By Tony Attwood
Benefactors have a long tradition of rescuing football clubs – and Arsenal’s major benefactors (although there were other benefactors of the club before him) was Henry Norris in 1910, and again with the building of Highbury in 1913.
But it is interesting in reading Tom Whittaker’s memoires that despite his joining the club in 1919 when Sir Henry Norris was very much to the fore, Arsenal’s benefactor only gets two mentions in the whole book.
The first is the appeal that Tom Whittaker quite reasonably made to the FA for compensation for the career ending injury he had sustained playing for them in Australia.
The story comes from 1926, although I can’t find the exact date, and I don’t have access to any programmes from that year. He says,
“Mr Chapman had appealed to the FA through Sir Henry Norris, who was a member of the FA Cup Council. The Association replied that they had paid Arsenal £100 as part of their settlement payment to me, as I would not play again. When he learned of this Chapman was furious, which resulted in the Directors taking the highly unusual step of writing an outspoken attack on the FA in the club programme.”
It is an extremely vitriolic attack, and is bolstered by the fact that Arsenal did the decent thing and gave Tom Whittaker £350 to supplement the £100 from the FA.
It really would be good to know the date.
The second mention turns up when Tom comments on the move to Highbury. He says, “It was about 1910 when the late Sir Henry Norris, who then controlled Fulham, conceived the idea of moving Arsenal from their Plumstead home. Sir Henry, and his friend, the late Mr William Hall, discovered when they considered the ideal football arena…”
One can forgive Tom being slightly out on the date, for in a way he is half right. Henry Norris (he was knighted as a result of his efforts in the first world war) took over Arsenal in 1910, and indeed it was on this date – 13 June – that he negotiated a future for the club first by proposing to the League that he merge it with Fulham, and then by simply moving it to Fulham.
In the end he agreed with the remainder of the board of the now bankrupt Woolwich Arsenal to pay to keep them in Plumstead for one year. He actually kept them there for three years.
Here’s the list of anniversaries for today, with of course the vital 13 June 1910 at the top…
13 June 1910: Woolwich Arsenal came to within five minutes of extinction at the AGM of the Football League, as the League executive turned down the idea of Arsenal merging with Fulham and playing in the first division. See also here; and again here.
13 June 1955: Arthur Shaw transferred to Watford. He was an important member of the 1952/3 league winning team and played 61 games in total for Arsenal.
13 June 1966: Billy Wright finally resigned. He was the first Arsenal manager since Chapman who was appointed to the club without having had a previous link with Arsenal and was by and large an unmitigated disaster.
13 June 1983: John Devine joined Norwich on a free transfer having been out of the side with a long-term injury. He had played 112 league games for Arsenal and continued playing for another eight years.
13 June 1985: Fifa’s ban on all English teams playing overseas following the Heysel riot was modified to allow friendly matches by English teams.
13 June 1988: Steve Bould signed for Arsenal for £390,000. He had played 183 games for Stoke City and nine on loan with Torquay. Both Arsenal and Everton made offers. He made the right choice.
13 June 2008: Aaron Ramsey signed from Cardiff. Both Man U and Arsenal bid for him, but he chose Arsenal undoubtedly in part because of the connection between Arsenal and Cardiff via Terry Burton.
13 June 2014: After rejecting the offer of a new contract Bacary Sagna moved to Manchester City on a free transfer. He had played 213 league games for Arsenal in a seven year spell, but made only a handful of appearances for Man C.
13 June 2014: It was said in some sources that Arsenal sold Chelsea their rights to the re-signing of Cesc Fabregas to Chelsea for approx £5.6m. Arsene Wenger later reported that he had no contact with Fabregas at this time.
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