History: How Jack Lambert fired Arsenal to their first ever league title in 1931

1930/1931 First Division season: How Jack Lambert stormed Arsenal to their first league title

In 1931 Arsenal won their first ever euphoric League Title beating Aston Villa by seven points.

Jack Lambert who had been with the North Londoners since 1926 was their top-goalscorer amassing a total of 38 goals in the 1930/31 First Division campaign.

Arsenals season got off to a cracker winning eight of their first nine matches drawing the other one. This run of form saw The Gunners secure four 4-1 rompings of Blackpool, Bolton Wanderers, Sunderland and Leicester City. By this stage Lambert had already scored 15 goals in the league including three hat-tricks, to say the least he was a man to fear for all backlines in the First Division!

The Gunners first game of October saw them face defeat for the first time up at the Baseball ground where Derby trounced Arsenal 4-2. However winning ways returned a week later away to Old Trafford beating The Red Devils 2-1, Lambert was at it again picking up another goal alongside Joey Williams to complete the two points (which was how many you won then for a win). This was followed by two 1-1 draws versus West Ham united and Huddersfield Town to prize November open. For the rest of the month Arsenal won eight points out of a maximum eight, witnessing three indomitable games which saw them score five goals in three of their four matches.  Lambert secured another hat-trick against Middlesbrough 5-3 and David Jack had found himself on the end of a hat-trick in a 5-1 whopping of Chelsea on November 29th.

The start of December proved to be slightly unkind to Arsenal as they struggled to win their first of their two games of the month. Despite Jacks heroics The Gunners were held to a 1-1 draw at Anfield to Liverpool before being defeated 2-1 on home soil versus Newcastle United. Three wins from their final three matches of the year were achieved, walking over Manchester City 4-1 on Christmas Day seeing Lambert, Jack, Cliff Bastin and Joe Hulme all sharing the goals. In the return leg on Boxing Day The Citizens were beaten for the second consecutive occasion 3-1 Bastin, Hulme and Bob John all secured the points before Blackpool were thrashed 24 hours later 7-1 with all the energy in the World from a still energised Arsenal team.  During the match Jack and Jimmy Brain both astonishingly scored a hat-trick each.

The New Year saw Arsenal pick up three points out of a possible six, winning one, drawing one and losing another. The Gunners might’ve only won a single match throughout the month in the league, but the 9-1 annihilation of Grimsby Town at Highbury which watched Jack grab four goals, Lambert a hat-trick and Bastin and Hulme a strike each, set up Arsenals biggest home victory which stands to this day.

In Arsenals remaining 17 matches of the league campaign they would only suffer a lost once which came as a surprise 5-1 beating by Aston Villa.

The commencing of February saw a 7-2 thrashing of Leicester City at Filbert Street meaning a sixth hat-trick for Lambert. This was followed up by a 1-1 draw away to Sheffield United, The Gunners would then locate victories in all final three matches during the month witnessing Bastin score a hat-trick in a 6-3 trouncing of Derby County at home.

In March Arsenal played five matches achieving three wins, one draw and a lost.  The 5-2 victory versus Middlesbrough witnessed Lambert score his seventh and final hat-trick of the season, a club record for the most hat-tricks in a league campaign which was later matched by Ted Drake in 1935.

Arsenal would play one game (six) more than March in April, securing four wins and two 1-1 draws to Portsmouth both times out home and away. On the 11th April The Gunners failed to grab more than one goal against Grimsby after the previous 9-1 thrashing and it was Lambert who brought the points back to Highbury once more.

On the second May Arsenal bulldozed Bolton Wanderers 5-0 to lift Arsenals first top-flight league championship in their history.  Lambert try as he could for an eighth hat-trick mustered two goals, Jack pinched the same goal tally and Alex James popped in addition with the fifth.

By the end of the decade Arsenal had become the most successful side in English Football Empire securing four more First Division titles in 1933, 1934, 1935 and 1938 just before the outbreak of war in 1939.

Liam Harding

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