ArseWeb on... Wartime ArsenalOfficial football records show that everything closed down at the outbreak of the second World war in 1939. It came at the end of a great decade for the Arsenal, including 5 league titles in a period of 7 years. But the team was thought to be in decline, having finished a poor 5th in 39 (a drop in form comparable to the Souness years at Anfield).
So we were intrigued to hear that a video featuring old news footage of Cup finals from the 30s and 40s included 2 Arsenal matches that happened during the war (see videos section of the ArseWeb shop).
We set Ian Eiloart the arduous task of watching the vid, to find out what was going on...
"The war ended in 1945 but not soon enough for league matches to resume. The FA Cup for 1945/6 was staged as per normal except that all rounds except for the final were over two legs with aggregate scores deciding the winner of each tie. Arsenal lost 0-6 and won 1-0 against 'arry's 'appy 'ammers in the third round."
although we have reason to believe that this was before Harry Redknapp's time.
Further details on wartime Arsenal footballNormal league and FA cup football was abandoned as soon as the 2nd World War broke out. Eventually the League organised competitive football on a regional basis, with Arsenal competing in the League South division, apart from the 41/42 season when the Gunners took part in the breakaway London League. Highbury was closed for the duration of the war, so Arsenal's "home" games took place at White Hart Lane. Games played during the wartime periods are not counted as first class games, and wartime appearances and goals are not accounted for in players' first class records. Indeed guest players from other teams often played for Arsenal, for example Stanley Matthews and Stan Mortenson.
Arsenal contested the Football League War Cup in 39/40 and 40/41 (the final of which was the tie against Preston as noted above), apparently also organised on a regional basis with the final being contested by the winners of the North and South "semi-finals". In 42/43, 43/44 and 44/45 there appears to have been no final playoff, with the cup being split completely between the North and South sections. It wasn't contested in the 41/42 season when Arsenal took part instead in the London War Cup, something they also played in during the previous season.
2nd World War cup record
1st World War league record
In contrast to the 2nd World War, after the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, the 1914/15 league season continued and was completed. Thereafter regional leagues were organised, and Arsenal took part in the London Combination League for the rest of the war.
See also our History and Stats section, including Derek's History of AFC up to 1956 which covers the years before and after the war.
copyright belongs to original author where credited. otherwise © Rupert Ward, ArseWeb MMV
ArseWeb is NOT the official Arsenal site. The (excellent) official site is here