One year after winning 1930 FA Cup Final, Arsenal continued their rise to the top echelons of football with their first league title. Herbert Chapman’s team had the exceptional forward line of Jack Lambert, David Jack and Cliff Bastin and opposition defences simply could not cope with their combined skills. Lambert scored 38 goals in 34 matches, Jack 31 in 35 and Bastin 28 from 42. Joe Hulme also netted 14 times as Arsenal scored 127 league goals, a club record for a single season.
Arsenal handed out a number of thrashings. Grimsby Town were on the end of a 9-1 hiding in a replay of the game that was abandoned on December 6th 1930, although they could consider themselves slightly unlucky as they were leading 1-0 when the game was abandoned, due to fog after 63 minutes. Blackpool lost 7-1 at Highbury, Derby conceded six on their visit to North London, and Arsenal won 7-2 at Leicester. It was an exciting time to be a Gunner. Cliff Bastin ~ already Arsenal’s youngest scorer, became their youngest scorer of a hat-trick (at 18) in a 6-3 win over Derby on February 14, and was the all-time leading scorer until Ian Wright.
Arsenal won four of their first seven games by 4-1 and looked the only possible winners after beating their nearest challengers, Aston Villa, 5-2 on November 8 – a defeat compounded by Villa’s 6-4 home defeat by Derby the following week. Villa won the return against Arsenal 5-1 in March, but by then it was too late.
In the second-highest scoring season in top-flight history, there was any number of eye-popping results. Leeds United were relegated despite beating Blackpool 7-3, Middlesbrough 7-0 and Man Utd 5-0. Man Utd’ shapless defence let in 115 goals as they lost their first 12 games, starting 4-3, 3-1, 6-0, 6-2, 7-4. Blackpool, who stayed up thanks to a 2-2 draw with Man City on the last day, somehow shipped even more goals than United (125), including a 10-1 defeat at Huddersfield in December.
Arsenal’s first League title (and the first by any southern club) set them on their way to their domination of the 1930s. The previous year’s FA Cup final victory over manager Herbert Chapman’s old club, Huddersfield, was very symbolic, but the championship cemented the arrival of Arsenal. It took Chapman six years to win it, but then the floodgates opened, with three in a row from 1933-35, another in 1938 and a second Cup win in 1936 – although sadly he didn’t live to see most of the silverware, having died in 1934.
The 1930/31 season also saw the debut of the Gunners first player signed from overseas, Dutch goalkeeper Gerry Keyser. He played in the first 12 league matches of the campaign. Another debutant was George Male who made his Arsenal debut against Blackpool in December and went on to serve the Club until 1948; his first appearance was on Christmas Day. The team played three games in three days over the Christmas period, and won them all scoring 14 goals in the process.
Arsenal’s 66 points were six better than the previous best in League history. Villa smashed Sheffield Wednesday’s First Division scoring record of 105, set the previous season – in their home matches alone, Villa scored 86 goals. Tom “Pongo” Waring grabbed 49, a club record. Newcastle’s record crowd (68,386) saw their beloved striker Hughie Gallacher return with his new team, Chelsea, in the second match of the season. Meanwhile, in the Third Division South, the lowest ever League attendance – 469 – huddled in the vast West Ham greyhound stadium to see Thames beat Luton 1-0 on December 6.
Only Arsenal have stayed in the top flight without interruption since then, Everton were Second Division champions in their first year below the top level and won the League title the following season.
The World Cup ~ was inaugurated in the summer of 1930, though not considered important enough for England to enter until 1950.
Bill Shankly ~ started his career with the Ayrshire junior side Cronberry Eglinton.
Stanley Matthews ~ was on the books of Stoke as a 15-year-old, though he did not make his debut until March 1932.
Final League Table
|West Ham United||42||14||8||20||79||94||36|
Arsenal Results 1930/31
|Sat Aug 30||Blackpool||Away||Won||4||1||3|
|Mon Sep 1||Bolton Wanderers||Away||Won||4||1||3|
|Sat Sep 6||Leeds United||Home||Won||3||1||2|
|Wed Sep 10||Blackburn Rovers||Home||Won||3||2||1|
|Sat Sep 13||Sunderland||Away||Won||4||1||3|
|Mon Sep 15||Blackburn Rovers||Away||Drew||2||2||0|
|Sat Sep 20||Leicester City||Home||Won||4||1||3|
|Sat Sep 27||Birmingham||Away||Won||4||2||2|
|Sat Oct 4||Sheffield United||Home||Drew||1||1||0|
|Sat Oct 11||Derby County||Away||Lost||2||4||-2|
|Sat Oct 18||Manchester United||Away||Won||2||1||1|
|Sat Oct 25||West Ham United||Home||Drew||1||1||0|
|Sat Nov 1||Huddersfield||Away||Drew||1||1||0|
|Sat Nov 8||Aston Villa||Home||Won||5||2||3|
|Sat Nov 15||Sheffield Wed||Away||Won||2||1||1|
|Sat Nov 22||Middlesbrough||Home||Won||5||3||2|
|Sat Nov 29||Chelsea||Away||Won||5||1||4|
|Sat Dec 6||Grimsby Town||Home||Abandoned**||0||0||0|
|Sat Dec 13||Liverpool||Away||Drew||1||1||0|
|Sat Dec 20||Newcastle United||Home||Lost||1||2||-1|
|Thu Dec 25||Manchester City||Away||Won||4||1||3|
|Fri Dec 26||Manchester City||Home||Won||3||1||2|
|Sat Dec 27||Blackpool||Home||Won||7||1||6|
|Sat Jan 17||Sunderland||Home||Lost||1||3||-2|
|Wed Jan 28||Grimsby Town||Home||Won||9||1||8|
|Sat Jan 31||Birmingham||Home||Drew||1||1||0|
|Thu Feb 5||Leicester City||Away||Won||7||2||5|
|Sat Feb 7||Sheffield United||Away||Drew||1||1||0|
|Sat Feb 14||Derby County||Home||Won||6||3||3|
|Sat Feb 21||Manchester United||Home||Won||4||1||3|
|Sat Feb 28||West Ham United||Away||Won||4||2||2|
|Sat Mar 7||Huddersfield||Home||Drew||0||0||0|
|Wed Mar 11||Leeds United||Away||Won||2||1||1|
|Sat Mar 14||Aston Villa||Away||Lost||1||5||-4|
|Sat Mar 21||Sheffield Wed||Home||Won||2||0||2|
|Sat Mar 28||Middlesbrough||Away||Won||5||2||3|
|Fri Apr 3||Portsmouth||Away||Drew||1||1||0|
|Sat Apr 4||Chelsea||Home||Won||2||1||1|
|Mon Apr 6||Portsmouth||Home||Drew||1||1||0|
|Sat Apr 11||Grimsby Town||Away||Won||1||0||1|
|Sat Apr 18||Liverpool||Home||Won||3||1||2|
|Sat Apr 25||Newcastle United||Away||Won||3||1||2|
|Sat May 2||Bolton Wanderers||Home||Won||5||0||5|