1928/29 Season Preview
Reproduced here is The Times’ thoughts on the season ahead published on Friday 24 August 1928, the eve of the new campaign. Follow the fortunes of Chapman’s Arsenal, in real time, on Twitter @ChapmansArsenal and here on the Football Fairground.
The opening of the season
The football season of 1927-28 ended in a tense atmosphere. Up to the very last afternoon it was uncertain which League clubs would be promoted and which relegated – so even indeed, was the position in the First Division that the result of one match could almost transform a club from one of the struggles at the bottom of the table into one of the aristocrats at the top. In the end Tottenham Hotspur and Middlesbrough descended and Leeds United and Manchester City went up, while London found no mean consolation in the rise of Millwall, the heaviest scoring club of all time, from the Southern Section of the Third Division into the Second.
The season, which opens to-morrow, will start on a note of somewhat childlike optimism. All the defeats, disappointments, and injuries of last season will be forgotten, every club sees themselves potential Champions, and a ghostly cup glitters in not a few committee-rooms. Everton, last year’s Champions, are a triumphant example of the success of the policy of wholesale buying of players. The year before saw them struggling to avoid relegation; they bought heavily, saved themselves, and in the next season won their way to the top of the table. They owe a bigger debt to Dean, however, than they do to their money. One man as a rule cannot make a football team as he can a cricket side, but Dean is no ordinary footballer. He is the great centre-forward of to-day – fast, tireless, and powerful with both the will and the ability to shoot. He should keep Everton again well in the first half of the table.
The real heroes of the season, however, were Huddersfield Town. No team in recent years has come so near to winning both the Cup and the Championship – at one time, indeed, both seemed within grasp, but a reaction brought about by too much football set in at the end and cheated them of both. At their best, as in their wonderful Cup-tie with Tottenham Hotspur, they were a team to challenge comparison with the great sides of football history and make every other in the country seem second-rate and stereotyped. They are a team in the fullest sense of the word, and will make a big effort this season to win the prizes they lost last. The Arsenal have definitely established themselves now as London’s senior club. They will miss Buchan, however, this year, and the weakness in front of goal will become more pronounced than ever. The Arsenal badly want a centre-forward. Brain, hard as he tries, has never been an inspiration to the team, and he never inspires the spectator with the confidence that the chances he is given will not be thrown away. The Arsenal have, however, signed on Jones, an inside forward from Nottingham Forest, who played a magnificent part in his side’s victory Cup-tie last season against Cardiff City. West Ham United, London’s other team in the First Division, have rather fallen away since that great day in Wembley in 1923. They are a good, not an exhilarating, side, but they have the fortunate knack of producing their best form when, on paper, the chances seem all against their winning. They, too, have a centre-forward problem which has never been properly solved.
Manchester City, who come up, are a side whose success no one can grudge. It was their fate to win their way to the final tie of the Cup the year they were relegated. Undismayed, they fought bravely for re-entrance into the First Division the next season, and only an infinitesimal fraction cheated them of promotion. Always a heavy scoring side, they piled on the goals last season and finished on top of the table, two points ahead of Leeds United.
The Second Division
Chelsea at one time last season had cut out a big lead in the Second Division and it looked more probable that they would win promotion. They fell away badly, however, during the last part of the season. Their team is a strong one with a fine pair of backs and a half-back line, now that Bishop, of Leicester City, has come into it, as good as, or perhaps better than, any other in England. Tottenham Hotspur are an extremely rich club, but in spite of their relegation they have not spent fortunes on acquiring new players. One capture they have made, however, and it is a very important one – Roberts, an English International centre-forward, has been signed on from Preston North End. Osborne was never really happy as a centre last year, and the whole forward line should benefit immensely from the presence of Roberts. Tottenham are an uneven side, capable of brilliant and of feeble football, but it would not be surprising if these two London clubs were concerned at the end of the season in the fight for promotion. Millwall should do very well in the higher division. A successful side is better left alone, and the directors have very wisely given the side that won promotion the chance to gain further honours.
It is greatly hoped that Plymouth Argyle will follow them up at the end of this season. During the last seven years Plymouth Argyle have six times been runners-up in the Southern Section of the Third Division and once third – a record on consistency that indeed deserves a reward.