Arsenal Club History

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Arsenal Football Club have a storied history as one of England’s most successful teams. Their story dates back to 1886 when munitions workers at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich founded the side as Dial Square. While they now play in the Premier League and are past champions.

A group of munitions workers led by David Danskin took inspiration from a workshop at the centre of Royal Arsenal as they founded the team as Dial Square in 1886. Yet they switched to Royal Arsenal within months before later becoming a limited liability company in 1893.

From then on, Arsenal were known as Woolwich Arsenal until the club relocated from south of the River Thames to north London. They then took on the name of The Arsenal from 1913 but gradually phased out the use of ‘The’ and simply took on Arsenal as their official name.

A general view from outside the stadium during the UEFA Women's Champions League quarter-final 2nd leg match between Arsenal and FC Bayern München ...
Photo by Alex Pantling – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

Arsenal’s bade has changed form 11 times since the club first created a crest on October 20, 1905. The club took inspiration from the Woolwich Borough coat of arms for its design as a sign of their pride in the area with the cannons on the crest reflecting its military influence.

The Gunners’ move away from Woolwich in 1913 necessitated a change in Arsenal’s badge. But the club stuck with one cannon on their crest and adopted their nickname from it from 1922. A change in 1949 then saw the introduction of their motto, Victoria Concordia Crescit.

It further featured the introduction of the word Arsenal on the badge, which would remain unchanged in the most for the next 53 years. The club only made slight alternations to their crest’s colour, with the alterations from the 2001/02 term chosen for commercial reasons.

Arsenal also decided in 2002 to design a new badge to embrace their forever forward vision. The club felt it would be fitting to change their crest ahead of moving to Emirates Stadium in 2006. While they introduced a 125th-anniversary design exclusively for the 2011/12 season.

The badge celebrated Arsenal’s foundation with 15 golden oak leaves on the right in honour of the 15 munitions workers who founded the club. Arsenal also included 15 laurel leaves on the left-hand side to signify the detail on the reverse of the six pence pieces that they paid.

Throughout Arsenal’s history, the club has kept to a red-and-white kit. Only for the 2005/06 season as they bid farewell to Highbury with a special burgundy jersey have they not used a red shirt. While they have stuck with white shorts since 1897 after experimenting with blue.

Robert Pires, Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry of Arsenal with the Premier League Trophy after the Premier League match between Arsenal and Leicest...
Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Arsenal are one of the ever-present Premier League teams having joined the division for its inaugural season in 1992/93. The Gunners have also won three top-flight titles since it broke from the old English Football League, First Division. Their triumphs total 13 top-flight titles.

The Gunners’ legendary manager Herbert Chapman oversaw their first top-flight title back in 1930/31. While the club has now spent more than the past 100 years in the top-flight of the English game. The Football League voted to promote the club to the top-flight back in 1919.

The Football League chose Arsenal over their local rivals Tottenham Hotspur for a top-flight berth as it expanded the division following World War I. Arsenal had fallen out of the earlier version of the top-flight in 1912/13 and only finished the 1914/15 second-tier term in fifth.

Arsenal’s 13 top-flight trophies so far make the north London club the third-most successful team in the English game. Only Manchester United (20) and Liverpool (19) have yet won the top-flight more often. While the Gunners are the most successful FA Cup team of all time.

No team has won the FA Cup more often than Arsenal, who have triumphed 14 times in the oldest national football competition in the world. Another of the Gunners’ legendary former managers, Arsene Wenger, is also the most successful coach having overseen seven titles.

Arsenal’s trophy cabinet also features two English Football League Cups. The team have also lifted the Charity Shield/Community Shield 16 times as well as the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup once and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup once. They lost in the Champions League final in 2005/06.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger holds the Premier League trophy at Islington Town Hall on May 19, 2004 in London, England.
Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Arsenal’s club history is brimming with iconic players and managers. Chapman and Wenger are two of the Gunners’ most legendary coaches, along with George Graham. Chapman led the Gunners to their first major trophy in the 1930 FA Cup three years after losing the final.

Wenger, meanwhile, transformed Arsenal and English football during his 22 years in charge of the club. The Frenchman replaced Graham at the helm at Highbury in October 1996 as a virtually unknown name in England. Yet his free-flowing football would create true legends.

Many iconic players would grace Arsenal over the Wenger years from Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and Sol Campbell, who he stole from Tottenham. While his touch would also transform Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira into two of the Premier League’s most important icons.

Henry would eventually leave Arsenal in 2007 known affectionally as The King having scored a club-record 228 goals. He also holds club records for the most appearances in Europe (86) and the Champions League (78). David O’Leary has the club record (722) in all competitions.

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