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How it started: Arsenal win their first major trophy

 

By Tony Attwood

There is a review of Arsenal’s season in 1929/30 here, and a note within that about the poor league form which saw us finish in 14th position.

But in the FA Cup things were quite different, and finally it came to pass that Arsenal won their first major trophy.  Having been runners’ up in the league in 1926 and the FA Cup in 1927, but not then secured a victory, there would have been some that thought that Arsenal’s time had past – but no, it was only just beginning.

So 1930 was of course a vital moment – not just because it was the moment we got the first major trophy, but because it was the trophy of the Trophy Decade…

  • 1930: FA Cup Winners (1st time)
  • 1931: League Winners (1st time)
  • 1933: League Winners (2nd time)
  • 1934: League Winners (3rd time)
  • 1935: League Winners (4th time)
  • 1936: FA Cup Winners (2nd time)
  • 1938: League winners (5th time)

So, to complete the story of that first trophy, here, to paint the background scene is the final league table – uninspiring as it may appear…

    Pld W D L F A Pts
1 Sheffield Wednesday 42 26 8 8 105 57 60
2 Derby County 42 21 8 13 90 82 50
3 Manchester City 42 19 9 14 91 81 47
4 Aston Villa 42 21 5 16 92 83 47
5 Leeds United 42 20 6 16 79 63 46
6 Blackburn Rovers 42 19 7 16 99 93 45
7 West Ham United 42 19 5 18 86 79 43
8 Leicester City 42 17 9 16 86 90 43
9 Sunderland 42 18 7 17 76 80 43
10 Huddersfield Town 42 17 9 16 63 69 43
11 Birmingham City 42 16 9 17 67 62 41
12 Liverpool 42 16 9 17 63 79 41
13 Portsmouth 42 15 10 17 66 62 40
14 Arsenal 42 14 11 17 78 66 39
15 Bolton Wanderers 42 15 9 18 74 74 39
16 Middlesbrough 42 16 6 20 82 84 38
17 Manchester United 42 15 8 19 67 88 38
18 Grimsby Town 42 15 7 20 73 89 37
19 Newcastle United 42 15 7 20 71 92 37
20 Sheffield United 42 15 6 21 91 96 36
21 Burnley 42 14 8 20 79 97 36
22 Everton 42 12 11 19 80 92 35

What is amazing here is just how close Arsenal got to being relegated under Chapman – just three points.   Matters were not helped at all by an end of season run that looked like this:

  • 18 April 1930: Arsenal 1 Leicester 1
  • 19 April 1930: Huddersfield 2 Arsenal 2
  • 21 April 1930: Leicester 6 Arsenal 6 (four for Halliday)
  • 26 April 1930: Arsenal 2 Huddersfield 0 (FA Cup Final)
  • 28 April 1930: Arsenal 0 Sunderland 1
  • 3 May 1930: Arsenal 2 Aston Villa 4

Five games in 10 days over the Easter and post-Easter period, including the cup final, would have managers raging against the League and FA today, and maybe Mr Chapman did just that, but in the midst of it all, Arsenal got their trophy.

And to be fair although Arsenal could technically have gone down as late as early-April, it would have taken the strangest set of results for Grimsby, (who had a late mini-revival), Burnley and Everton to have overtaken  mid-table Arsenal.  It was a league table that was utterly congested at the bottom, and for Arsenal to have sunk, not only would they have had to lose every match, the others would have had to have won against higher placed clubs throughout.

But to turn to happier events.  What of the FA Cup run?  Here it is – the run towards Arsenal’s first major trophy.

Here it is…

Round Date Against Score Crowd
3 Jan 11 Chelsea (h) 2-0 55579
4 Jan 25 Birmingham (h) 2-2 43274
4replay Jan 29 Birmingham (a) 1-0 47521
5 Feb 15 Middlesbrough (a) 2-0 42073
6 Mar 1 West Ham (a) 3-0 40797
SF Mar 22 Hull (Leeds) 2-2 47549
SF replay Mar 26 Hull (Villa Pk) 1-0 46200
Final Apr 26 Huddersfield (Wembley) 2-0 92486

The draw against Birmingham didn’t inspire confidence but Cups are generally won by slipping along unnoticed.

So we won the Cup, celebrated undoubtedly, and lost the next two league games, before having a holiday and preparing for the greatest season of the era – the league championship of 1930/1.

That season, which is of course covered in other articles, involved such scores as 7-1, 9-1, 7-2, 6-3, and five games in which we scored five.  But before we leave 1929/30 let us not forget that this season in the league too had some big scores including a 6-1, 8-1 and 6-6.

Thus there were a few signs – but really, I can’t believe anyone was quite ready for what happened next.

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