A small group of Scots sowed the seed which would grow into one of the most famous names in football.
David Danskin, from Burntisland in Fife, worked at the Arsenal munitions factory in Woolwich. The Scot, a football man in an area dominated by rugby and cricket, founded a team with the help of three friends, Elijah Watkins, John Humble and Richard Pearce. The arrival in Woolwich of two Nottingham Forest players, Fred Beardsley and Morris Bates, had spurred Danskin into action.
"Beardsley solved the kit problem by asking his contacts at Nottingham Forest to help. They duly sent a complete set of red shirts."
Word got around and 15 men came forward, each prepared to pay sixpence to help start up a club. Danskin added another three shillings himself and the club bought a football. It was October 1886.
The club arranged its first game for December 1886 but had no name, no kit and nowhere to play. Danskin and company were referred to as Dial Square - after one of the factory's workshops - and crossed the Thames to play Eastern Wanderers on the Isle of Dogs.
Dial Square won 6-0 and met in the Royal Oak pub, next to Woolwich Arsenal station, on Christmas Day 1886. Beardsley solved the kit problem by asking his contacts at Nottingham Forest to help. They duly sent a complete set of red shirts.
And as they sat in the Royal Oak, the founding fathers chose a new name. They combined the name of the pub with their place of work - Royal Arsenal. It was far grander than 'Dial Square' and would be the club's name until 1891 when Woolwich Arsenal was formally adopted.
At the time the 15 men who had pooled their resources to buy a football wanted little more than a means of exercise and, no doubt, the social activity which accompanied it. Little did they know what they had started.
Copyright 2024 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.