Arsenal have one of the richest histories across the entire tapestry of English football, from their humble beginnings as Dial Square to becoming one of the biggest clubs in world football today.
Here we take another dive back into Arsenal history, examining how the club was founded and explaining the numerous name changes the Gunners have gone through over the years.
We’ll also take a look at how Arsenal’s long lineage compares to other clubs in England and London.
Dial Square: the story of how Arsenal was founded
In October 1886, Scottish mechanical engineer David Danskin and a group of 15 other munitions workers at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich founded a football team, which they named ‘Dial Square’ after their workshop.
Danskin went on to purchase players to play for the newly-formed outfit, as well as the club’s first-ever football. One of the players he bought, Fred Beardsley, brought a set of red kits with him from Nottingham Forest (his old club) – the Gunners have worn this colour ever since.
They moved around several locations during their early years. Their first official home was the Plumstead Ground, then the Manor Ground, until they moved to the Invicta Ground in 1890. They moved back to the Manor Ground three years later, after the rent at the Invicta Ground became unaffordable.
Arsenal won the London Senior Cup, the Kent Senior Cup and the London Charity Cup in their first few years. In 1893, they joined the Football League, becoming the first southern team to do so.
When did the club change its name?
The club we now know as Arsenal has gone through several different iterations. Initially, they were known as Dial Square upon the club’s inception in 1886, then they were renamed Royal Arsenal (like the munitions factory). According to legend, the name change took place on Christmas Day of 1886.
After this, they changed their name to Woolwich Arsenal in 1893 to reflect their south London location, which would last until 1912, when the club was rebranded as The Arsenal – they would drop the ‘The’ from their name to simply become Arsenal in 1919.
How old is Arsenal compared to other English clubs?
The oldest club in English football, and also the world, is Sheffield FC, founded in 1857 and still functioning today, playing in the Northern Premier League Division One East.
Technically, Crystal Palace is the oldest club that is currently playing in the Premier League, having been founded in 1861. However, this is disputed, as the club did not turn professional until 1905.
As such, the oldest club in the Premier League besides Crystal Palace is Nottingham Forest – the Tricky Trees were founded 158 years ago in 1865.
The title of oldest London club which is still in the Premier League today goes to Fulham, which dates back to 1879.
As such, Arsenal are far from one of the oldest clubs in the Premier League, let alone across the entirety of England. They are, however, one of the oldest active football clubs in London – only Millwall, Queens Park Rangers, Tottenham Hotspur, Fulham and Crystal Palace can claim to be older than the Gunners.