Starting as Dial Square in 1886, the side’s first game was against Eastern Wanderers on 11 December, 1886, played on an open field on the Isle of Dogs which was the then-home to Millwall and they won 6-0.

Arsenal in 1886

This game was widely accepted as the first ever Arsenal game but in recent years questions have arisen about it, mostly due to the lack of mention in newspapers and any actual details about the game however work by the Arsenal History group unearthed details, including confirmation of the score which appeared in the Referee newspaper the day after.


There also seems to be only one eye witness account about the game and that was from Elijah Watkins, the secretary of Dial Square, speaking many years later.

“Talk about a football pitch! This one eclipsed any I ever heard of or saw. I could not venture to say what shape it was, but it was bounded by backyards as to about two-thirds of the area, and the other portion was – I was going to say a ditch, but I think an open sewer would be more appropriate.

“We could not decide who won the game because when the ball was not in the back gardens, it was in the ditch; and that was full of the loveliest material that could possibly be. Well, our fellows did not bring it all away with them, but they looked as though they had been clearing out a mud-shoot when they had done playing. I know, because the attendant at the pub asked me what I was going to give him to clear the muck away.”