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July 2021

It’s Woolwich Arsenal’s 120th birthday and we’re on the radio

By Tony Attwood

There are naturally a number of dates that can be celebrated as the birthday of Woolwich Arsenal – the day the club formally became a limited company, the day it received notification that it had been accepted as a league club, the day it changed its name from Royal Arsenal to Woolwich Arsenal.

All these are important, but I choose the events of 120 years ago today (22 June) as one of the big ones for all sorts of reasons.

First off, 22nd June 1893 was the date of the first ever Woolwich Arsenal FC AGM.

Woolwich Arsenal FC represented a major break with Royal Arsenal.  Royal Arsenal FC was a professional club but it primarily played FA Cup and friendly games, plus some regional cup games.  Woolwich Arsenal FC entered the Football League in the second division in 1893/4 – the first southern club to do so.

Woolwich Arsenal itself merged almost seamlessly into The Arsenal, and then Arsenal FC following the move to Highbury, and I suspect most people at the time hardly noticed the change.  But this change from Royal Arsenal to Woolwich Arsenal was very significant.   It was the start of the modern club.

You can read about Woolwich Arsenal’s firstAGMt on the Arsenal History Society blog where on a daily basis we record all of Arsenal’s main anniversaries.   The whole list of anniversaries is also on the site – and more get added daily.

Also I love to remember this day because the chairman of the club on that day was Jack Humble – one of the most important men – if not t he most important man – in the early history of the club.  I know there are many other men who have claims to being founders, but Jack Humble was with the club from the time it became Royal Arsenal in 1887, he played a key part in the rebuilding of Woolwich Arsenal after its collapse in 1910, and was still a director into the 1920s.  Indeed there is every chance that he attended Arsenal’s first cup final.

So in marking today I feel in a small way I am also paying tribute to Jack Humble – a man largely forgotten by the club but whose statue should stand next to Herbert Chapman at the Emirates, in my opinion.  You can read more about Jack Humble in this article.

There’s another reason to mention the anniversary today (22 June 2013) – Talk Sport are broadcasting a programme tonight at 10pm which includes a lot of talk about Arsenal’s history.  I know this because I was interviewed for the programme a couple of weeks back, and I am told some of my comments made the final cut.  (Obviously haven’t heard it yet, and I am hoping I did not make too many historical errors – I did the whole thing without notes).

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I won’t actually hear the piece myself, at least not at 10pm UK time, because of the final reason for liking to remember this day.  22 June is also my birthday, and I shall be out with my daughters having a birthday celebration.  Happy Birthday to me.

I do hope you mind find a moment to look at the the AISA Arsenal History Society site, and perhaps delve into either the Anniversary archive or even the Managers’ Archive – it is, I believe, the most comprehensive archive on the club’s managers ever produced.  And we’ve only just started!

Have a nice Arsenal Anniversary.

The books…

The sites from the same team…


30 comments to It’s Woolwich Arsenal’s 120th birthday and we’re on the radio

  • Dave Right

    Happy birthday Tony.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Happy birthday, have a good time with your daughters!

  • Gonnerjoe

    My birthday today just been given New Arsenal t- shirt and track suit ya!

  • WalterBroeckx

    Ain’t it strange that both Tony and I as main contributors of Untold have the honour to share and celebrate a birthday with Arsenal?
    I have the honour of celebrating the first match of Arsenal on my birthday and Tony this day.
    What a coincidence…

    A happy birthday Tony!

  • colario

    Happy Birthday. Thanks for all the info you provide us with about the club we love so much.

    On a personal note I particularly appreciate you have exposed as myth some of the claims told about the club and presented without any evidence as fact. eg. The energy pills used before a wet spam cup game. Never could believe that one. Colario.

  • Emmanuel, Lagos

    I wish you a happy birthday and many years in good health

  • Gonnerjoe

    Oh happy birthday Tony as well.

  • Ian Ure Face

    Happy Birthday to you both.
    I love ” The Arsenal “, but keeping “The Royal Arsenal” would have been classier imo .

    Real Arsenal !…..long before Madrid !

  • dan

    So I take it, Ginger toss stain (Durham), isn’t hosting talksport from 10pm!!!

  • dan

    Happy Birthday, to all Gooners everywhere.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Many happy returns of the day to you both ,Tony and Walter – may you live long to enjoy the success of the Arsenal .
    And Happy Birthday to Gunners everywhere !

  • Adam

    Happy Birthday Goonerjoe and Tony.

    You also share your day with, Dan Brown, Erin Brockovich & Edie Kidd.

    But more importantly these special events occurred on your birthday, in days gone by;

    Check-point Charlie is dismantled,
    Charon is discovered orbiting Pluto,
    The G.I Bill is ratified,
    Germany invade the Soviet Union,
    Napoleon’s Grand Army invades Russia,
    Council of Ephesus opens,
    Galileo Galilei forced to recant orbital theory,
    Royal Greenwich Observatory established,
    Slavery outlawed in England,
    British Parliament abolishes feudalism,
    King George V of England crowned,

    And finally,

    Harry Houdini Gets Married (get out of that one).

    Happy Birthday.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Was looking for a funny birthday quote and found a long list of them. Enjoy , or not !

  • Gonnerjoe

    Looks like a trip to Russia is on today.

  • Gonnerjoe

    Lions win but talk about lucky just like Manu

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Its also my 22th wedding anniversary and I’ve really nothing funny to say or quote !

  • WalterBroeckx

    Best wishes to GoonerJoe also then 😉

    And Brickfields Gunners…er…. oh well…just enjoy it 😉

  • nicky

    Only hope those two creeps Grey and the Hairy One aren’t part of tonight’s programme and spoil it all.

  • Shakabula Gooner

    Tony, Happy Birthday!
    I take it that you are at least 5years older than the club. Hence, your in-depth knowledge of all things pertaining to your younger but less animate (but more animated) brother, Woolwich Arsenal, a.k.a Arsenal Football Club.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Thanks ,Walter ,just came back after taking the wife and kids for a Chinese dinner ,which is really no big deal as there are so many Chinese restaurants here.
    Am making sure that I’m in her good books this season ,so as to ‘help’ Arsenal win the CL ( Wink !Wink ! You know what I mean !)

  • Thank you everyone, most kind. Have spent some of the day working on the book “Arsenal in the 70s”. It includes a review of every first team game Arsenal played in the decade – and some utterly amazing pictures too.

    Don’t know any details about tonight’s broadcast – that’s just how it goes. I got a call asking if I would do the interview, and it was done at my home about 3 weeks back. I do these things as quite often they can sometimes add a little to the publicity of the Arsenal History site and Untold.

    As for the anniversaries on this day – a truly amazing collection. I think I’d like to remember

    Royal Greenwich Observatory established,

    that sounds rather good.

    Incidentally on the issue of Royal Arsenal / Woolwich Arsenal, on joining the Football League Royal Arsenal FC were forced to become a limited company, and Companies House would not allow the club to keep the name “Royal” for a limited company. That’s why the name changed. Later changes (to The Arsenal, and Arsenal) were through the choice of the board.

  • bjtgooner

    Happy birthday Tony & Goonerjoe.

    Lets hope Wenger has a birthday present for all fans soon!

  • Arun

    Happy b’day Tony & Goonerjoe.
    Happy anniversary Brickfields Gunners.
    Hope you all have a good day.

  • gouresh

    Happy birthday Tony. Hope you have a great day with your daughters.

  • LRV

    A very Happy Birthday to you, Tony(Goonerjoe as well) and to (Woolwich) Arsenal.

  • Gonnerjoe

    Let me thank everyone who wished me a happy birthday during the day it’s great to find out that it’s tied up to a big day for Arsenal as well thanks Tony for the info hope you enjoyed your day.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    On a more sombre mood ,just thought you might like to contemplate on this nice article from” Denison Forum on truth and culture” ,which I just received via e-mail .

    Dr. Jim Denison,
    Jun 21, 2013

    Learning from James Gandolfini’s death

    James Gandolfini was known to the world as Tony Soprano, the mythical mob boss who won three Emmy Awards. The announcement of his death made global headlines yesterday. He was only 51 years old.

    If such a successful, wealthy star cannot guarantee himself another day, who can?

    Gandolfini joined the ranks of Whitney Houston, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, and Heath Ledger, all celebrities who were even younger when they died. On the other hand, Betty White and Clint Eastwood are still stars at the ages of 91 and 83, respectfully.

    Martin Luther King, Jr. was 39 when he was assassinated. John F. Kennedy was 46 when he died; his son was 38. Abraham Lincoln was 56 when he was killed by John Wilkes Booth. None of them knew that morning that they would die that day.

    This might be the last Cultural Commentary you read, or the last one I write. Jesus could tarry another thousand years or he could return to earth today. I turned 55 at my last birthday and am now the age of my father when he died. His father, however, lived to be 99.

    The key to life is not its length but its depth. It’s not how many days we live, but how we live our days. Then, when we come to the last, our words can reflect our victory. Consider the last words of those who died in sadness with those who died in joy.

    Winston Churchill said, “I’m bored with it all.” Novelist James Joyce asked, “Does nobody understand?” Writer Edgar Allen Poe prayed, “Lord help my poor soul.” Leonardo da Vinci’s last words were the saddest I’ve seen: “I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.”

    By contrast, George Washington said, “I die hard but am not afraid to go.”
    John Quincy Adams testified, “This is the last of earth! I am content.” Emily Dickinson stated, “I must go in, the fog is rising.” Minister Henry Ward Beecher observed, “Now comes the mystery.”

    Louis XIV, King of France, asked onlookers, “Why do you weep? Did you think I was immortal?” Actually, we are. We will each spend eternity in heaven or in hell—the choice is ours. As C. S. Lewis noted, there are two kinds of people in the world. Some say to God, “Your will be done.” To the others, God says, “Your will be done.”

    Which have you said to Jesus? Queen Elizabeth I announced, “All my possessions for a moment of time.” But Woodrow Wilson could say, “I am ready.” Are you?

  • Brickfields Gunners


    A girl brings her boy friend home to meet her parents. After dinner, her mother tells her father, a business tycoon, to find out about the young man. He invites the boy to his study for green tea.

    “So what are your plans?” the father asks the boy.

    “I am an religious scholar and want to marry your daughter” he replies.

    “A scholar,” the father says. “Admirable, but what will you do to provide a nice house for my daughter to live in, as she’s accustomed to?”

    “I will study,” the young man replies, “and God will provide for us.”

    “And how will you buy her a beautiful engagement ring, such as she deserves?” asks the father.

    “I will concentrate on my studies,” the young man replies, “God will provide for us.”

    “And children?” asks the father. “How will you support children?”

    “Don’t worry, sir, God will provide,” replies the boy.

    The conversation proceeds like this, and each time the father questions, the boy insists that God will provide.
    Later, the mother asks, “How did it go?”

    The father answers, “He has no job and no plans, but the good news is that he thinks I’m God.”

  • colario

    I listened to the programme last night(early morning where I live)and because of the station’s constant knocking of Arsenal I expected a kick in the rear end at some point but it didn’t come.

    The ‘no cups for eight years’ wasn’t flogged as it might have been at the end.

    Only Tony and the reporter know exactly what Tony said but what was broadcast came across to me as good comment.

    It was great hearing the commentary of the ‘great moments’.

    I don’t have any complaints about the programme and I am interested to know what others think.

  • weedonald

    Happy birthday Tony…..nice to finally reach 30???