Rivalries have always been part of sport, it many cases it can define a sport, a match or even a moment. Rivalries have always been in football, whether it’s the El Clásico between Real Madrid and Barcelona. The Superclásico between Boca Juniors and River Plate. Or derbies in this country that create mass media attention e.g. North-West, Manchester, Merseyside, Tyne-Wear etc. There is always a special feeling when you play one of your rivals, there is nothing quite like it. Now some Spurs fans may have a big hatred for Chelsea or West Ham. I have noticed a minority of fans who would class West Ham as our biggest rival. For me personally, there is only one true rival we have… Arsenal. They are the enemy to me, I cannot stand them. I hate everything about them: the colour, the stadium, the players and even more… the fans. Even the word can make me feel slightly uncomfortable. This article will explain why I hate the Woolwich more than any other team. Part 1 looks at the history of the rivalry mainly dating back to the very early years (1913-1928).
It all goes back to 1913. There we were in North London. We were well established, well supported and successful. One FA Cup to our name, The only non-league team to win the FA Cup in 1901 (and most probably the only ever) we had large control over the area… until a certain team from South London by the name of Woolwich Arsenal decided to move from South London to North London (it is believed they moved to the more wealthy Highbury area due to better transport links). They had no right to move. We protested to the Football League about this decision but it fell on deaf ears. It is alleged that Arsenal had shady dealings and a close friendship with the Football League and that is how the move went through. We have never moved, they have. No matter how many times they say ‘North London is ours’ the fact is it will never be pure or true. Before 1913 the word ‘Arsenal’ did not exist in Islington. There were no roads, buildings or parks that had Arsenal in them. By moving just four miles from White Hart Lane, this is when the rivalry was truly born.
Then six years later in 1919, the rivalry got a lot more intense. League football was suspended from 1914-1918 due to the First World War. The Football League decided to expand the league from 20 teams to 22. The logical method would have been to just promote the two teams at the top of the Second Division at the time league football was suspended. But Henry Norris the Arsenal chairman had another idea, he proposed that Arsenal should be promoted instead. A vote took place, they received 18 votes, we received 9. To add insult to injury, the clubs that finished above Arsenal (Barnsley and Wolves) received even fewer votes (both 5). It is alleged that Henry Norris bribed the Football League chairman, John McKenna to achieve this result. Apparently McKenna urged the committee to vote for Arsenal on the basis they had been league members 15 years longer than us! If that is not corruption, I don’t know what is! For someone who should be acting impartial as league chairman this is behavior that would simply not be accepted in a modern society (well at least in this country anyway). Shameful behavior. It is obvious that something ‘dodgy’ e.g. a bribe, took place behind closed doors for this to occur. Because of this a team that finished fifth in the Second Division was promoted. How can a team that has finished fifth be promoted ahead of a team that finished third and fourth? That doesn’t sit quite right with me. Essentially, they never earned the right to be in the top flight. They were promoted in 1919 and since then they have never been relegated or even been punished for it. How is that fair? They kicked us out of the First Division. We were therefore relegated but bounced straight back up the following year when we won the Second Division in 1919-20 in style by breaking the points record. Instantly earning our place back in the First Division as legitimately as possible without any money changing hands behind closed doors for it to happen. Something that Arsenal have never done.
You would think that the events of 1913 and 1919 would have been enough for us to stomach. We had been invaded and quite frankly screwed out of a First Division place. But the Woolwich were at it again in 1928. In the 1927-28 season, Arsenal were in mid-table while we were in a relegation battle. They had nothing to play for. So what could they do to keep themselves entertained until the end of the season? The rumour is that Arsenal intentionally lost matches against Burnley and Portsmouth to give those teams a greater chance of survival and increasing our chances of relegation. And that’s exactly what happened. For the second time in nine years we were relegated because of alleged Arsenal scheming. What’s even worse is that we would remain in the Second Division for five seasons and after finally gaining promotion to the First Division again in the 1932-33 season, Arsenal won their 2nd First Division title in that same season. In a division that they never deserved to play in or most importantly earned the right to be in.
Corruption seems to be a common theme in this period of history for Arsenal. It is evident on three separate occasions (1913, 1919 & 1928). What’s funny is that Arsenal fans will claim this corruption is a load of nonsense and unproven rumours. Well maybe they can explain why Henry Norris was banned from football for life in 1929? Entirely coincidental isn’t it? This is one of the main reasons why I hate Arsenal. The corruption, cheating, bribery and most importantly the injustice this caused us. Whereas we never did anything immoral and always acted in a professional and fair manner. That’s why I’m glad I support a team that doesn’t have such a corrupt history.
This concludes Part 1 of Why I Hate Arsenal. I will have Part 2 ready soon. I hope you enjoyed reading Part 1 and I hope you enjoy Part 2.
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