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Rangers v Arsenal: the history between the clubs

by Bulldog Drummond

There is a long history connecting Arsenal and Rangers – something established not least because during Woolwich Arsenal’s darkest days of financial troubles, Rangers bought a few shares in Arsenal as a symbol of solidarity between the clubs.  They were finally sold by Craig Whyte during the period of Rangers financial difficulties.

The two earliest games between the clubs I can find were on 30 April 1892 (Arsenal 2 Rangers 3) and 28 April 1908 (Rangers 1 Arsenal 1).

It was Herbert Chapman and the president of Racing who took up the issue of a Racing v Arsenal match in the 1930s,  and that was then used as a model for the “Game of Champions” between Rangers and Arsenal starting in 1933.  This time it was the friendship between Bill Struth of Rangers and Herbert Chapman that allowed the series to be set up.

Indeed there was even a link between the two contests as at the 1933 match against Rangers, Arsenal invited Racing to be guests of honour.  In return Herbert Chapman and Samuel Hill Wood (the chairmen) were given the French Medal of Physical Culture.  Allison later received the same medal as the series continued.

So it was that three seasons after Arsenal started the series against Racing Club de Paris the series started, of which one of the high points was the midweek friendly between Arsenal and Rangers in December 1951.  62,012 was the official total, with many more locked outside.

It was the first game under the new floodlights at Highbury floodlights and a big black and white picture of the night hung in the Marble Halls at Highbury – and hopefully still has a place at the Emirates.

In the first year of the games there was a home and away format, the first match in Glasgow on September 20 1933 and the second at Highbury on September 27 – one week later.  After that it was once a year, alternating in venues, sometimes at the start of the season sometimes at the end.

The sequence of matches at Highbury ended in August 1967.  Arsenal won 3-0 with two from Sammels and one from Armstrong.   The following season a 2-2 draw was played out and that was that.

Results from Arsenal v Rangers friendlies:

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  • 1933/34  Rangers 2, Arsenal 0 (Ibrox)
    1933/34 Arsenal 1,  Rangers 3 (Highbury)
    1934/35 Arsenal 1, Rangers 1 (Highbury)
    1935/36 Rangers 2, Arsenal 2 (Ibrox)
    1936/37 Arsenal 2, Rangers 1 (Highbury)
    1938/39 Rangers 1, Arsenal 0 (Ibrox)
    1951/52 Arsenal 3, Rangers 2 (Highbury)
    1953/54 Rangers 1, Arsenal 2 (Ibrox)
    1954/55 Arsenal 3, Rangers 3 (Highbury)
    1955/56 Rangers 2, Arsenal 0 (Ibrox)
    1958/59 Arsenal 0, Rangers 3 (Highbury)
    1960/61 Rangers 4, Arsenal 2 (Ibrox)
    1962/63 Arsenal 2, Rangers 2 (Highbury, Jack Kelsey Testimonial)
    1966/67 Rangers 2, Arsenal 0 (Ibrox)
    1967/68 Arsenal 3, Rangers 0 (Highbury)
    1968/69 Rangers 2, Arsenal 2 (Ibrox)
    1973/74 Rangers 1, Arsenal 2 (Ibrox)
    1980/81 Rangers 2, Arsenal 0 (Ibrox)
    1989/90 Rangers 1, Arsenal 2 (Ibrox) (Zenith Data Challenge)
    1996/97 Rangers 3, Arsenal 0 (Ibrox)
    1996/97 Arsenal 3, Rangers 3 (Highbury, Nigel Winterburn Testimonial)
    2003/04 Rangers 0, Arsenal 3 (Ibrox)

After that we had a game in the Emirates Cup:   2 August 2009: Arsenal 3 Rangers 0, but that was the end.

Rangers, as I am sure you will know, won the Scottish league last season playing an unbeaten season in the league

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Rangers 38 32 6 0 92 13 +79 102
2 Celtic 38 22 11 5 78 29 +49 77
3 Hibernian 38 18 9 11 48 35 +13 63
4 Aberdeen 38 15 11 12 36 38 −2 56

It wasn’t a very closely fought competition!

Curiously in competitive games we don’t seem to have played them much at all.  In fact the only match I can find occurred on 19 December 1989 at Ibrox in the much loved (!) Zenith Data Systems Challenge Cup. We won 1-2.

This season Rangers have played a couple of friendlies, losing to Tranmere Rovers 1-0 on 10 July and beating Partick Thistle at Firhill by the same score.

As for what sort of game this will be, the key attributes we are now using (as you will know if you followed us through last season, where the power of these figures was revealed) are the tackles, fouls and yellows per game.

2 comments to Rangers v Arsenal: the history between the clubs

  • i was at jack kelsey’s testimonial in 1963, players in his era earned a pittance,

    but it was a rarity for a player to receive a testimonial, i believe jack was the second player who received one,

    the other one i believe died whilst playing.

    jack who died in 1992, was the only world class player we had in the 50s and early 60s.

    i was at ninian park cardiff when jack came on to the pitch and run to hia goal, the entire crowd applauded him. it was quite moving.

    when jack died. no arm bands no 2 minutes silence to honour of our greats. ju8st a few lines in the obituary column. in the programme .
    disgraceful

  • John L

    Jack was a hero for both Arsenal and Wales. The world Cup winners in 1958, Brazil, paid him a great compliment after their 1-0 win over Wales.

    I was privileged to see him play on 5 occasions.

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