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First ever Arsenal Team



Arsenal Football Club began life when a group of workers at the Woolwich Arsenal Armament Factory decided to form a football team in late 1886.

The Club played under the name of Dial Square. Their first match was a 6-0 victory over Eastern Wanderers, on December 11th, 1886. Soon after, the name Royal Arsenal was adopted and the Club continued playing in friendlies and local cup competitions for the next few years. In 1891 the Club turned professional and changed its name to Woolwich Arsenal, finally joining the Football League in 1893.

Following the First World War, the First Division was extended to 22 teams and Arsenal was voted into the top division, a position it has held ever since.

During the 1930s Arsenal won five League Championships (including a hat-trick) and two F.A. Cups and had some of the game's greatest players on its books: Alex James, Ted Drake, Cliff Bastin, David Jack, Eddie Hapgood and George Male were just the pinnacle of one of the greatest sides ever to play in the Football League. Sadly, manager Herbert Chapman died in 1934, but others continued what he had started and only the war stopped Arsenal in its tracks.

In 1947, Tom Whittaker became manager and more success followed. Arsenal were Champions in 1947/48 and 1952/53; F.A. Cup winners in 1950 and runners-up in 1952.

The '60s provided little in the way of silverware at Highbury, with two losing appearances in the League Cup Final in 1968 and 1969 being the closest thing to success. However, the decade did witness Bertie Mee's appointment as manager of the Club in 1966 and in the following decade he was to achieve one of the most significant landmarks in Arsenal's history.

In 1970/71 Mee took the Gunners to the League and F.A. Cup 'Double' for the first time, coming from behind in the Cup Final to beat Liverpool 2-1 at Wembley. Later in the decade, Terry Neill took Arsenal to three consecutive F.A. Cup Finals, winning the 1979 game 3-2 against Manchester United after a truly memorable last five minutes.

The Gunners also reached the 1980 Cup Winners' Cup Final, with a team that included Graham Rix, Frank Stapleton, Pat Rice, David O'Leary and Liam Brady. In the summer of 1986, former midfield star of the 'Double' winning team George Graham became manager and another spell of success followed.

The catalyst for future triumphs came in 1986/87 when Arsenal became the inaugural winners of the Littlewoods Cup. It was the first time the Club had won the League Cup in any of its guises. League Championships followed in 1988/89 and 1990/91; the domestic Cup 'Double' in 1993 and, finally, the Cup Winners' Cup victory against Parma in 1994.

Graham's departure from the Club was followed by a brief spell at the helm for Bruce Rioch before (in September 1996) Frenchman, Arsene Wenger arrived at Highbury, becoming the Club's first ever manager from outside the British Isles.

In 1997/98, Wenger's first full season at Highbury, Arsenal achieved the domestic 'Double', for the second time in the Club's history. The Frenchman also picked up the Carling Manager of the Year Award. A tremendous season was rounded off perfectly for French Internationals Emmanuel Petit, Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry and Robert Pires as the Gunners stars played their part in France's victorious World Cup campaign.

The Club also said goodbye to striking legend Ian Wright, who left Arsenal as record goalscorer with 185 goals in all competitions. 1998/99 saw Arsenal win the Charity Shield but finish runners-up in the Premiership and the following season they recorded a similar Charity Shield/runners-up combination.

With Thierry Henry, Davor Suker, Silvinho, Oleg Luzhny and Stefan Malz joining the Club, 1999/2000 started well with the Charity Shield victory over Manchester United but finished with disappointing defeat in the UEFA Cup Final at the hands of Galatasaray.

But the summer did see success for Arsenal's French contingent, current players Patrick Vieira ,Thierry Henry, Sylvain Wiltord and Robert Pires were all involved in France's Euro 2000 success, along with former stars Manu Petit and Nicolas Anelka.

More international stars, Pires, Lauren, Wiltord and Igors Stepanovs, joined in time for the 2000/2001 season, and once again Arsenal pushed Manchester United hard in the Premiership, finishing second for the third consecutive year.

The Gunners also made it to the Quarter-Finals of the UEFA Champions League for the first time, but were eliminated on the away goals rule by eventual finalists Valencia.

The season was to end in disappointment again, as Liverpool turned around a 1-0 deficit to beat the Gunners 2-1 in the first ever F.A. Cup Final held at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

Another busy summer of transfer activity at Highbury has given reason for optimism for the 2001/02 campaign. Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Francis Jeffers, Richard Wright and Junichi Inamoto have been added to the squad, but most of the headlines belonged to England centre-back Sol Campbell, who arrived at Highbury following a nine year spell with north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

2001-02 Saw the Gunners write a new chapter in their illustrious history with a third 'Double'. We clinched the F.A. Cup in style with a 2-0 win against Chelsea at the Millennium Stadium. And won the Title at the sweetest of venues, Manchester United's Old Trafford.