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Arsenal’s history: can we really believe all the evidence?

One of the most intriguing elements of Arsenal’s history, is the exact nature of Henry Norris – the man who paid off all of Arsenal’s debts in 1910, moved them to Highbury (with himself, having paid off all those debts now guaranteeing all the costs of the development of the new ground) and eventually brought in Herbert Chapman.

In most commentaries Norris is defined as a crook and a charlatan – although such reports tend to gloss over the question of where the money came from to rescue Arsenal and get the club to Highbury, and where the negative stories come from.

In fact the source for virtually every negative story about Norris is the autobiography of Leslie Knighton, who was employed by Norris as Arsenal manager from 1919 to 1925, when Knighton was sacked and replaced by Chapman.

If one just reads Knighton’s report of his time at Highbury he comes over as competent, hard working and put upon, if rather boastful.  So it is interesting to read an alternative vision of Knighton – which is what we get in the 18 June 1921 edition of the “Football and Sports Favourite” for there a totally different picture of the man emerges.  Scroll down almost to the end of the article and you will see a reproduction of the magazine article.  It is hard to read, but below it is a transcript of what is said.  It is somewhat illuminating.

Here are the anniversaries…

18 June 1914: George Jobey sold to Bradford PA.  He had won a league winners’ medal with Newcastle and was the first Arsenal player to score at Highbury as well as being the first player to be stretchered off at Highbury.  He later went into management.  For broader context see here.

18 June 1921: “The Football and Sports Favourite” magazine carried an interview with Leslie Knighton which in its best interpretation might be called eccentric, but is probably best called utterly bizarre.

18 June 1962: Andy Linighan born in Hartlepool – both his brothers were also footballers.  He started with Hartlepool, then moved through Leeds, Oldham and Norwich before coming to Arsenal. After leaving football he became the owner of a plumbing company

18 June 1979 Paul Davis signed professional forms for Arsenal having signed as an apprentice in 1977.  He made his debut in 1980 and played 447 league games for the club.  In March 2016, Paul joined the FA where he continues to work with the elite coach development team

18 June 1993: Eddie McGoldrick signed for Arsenal for approx £1m, playing his first game in the charity shield against Man U on 7 August 1993.  He was last heard of as the head of Crystal Palace’s academy which he took over in the summer of 2016.

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