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Arsenal History

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In the 1880's several soccer enthusiasts arrived at the armaments workshops at Woolwich in search of work as engineers and although Rugby was no alternative for them there were many difficulties in forming a Football team.
From reading catalogues of football kits at the time , you could buy a shirt for less than half-a-crown , (12New Pence) , the best shorts for around three shillings ( 15 Pence) . An 8 panel Football would cost a little under 10 shillings (50p). Whilst a top quality pair of football boots would cost around three half crowns (75p).
The wages of the men working at Woolwich works were approximately 30 shillings(£1.50p) a week therefore simply buying a Football Kit and ball could cost over a weeks wages and therefore in many cases impossible.
The players in those days would all play in whatever shirts they owned and therefore when Dial Square F.C. being the first and original name of Arsenal, played, each player would wear different colour shirts and shorts. the only exception were some ex-Nottingham Forest players which included Fred Beardsley and Morris Bates who wore the same kit which was their old Nottingham Forest strip.
It was decided to try and achieve uniformity in the colour and it was more or less dictated that red should be the colour of the shirts as the Nottingham men already had theirs.
Fred Beardsley wrote a letter to his old club informing them that they were setting up a new club in Woolwich and asking if they could lend them a hand.
The answer was extremely generous as Nottingham forest sent a complete set of Red shirts and a football.
The Red shirts meant that for many years Dial Square F.C. were known as "The Woolwich Reds" ; just as Forest were known as "The Nottingham Reds".

In 1886 the Club under the name of Dial Square played their first match against Eastern Wanderers, on December 11, 1886 which they won 6 - 0 .

In 1933 White sleeves were introduced by Herbert Chapman who was always looking for a way of making Arsenal different.


Soon after, the name Royal Arsenal was adopted and the Club continued playing in friendlies and local cup competitions for the next few years. In 1891 the Club turned professional and changed its name to Woolwich Arsenal, finally joining the Football League in 1893. The Gunners moved to their current home at Highbury in 1913. Following the First World War, the First Division was extended to 22 teams and Arsenal was voted into the top division, a position it has held ever since.

During the 1930s Arsenal won five League Championships, the first coming in 1931 under the management of Herbert Chapman. Between 1932/33 and 1934/35 Arsenal won a hat-trick of titles (which has only been achieved four times in the top flight). Also during this decade Arsenal reached three FA Cup Finals, winning two, and had some of the game’s greatest players on its books: Alex James, Ted Drake, Cliff Bastin, David Jack, Eddie Hapgood and George Male were just the pinnacle of one of the greatest sides ever to play in the Football League. Sadly, manager Chapman died in 1934, but others continued what he had started and only the war stopped Arsenal in its tracks.


In 1947, Tom Whittaker became manager and more success followed. Arsenal were Champions in 1947/48 and 1952/53; FA Cup winners in 1950 and runners-up in 1952.

The ‘60s provided little in the way of silverware at Highbury, with two losing appearances in the League Cup Final in 1968 and 1969 being the closest thing to success. However, the decade did witness Bertie Mee’s appointment as manager of the Club in 1966 and in the following decade he was to achieve one of the most significant landmarks in Arsenal’s history. In 1970/71 Mee took the Gunners to the League and FA Cup ‘double’ for the first time, winning the League Championship at Tottenham and then coming from behind in the Cup Final to beat Liverpool 2-1 at Wembley.

Later in the decade, Terry Neill took Arsenal to three consecutive FA Cup Finals, winning the 1979 game 3-2 against Manchester United after a truly memorable last five minutes. The Gunners also reached the 1980 Cup Winners’ Cup Final, with a team that included Graham Rix, Frank Stapleton, Pat Rice, David O’Leary and Liam Brady. In the summer of 1986, former midfield star of the ‘71 ‘double‘ winning team George Graham became manager and another spell of success followed. The catalyst for future triumphs came in 1986/87 when Arsenal became the inaugural winners of the Littlewoods Cup.

It was the first time the Club had won the League Cup in any of its guises. Graham went on to win the League Championship in 1988/89, with a famous last minute goal from Michael Thomas clinching the title with a 2-0 win at Anfield. Another title followed in 1990/91 as well as the domestic Cup ‘double’ in 1993 and, finally, the Cup Winners’ Cup victory against Parma in 1994. Graham’s departure from the Club was followed by a brief spell at the helm for Bruce Rioch before (in September 1996) Frenchman, Arsène Wenger arrived at Highbury, becoming the Club’s first ever manager from outside the British Isles.

In 1997/98, Wenger’s first full season at Highbury, Arsenal achieved the League and FA Cup ‘double’, for the second time in the Club’s history. The Frenchman also picked up the Carling Manager of the Year Award. A tremendous season was rounded off perfectly for French Internationals Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Vieira as the Gunners stars played their part in France’s victorious World Cup campaign. The Club also said goodbye to striking legend Ian Wright, who left Arsenal as record goalscorer with 185 goals in all competitions.

1998/99 saw Arsenal win the Charity Shield but finish runners-up in the Premiership and the following season they recorded a similar Charity Shield/runners-up combination. The 1999/2000 season started well with the Charity Shield victory over Manchester United. However it finished in disappointment with defeat in the UEFA Cup Final at the hands of Galatasaray. The following summer saw a reversal of fortunes for Arsenal’s French contingent as Vieira and Henry, as well as new arrivals Sylvain Wiltord and Robert Pires, ensured a victory for France at the Euro 2000 tournament. Arsenal finished second in both the league and the FA Cup in 2000/2001. The Gunners also made it to the Quarter-Finals of the UEFA Champions League for the first time, but were eliminated on the away goals rule by eventual finalists Valencia.

Four years after Arsène Wenger led Arsenal to the ‘double’, he repeated the achievement in a record breaking season in 2001/02. Arsenal completed the first leg of their third ‘double’ by beating Chelsea 2-0 at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. The Gunners ended the season with a 13 game winning streak and secured their 12th Championship with a game to spare courtesy of a memorable 1-0 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford. Arsène Wenger was named Barclaycard Manager of the Year while Robert Pires was named Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year. The following season Arsenal narrowly missed out on retaining the title but the Gunners became the first English club in more than 20 years to retain the FA Cup with their 1-0 victory over Southampton at Cardiff.

Thierry Henry was voted player of the season by the PFA and the Football Writers’ Association in a term which saw him join Dennis Bergkamp in the hallowed 100 Club having scored a century of goals for Arsenal. Season 2003/2004 saw Arsenal win back the title in unbeatable fashion managing to go though the entire league season without a single defeat. Finishing 11 points ahead of second-place Chelsea, Arsenal smashed several records on the way to their 13th league title win. Spanish youngster Cesc Fabregas arrived in January and by the end of the season he had broken the records for the youngest Arsenal player and goalscorer. Another Spanish addition, Jose Antonio Reyes, also settled well as Arsenal strode to their second league championship title of the new millennium.

The Club were also close to an unprecedented fourth ‘double’ but lost in the FA Cup semi-final. The Champions League campaign came to an end at the quarter-final stage, while the Club’s youngsters reached the last four of the Carling Cup. The 2004 European Championships in Portugal saw many Arsenal players travel to represent their country and as Highbury said goodbye to Sylvain Wiltord, Kanu and Arsenal legend Martin Keown a warm welcome was given to Robin van Persie, Manuel Almunia and Mathieu Flamini.

The Premiership title eluded Arsenal in 2004/05. Arsène Wenger's side won 83 points - a tally which would have been enough to secure first place a year earlier - but Chelsea claimed their first league title in 50 years after racking up 95 points. The Gunners were eliminated from the Champions League after a 3-2 aggregate defeat against Bayern Munich but they did not end the season empty-handed, lifting the FA Cup at the Millennium Stadium after a penalty shoot-out victory against Manchester United.