December 4 1961||Millwall||3-1|
|December 3 1962||Chelsea||4-1|
|May 10 1966||QPR||0-4|
|November 17 1969||Wimbledon||2-1|