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Woolwich Arsenal FC: 1893-1915 The club that changed football Paperback – Illustrated, 1 Aug 2012
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When we set out to create the first ever book on Woolwich Arsenal FC, I hoped we would do something a little bit different. I have to admit that I had no idea this book would ultimately turn the whole of Arsenal's history upside down. It is not just that we showed that many of the old stories were simply untrue (for example that people couldn't get to the ground because transport was so bad) it is that we found so many new items to report. And among all this information that was sitting there in the ancient archives of the Woolwich daily papers, we found one stunning fact: that Woolwich Arsenal was not some small time Football League team, but was in fact just about the most famous football club in the world. Quite how they managed that achievement without ever winning a trophy stumped all of us at first - but gradually we uncovered the evidence that showed us how this happened. And with that fact everything else began to become clear. Why did the club split in half in 1893? Why was it so vital to have control of this particular club? Why was it that this club broke the embargo on League Football south of Birmingham? Why did Henry Norris invest a considerable amount of his fortune first in rescuing the club in 1910, and then in building the club a new stadium in 1913? Why was it that Woolwich Arsenal, of all clubs, invented the concept of away travel? And why were their travelling supporters always in the news? And why were the reports of people in the crowd at Cup Finals chanting The Arsenal.... The Arsenal..... when a) Woolwich Arsenal were not in the Final, and b) ...The Arsenal... wasn't the name of the club at that time? These and 100 other questions were gradually answered as we did our research and as we realised that we had stumbled upon the most amazing story in football. Of course our research does show that all the other histories of Arsenal are wrong, both in their broad spread and in their detail. I am not sure what they are going to do about our research - but fortunately that is a problem for them. Woolwich Arsenal FC was indeed the club that changed football. In the late 19th and early 20th century the club, its shareholders, its members, its managers and its players knew this to be a fact. But then slowly over time the story was lost. I have to say it is a great honour and privilege to be one of the people upon whom has fallen the chance to set the record straight. Tony Attwood. Co-author --Tony Attwood's review.
About the Author
Tony Attwood is chair of the Arsenal History Society, an Arsenal season ticket holder, a Committee Member of Arsenal Independent Supporters Association, and the editor of the daily blog: The History of Arsenal. He is also author of the historical novel Making the Arsenal which covers the collapse and re-birth of Arsenal in 1910. Andy Kelly is secretary of the Arsenal History Society, a lifelong Arsenal fan and a member of AISA. He has contributed to a number of other books relating to Arsenal and has published a website containing all first team results and line-ups. Mark Andrews is the Vice-Chairman of the Arsenal History Society and has researched Woolwich Arsenal history since 1990, when he completed a Masters Degree in History with a thesis on the Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal FC 1893-1913. He supports Arsenal, is a member of AISA, and contributes to the History of Arsenal blog. He lives in Kent with his wife Theresa, and their two children Jonathan and Matthew.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book arrived well packaged and next day thanks to Amazon Prime.
Would definitely recommend this book.
Using a wide variety sources this tome tells the story of the Woolwich Arsenal years (1893 to 1915) a period in which Arsenal first entered the Football League, when financial problems risked the very survival of the club and the background to the move from Plumstead to Highbury. The first section of the book focuses on the personalities and machinations of this time when disputes with landlords, boardroom dealings and efforts to keep the club going seemed to overshadow action on the pitch. The middle chapters give a more in-depth summary of Arsenal's league and cup performances. The final chapters focus on a few significant or otherwise important players, club officials and board members. I particularly enjoyed the more sociological section about the Arsenal supporters who, we learn, were well known for bringing explosives to games and had frequent run-ins with the FA regarding their behaviour.
Overall this book tells a really fascinating story about Arsenal's place in a time when football was in a constant state of flux, and the people who were prepared to risk huge sums of money to prevent the club becoming just another long forgotten name from football's early days. It is perhaps harrowing to think who we'd now be supporting had their efforts failed. Woolwich Arsenal FC: 1893-1915 The Club That Changed Football is written by Arsenal fans for Arsenal fans and a book I would highly recommend to all Arsenal fans.
Something like that. So what's the point of another one - and indeed one that focusses on just the first 22 years of the league club?
The answer is that the stories that have been told in all the other books, including the Official Illustrated History, are simply not right. Not right by omission, and not right by errors.
Why did Arsenal move grounds in 1893? Why did they enter the league? Most books will tell you that they were struggling financially prior this date because they had been banned from playing local clubs. But this is stuff and nonsense. There was no such ban. Local clubs loved playing Arsenal. In fact they begged to play Arsenal, because Arsenal were the biggest draw in football.
The problem in 1893 wasn't financial at all - it was a split, as members of the committee that ran the club broke away and joined with the owner of the ground to try and bring Arsenal to its knees.
And why did Henry Norris bother with Arsenal in 1910 when they were bust? And what caused them to be in such a mess? According to standard stories it was impossible to get to their ground - but that turns out to be quite untrue.
So what of the crowd? Arsenal's away support in this era was legendary. They hired trains, took their own band, took their own dancers, and made their own fireworks in the Torpedo Factory, letting them off en route and in the ground!
All these fabulous stories lost, until now.
This book is a revolution. OK, I am reviewing my own book, which could cause a few laughs, but I feel able to do this for one simple reason: I merely applied the cosmetics. The real work was done by my co-authors Andy and Mark.Read more ›
I had always believed that Arsenal's popularity came with success - which meant Herbert Chapman. But it turns out Woolwich Arsenal was huge, because it was the serviceman's club.
I had also always believed that Henry Norris was a con-artist, but it seems he was anything but. In 1910 he sorted out the club's finances out of his own pocket, and then in 1913 he bought Highbury. What a vision - and I have to say I love the picture of Highbury two weeks before the new season started... a building site.
To say that Tottenham don't come out of this too well is an understatement; they tried to block Chelsea's move into the Southern League in 1905 and then as a result Chelsea bypassed them and went straight into the Football League. Then they tried to get all the clubs involved in blocking Highbury - and failed again.
But my favourite bit must be the players section. Names you have probably never heard of, but you get a moment of their lives, their involvement in football and then what happened thereafter. It is just ... well... emotional.
I love this club, and always have done. Now at last I really know where it came from.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book quashes the myths and rights the wrongs that have often so lazily come before. It is clearly evident that the research that has gone into this book, is the most up to... Read morePublished 14 months ago by HertfordDragon
My husband is a Gooner and specifically requested this. He's thrilled with it thanks. Arrived quickly and in great condition.Published on 20 Jan. 2014 by scmwall
I was pleased with all aspects of this purchase: the product arrived promptly and was in excellent condition and met my expectations.Published on 9 Aug. 2013 by Ms. S. J. Rolph
I bought this as a gift for my other half, he loved it. The story behind the club was exactly what he was looking for.Published on 30 April 2013 by lil cru
This must be the most important book on Arsenal for fifty odd years. everyone is raving over the way it has transformed our understanding of the club with its revelations. Read morePublished on 4 Aug. 2012 by Gunner gunner