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Arsenal v Tottenham, the games removed from the record

By Tony Attwood

Arsenal and Tottenham played their first match on 19 November 1887 – the start of a series of five friendlies played between the clubs.  However following a 10-1 drubbing of Tottenham by Arsenal in 1889, the games were abandoned for nearly six years, before resuming in 1896.

The first game – which was abandoned because of bad light, is reported in most accounts, but interesting the subsequent matches ending with the 10-1 are sometimes omitted, with accounts jumping straight onto the United League matches that started in 1896.

By this time Arsenal had become a Football League club, and it was not unknown for League clubs to try and make a little extra cash by playing in a secondary league.

The United League was not a reserve league, but it attracted smaller crowds and did not have the public appeal of the England wide Football League.

It is interesting to note that after three friendlies in March 1986, Tottenham managed to become elected to the Southern League for the following season.  One may wonder why, after all the years without any games between the two clubs, Tottenham and Arsenal came together three times.  Was it indeed part of the application process for Southern League status, or part of an attempt by Tottenham to broaden their appeal.

In the following season 1896/7 while both clubs’ main activity was in different leagues (Arsenal in the Football League, Tottenham in the Southern League) the clubs met each other in the United League,

Here’s the full list, with the score written in the conventional way of the home team first.  My thanks to Andy Kelly for researching all this data.

Date Venue Comp. Score Crowd
19 Nov 87 away Fr 1-2
04 Feb 88 home Fr 6-2
22 Sep 88 home Fr 0-1 500
09 Mar 89 away Fr 1-0
21 Sep 89 home Fr 10-1
16 Mar 96 home Fr 1-3 1000
26 Mar 96 away Fr 3-1 3000
30 Apr 96 away Fr 2-3 1500
09 Nov 96 home UL 2-1 2000
25 Feb 97 away UL 2-2 2000
25 Dec 97 home UL 2-3 5000
08 Apr 98 away UL 0-0 14500
11 Mar 99 home UL 2-1 6000
29 Apr 99 away UL 2-3 7000
7 Apr 1900 away SDC 2-4 4500
24 Apr 00 home SDC 2-1 1500
16 Sep 01 home LLDP 0-2 6000
4 Nov 01 away LLDP 0-5 3833
23 Apr 02 home SPCC 0-0 2500
29 Apr 02 away SPCC 1-2 2000
01 Sep 03 away LLPD 1-0 7000
14 Nov 03 home LLPD 1-1 16000
10 Oct 04 home SPCC 1-3 8000
09 Apr 06 away SPCC 0-0 7000
28 Apr 06 home SPCC 5-0 12000
01 Feb 08 away Fr 1-0 10000
01 Nov 09 away LPFACF 0-3 4500
04 Dec 09 home FL 1-0 18000
16 Apr 10 away FL 1-1 39800
03 Dec10 away FL 1-3 16000
08 Apr 11 home FL 2-0 24583
25 Dec 11 away FL 0-5 47100
26 Dec 11 home FL 3-1 22000
29 Apr 12 away Fr 3-0 5000
24 May 12 away Fr 4-0
14 Dec 12 home FL 0-3 13000
19 Apr 13 away FL 1-1 20000
10 Nov 13 away LFACC 1-2 8000
22 Aug 14 away Fr 5-1 13564
  • Friendly (Fr)
  • London FA Challenge Cup (LFACC)
  • Southern District Combination (SDC)
  • Southern Professional Charity Cup (SPCC)
  • London League Premier Division (LLP)
  • London PFA Charity Fund (LPFACF)
  • FL (Football League Division 1)

Tottenham’s curious election to the football league in 1908 has been covered elsewhere, and won the second division in 1908/9, meaning that for the first time in 1909/10 both clubs were in the First Division for the first time.  Unfortunately for Arsenal this was the season in which Arsenal’s finances collapsed and they only just escaped relegation by two points.

In 1910/11 and 1911/12 Arsenal finished above Tottenham in the first division but 1912/13 was a disaster not just for Arsenal but for London football, and the bottom four in the league were

  • Tottenham Hotspur
  • Chelsea
  • Notts County
  • Woolwich Arsenal

Notts C and Arsenal went down and Arsenal moved to Highbury, and so for the two remaining years prior to the cessation of football because of hostilities Arsenal, Tottenham and Arsenal played just two miles apart but in different leagues.

Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910.

2 comments to Arsenal v Tottenham, the games removed from the record

  • JJ

    a couple of typing errors:
    5th paragraph – It is interesting to note that after three friendlies in March 1986
    last paragraph – hostilities Arsenal, Tottenham and Arsenal played

  • One match missing

    8 April 1898: Arsenal 0 Tottenham 0. United League.

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