FROM FOUNDATION TO THE FIRST WORLD
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
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.
FROM THE SECOND WORLD WAR INTO THE NEW
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
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
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.