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.
|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|
|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
- 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.