By Tony Attwood
It’s getting a bit boring talking about our record of WWWWWWWWWWW or whatever it is these days so I thought I might try and fill in a bit of time this week by building up to the little ol’ game at Wemberleeee on Saturday.
Meanwhile, and speaking of which, although the press have finally managed to recognise that we are winning games quite a bit, they have missed the fact that by getting ourselves into the semi-final, Arsenal secured their 28th FA Cup semi-final in a record dating back to the days of Woolwich Arsenal, who reached the semis in 1906 and 1907. 28th is the highest number of semis any club has achieved.
But more, this appearance also secured another place in history for Arsène Wenger. He had already had more semi-finals to his name than any other manager (10) and now by a process of addition that reaches 11 this weekend. His nearest rival, Sir Alex F word, only achieved nine, and that entity of course is no longer managing.
And there is a record for Arsenal too.
Before the quarter final match on 9 March 2015 both clubs had 27 semi-finals each – it was the defeat of Manchester Utd at Old Trafford that took us ahead and into the lead. This weekend we go ahead with 28.
A similar proximity arises when one looks at actual appearances in the final: before that game both clubs had won 18 and lost 9 of their semi-finals.
Of the finals competed, Arsenal have won 11 and lost 7 – exactly the same as Manchester Utd. So a win in the semi-final would beat that record too.
Sadly Black Sheep didn’t get a ticket this year for the semi-final, what with their being such a pathetic number of tickets available for Arsenal, but Andrew and I did so we’ll be there, doing out bit at representing the older section of the community. And Untold.
Thinking of Reading, we’ll all immediately think of the couple of times we played them in games that had BIG scores…
Reading 5 Arsenal 7
This was so jolly we wrote it up twice.
A repeat of that score would go down well, but preferably with the fact of Reading being 4-0 up with 37 minutes not part of the deal. We got back, you may recall, to 4-4 in stoppage time and then scored three more in extra time as Reading crumbled.
There’s another couple of the old time Untold pieces you might like to note
But there is more to us and Reading than this. In fact there is a very curious coincidence which I stumbled upon when I put together a list of Arsenal’s semi-finals for publication on the Arsenal History Society site.
For I noticed that our third semi-final (1927) was also the year of the only Reading semi-final. We missed each other that semi, and with Arsenal winning to make their first ever appearance in the final, and Reading losing, the two clubs didn’t meet.
So, for want of anything else to do I looked up how it all went 88 years ago.
Arsenal in 1927 were managed by Herbert Chapman. He’d come in, in 1925, and not won anything yet. He said it would take five years to win things, and when he didn’t win anything after five years he resigned. His resignation was thankfully rejected by Sir Henry Norris. And then the winning started.
So to put it all in context, when the 1927 Cup came around Arsenal had never won a major trophy, but had just recorded their best ever appearance in the League – coming second in 1926, and the team was obviously building.
The method of running the FA in 1927 was much the same as now, with the non-league teams playing in the qualifying rounds, the third division (formed in 1921 and from 1922 divided into north and south sections) entering in the 1st round proper. The first and second division clubs entered in round 3.
So how did it go in 1926/7?
1st round: Reading drew 4-4 with Weymouth and then beat them 5-0, with both games at home presumably because of the smallness of the Weymouth ground.
2nd round: Reading beat Southend 3-2 at home.
3rd round: Reading beat Man U 2-1 after two drawn games while Arsenal beat Sheffield U 3-2 away
4th round: Reading beat Portsmouth 3-1 at home while Arsenal beat Port Vale 1-0 at home after a 2-2 draw away.
5th round: Reading beat Brentford 1-0 at home while Arsenal beat Liverpool 2-0 at home.
6th round: Reading beat Swansea away 3-1 while Arsenal beat Wolverhampton 2-1 at home
So in the cup semi-final of 1927 we could have met Reading but didn’t. Instead it was Cardiff 3 Reading 0 at Molineux, while it was Arsenal 1 Southampton 0 at Stamford Bridge.
We’ll have more oddities from Arsenal against Reading in due course.
Some early Arsenal anniversaries…
14 April 1923: John “Alex” Mackie played his first international for Ireland at the age of just 20. Forever condemned to be known for the false story about demanding a monkey as a signing on fee he was actually very talented and played over 100 games for Arsenal.
14 April 1933: Despite winning the league Arsenal only got one 60,000 crowd – on this day for Arsenal 4 Sheffield W 2 (Hulme 2, Lambert and Bastin). Arsenal scored 13 in the first three league games of April.
14 April 1934: Arsenal Reserves v Watford Reserves advertised as “Admission 7d (including tax).” Approx half a penny in 2015 prices.