Thomas Mitchell had taken over as manager at Arsenal in January 1897 and whilst trebles had been registered in FA Cup Qualifiers and friendlies, this was the first in a league match. The first of his reign in all matches came as Arsenal trouned Ilkeston 7 – 0.
Walsall Town Swifts came to town this day having beaten Woolwich Arsenal on their home turf 3 – 2 the previous Saturday. It meant that this was a real mid-table clash with Arsenal seventh and the visitors, ninth. Archie McGeoch, the hat-trick hero, was a Mitchell-man, making his debut on the opening day of this season in the 4 – 1 win over Grimsby Town.
McGeoch would only stay at the club for a season or so, scoring 14 goals in his 39 games, his final match being Arthur Kennedy’s last in charge, a 2 – 3 reverse against Tottenham.