by Tony Attwood
Spanish flu (as it was rather oddly known) swept across Europe from January 1918 to December 1920, and thus exactly 100 years ago, we were in the midst of the crisis just as we are now.
It the 20th century edition it infected 500 million people – about a third of the world’s population, the number of deaths was established at somewhere between 17 million and 50 million, although some estimates are higher.
However with football having been reduced to the wartime leagues until the spring of 1919, the 1919/20 season was played without interruption, with Arsenal newly elected to the first division.
For the opening game of the season at Highbury 40,000 came to the ground, and for the home game on 24 April 1920 (100 years ago yesterday) 35,000 came to see Arsenal 0 Preston 0 (numbers for Arsenal at that time were always rounded).
That game left Arsenal in a satisfactory 13th position – satisfactory because money was short (the club was still paying for the work that had been done to build the stadium in 1913, and no repayments of the debt were made in the war years). What’s more this was their first year in the first division after four years of war and two years in the second division.
(Incidentally, 100 years ago Arsenal were definitely Arsenal. They changed from The Arsenal to Arsenal in November 1919, despite many “authorities” claiming that the change was initiated by Herbert Chapman).
This is how the table looked after the round of matches on Saturday 17th April 1920…
|1||West Bromwich Albion||40||27||4||9||100||45||2.222||58|
|9||Bradford Park Avenue||40||15||11||14||60||60||1.000||41|
|21||Preston North End||40||13||9||18||55||72||0.764||35|
Two clubs went down at the end of the season and Wednesday with 42 games to be played by each club, and just two points for a win, were already relegated. Arsenal were safe since Blackburn, with just one game left, could not reach them. In fact Arsenal, won one of their last two games (both against Bradford PA) and drew the other. Arsenal Actually went up the table and finished in 10th. Notts County went down to the second division.
In fact if we look at the present situation of Arsenal we can compare 100 years ago with now.
If we take three points for a win and one for a draw in both seasons, and work out the points per game we find that now Arsenal have 1.54 points per game this season, against 1.33 points per game 100 years ago.
|15||Brighton and Hove Albion||29||6||11||12||32||40||-8||29|
|16||West Ham United||29||7||6||16||35||50||-15||27|
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4 Replies to “100 years ago today in the midst of a pandemic, how were Arsenal doing compared to now?”
You might know, Tony, how the Spanish Flu got that name, but many readers might not. Spain was neutral in World War I, and thus not subject to wartime censorship of stories that might hurt morale. So when King Alfonso XIII got the flu, it was reported, thus, “Spanish Flu.”
He recovered, was deposed in 1931, died in exile in 1941, and when Franco was dying, he named Alfonso’s grandson (whom he judged to be more conservative than his son) as his successor. Juan Carlos I turned out to be a more liberal King than expected, and has since abdicated for his son, Felipe VI.
Spain’s version of the FA Cup was established in 1902 as the Copa del Rey, or King’s Cup. In 1931, it became the Copa del Presidente. In 1939, under Franco, the Copa del Generalísimo. In 1975, with the monarchy restored, it became the Copa del Rey again, and so it remains.
I think the flue was identified at first in the. USA among soldiers training to come Europe,like Mike said it was first came to light in Spain.
It appears it started in a military base in Kansas and was transmitted to soldiers who were near pigs. The soldiers went overseas, ill but mobile and transmitted it to their peers and the general population apparently.
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