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Arsenal History Programme: ‘It feels great to remind Gooners we won two titles at Spurs’

PUBLISHED: 14:12 17 January 2017 | UPDATED: 14:18 17 January 2017

Gunners historian Paul Matz uses his cuttings to compile the Arsenal History Programme. Picture: Polly Hancock

Gunners historian Paul Matz uses his cuttings to compile the Arsenal History Programme. Picture: Polly Hancock

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A very different kind of matchday programme is doing the rounds at Emirates Stadium games this season. The Arsenal History Programme focuses on forgotten facts, and the Gazette speaks to its mastermind, Paul Matz.

The 10th Arsenal History Programme (v Crystal Palace). Picture: Paul MatzThe 10th Arsenal History Programme (v Crystal Palace). Picture: Paul Matz

Any Arsenal fans nursing a hangover on New Year’s Day would surely have been cheered by the site of the Arsenal History Programme.

After all, what Gooner wouldn’t like to be reminded that Arsenal won the league in their enemy’s back yard?

The programme, now in its 11 edition, began at the start of the season and is sold ahead of every home game.

It shares forgotten facts about Arsenal’s history with the team they are playing on that particular day.

So when Crystal Palace visited on January 1, editor Paul Matz took particular delight in the front cover.

He says: “It was a reminder of when we won the wartime league by beating Palace 9-0 at home in 1943.

Woolwich Arsenal team photo in 1895. Picture: Empics SportWoolwich Arsenal team photo in 1895. Picture: Empics Sport

“As if that wasn’t good enough, the quirk was that during this time, Arsenal were playing at White Hart Lane!

“Everyone knows that Arsenal won the league at Spurs in 1971, but I doubt as many knew it had been done before. That one in particular was nice to share.”

The four-page programme, priced at just £1, isn’t just restricted to history about that day’s opponents.

Paul adds: “For our West Brom programme on Boxing Day, we also ran some pictures of Woolwich Arsenal [as the club was known until 1914] players making Christmas puddings for poor families in 1909.

“Community work is a big part of the club today, and those pictures showed it has always been a part of its culture.”

The programme is compiled by volunteers at the Arsenal History Society, which is an offshoot of the Arsenal Independent Supporters’ Association.

Gunners historian Paul Matz uses his cuttings, such as this 1930s scrapbook, to compile the Arsenal History Programme. Picture: Polly HancockGunners historian Paul Matz uses his cuttings, such as this 1930s scrapbook, to compile the Arsenal History Programme. Picture: Polly Hancock

Paul, a lifelong Gooner of 60 years who has a dedicated Arsenal room in his Tannington Terrace home in Highbury, says: “The history society has been going five or six years. We realised at the start of the season that because we do so much work, we should share it more widely with our members and Arsenal supporters.

“We are one of the biggest clubs in the world and history is a big part of us.”

Over the years, Paul and his colleagues – Mark Andrews, Andy Kelly and Tony Attwood – have also sought to right widely circulated wrongs.

He says: “There is so much in Arsenal’s history that is hidden. And there are also lots of mistakes.

“It was reported that that in Arsenal’s first game [the club was born as Dial Square FC], Fred Beardsley was the vice-captain. It was only a few years ago when it was proved that he couldn’t have been – as he was playing for Nottingham Forest that day!

“Another example is the myth behind Arsenal changing from all red shirts to red with white sleeves. Some accounts would have you believe it was a spectator pointing it out at a match.

Arsenal legend George Male, running onto the Highbury pitch in 1934, was one of the first players to don white sleeves. Picture: Barratts/Empics SportArsenal legend George Male, running onto the Highbury pitch in 1934, was one of the first players to don white sleeves. Picture: Barratts/Empics Sport

“It was actually a cartoonist friend of Herbert Chapman [the legendary Gunners manager] who stirred his interest with his drawings of white sleeves, and Chapman took it from there.”

The latest edition of the Arsenal History Programme will be available from vendors outside Emirates Stadium before Sunday’s Premier League game against Burnely. For more information, email paul.matz@aisa.org


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