Tottenham On This Day: The Start Of The Rivalry With Arsenal


Tottenham in 1887 [Photo:]Tottenham On This Day

19th November, 1887

We have to go back 126 years for the first meeting of Tottenham and Arsenal – the start of the rivalry between the two clubs.

It was the early days of football in England. Tottenham had been founded in 1882 and they were still playing on pitches on the Tottenham marshes. Spurs were not playing in a league and the season consisted of  matches in some Cup competitions and a series of friendlies with clubs around the city. They were playing in colours similar to those of Blackburn Rovers, light blue and white halves shirts.

Arsenal were not a north London club in 1887, they were from south of the Thames and were known as Royal Arsenal and based in Woolwich in south-east London. Their re-location in 1913 to north of the river to Islington, less than five miles from Tottenham intensified the rivalry that had already existed between the two clubs as they became neighbours vying for support from the people of North London.

Tottenham Hotspur 2 Royal Arsenal 1 (Friendly)

The Start of Spurs’ Rivalry with Arsenal

The first game against the team who were to become the club’s greatest rivals was played on Tottenham Marshes, their original home. Two years later Spurs were to move to play their matches on a new enclosed ground at Northumberland Park.

Delayed Kick-off

The first match started late due to the visitor’s late arrival because of traffic congestion. It was abandoned with fifteen minutes remaining because of bad light when the Arsenal captain decided it was too dark and led his team off. Spurs were leading 2-1 when the game came to an early conclusion and claimed the victory. The goal scorers and the team for this first win over Arsenal are unknown, no records having been kept.

Such was the start of what was to become a rivalry which has only increased with every passing year and with every game between the two clubs contested as if no other result had any importance.