George Allison was one of our great, great Arsenal managers winning two league titles, the FA cup and a third place. Among other things he won the League title for us in that extraordinary trio of seasons in which three different managers won the league in successive years. And he performed the invaluable service of keeping the club running during the second world war when Arsenal had no home ground and were operated out of a small room at the White Hart Lane stadium.
But there was more, because George Allison was with the club from 1910 when he started editing the programme, and stayed with the club until his retirement as manager after the second world war – an Arsenal man through and through.
When he started out as a journalist in London, few of the Fleet Street based journalists wanted to go to Woolwich Arsenal to watch matches because of the time it took to get back to Fleet Street after a game to file their copy.
But the press in Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle etc expected some sort of report from Woolwich when the Reds were in the first division. So Mr Allison went to the matches and wrote half a dozen reports for different papers, all under different names, each with a slightly different perspective!
He later became the voice of football commentaries in the early days of BBC radio broadcasts, until Herbert Chapman banned the BBC from the Arsenal ground, on the basis that the commentaries were giving away too many tactical secrets which Allison had picked up because of his closeness to the club.
Although not revered as Chapman is, his trophy haul is identical to that of Chapman, and his unpaid service to the club during the second world war, was immeasurable.
His autobiography, published upon his retirement is a fundamental source of information on Arsenal’s history, and counters the wild conspiracy theories made by Chapman’s predecessor Leslie Knighton, whose own autobiography was rushed out by a rival publisher two weeks earlier.
Henry Norris at the Arsenal: There is a full index to the series here.
Arsenal in the 1930s: The most comprehensive series on the decade ever
Arsenal in the 1970s: Every match and every intrigue reviewed in detail.
100 Years: 100 Years in the First Division
Arsenal today: Untold Arsenal