|Season||League position||FA Cup exit|
|1899-1900||8th (Division 2)||3rd qualifying [1st round played]|
|1900-1901||7th (Division 2)||2nd round [3rd round played]|
|1901-1902||4th (Division 2)||1st round [3rd round played]|
|1902-1903||3rd (Division 2)||1st round [2nd round played]|
- Two Arsenal managers
- Both leave the game shortly afterwards
- Both come back into the game
- Both to manage Fulham
- Andy Ducat (ex-Arsenal player)
- Joe Bradshaw (son of Harry and ex-Arsenal player)
- Ned Liddell (ex-Arsenal player and one of the main instigator’s of Norris’ downfall)
Fulham were formed as Fulham St Andrew’s Church Sunday School F.C in 1879 (seven years before Arsenal) and won the West London Amateur Cup in 1887 becoming Fulham F in 1888. They won the West London League in 1893 moving to Craven Cottage in 1896. .
The club turned pro after Arsenal in 1898, and went straight into the Southern League division 2 moving into the first division in 1903. They won the Southern League first division in in 1905–06 and 1906–07 – and then moved into the Football League second division.
So during the time we are talking about Norris was manipulating a Southern League and 2nd division Football League team, and poaching managers from Woolwich Arsenal who throughout the time were a league above them. Why was this?
Here’s something rather odd. In May 1903 Fulham were elected to the Southern League Division I from Division II – despite having lost 7-2 to Brentford in the Test Match. This is odd, because as Brentford won and won so handsomely, they should have gone up. Even more interestingly this was was exactly the moment that Norris appeared on the scene. Did Norris bribe the Southern League, or Brentford, or both? There is no evidence at all of course.
Such records and notes that exist say that the vote for election to the Southern League Division I was held twice, and even after the second ballot there was a row before Fulham get the nod, and Norris stands up to give the vote of thanks.
By June 1903 he was club chairman.
Here’s another point. In January 1903 he had left the Fulham Lodge of the Masons Society. It may have no connection, but I thought I would through it in.
In 1910 when Norris took over Arsenal he certainly did speak up the club, calling it London’s oldest professional team, and ignoring the fact that Fulham was actually an older club. It all seems like something of a fixation. And we know that in 1919 Norris was instrumental in exploiting the match fixing that Manchester U and Liverpool were involved in, to get the First Division to accept Arsenal. There was nothing wrong with this – there was a vote in favour of Arsenal – just as there had been a vote in favour of Fulham going up in 1903.
So here’s a thought. Did Norris believe he could achieve everything and anything through manipulation of the right people in the right places? If so, all he needed was simply the right people in the right places. And just as having two teams (Fulham and Croydon Common) was better than one, so three might well be better than two.
Maybe he just wanted places to exert his power – and maybe from the start he had established links with Arsenal.
It is by no means a full answer, but it starts to make some kind of sense.
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