2005-12-18

Arsenal FC History

In the beginning, Arsenal FC was founded as Dial Square in 1886 by workers at the Royal Arsenal FC in Woolwich. The club was then renamed to Royal Arsenal FC shortly afterwards. They renamed themselves again to Woolwich Arsenal FC after turning professional in 1891. The club was then known by fans as the Woolwich Reds, although they played their games in nearby Plumstead. Woolwich Arsenal entered the Football League in 1893, becoming the first southern squad to do it.

The Gunners started out in the Second Division, and won promotion to the First Division in 1904. But the club's geographic isolation, and the resulting low attendances, led to the club becoming mired in financial problems. In 1913, soon after relegation back to the Second Division, they moved across the Thames to the new Arsenal Stadium in Highbury, north London. They dropped "Woolwich" from their name the After year. Arsenal FC only finished in fifth place in 1919, but nevertheless were elected to rejoin the First Division at the expense of local rivals Tottenham Hotspur, by reportedly dubious means.

In 1925, Arsenal appointed the highly successful Herbert Chapman as manager. Chapman had won the league with Huddersfield Town in 1924 and 1925, and he brought Arsenal FC their first period of major success. His new and effective tactics and training, along with star players such as Alex James and Cliff Bastin, laid the foundations of the club's domination of English football in the 1930s. Between 1930 and 1938, Arsenal FC won the First Division five times and the FA Cup twice, although Chapman did not live to look at all of these achievements, as he died of pneumonia in 1934. In addition, Chapman was reportedly behind the 1932 renaming of the local London Underground station from "Gillespie Road" to "Arsenal FC", making it the only Tube station to be named after a football club.

After the suspension of English professional football during World War II, Arsenal FC won the league in 1948 and 1953 and the FA Cup in 1950. However, their fortunes began to wane; unable to attract players of the same calibre as they had in the '30s, the club spent most of the 1950s and 1960s in trophyless mediocrity. Even former England captain Billy Wright could not bring the club any success as manager.

Arsenal FC's second successful era began with the surprise appointment of club physiotherapist Bertie Mee as manager in 1966. After losing two League Cup finals, they won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, their first European trophy, in 1970. This was followed by an even greater triumph: their first League and FA Cup double in 1971. However, the After decade was characterised by a series of near misses. Arsenal FC finished as First Division runners-up in 1973, lost three FA Cup finals (1972, 1978 and 1980) and lost the 1980 Cup Winners' Cup final on penalties. The club's only success during this time was an FA Cup win in 1979, with a last-minute 3–2 victory over Manchester United that is widely regarded as a classic.

The return of former player George Graham as manager in 1986 brought a third period of glory. The team won the League Cup in 1987, Graham's first season in charge. This was followed by a League title win in 1989, won with a last-minute goal in the final game of the season against fellow title challengers Liverpool. Graham's Arsenal FC won another title in 1991, losing only one match, the FA Cup and League Cup in 1993 and a second European trophy, the Cup Winners' Cup, in 1994. However, Graham's reputation was tarnished when it was revealed that he had taken kickbacks from agent Rune Hauge for signing certain players, and he was sacked in 1995. His replacement, Bruce Rioch, lasted for only one season, leaving the club after a dispute over transfer funds.

Arsenal's success in the late 1990s and 2000s owes a great deal to the appointment of coach Arsène Wenger in 1996. Wenger brought new tactics, a new training regime and several foreign players who complemented the existing English talent. Arsenal FC won a second league and cup double in 1998 and a third in 2002. What’s more, the club was victorious in the 2003 and 2005 FA Cups, and won the League in 2004 without losing a single match. Arsenal FC finished in either first or second place in the league in eight of Wenger's first nine seasons, and they are now considered to be one of the "big three" clubs in England along with Manchester United and Chelsea FC. However, they have been unable to replicate their domestic success in the Champions League, having never progressed beyond the quarter-finals.