This week, Galway were elevated to the Premier League of the FAI League of Ireland despite finishing third in the first division, ahead of the team Dundalk that finished above them.
This reminds me (not that I was around at the time) of the election of Arsenal to the first division of the Football League in 1919.
See below it explains why Tottenham hate Arsenal with a vengance.
How Arsenal got promoted in 1919
Sir Henry Norris, chairman of Arsenal, had done the Football League’s bidding since he took over Woolwich Arsenal. He had turned them professional, with the aim of bringing professional football to London (and instantly bringing about the wrath of the London FA from which Woolwich Arsenal were expelled). And then he had moved the team to Highbury, on the doorstep of Tottenham Hotspur, a club that for one reason or another had generated the dislike of both the League and individual clubs.
Sir Henry had twice asked for payback from the League – once in his application to merge Fulham with Woolwich Arsenal, and once in seeking permission for Woolwich Arsenal to ground share with Fulham. Both requests were denied. These denials annoyed Norris, but added to the level of payback he required.
The move to Highbury had cost Norris dear – something in the order of £200,000 all told – an astronomic sum in the early 1900s. Then disaster had struck – the ever expanding world of football had come off the rails, along with the rest of civilisation, with the outbreak of war in 1914. The league struggled on to complete its fixtures in April 1915, and then ceased activity for the duration. Norris had to bide his time – but he certainly was not going to forget that the League owed him. Twice.
Read any history of Arsenal and you will be told that after the war the club was promoted from the second division to the first despite having only finished fifth in the final pre-war league. What you won’t find is any explanation of how Arsenal managed to do it. The details of the discussions are lost in the mists of time” and that “no knows what happened at the meeting” are the phrases you find.
By the time of the Football League AGM in June 1919 Norris had but one agenda. Arsenal in the first division. The promotion of two clubs from the second division to the first was well established by that time – the only problem being that Arsenal had come fifth in 1915. There was nothing that gave them the right to go up.
But there was a loophole. With the war over it was decided to enlarge the first division by two clubs. The tradition of moving clubs between the leagues at the moment of expansion was simple – there was no tradition – it happened differently every time, and this was what Norris set out to exploit. The only given standard was that the clubs in the league would vote on how to arrange the expansion – exactly what Norris needed. There were two logical approaches - either the two clubs due to be relegated from the first division should stay up, or the clubs that ended third and fourth in the second division should go up. Or there could be a combination – one of the two relegated clubs staying up and the third team coming up. But no one ever said the League was logical.
The top five in division 2 in 1915 were 1 Derby 2 Preston 3 Barnsley 4. Wolverhampton Wanderers and 5 Arsenal. The two teams due for relegation from the 1st division were Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea – both London teams.
But there was a subplot – as there invariably is with football. Throughout the years up to 1915 there were ever increasing allegations of match fixing – mo