How did Tom Whittaker get Chapman to believe in him, and other anniversaries

By Tony Attwood

Today’s anniversary list has as its first item,

4 June 1925: Herbert Chapman returned to England early from a tour with Huddersfield, ready for talks with Arsenal about becoming the club’s new manager.

And in these last couple of days, that has given me a bit of a problem.   Not with the event itself, but with another incident that happened at the same time.

I’m currently pulling together the next Arsenal History Society annual review, which is telling the history of the club in a series of booklets, which are given away each year to members of Arsenal Independent Supporters Assn.  This year’s title is about Tom Whittaker.

Tom was the third and final Arsenal manager who came after Chapman, and who was at the club during Chapman’s reign, and who worked with him.  The other two who had the same experience were Joe Shaw and George Allison.

Now we know that Tom Whittaker was an Arsenal player who played under Knighton, and was injured in 1925 on an FA tour.  And we have the story that Chapman picked Tom out as the man to stay at Arsenal and become a trainer (as they were then called).

But when we look at the time line, there’s a problem

4 June 1925: Herbert Chapman returned to England early from a tour with Huddersfield, ready for talks with Arsenal about becoming the club’s new manager

6 June 1925: Tom Whittaker received his career ending injury in Wollongong during the game Illawarra District  0-8  England

11 June 1925:  Herbert Chapman became the manager of Arsenal, replacing Leslie Knighton who had been manager since the resumption of football after the first world war.

So Chapman would not have seen Tom Whittaker play, would never have experienced his relationship with his fellow professionals at the club etc.  How did Chapman know that Whittaker was going to become “the greatest trainer in the world” as the storybooks have it that Chapman told Whittaker at his job interview?

I suspect, but I am still working to prove it, that the key is Joe Shaw, who may well have been impressed with Tom in this regard.  He stopped playing for Arsenal in 1922 and immediately became a trainer with Arsenal.   Hopefully by the time I have to hand the typescript over, I’ll have that issue it all sorted out.  But it is interesting, for the books I have read don’t really resolve the matter.

However I’m still waiting for my copy of Tom Whittaker’s autobiography to arrive.  I suspect that might give me what I am looking for.

Meanwhile, here are the rest of today’s anniversaries.

4 June 1939: Dave Nelson and George Drury scored two each in friendly win against the wonderfully named Diables Rouges in Brussels.

4 June 1949: Last appearance of Bryn Jones.  He had been Arsenal’s record signing but only played 76 games and scored 8 goals.   He left Arsenal to become player-coach at Norwich City

4 June 1977: Alex Manninger born in Salzburg.  He first played for SV Austria Salzburg, moving into their first team squad in 1995 and came to Arsenal in 1997. .

4 June 1983: Emmanuel Eboué born in Abidjan.  He started his career at ASEC Mimosas Academy before moving to KSK Beveren in 2002.  .

4 June 1985: Lukas Podolski was born in Gliwice.  He joined 1 FC Köln in 1995 where he broke into the first team in 2003 and made 81 appearances for the club before moving to Bayern Munich.

4 June 1992: David O’Leary played for Ireland in a 2-0 defeat by Italy.

4 June 1997: Gilles Grimandi signed by Arsenal from AS Monaco for £1.75m.  When his playing days were over he became the chief scout in France for Arsenal.

4 June 1996: Cliff Holton died.  He retired from football in 1968, and took up a new career in engineering.  Soon after his retirement he died suddenly while on holiday at the age of 67.

4 June 2008: Bac Sagna signed a new long term contract.  It turned out to be his last, and at the end of the contract in 2014 he rejected a new deal with Arsenal and instead moved on a free transfer to Manchester City.

One Reply to “How did Tom Whittaker get Chapman to believe in him, and other anniversaries”

  1. Hello guys . . .
    I need a bit of input from you guys , I wonder if you could help me? I run a group on Facebook , I have 126,000 members worldwide, But I have never come across this before. I posted a piece about Woolwich Arsenal, Royal Arsenal etc , a bit of history of the club , and one guy has commented this under it. I was wondering if you thought it sounds plausible? I looked on his profile and it says he now lives in Georgia . I dismissed it at first , was about to make light of it,but had a second thought….

    Sheyi Re Blanc

    mr potter, i don’t lyk de history,nor wnt 2 hear of it,u know why?… ma grandfather’s father was one of those pioneer players of de royal arsenal,n he realy faced a lot of discrimination, frm his fellow teammates,team officials,the coach himself,refferees durin de match n also de funs.he had no peace at all,all bc’se he was de only black guy.the club funs kept him names even in streets, during the match at the pitch,de ref could give him a redcard anytime he wanted jst unreasonably,they treat him in unfair way with others,
    even in that photograph he was there but they kicked him out. he was a realy good striker but every time he score a goal, there was no apreciation,he use to cerebrate alone,no one went cerebtions with him,ooh my poor greatgrandfather… grandfather showed me the documentary of the royal arsenal club history n he felt so sad for his dad…..anyway lets not dwell in the past.despite all that, i still love the AFC,the modern one.martin luther’s dream came true,no more racism.COYG!.

    What do you think guys ? feel free to e mail me @ or even ring me ? 07798931760

    Thanks , Garry Potter

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