Arsenal Celebrate a Century of North London Domination – by Rob Atkinson

Arse Spuds

It was one hundred years ago today that Arsenal FC, kings of North London for as long as anyone can remember, made that historic move from Woolwich to Islington.  Life in North London would never be the same again – certainly not for Tottenham Hotspur, the Gunners’ long-suffering rivals.  For that day 100 years ago was the day that Spurs stopped being the Cockerels crowing from Tottenham right across North London, and became instead permanent residents within Arsenal’s shadow.

An aggregation of Arsenal’s league record across the 20th Century – the only complete century of League football – shows that they are not only top dogs in the Capital, but arguably across the country as a whole.  The aggregated League table 1900 – 1999 puts the Gunners firmly in top place.  The whole point of a league system is a club’s placing over time, so this decisively ends the argument as to who were the top club of the last century.

Spurs had their moments in the league during the 20th century as well – but not in colour. Their last title triumph was in 1961, an age of flickering monochrome TV when JFK succeeded Eisenhower for his ill-fated US presidential term, Harold MacMillan was Prime Minister in the UK and – most notably of all – I was born.  In short, it was a bloody long time ago.  If I ever wish to emphasise what an old fogey I am, I simply mention that my eyes first opened on a world where Spurs were Champions.  People tend to get the message.

Since those far-off days of temporary Spurs supremacy, Arsenal have been Champions six times.  Even my own beloved Leeds United have won it three times for heavens sake.  To hear Tottenham described as a major club in the light of such damning statistics always seems a little bizarre.  In London and beyond, the world of colour TV, the transistor era, the space age, the digital revolution, all the many different ways that the modern era can be encapsulated – it’s all been dominated by Arsenal.  And as befits a club with a full century of ruling their own North London roost, Arsenal have done it with class.  Class and prestige are integral to the club.  The marble halls of Highbury were legendary and now Arsenal have a new world-class super-stadium, the finest in the land.

The pre-eminence of Arsenal on their own patch, and in their own 20th century, is beyond doubt.  This Centenary day then is worthy of being celebrated – and Arsenal celebrated it in typical style with a comprehensive victory over Stoke City to go top of the league again. You don’t have to be an Arsenal fan to admire them and to appreciate what they’ve done for the game as a whole.  My fondness for them is down to their class, their history, their style and the sumptuously gorgeous football they play under M. Wenger.  And perhaps also for being the only club we can beat in domestic Cup Finals…

Congratulations, Arsenal, on your hundred years in North London.  May there be another hundred to come – and much more success.  Arsenal FC are what football is all about.

17 responses to “Arsenal Celebrate a Century of North London Domination – by Rob Atkinson

  1. As a Arsenal fan, I hope one day Leeds are back in the big leagues, because they are one of my favorite teams other than Arsenal and because of their great history with Arsenal. Good luck!


  2. As a Gooner I always had a soft spot for Leeds as well but not the 70s version. A wonderful team full of great players who all too often kicked their way to victory when they had the skill and talent to do it fairly. I just wish Leeds would go back to their traditional blkue and gold shirt rather than the all white outfit they wear nowdays.


  3. As a spurs fan, I am forced to admit that you have had the best of it these past 25 years or so … but a CENTURY of domination? Don’t make me laugh; and remember, all good things come to an end and yours is coming fast … enjoy the CL this season, going to be a while before you’re back in it.LOL.


  4. Kevin thomas

    100 years,,,,,,,it took you 30 years before you won anything and that was because you employed a spurs man ,,Herbert chapman. Spurs first to win the double ,only amateur side to win the fa cup, first British team to win in Europe first team to win back to back fa cups first team to score 100 goals in a season …..ans still ahead of you in Europe some dominance ,,,,,


    • It might have taken Arsenal 30 years to get started, but after that they’d been champions 6 times before Spurs even got their first of only two league titles. Chapman (a Spurs man for all of 42 games!) was a brilliant manager but an undistinguished player who played for mediocre teams.(at least one of them in the Southern League – guess who?). Spurs may have been first to win the double but then they simply forgot how to do it. Arsenal also beat Spurs to three consecutive league titles (to do that you have to win more than two). While Spurs won back to back FA cups before Arsenal, they were not the first team to do that. So, I’ll let you have the glory of Spurs’ winning more League cups and one more European trophy and being first to score 100 goals in a season. In return I give you Arsenal’s ……13 top League titles, 10 FA cup wins and 3 doubles, 28 seasons in Europe (17 in the premier competition – should have been 18 – thanks Liverpool!), a league championship hat trick, longest ever-present in the top division, longest unbeaten sequence, longest unbeaten sequence in a seaon (invincibles), longest unbeaten start to a season, longest winning sequence, most undefeated away in a season, Now that’s what I call dominance! 🙂


  5. ” For as long as anyone can remember ” ???? Your 52 and can’t remember the 80’s when Spurs constantly finished above the Arse whilst winning more trophy’s ?
    Stick to lower league Northern teams mate.


    • I’m sure I remember Arsenal winning a title in the 80’s, just as they did in the 70’s the 90’s and – erm – the Noughties. But I guess you Spuds don’t count titles…


    • Re-writing history there Eddie! Arsenal finished above Spurs in 79-80, 80-81, 83-84, 85-86, 87-88 and 88-89 (Champions!). And in 81-82 you only got us on goal difference! Must try harder.


  6. mick shephard

    When it comes to European trophies, Arsenal are in Spurs’ shadow. Arsenal have only won 2 – an Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and an Cup Winners Cup. Spurs have won 3 European trophies – 2 UEFA Cups and and a Cup Winners Cup. Tottenham…..the European Kings of North London!


    • Such a tiny shadow, Arsenal – 28 seasons in Europe, with 17 in the premier competition. Spurs 19 seasons in Europe, with 2 in the premier competition. And oh, I nearly forgot Spurs’ famous foray into the Intertoto! Standing in that shadow and loving it 🙂


  7. Arsenal the only club to get promoted to the top division by finishing in 5th place in Division 2, They dominate every other club in that respect.


  8. I do appreciate all you’ve said here, but I thought I might be so bold as to correct a little bit. The first match at Highbury was on 30 August 1913 – it was a behind closed doors practice match. The two previous practice matches had been played elsewhere, as Highbury was not ready.

    The first league game at Highbury was 6 September 1913 when Woolwich Arsenal beat Leicester Fosse 2-1 in front of 20,000.

    The details of these events and thousands of other Arsenal events are recorded in the Anniversary Files of the Arsenal History Society – you’ll find the links on

    Tony Attwood, chair, Arsenal History Society


    • Thanks Tony. I was of course writing after the remarks of the commentators for the Arsenal v Stoke match, where they repeatedly referred to that day as the centenary – presumably, in the light of your reliable information, this would have been the 100th anniversary of the actual move of effects from one place to the other? I note that you don’t dispute any of my remarks about Arsenal’s dominance over Spurs during that 100 years, which is reassuring after some of the comments I’ve received from certain unhappy Tottenham fans!


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