North London derbies
Ahead of Arsenal's trip to Tottenham on Sunday, we take a look at some of the most significant encounters between the sides.
Woolwich Arsenal 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur (First Division, 1909-10)
Tottenham and Arsenal were London's first league teams and, though they were not yet neighbours, their first competitive match in December 1909 saw thousands of Spurs fans endure what the Daily Express labelled a "fierce struggle to board the Woolwich ferry boats" in anticipation.
Both teams were struggling at that time - Arsenal were 19th and Spurs 16th in a 20-team league - but they were both showing signs of revival. "In these circumstances, followers of the two London clubs naturally anticipated an interesting struggle," The Guardian reported. "The rivalry, however, proved too keen, and the play, only moderate from the start, fell off deplorably in the second half."
The only incident of note, the Express said, came as Spurs forward Ivor Brown left the Arsenal goalkeeper "lying outside the penalty area pathetically" before firing wide of the post. "It is seldom that such a cast-iron, rock-bottom, jewelled-in-every-hole opportunity of scoring a goal is thrown away," the report jibed.
Arsenal won the game by a solitary goal and the rivalry had begun, but the explosive clashes of the future would have to wait.
Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 The Arsenal (First Division, 1922-23)
Woolwich Arsenal left Plumstead for Highbury in 1913 - changing their name to The Arsenal in April, 1914 - and, although they and Spurs played only non-competitive games in their first years as North London neighbours, the rivalry grew stronger when Arsenal controversially supplanted Spurs in the First Division.
In 1919, when football restarted after the First World War, the top two divisions were increased from 20 to 22 teams. Tottenham, having finished bottom in the last edition of the First Division, were relegated. Arsenal officially finished fifth in the Second Division - an error in goal difference calculation elevated them from sixth - but were promoted to the top-flight after beating Spurs, among others, in a vote. The story has been discussed in depth in a previous Rewind article.
Tottenham quickly made amends after their relegation, promoted as Second Division champions at the first time of asking, and in 1921 played out the first competitive North London derby in the First Division. Spurs won the game 2-1 at White Hart Lane, and the Express reported that "there was all the expected keenness in the meeting", and the meetings that followed all brought bumper crowds.
In September 1922, the bitterness took hold. In the first of the team's two meetings that month, Arsenal won 2-1 at White Hart Lane in hugely controversial circumstances. The Express, in a report headed 'Strange conduct of three Arsenal players', said there had been "hostile demonstrations" from the Spurs fans and that they went home disappointed and angry - "disappointed because Tottenham lost and angry because of some of the tactics of the visiting team. It is no use mincing matters. There was a lot of deliberate fouling, and it was done by some of the Arsenal players". The Sunday Evening Telegram's report said: "After the Spurs goal came the most disgraceful scene I have witnessed on any ground at any time. Players pulled the referee, blows with fists were exchanged, and all the dignity that appertains in the referee was rudely trampled on."
Rumours began to emerge that the FA was to hold an inquiry into the game, and the return at Highbury saw a new referee appointed and FA officials present to oversee the encounter. With the spotlight firmly on the meeting, the violent tactics were abadoned as Spurs, forced to make several changes through injury, won the game 2-0.
In early October, the FA committee published a report into the first encounter, and Spurs' Bert Smith was banned for a month because he "used most filthy language" towards Arsenal's Alex Graham, who was in turn "censured for retaliating". The report added: "The Commission is satisfied that the spectators interfered with the proper conduct of the match, and they are warned that a repetition of such conduct will result in the closing of the ground, at great loss to the club and also themselves."
Arsenal 5-1 Tottenham Hotspur and Tottenham Hotspur 0-6 Arsenal (First Division, 1934-35)
Never have Arsenal fans enjoyed such gleeful domination over Spurs as in the 1934-35 season. It was a campaign in which Arsenal recorded their biggest ever home and away wins over their arch-rivals and finished at the head of the table while Spurs finished at its foot.
In October, Arsenal routed Spurs 5-1 at home. "Well before half-time at Highbury, on Saturday, Arsenal fans were gloating over a 'killing'," journalist Arthur Simmons wrote in the Express. "They bawled 'Cock Robin' for all they were worth. The smaller battalions of Tottenham supporters, watching the game slipping away, had no adequate retort to this barrage of rough music. I heard 'raspberries', but they had no flavour."
The return at White Hart Lane in March was to prove even more severe for Tottenham. Without a league win in 1935, they had been forced to adopt a new strategy, but it brought only more misery as they went down to a 6-0 defeat, with Arsenal debutant Alf Kirchen netting a brace.
"Somebody at Tottenham had a bright idea yesterday," the Express report began. "They thought it all out and came to the conclusion that there was one way to stop Arsenal winning. 'We'll play the offside game,' they said, and it was so. Take another look at the score and see what their plan did for them. Imagine any side trying to work an old gag like that on one of the best forward lines in the game! It was just asking for trouble ... and, gosh - it brought it! Spurs kept on with their 'How's-that-man?' until they made the 48,000 crowd dizzy. And it was too utterly futile for words. It had the spectators jeering ... the only thing it didn't do was stop Arsenal scoring."
Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham Hotspur (First Division, 1963-64)
The early 1960s represent the most glorious period in Tottenham's history, and under Bill Nicholson they won a league and FA Cup double in 1960-61, the FA Cup in 1961-62, and the Cup Winners' Cup in 1962-63. They had won four and drawn one of the six North London derbies in those seasons, but there were signs that the Gunners were on the way back up by the time of their first meeting of the 1963-64 season.
Spurs had been second in the table with a game in hand ahead of that October meeting; Arsenal, despite losing three of their first four games, were just one point behind in sixth. Nicholson, asked whether the Gunners were ready to challenge his side, said: "Challenge? Challenge? What do you mean challenge? I don't worry about other clubs."
The match - which came almost exactly a year after a thrilling 4-4 draw at White Hart Lane - saw Highbury attract its highest attendance for a decade as 67,986 fans piled through the gates. For much of the game, it looked like the home fans were to be disappointed: Spurs had been much the better side and, for almost the entire second half, they led 4-2.
With five minutes of the game remaining, though, Joe Baker swivelled and fired home to make it 4-3 before Geoff Strong, with just 20 seconds remaining, headed home a corner.
"This was a football moment that combined the relief of Lucknow and Mafeking, and even then the full drama was not played out," Desmond Hackett wrote in the Express. "Battle-stained Bobby Smith charged after referee Dennis Howell, of Birmingham, protesting that goalkeeper Bill Brown had been held when Geoff Strong smuggled in the pride-saving goal." Smith was booked because, the referee said, he "wouldn't shut up", but the striker said: "If he wants to take me before the FA, I am more than ready."
Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Arsenal (First Division, 1970-71)
Arsenal went into their final game of the 1970-71 season a point behind Leeds United. Leeds had already played their 42 games for the season, leaving a straightforward equation: if Arsenal won or claimed a 0-0 draw, they would take the title; any other result and they would finish second.
Their final game was at White Hart Lane, against a Spurs side hoping to finish the season in third. There had never before been a goalless draw in the North London derby, and that result would make Arsenal champions by the slenderest margin in English football history, but neither side had any intention of sharing the spoils. "We will win," Arsenal defender Pat Rice said, while Tottenham's Alan Mullery added: "The only helping hand they can count on from us is a consolation handshake at the end."
Managers Bertie Mee and Bill Nicholson also outlined their determination to take the two points ahead of what was perhaps the most hotly anticipated North London derby of all time. Fans queued all day for tickets and, while around 50,000 made it into White Hart Lane, around 50,000 more were kept out as the gates closed an hour before kick-off. What transpired was an understandably tense encounter of few genuine chances, and for 87 minutes it appeared the teams would indeed be playing out a 0-0 draw.
With three minutes to go, though, Ray Kennedy headed Arsenal into the lead, prompting wild celebrations. A goal for Spurs would still have been enough to deny the Gunners, and there was a flashpoint in the Arsenal area in the dying moments, but they held on to claim a most treasured derby victory. "It's the greatest moment of my life," Mee said afterwards.
Tottenham Hotspur 0-5 Arsenal (First Division, 1978-79)
Tottenham, relegated in 1976-77, had made a good start to life back back in the top-flight after Keith Burkinshaw led them to promotion the following season, and they were sitting eighth in the table when they hosted Arsenal two days before Christmas.
They were brought down to earth with a bang as an Alan Sunderland hat-trick, together with a goal for Frank Stapleton and a superb effort from Liam Brady, left them with their biggest North London derby defeat at White Hart Lane for 43 years. The Arsenal fans "sang their own lively version of 'Jingle Bells'," the Express reported, as the Spurs fans directed some "fierce abuse" at Burkinshaw, who described his side's start as "horrendous".
Tottenham Hotspur 5-0 Arsenal (First Division, 1982-83)
It took four and a half years for Spurs to exact revenge for their 1978 humbling. It was their biggest victory over their arch-rivals since their 5-0 success on Christmas Day of 1911 and, with three of their goals coming inside the first 18 minutes, the result was never in doubt.
"For once Arsenal's negative tactics - sideways passing, cluttered movement on the ball, refusal to use the flanks - came home to roost with a vengeance," The Guardian reported, and a gleeful Keith Burkinshaw said afterwards: "We never let Arsenal play and I was particularly pleased about the result because they did us 5-0 in my first season as a First Division manager. That hurt a bit."
Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Arsenal (FA Cup semi-final, 1990-91)
Paul Gascoigne had rarely been out of the newspapers in 1991, with talk of a move to Lazio a regular fixture alongside question marks over his form, but he made headlines for all the right reasons during the FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal at Wembley. Gascoigne had undergone an abdominal operation little over a month before the game, and there had been much debate over whether he would be selected, but Spurs boss Terry Venables plied the midfielder with painkillers and hoped for the best.
He succumbed to cramp after 61 minutes, but that hour had given him all the time he needed to produce a career-defining performance. He opened the scoring by striking a sublime 30-yard free-kick into the top corner - an effort Venables described as "the best free-kick in the history of the FA Cup", adding: "He's the only player capable of doing something like that. To get bend and accuracy and power, it's unique." Gascoigne then played his part in Gary Lineker's goal for 2-0 before departing to leave his team-mates to complete the job.
One story often forgotten is the claim that Arsenal's players had recorded their cup final song ahead of the semi-final and, though the story was later denied as "total rubbish", the Tottenham players had believed it. "We were incensed," midfielder Paul Stewart said. "If anything served to wind the lads up it was that, and it serves Arsenal right."
Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Arsenal (Premier League, 2001-02)
Sol Campbell's move to Arsenal on a Bosman in 2001 rates as one of the most controversial in the sport's history, and the news of the transfer saw Spurs fans hang and burn an effigy of their former hero.
Ahead of his first trip back to White Hart Lane in November, the fans had floated a number of ideas over how to maximise Campbell's discomfort. One idea was for the home fans to whisper in unison every time he received the ball, while another was to rattle money bags resembling Judas Iscariot's 12 pieces of silver. "I will be turning my back on Sol Campbell during the three minutes of contempt, taking a Judas balloon into the stadium, booing him when he gets near the ball and shouting plenty of abuse at him," one supporter said.
The balloons and boos followed, along with mock bank notes featuring Campbell's face, while the Arsenal team bus was pelted with bottles, but Campbell thrived under the pressure and delivered what Arsene Wenger felt was his finest performance for the club to that point. At half-time, he even broke up a fight between Patrick Vieira and Teddy Sheringham.
The Campbell storyline inevitably stole all the headlines, but the match itself provided high drama, too, with Robert Pires' 25-yard strike in the 81st minute seemingly having gifted Arsenal the win before Gus Poyet snatched a point at the death. "I am disappointed because Arsenal showed a lack of maturity and class, giving away the equalising goal with just 30 seconds left," Wenger said.
Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Arsenal (Premier League, 2003-04)
During their Invincibles campaign, as in the 1970-71 season, Arsenal clinched the title at White Hart Lane. The 2-2 draw gave them the point they needed to take the title and preserve their unbeaten record with four games to play but, after a remarkable climax, it was relegation-threatened Spurs who were celebrating at the final whistle.
It was a game the Gunners should have won easily, with Patrick Vieira taking just three minutes to break the deadlock before Robert Pires doubled their advantage. In the second-half, though, a Jamie Redknapp free-kick let Spurs back in and, with seconds left on the clock, Jens Lehmann located the self-destruct button, tangling with Robbie Keane at a corner to concede a penalty.
Keane converted from the spot and the Spurs fans celebrated like title winners as Arsene Wenger glared on in evident fury. The final whistle and confirmation of Arsenal's title came moments later, but the new champions took the moment to remonstrate with referee Mark Halsey. It was only when they re-emerged 20 minutes later that they appeared to recognise their own considerable triumph and the celebrations began.
Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham Hotspur (Premier League, 2008-09)
Arsene Wenger has been involved in a number of derby goal gluts over the years. Arsenal won 5-4 in the 2004-05 campaign while, in 2010-11, they threw away two-goal leads in both a 3-2 defeat and a 3-3 draw.
Perhaps the most dramatic of all, though, was the 4-4 draw at the Emirates in October 2008. The Gunners - looking to gain revenge for a 5-1 League Cup semi-final defeat in the teams' previous meeting - were taking on a Spurs side revitalised by the recent arrival of Harry Redknapp.
Despite the Redknapp factor, Arsenal had looked good value for the victory as they led 4-2 from the 68th minute, but in the dying moments they suffered an astonishing collapse: first Jermaine Jenas curled the ball home in the 89th minute and, in injury time, Aaron Lennon completed the comeback. Though they had taken just a point, Spurs felt sufficiently moved by the comeback to bring out a DVD of the encounter, and a "very angry" Wenger said after the match: "What happened to us when we were leading 4-2 should never happen."