ArsenalClubPremier League

Royal Arsenal’ formed in Woolwich

Story Highlights
  • David Danskin and the founding of Arsenal
  • Fred Beardsley, Nottingham Forest and Arsenal's first kit
  • The formation of Dial Square football club
  • The transition from Royal Arsenal to Woolwich Arsenal
  • The influence of the Royal Oak pub on Arsenal Football Club
  • The enduring legacy of Arsenal's founding members

n the annals of football history, a group of Scots planted a seed that would grow into one of the sport’s most renowned names: Arsenal Football Club. Explore the journey of Arsenal FC, starting in a Woolwich factory and rising to a world-class football institution.


David Danskin, a native of Burntisland, Fife, was an employee at the Arsenal munitions factory in Woolwich, England. Danskin, a passionate football enthusiast in an area predominately interested in rugby and cricket, decided to establish a football team with the assistance of his three comrades, Elijah Watkins, John Humble, and Richard Pearce.

Woolwich group photo!

Two football players from Nottingham Forest, Fred Beardsley and Morris Bates, arrived in Woolwich. Their presence served as the catalyst for Danskin’s endeavor to establish a football team. Striving to establish their team, Beardsley contacted his connections at Nottingham Forest, who sent over a complete set of red football shirts.

Fundraising and Formation: The Birth of the Club in 1886!

The team’s initial formation received encouraging support, with 15 men stepping forward, ready to contribute sixpence each to the cause. Danskin added another three shillings, enabling the club to purchase a football. Consequently, they formally initiated the club in October 1886.

Nevertheless, despite their rapid progress, the new club faced several obstacles; they still needed a formal name, an official kit, and a home ground. The team decided to adopt the moniker ‘Dial Square,’ which was the name of one of the factory’s workshops. They played their first game against Eastern Wanderers on the Isle of Dogs in December 1886. They triumphed in this initial match, securing a decisive 6-0 victory.

Following this match, the team members convened at the Royal Oak pub adjacent to Woolwich Arsenal Station on Christmas Day in 1886. Influenced by Beardsley’s solution to the kit problem, the team began to consider a new, grander name. In the atmosphere of the Royal Oak pub, they settled on the name: Royal Arsenal. The team came up with a new name that combined the pub’s title with their workplace, offering a preferable alternative to ‘Dial Square.’ For a while, the club went by the name of Royal Arsenal. In 1891, however, they formally adopted a new name, Woolwich Arsenal.

At the time, the 15 founding members of the club were primarily seeking a means of exercise. Undoubtedly, they also enjoyed the accompanying social activities. They had little idea that their modest contribution would give rise to a football legacy. This legacy would not only endure for centuries but also win the hearts of millions worldwide.


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