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The "Battle of Highbury" was the name given to the football match between England and Italy that took place on 14 November 1934 at Arsenal Stadiummarker, Highburymarker, London. England won 3–2 in a hotly contested and frequently violent match.


This was Italy's first match since they had won the 1934 FIFA World Cup that summer, although England had not taken part as the Football Association had left FIFAmarker in 1928. England were still considered one of the strongest teams in Europe at the time, and the match was billed in England at least as the "real" World Cup final. The match was important enough to the Italians that Benito Mussolini had reportedly offered each player an Alfa Romeo car and the equivalent of £150 (about £6,000 in modern terms) if they beat the English.

The match set a record, in that it was the first and so far only time that seven players registered with the same club (namely Arsenal) started for England. Coincidentally, the match was played at Arsenal's home stadium, Highbury. In addition to the seven Arsenal players (Frank Moss, George Male, Eddie Hapgood, Wilf Copping, Ray Bowden, Ted Drake and Cliff Bastin), a young Stanley Matthews won his third cap for the side; Cliff Britton, Jack Barker and Eric Brook were the other three players. The England side was largely inexperienced, with every player having fewer than ten caps for his country.

First half

The match was violent from the very start; the Italian centre half Luis Monti broke his foot after a challenge from Drake, and had to withdraw after only two minutes. With no substitute allowed in those days, the Italians had to play the rest of the game with 10 men. Enraged by Monti's treatment, the visitors repeatedly retaliated against their English opponents: Eddie Hapgood had his nose broken (and had to be withdrawn for 15 minutes), while Bowden damaged his ankle, Drake was punched and Brook had his arm fractured.

Brook missed a first-minute penalty after Drake was fouled by Ceresoli, but promptly turned from villain to hero as he soon scored twice, with a header and a free kick. Ted Drake added a third before half-time to make it 3-0.

Second half

However, Italy were not World Champions for nothing, and after half time took the game to England. Giuseppe Meazza scored twice, and was only denied an equaliser by the woodwork and a series of saves from England's athletic goalkeeper, Frank Moss. England's "hardman" Wilf Copping took the man of the match award with a strong fighting and tackling display in midfield.

The match settled nothing; although the English could claim a win and unofficially crown their young and inexperienced side World Champions, the Italians could claim they had been handicapped for virtually the entire match by being a man down. One thing that could not be contested was the violent nature of the match; the FA considered withdrawing from all internationals as a result, while Stanley Matthews would later recount that it was the most violent match of his long career.

In Italy, despite their loss the team are still celebrated as "The Lions of Highbury".

Lineups and scorers

Highbury Stadium, London, 14 November 1934
3 - 2
56 044 spectators
Olson (Sweden)
England: 3' Eric Brook 1-0, 10' Eric Brook 2-0, 12' Ted Drake 3-0
Italy: 58' Giuseppe Meazza 3-1, 62' Giuseppe Meazza 3-2

(3-4-3) Frank Moss (Arsenal) - George Male (Arsenal), Eddie Hapgood (c) (Arsenal), Cliff Britton (Everton), Jack Barker (c) (Derby County), Wilf Copping (Arsenal), Stanley Matthews (Stoke City), Ray Bowden (Arsenal), Ted Drake (Arsenal) , Cliff Bastin (Arsenal), Eric Brook (Manchester City)

(2-5-3) Carlo Ceresoli (Ambrosiana-Inter), Eraldo Monzeglio (Bologna), Luigi Allemandi (Ambrosiana-Inter), Attilio Ferraris (AS Roma), Luis Monti (Juventus), Luigi Bertolini (Juventus), Enrique Guaita (AS Roma), Pietro Serantoni (Juventus), Giuseppe Meazza (Ambrosiana-Inter), Giovanni Ferrari (Juventus), Raimundo Orsi (Juventus)
Manager: Vittorio Pozzo


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