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“The Gunners” - The History Of The Arsenal Badge And Whether The Club Should Change Things Up

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“The Gunners” - The History Of The Arsenal Badge And Whether The Club Should Change Things Up

Show any fan of football a kit with a cannon on the front and they will immediately tell you that it belongs to Arsenal.

A relationship born from the club’s origin at the Woolwich Arsenal during the Victorian Era; the London side has a profound connection to weapons manufacturing evident in the club’s name, badge and nickname.

The Gunners' logo is especially shaped by the club’s heritage. Since Arsenal’s formation in 1886, some form of cannon has featured on all but one club crest. The current badge is no different with a prominent gold cannon taking centre stage on the logo.

The present badge, used since 2002, features the iconic cannon upon a red shield with a solid gold outline. It is relatively popular with fans and on the whole has caused little controversy. 


However, with the reintroduction of the 1971 style “Cannon Only” badge in last season’s away kit, which is rumoured to continue on the upcoming alternate shirt, is it time for Arsenal to switch back to a more traditional badge and what does Arsenal’s crest history look like?

Badge History

As aforementioned, the defining feature of any Arsenal badge is the cannon. The weapon appeared in the club’s very first badge in 1888, where there were actually three cannons, rather than the one that is typically used today.

The first time the single cannon was used was in 1921 and this is where things get a little confusing. The 1921 logo was a single cannon with no crest surrounding, but importantly was facing to the left (West) when looking at it.


This badge was ditched only a year later, and in 1922 a much more powerful, three dimensional cannon was used, this time facing to the right (East). Similar to its predecessor, this badge did not stand the test of time, and three years later the club introduced a new logo. 

The first Arsenal badge in 1888
The first Arsenal badge in 1888

The 1925 crest used a cannon virtually identical to the 1921 portrayal and was also facing left (West). However, what makes this particular Arsenal badge stand out is the inscription of ‘The Gunners’ for the first time. 

Although the badges used during the 1920s are not the most iconic in Arsenal’s history, they hold a particular significance as they illustrate the first years where the cannon faced different ways. The question of whether the gun should point east or west is something that has never had a definitive answer and will become highly significant in the modern day.


After the three logos in a decade during the 1920s, the next three logos spanned a total of 64 years, quite the contrast. From 1930 - 1994, Arsenal produced some truly iconic badges. In 1930 the club produced its first logo which included colour, a red outline badged with a central cannon and red ‘A.F.C’ lettering. 

The next two badges are a golden age in Arsenal crests. Used between 1936 and 1949, Arsenal adopted its only badge without a cannon. A recipe for disaster perhaps… definitely not. It was the brainchild of the legendary Herbert Chapman and was part of his efforts to rebrand the club.

A hexagonal red outline surrounded a bold A (Arsenal), a leather football (Football) and a bold C (Club). It is now a logo that features heavily on modern day retro attire and is an ever present feature around the Emirates Stadium. Classy and iconic, a brilliant nod to Arsenal’s past.

The badge following this provided the template for four other logos up until 2002. Referred to by Arsenal as ‘The VCC’ crest, its initial appearance came in a programme from the opening fixture of the 1949/50 season. 

1949 is when the Arsenal badge changed massively in style
1949 is when the Arsenal badge changed massively in style

The symbol gets its nickname as it was the first logo that featured the club motto of ‘Victoria Concordia Crescit’ (Victory Through Harmony) - which was first used by programme editor Harry Homer, or ‘Marksman’ as he was known.

It also contains the classic Arsenal cannon, this time facing left alongside “Arsenal” written in a Latin-style font which has become synonymous with the club. 

The next three logos are all based on the 1949 edition - only changing in colour and badge outline. Both emblems used from 1994 to 2001 gave a nod to the 1925 crest as “The Gunners” was written on the logo. The badges used in this period saw very successful Arsenal teams and appeared on the first Gunner’s kit a certain Thierry Henry wore.


It is also important to add that during this time, special badges were used such as the 1971 FA cup badge which was a single gun facing west - perhaps the most loved crest in Arsenal’s entire history.

Then in 2002 we see the emblem that Arsenal use today. A simple but effective design that fits in well with its predecessors. However, there is a strange difference with the current logo and this is where the East / West facing cannon debate comes into play.

Since 1922 every cannon used on an Arsenal badge has faced west, yet the modern logo looks east. The club has never officially announced why this step was taken but many believe that it marked a new period in the club’s history in line with the move to the Emirates Stadium.

Although it does not have the history yet of other logos in time the current badge will be looked back upon with great fondness as it marked the years of Arsene Wenger’s management, and iconic moments like the Invincibles. 

Should Arsenal Move Back To The “Cannon Only” Design

With all the official badges cleared up, now comes the question of whether it is time for Arsenal to ditch their current logo.

The current badge is clean and effective but won’t win any prizes when looking at some of the beautiful emblems used by Arsenal in the past.

There are already a few hints from the club that they may be thinking of a logo rebrand. The 21/22 away shirt used the cannon only design inspired by the double winning 1971 side and it seems as though this logo will be staying around on this year's away kit. 

On the whole, this has gone down well with Arsenal fans and many are happy to see the badge make its return. However, once again we are drawn back to the important, albeit tedious east/west debate.

The cannon used by the 1971 side, in line with Arsenal’s history, faces west but the new design on the modern away shirt, faces east. 

The cannon only style is a hit with fans
The cannon only style is a hit with fans

Surely if Arsenal are to go back to this logo, they should do it properly and make the cannon face west. 

Moreover, a badge change now could make perfect sense. Arsenal’s crest developments all came at new eras for the club. When Arsenal left Woolwhich, when Herbert Chapman took charge and the move to the Emirates all saw new badges for The Gunners.

It is generally accepted that this new Arsenal team, under Mikel Arteta, want to do things differently and are trying to make their own history. So why not change things up while simultaneously giving a nod to the team’s iconic past by using the 1971 logo. 

This current squad is also made up of young players who understand the importance of Arsenal such as academy graduates Emile Smith-Rowe and Bukayo Saka. They would probably greatly respect what a return to the “cannon only” logo would mean for the club and the supporters. 

This is not a suggestion that the club must change the logo immediately as they clearly have bigger issues with transfers etc. However, with the classic cannon already being used on the away kit, a new dawn for the team and with supporter, club relations extremely high at the moment - why not go back to the glory days and have a logo that well and truly says, “We are The Gunners”.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Arsenal, Mikel Arteta, Arsene Wenger

Luke Stockwell
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