Every fan can name about ten thousand facts about their favorite team. However, many clubs were formed over one hundred years ago, so some things are lost to time.
For example, have you ever wondered why Arsenal wear red? With the team facing Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup’s Third Round on Sunday, January 7, now is the perfect time to remember.
Why Arsenal Wear Red
The workers of the Dial Square workshop at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, London wanted to play football in 1886.
The problem? There wasn’t a local team.
Their solution? They made one.
Lead by two workers from the north, Fred Beardsley and Morris Bates, the workers formed ‘Dial Square’ in 1886 in homage to their factory. Soon after the team changed their name to ‘Royal Arsenal’, which eventually changed to ‘Woolwich Arsenal’ and, finally, to simply ‘The Arsenal’.
Bates and Beardsley were the leaders of the team in those early days, as they both had experience playing the game. The duo had moved to London for work, though they were originally from the north of England.
Both men originally hailed from Nottingham, where they had joined the local team, Nottingham Forest, which formed in 1865.
Both are still remembered as being the true founders of Arsenal FC, at least by those in the know.
First Game Issues
As the team had been formed by factory workers, there was little extra money to spend. In fact, the players couldn’t afford to purchase new jerseys to wear in their inaugural match, to be played against Eastern Wanderers.
So, the team turned to their leaders, Morris Bates and Fred Beardsley for help. Luckily the Nottingham boys still had ties up north and were able to secure kits for their club via a donation.
Forest had a stash of unused uniforms for their team and decided to ship them down to London. They also sent along a ball for good measure.
In order to differentiate themselves from their donors, Dial Square wore plain white shorts and white socks with blue hoops. The shade of red found on the kits was then a deep red, same as Forest’s at the time, and much darker than the crimson we know and love today.
The Chapman Update
Arsenal’s kit stayed the same, even though the name changed. Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal and The Arsenal all kept the famous red kits in honor of Nottingham Forest’s early generosity.
That is, until the 1933 season under the legendary Herbert Chapman. In order to further distinguish his team, the former Leeds and Huddersfield manager changed the hue of their jerseys to a lighter red and added white sleeves to the kit.
Arsenal, in their final season at Highbury, honored this early kit by wearing a throwback jersey, just as they had in their inaugural 1913 season at the Stadium. It was the last time the Gunners wore the deep red uniforms which had draped the shoulders of Morris Bates and Fred Beardsley.
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