Saturday, November 5, 2016
Arsenal vs. Tottenham: The Defining Moments, Part II: 1920-1970
This would turn out to be the only major trophy Tottenham would win in a half-century span, from 1901 to 1951. "Big club"?
September 23, 1922: The clubs play an early-season match at White Hart Lane, and it was one of the most disgraceful displays in Arsenal history -- worthy of 1970s Leeds United, or more recent Manchester United and Barcelona squads. Indeed, this game would seem to confirm everything that Spurs fans believe about Arsenal.
Spurs' outside right (roughly the equivalent of a right winger in the modern era) Frederick "Fanny" Walden -- at 5-foot-2, the shortest player ever for the England national team -- left the game with an injury 20 minutes in. As substitutes weren't allowed until 1966, this left Spurs with 10 men for 70 minutes. There is no contemporary record stating that his injury was caused, willfully or otherwise, by an Arsenal player. But since Tottenham fans, even then, weren't exactly long on logic, they got angry.
A few minutes later, the intent to injure was undeniably underway. Arsenal's Arthur Hutchins fouled Spurs' Alex Lindsay. For 5 minutes, Spurs were down to 9 men. At that, the Spurs crowd was justifiably angry. Bert Smith (no relation to later Tottenham star Bobby) got fouled, and they got angrier. Bert Bliss got hurt right before the half, and played the 2nd half limping.
Reg Boreham broke the deadlock 5 minutes into the 2nd half. But, despite being 1-0 up on a team with, essentially, 9 1/2 men, the Gunners continued to play rough. Dimmock got hacked down by Frank Bradshaw. This was the era before yellow and red cards were used to discipline players, but the referee, listed in the game account only as "Mr. C. Austin," only had a few words with Bradshaw, rather than sending him off and (more or less) evening things out.
With 10 minutes left, Boreham scored again, and Arsenal led 2-0. But Lindsay pulled one back, making it 2-1. At first, it appeared to have been ruled offside. But then Austin motioned that he was allowing it, and Arsenal goalkeeper Stephen Dunn, ignoring the fact that time had almost run out and an equalizer (equaliser) was incredibly unlikely, actually grabbed him and shook him. Today, that would be an automatic straight red card, likely a lengthy suspension, and villain status for all time. Austin let him stay on the pitch.
Then Bert Smith, according to the later report, "used filthy language" in yelling at Arsenal's Alex Graham (no relation to later star and manager George), and Graham decked him. The Spurs fans began throwing things at the Arsenal players, and the police came onto the pitch to settle things down.
The Football Association actually appointed a commission to investigate this game. And, as was often the case in those days when neighbors (neighbours) played each other, the return fixture was not weeks or months later, but just 1 week later!
September 30, 1922: The teams met again at Highbury, and 55,000 came out, the biggest Arsenal home crowd of the season. They did not leave happy. The FA appointed the strictest referee of that era, a Mr. W.E. Russell, to oversee the proceedings, and nothing untoward happened. Peter McWilliam, improvising following the previous weekend's injuries, put together a Spurs side that beat Arsenal 2-0. At the final whistle, the opposing captains shook hands, and things were calm.
When the FA concluded their inquiry on October 5, Smith, Graham and Dunn were all suspended. While the North London rivals have had viciousness between their fans on a number of occasions since, the September 23, 1922 match remains by far the most violent encounter between the sets of players.
October 25, 1924: Jimmy Brain makes his first-team debut for Arsenal, and scores the only goal in a 1-0 derby win over Spurs at Highbury. He would go on to become the 1st player to score 100 goals for Arsenal.
August 29, 1925: After some lean years under the management of Leslie Knighton, including nearly getting relegated at the end of the preceding season, Arsenal play their 1st match under Herbert Chapman, a former Tottenham player (but not a very good one), who had built Yorkshire's Huddersfield Town into the 1st team that ever won 3 straight Football League titles.
Chapman starts 7 of the previous season's usual starters, 3 players who hadn't seen much playing time the season before, and his big new signing, Sunderland star Charlie Buchan (who, before becoming a star for those Black Cats, had briefly played for Arsenal). The game, against Tottenham at White Hart Lane, doesn't go so well for Arsenal, as Spurs win, 1-0, in front of a huge crowd of 53,183 fans. But Chapman must have liked what he saw from the previous year's 7 plus Buchan, and he began to tinker with the side a little more.
He also instituted what became known, due to its shape, as the W-M formation. Usually, teams had lined up with two fullbacks, three midfielders, and five forwards: A "2-3-5" formation. By moving a central midfielder back, creating the position of centreback, Chapman could move his left back and right back out, thus providing better coverage on defense (or "defence," as they'd say in England). By moving two forwards back, Chapman created a two-tired attack.
The W-M was a 3-2-2-3, and this, coupled with a change in the offside rule (though the W-M's creation had little to do with adapting to it), allowed Chapman to play certain players to their strengths, scoring more goals and allowing fewer.
This formation would be copied all over Europe due to the success that Arsenal would have in the 1930s, and would be the preferred formation in England until the 1953 demolition of the national side by Ferenc Puskas-led Hungary at Wembley, which led to the more modern 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 formations. (Today, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger's preferred formation of 4-2-3-1 owes a little bit to the W-M.)
A team that had mostly the same players as the year before, plus one "marquee signing," went from nearly relegated in 1925 to 2nd place in 1926 -- the best finish in Arsenal's history to that point, and the closest any London or quasi-London team (including Tottenham) had yet come to winning Division One. "The Gunners" (nicknamed for their cannon badge, a nod to the old Royal Arsenal days) were on their way.
April 26, 1930: After losing their 1st appearance in the FA Cup Final in 1927, to Cardiff City (still the only team outside England to win it, and Scotland's Queen's Park is the only other non-English team to even appear in the Final), The Arsenal were back in it, and against Chapman's former side, Huddersfield Town, now managed by their former star inside forward Clem Stephenson. As a result, the two sides walked out onto the field (or "pitch," as they'd say in England) at London's Wembley Stadium together. This became a tradition, and now it's done for every game, all over the world.
Alex James scores for Arsenal in the 1st half, and Jack Lambert (no relation to the legendary Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker of the same name) adds a late insurance goal, and Arsenal win, 2-0, to win their 1st major trophy. They had won a few minor trophies, but the Cup was the big one.
April 11, 1931: Arsenal travel to Grimsby Town and win, 1-0, at Grimsby's Blundell Park, to clinch the League title for the 1st time. Indeed, they were the 1st London club ever to do it. Tottenham Hotspur had never done it -- and even if they had, at this point Tottenham was still in Middlesex, not in London.
With stars like James, Tom Parker, Cliff Bastin, David Jack, Bob John, Joe Hulme, Eddie Hapgood, and later Ted Drake and Wilf Copping, Arsenal would go on to win the League again in 1933, '34, '35 and '38, and also take the FA Cup in 1936, while reaching the Final but losing it in 1932. Meanwhile, Tottenham would be relegated during the decade. Despite Chapman's death midway through the 1933-34 season, The Arsenal kept winning under new manager George Allison, and became the best team in Britain, and maybe the best team in Europe.
(We can't say for sure: There would be no European Cup until the 1955-56 season, but, in late 1934, an England side with 7 Arsenal players, plus a 19-year-old but already quite wizardly Stoke star Stanley Matthews, beat Italy, which had recently won the World Cup, in a rough match played in drenching rain at Highbury. So, at that point, it was reasonable to assume that, if the top team in Italy was Juventus, which contributed more players to the nominal World Champions -- England then thought the World Cup beneath itself, and did not compete in it until 1950 -- than any other team, then Arsenal were better, and were thus "the best team in the world.")
May 5, 1931: Arsenal and Tottenham play each other in the Final of the London FA Charity Cup, at Stamford Bridge. It's the Great Depression, and only 10,160 fans are listed as having paid the expense to see a meaningless exhibition.
If it was so meaningless, why do I mention it? Because it's the first time, and it remains the only time, that Arsenal and Tottenham have ever played each other in the final of any tournament. That, at the very least, has to be worth mentioning. Arsenal win it, 2-1.
September 10, 1931: Jimmy Brain becomes the 1st major Arsenal player to cross the divide, as the Gunners sell him to Spurs, for £2,500. He appears, however, to not have had this held against him by Arsenal fans. He had scored 139 goals for Arsenal (a club record until surpassed by Bastin), but would score only 10 for Spurs.
January 6, 1934: In this pre-antibiotic age, Chapman dies of pneumonia, just short of his 56th birthday, and after leading Arsenal to the 1930 FA Cup and the League title in 1931 and 1933. But caretaker manager Joe Shaw takes them to another title in 1934. George Allison, a longtime associate of Chapman's, took over as manager, and led Arsenal to League titles in 1935 and 1938, and the FA Cup in 1936.
October 20, 1934: Ted Drake, who had nearly signed for Tottenham as a teenager but was now in his 1st full season with Arsenal, scores 3 goals in a 5-1 win over Tottenham at White Hart Lane. He is the 1st Arsenal player ever to score a hat trick in a competitive match against Spurs. There has been only one other since, and he also did it at The Lane.
Drake was just getting warmed up: A year later, he would tie a league record for most goals in a Division One match, tallying 7 against Aston Villa. No player has matched or beaten that since.
In 1955, Drake would become the 1st man to win the League as both a non-managing player and a non-playing manager, taking Chelsea to the title. It was the only title in their 1st 99 seasons, and the only manager ever to take Chelsea to the League title without Roman Abrmovich's ill-gotten Russian energy billions is an Arsenal man.
September 1, 1939: Nazi Germany invades Poland, World War II begins, and, with the 1939-40 season barely begun, the FA shut league competition down for the duration. Since the war ended on August 14, 1945, too late to start up a new Football League season (but not too late to start up a full 1945-46 season for the FA Cup), the game did not resume until the next season, 1946-47.
January 8, 1949: For the first time, a North London Derby is held in the FA Cup. In a 3rd Round match at Highbury, Arsenal, defending League Champions under manager Tom Whittaker, win, 3-0.
September 13, 1949: Arsenal purchase Freddie Cox from Tottenham for £312,000 -- for the time, a gigantic sum.
April 28, 1951: Tottenham beat Sheffield Wednesday (so named because the cricket club they were founded as played their matches on that day of the week), 1-0 at White Hart Lane, and win their 1st League title. It took them 43 years. Well, 32 seasons, if you don't count the ones that weren't played due to the World Wars.
It's not that Arsenal were in decline: Under Whittaker, who'd been the team physiotherapist in the Chapman and Allison years, they'd won the League in 1948, won the FA Cup in '50, would reach the Final again while just missing the League title in '52, and would win the League again in '53.
They were led by Captain Joe Mercer (who would later lead Manchester City to the 1968 title), the aforementioned Freddie Cox, Reg Lewis (who scored both goals in the 1950 Final), and the Compton brothers, Les and Denis, who were also esteemed cricketers.
But, in this particular season, Tottenham were better. The team, managed by Arthur Rowe and known for their style of play as "the Push and Run Spurs," included 2 future managing legends: Bill Nicholson (you'll be hearing his name again soon) and Alf Ramsey, who would lead Ipswich Town to the 1962 League title and England to the 1966 World Cup. Other stars included Ronnie Burgess and Ted Ditchburn.
September 29, 1951: The largest crowd in the history of North London Derbies to this point, 72,164, crams into Highbury to see a 1-1 draw.
Soon, however, both clubs would go into a down period. Between 1953 and 1971, Arsenal would only finish as high as 3rd once, in 1959. Tottenham would be even worse off in the later Fifties: As age and decline beset Nicholson, Ramsey and the rest, Rowe's health became poor, and he had to retire in favor of Jimmy Anderson. Spurs were nearly relegated in 1956, then jumped back to 2nd in '57, but Anderson got sick as well, and Nicholson became manager. This is when Tottenham's greatest period began.
October 20, 1956: Arsenal defeat Tottenham 3-1 at Highbury. This was to be their last match with Tom Whittaker as manager. He died 4 days later. He and Herbert Chapman remain the only Arsenal managers to die in office.
April 17, 1961: Tottenham win the League for the 2nd time, as the failed Bay of Pigs invasion gets underway in Cuba. Again, the clincher is at home at White Hart Lane, and again the opponent is Sheffield Wednesday. Spurs win, 2-1.
Arsenal are 11th in the table, and not a factor for either the League title, the FA Cup, or the League Cup, which is run for the 1st time this season (although Arsenal won't enter it until 1965-66).
May 6, 1961: Tottenham defeat Leicester City, 2-0 at Wembley, and win the FA Cup for the 1st time in 40 years. Even more, winning the League and the FA Cup gives Spurs "The Double" -- an achievement only done twice before: By Preston North End in the 1st League season of 1888-89 (an unbeaten League season that got them nicknamed the Invincibles), and by Aston Villa of Birmingham in 1897.
By "doing The Double," Spurs were now the toast of not just London, but all of England. And while Arsenal fans sing "You won the League in black and white," there is surviving film of the Cup Final in color (or "colour," as they'd say in England).
August 26, 1961: Tottenham beat Arsenal 4-3 at The Lane, and left winger (in position, I don't know about his politics) Terry Dyson becomes the 1st Spurs player to score 3 goals in a competitive game against Arsenal. He remains the only one.
September 13, 1961: Tottenham become the 1st London team to play in the European Cup. Actually, no, they don't, as they are not in London, they are in Middlesex. They do, however, become the 1st team from the South of England to play in it. In a match played in Zabrze, Poland, Tottenham lose 4-2 to Gornik Zabrze.
The tournament had begun with the 1955-56 season, when Chelsea were coming off their 1st League title, but they were ordered by the FA to decline an invitation to participate. Manchester United ignored the FA's demands, and had competed in the Cup in the 1957-58 season, making them the 1st English team to play in it. They got to the Quarterfinals, against Red Star in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia). But a plane crash after a refueling stop in Munich, Germany killed 22 people, including 8 United players, and injured 2 others badly enough to end their careers. This not only hurt United's trophy chances for a few years (though they still reached the '58 FA Cup Final), it is often considered the reason England did not win the World Cup in 1958 and 1962. (The fact that Garrincha, Didi, Nilton Santos and a young man known as Pele were starring for Brazil seems to be overlooked by the English.) It would take until 1967 for a British club to win it (Celtic, of Glasgow, Scotland) and 1968 for an English one (a rebuilt United).
September 20, 1961: Tottenham become the 1st London-area team to host a European Cup match. They make Gornik pay dearly for the defeat in Poland, winning 8-1, with Welsh winger Cliff Jones scoring 3 goals and forward Bobby Smith 2.
April 5, 1962: After losing the 1st leg of the European Cup Semifinal in Lisbon, Portugal to defending Champions Benfica, 3-1, Tottenham get a home leg, and 64,448 fans shoe-horn themselves into White Hart Lane. Smith scores, and Danny Blanchflower, the Northern Irish defender who was their Captain, converts a penalty, to give Spurs a 2-1 win. But Spurs lose 4-3 on aggregate.
To this day, there are Spurs fans who insist that Benfica cheated in those matches. In one of his last interviews, the late Spurs defender Dave Mackay agreed. Yeah, Benfica cheated by having more experience, and having the great Mozambicquan star Eusebio in their ranks. Such people also say that Spurs would have defeated Real Madrid in the Final -- a Madrid side that featured Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo di Stefano. They figure they would have beaten Madrid in the Final because Benfica did.
Poor old Spurs, everybody cheats but them. As they say in England, "Go home, you're drunk."
October 6, 1962: Tottenham take a 3-0 lead at White Hart Lane. Mackay scores in the 4th minute, forward John White in the 16th, and Jones in the 26th. David Court scores for Arsenal right after that, and again in the 33rd, but Jones tallies again right before the half, to make it 4-2. Some observers thought Spurs could have had as many as 6 goals.
Johnny MacLeod gets the Gunners to within 4-3 early in the 2nd half, and in the 75th minute, Geoff Strong finds an equaliser. Tottenham 4-4 Arsenal. Three-nil, and they fucked it up.
That was what supporting Arsenal was like in the early 1960s: Lots of games they would win 4-3 or 5-4, lose 4-3 or 5-4, draw 3-3 or 4-4. Their attack, with wingers Court and MacLeod, and forwards Strong, George Eastham and Joe Baker, was fantastic. But their defense was not equal to the task.
And what supporting Spurs was like at that time? In 1962-63, they scored 111 goals in League play, an average of 2.64 per game, but finished 2nd to Liverpool side Everton.
May 15, 1963: Tottenham -- as their fans never stop reminding us -- become the 1st British team to win any European trophy. Having again won the FA Cup in 1962, they were eligible to enter the European Cup Winners' Cup (a tournament that was canceled after the 1998-99 season). They win the Final over Atletico Madrid (not to be confused with Real Madrid), 5-1 at De Kuip, the home stadium of the Dutch giants Feyenoord in Rotterdam. This is easily their greatest moment in Rotterdam -- more troubling ones were to come.
Jimmy Greaves, their hotshot forward (obtained midway through the 1961-62 season, so he wasn't on the Double side), scores twice. So does the aforementioned Terry Dyson. So does the aforementioned John White.
Just a little over a year later, White would be killed by being struck by lightning. He was only 27. Greaves would go on to one of the greatest playing careers any Englishman has ever had, but his life would be dogged by alcoholism. Like later Arsenal legends Kenny Sansom, Tony Adams and Paul Merson, but unlike (thus far) later Spurs legend Paul Gascoigne, he would famously dry out and become a spokesman for a clean lifestyle.
Tottenham fans were sure that their 1960s Spurs would surpass the achievements of the 1930s Gunners, but it just didn't happen. In 9 seasons, 1930 to 1938, Arsenal won 5 League titles and 2 FA Cups; in 7 seasons, 1961 to 1967, Spurs won 3 FA Cups and a Cup Winners' Cup, but only 1 League title.
October 15, 1963: A year and change after the 4-4 draw at The Lane, a crowd of 67,857 plows into Highbury to see a derby, and if they came to see goals, they are not disappointed. Greaves scores in only the 3rd minute, and Bobby Smith in the 20th. Mackay also scores for Spurs, who lead 4-2 with 5 minutes to play.
Eastham scores 2 for Arsenal, including a penalty. Then, with 5 minutes left, Baker scores. And, in stoppage time, a supposedly injured but carrying-on Strong scores off a corner to forge yet another 4-4 draw that electrifies Islington.
Smith complains that Spurs goalkeeper Bill Brown had been interfered with, and that the equaliser should be waved off. The referee is having none of it. That ref is Dennis Howell, who would later be elected to Parliament and serve as Britain's Minister of Sport. Clearly, Prime Minister Harold Wilson (serving 1964 to 1970 and again 1974 to 1976) was not a Tottenham fan.
April 1, 1965: The London Government Act 1963 takes effect, creating "Greater London." It includes the entire historic County of London, most of Middlesex, and parts of Essex, Kent, Surrey and Hertfordshire. The parts of Kent it brought into London do not include Arsenal's spiritual homes of Woolwich and Plumstead, because those had been brought into London in 1889. The parts of Middlesex it brings into London do include Tottenham. The rest of Middlesex ias broken up, put into Surrey, Hertfordshire and Berkshire.
So, now, finally, Tottenham fans could truthfully say their team was in London. Nearly 94 years after Arsenal had officially arrived in the city, and nearly 82 years after Arsenal had arrived in Norton London.
And, for the moment, there was little doubt that Spurs were the best team in London. Yes, West Ham had won the FA Cup in 1964 and the Cup Winners' Cup in 1965, and Chelsea had improved significantly, and Arsenal had a lot of history. But Tottenham were, beyond much question, tops within the London area, and, indeed, in the South of England. Liverpool, Everton, Manchester United and Leeds United could, in the mid-to-late 1960s, call themselves "the Pride of the North," but Tottenham were the Pride of the South. (Both Spurs and Arsenal have put the words "the Pride of the South" into songs, each rhyming that with how they hate the other team's fans, "'cause they are all mouth.")
Although, oddly, Spurs fans would continue to call themselves "the Pride of North London." Mainly as a swipe to their arch-rivals, 4 miles down the Seven Sisters Road. After all, as was said at the time, "Arsenal haven't won a trophy since before the Coronation." It was true: The last Arsenal trophy was the League title won on May 1, 1953, and Queen Elizabeth II was crowned a month later on June 2.
Indeed, with several years of stagnation, compared with the trophies of Spurs and the Hammers, and the glamour that was coming to Chelsea, Fulham (thanks to forward Johnny Haynes) and Queens Park Rangers (a.k.a. QPR), Arsenal were not only not one of the more popular clubs in London, but were becoming just about irrelevant.
That would change in the summer of 1966, when they dismissed Billy Wright (one of the best European players of the 1950s but a failure as a manager) and hired Bertie Mee -- their physiotherapist.
He would install Dave Sexton as assistant manager, and Sexton straightened out their attack. He left after that first season, 1966-67, for Chelsea, and would lead them to their 1st FA Cup in 1970, and their 1st European Trophy, the 1971 Cup Winners' Cup. He came close to leading QPR to pipping Liverpool for the League title in 1976, and in 1979 would manage Man United into the FA Cup Final, where they would lose to... ah, but we're getting ahead of ourselves.
Mee replaced Sexton with Don Howe, an Arsenal fullback who had been Captain in 1966 when he broke his leg in a game against Blackpool, ending his playing career. What Sexton did for the offense (or "offence" or "attack"), Howe did for the defense (or "defence"). Over the next 20 years, he would be one of the most important figures at Arsenal.
September 16, 1967: Despite Tottenham coming in as the holders of the FA Cup, completing a string of 5 major trophies in 7 years, and Arsenal still having a long way to go on their way back up, Arsenal defeat Tottenham 4-0 at Highbury.
November 20, 1968: For the first time, Arsenal and Tottenham play each other in the League Cup. In the 1st leg of the Semifinal, a match played at Highbury, Arsenal win, 1-0.
December 4, 1968: In the White Hart Lane leg of the League Cup Semifinal, Arsenal manage a 1-1 draw, taking the tie 2-1 on aggregate, and advancing to the Final. But the following March, they will lose the Final at Wembley Stadium to Swindon -- a Division Three team. Arsenal had lost the League Cup Final the year before, to Leeds United.
Losing a Wembley Final 1-0 to Don Revie's Leeds, which was already a very good team (and would go on to win the League in 1969), was understandable. But 3-1 to Swindon? The headlines blare, including "THE SHAME OF LONDON." And, again, the line went up: "Arsenal haven't won a trophy since the Coronation."
Years later, Howe related a story: Someone told him that the club should take down the team photos of the champions of the 1930s, and the Joe Mercer teams of 1948-53, because they were too intimidating to the current players, a reminder of what they hadn't done. Howe said, "No, we have to replace these photos, with photos of the current players with a cup in their hands, so they can be a pain in the backside to the next group that comes up."
April 28, 1970: Arsenal end the trophy drought at 17 years. (And you think 9 years is hard?) They beat Anderlecht, of Brussels, Belgium, 3-0 at Highbury, to win 4-3 on aggregate and take the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.
Two years later, the tournament would be renamed the UEFA Cup, and Tottenham would win it. To this day, their fans claim, "We are the 1st English team to win the UEFA Cup" -- even though, in 2010, the tournament became known as the UEFA Europa League.
But that's another Tottenham fans' lie: Arsenal had won it in 1970, so Spurs weren't even the 1st North London team to win it. Leeds had won it in 1968 and '71, and Newcastle had won it in '69 -- and that remains the Geordies' last major trophy (unless you want to count the now-defunct Intertoto Cup, which they won in 2006).
But despite winning the Fairs Cup, Arsenal finished 12th in the League. And they had lost the League Cup Final in back-to-back years. And oh how the Spurs fans (and everyone else in England) laughed at Arsenal.
In the 1970-71 season, the laughter would stop, as you'll see in Part III.