14th December, 1912
On this day in 1912 Tottenham made their last trip south of the river to play Woolwich Arsenal. The home side were relegated at the end of the 1912-13 season, never to win promotion again!
Woolwich Arsenal 0 Tottenham Hotspur 3 (1st Division)
Scorers: Steel, R., Cantrell (2, 1 pen)
This was the last occasion when Spurs visited the Manor Field in Plumstead for the derby match against Woolwich Arsenal. They arrived with only a few minutes to spare as the char-a-banc in which they travelled had arrived late and then in trying to make up time, they were stopped by the police.
Arsenal were bottom of the division, having only one point from their previous nine games and only three points from their nine home games. Spurs weren’t much better with only one point more than their opponents, although they had won two of their previous three games, which was some improvement after starting the season without a win in their first twelve games.
Spurs late arrival enabled Arsenal to exert early pressure but as the game went on Spurs took more control and early in the second half, Bobby Steel scored from a corner. Arsenal then lost two players through injury and further goals came from Jimmy Cantrell, the first a penalty. This was Spurs first victory at the home of Arsenal and at the end of the season Spurs finished 12 points ahead of relegated Arsenal.
Arsenal never did win promotion to the 1st Division but sadly found other ways through people of influence to manipulate their way back into the top flight at the end of the 1st World War.
May, 1913 – The Invasion of the Woolwich Nomads
At the end of that season, five years after entering the Football League, Spurs found their patch of north London under invasion. As stated in an edition of ‘Spurs Monthly’,
‘Woolwich Arsenal were in crippling debt, had a rapidly dilapidating stadium and were struggling to attract supporters owing to their poor location.’
It was then that their Chairman, Henry Norris decided to move the club from the southern side of the Thames, north to Islington, less than five miles from Tottenham. This was a direct invasion of the area from where Spurs drew their support. There were immediate objections from Spurs, Leyton Orient and Chelsea and local newspapers wrote articles of protest. The protests fell on deaf ears at the FA and the move was sanctioned, enabling Arsenal to play their first game at Highbury in September, 1913.
The reason for their move was confirmed in the programme for the first 2nd Division match at Highbury, ‘…the depressing times we had at Plumstead, with its poor train service and the lukewarm support we received from those in the immediate neighbourhood.’
The rivalry that had existed between two London clubs was now intensified as they became neighbours vying for support from the people of North London.