1949-50 A New Era For The Arsenal

Today we publish all of Arsenal's home programmes from the 1949-50 season. It was a season of firsts on and off the pitch.

Gordon Ross took over as programme editor from Harry Homer. Gordon remained in this post until his retirement 34 years later in 1983. He is by far the longest serving editor of the programme; next in line is the current incumbent, Andy Exley, with a mere 18 years.

The programme had a radical redesign, it was now 16 pages and was more like a magazine with plenty of photographs of match action and players as well as regular features about the opponents and the game in general.

During the close season, assistant manger Jack Crayston and assistant secretary Bob Wall created a crest for the club. This got its first airing on the cover of the programme for the opening game of the season against Burnley. This crest would eventually become known as the Victoria Concordia Crescit, much loved by the Arsenal fans.

You will notice that the programme cover for the first two games of the season were a very dark red. By the third game of the season it was lightened considerably and for the rest of the season's programmes it was made ever so slightly lighter.

Arsenal famously won the FA Cup this season without leaving London, being drawn at home in the first four rounds, playing the semi-final and replay at White Hart Lane and the final at Wembley. This unusual feat wasn't repeated until 2014 by....Arsenal!

Also, in a period of 27 days between 4 April and 1 March Arsenal played 8 consecutive games in London - four league games at home, two away games at Charlton and Fulham, and two FA Cup semi-finals at Tottenham.

The FA Cup final saw Arsenal kitted out in old gold shirts. This was due to an FA Cup rule that where the colours of teams clashed, both must change into an alternative colour strip. Arsenal and Liverpool both played in red but both also had white shirts and black shorts as their change strip. Liverpool elected to play in their change kit so Arsenal had to use another design. Blue had been considered but, eventually, they plumped for the colours that Wolves had worn when the won the Cup the previous season. The kit was worn in home league games against Newcastle and Portsmouth either side of the final. It was obviously a lucky kit as Arsenal won all three games.

Perhaps the most bizarre event was when 29,000 turned up to see the reserves play Brighton in February. The reason is explained here.

Also this week we published two handbooks - 1953-54 and 1983-84 - and a booklet by R.K. Shoesmith that chronicles Arsenal's first season after World War Two. It was a difficult season in which it looked a strong possibility that the Gunners could be relegated before being rescued by two knights in shining armour.

The 1983-84 handbook was edited by Kevin Connolly who had just taken over as Arsenal's programme editor following the retirement of Gordon Ross. There was no handbook produced for the 1982-83 season due to declining sales over previous years. However, Connolly completely revamped the layout to make it much easier on the eye. This handbook also gave many Arsenal fans their first sight of a clutch of youngsters who would become an integral part of George Graham's successful teams of the late 1980s / early 1990s. Tony Adams, Martin Hayes, Martin Keown and Michael Thomas were all included as well as David Rocastle who died this day 16 years ago at the tragically young age of 33.

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Andy, Mark and Darren