The highlight of the 1935/36 season was one game involving former gas inspector and Gunners legend Ted Drake.
The date was December 14, 1935 and the match was one of the standard classics of the decade - Aston Villa v Arsenal at Villa Park. A crowd of 60,891 were packed inside the ground to see another instalment in a rivalry which has provided a series of highly memorable encounters since 1930.
They were not to be disappointed.
Villa fielded six internationals, Arsenal were without Alex James and Joe Hulme. Centre-forward Drake had been in the reserves and was carrying a knee injury, which was heavily strapped for the first time.
For the first quarter hour the hosts were in the ascendancy. But at half time Villa were 3-0 down, and Drake had a hat-trick. All the goals were classic Arsenal - a long ball from Pat Beasley for Drake to run on to, a long pass from Bastin which Drake finished from the edge of the area, and a rebound after Beasley had taken aim from the wing.
After an hour Drake had a double hat-trick and Arsenal were 6-0 up. The fourth owed to a mistake by Villa centre-half Tommy Griffiths, the fifth saw another assist from Bastin and the sixth was an instant effort after a bad clearance.
Drake was controlling the ball perfectly, beating defenders at will and shooting so accurately that the Villa keeper, Harry Morton, had no chance. It was the exhibition of a complete centre forward. An attempt at a seventh actually hit the bar and bounced down to be cleared. It was one of only two efforts by Drake in the whole afternoon which missed its mark. The other was saved.
Villa did score once, through Palethorpe, but Drake had the last word in the final minute. Again it was Bastin who played the ball forward; and Drake notched No 7.
The striker's seven goals in Birmingham were a League record, equalling Jimmy Ross Junior's alleged total for Preston against Stoke set way back in 1888 (and since found to be incorrect).
By one of those peculiar statistical coincidences, Drake was to hold the record for just 12 days as Bunny Bell of Tranmere scored nine against Oldham in the Third Division North. It was still a First Division record though and remains so to this day.
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