History

Whittaker leads Arsenal to sixth title

1947-48 League Champions

Most football dynasties are brought down by the ravages of time or the rise of another force in the game.

Arsenal's domination of the 1930s was an exception to that rule.

Instead of losing its way on the pitch, the powerhouse created by Herbert Chapman and maintained by George Allison was halted by the outbreak of World War II.

The conflict ended in 1945 and professional football resumed in 1946, but the intervention of the war had left Arsenal weaker. Indeed, they were almost relegated from the top division in 1947 before rallying to finish 13th, 16 points behind champions Liverpool.

"The Gunners led from start to finish in the title race, ending up seven points clear of Manchester United."

Allison, who had done so much to continue the work of Chapman, retired that summer and Tom Whittaker was appointed Secretary-Manager. Whittaker was hugely respected and a great servant to the club, first as a player, then as the country's leading physio and finally as the man in charge.

With Whittaker at the helm Arsenal bounced back in the 1947/48 season to regain the championship trophy they had lifted five times in the 1930s. The Gunners led from start to finish in the title race, ending up seven points clear of Manchester United.

On January 17, 1948, Arsenal's visit to United attracted a crowd of 81,962. It remains one of the highest-ever attendances for a league game in England.

Whittaker was the architect of Arsenal's triumph but on the pitch Ronnie Rooke took most of the plaudits. The prolific striker hit 33 goals to win the Golden Boot, including four in the final game of the season, a 8-0 thumping of Grimsby at Highbury. Like goalkeeper George Swindin, Rooke played in every game that season.

Reg Lewis netted 14 times during the campaign and Joe Mercer captained the side while Leslie Compton fulfilled his cricket duties with Middlesex and the South of England. Mercer did so well that Compton insisted he keep the job when he swapped his pads for football boots at the end of the cricket season.

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A Day In Time: May 1, 1948

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