On 11 May 1925 Arsenal advertised for a manager. Herbert Chapman, who had just won the league with Huddersfield, and whose team had smashed Arsenal 5-0 at Highbury on February 14, applied. We don’t know for sure why he applied – maybe he had talked with Sir Henry on February 14, or maybe he fancied London, or maybe he wanted to prove himself again, or…
If I had to pick an option I’d say that Sir Henry Norris had talked to Chapman already, but there’s no evidence of that.
Knighton, the man who had been (a largely disastrous) manager worked out his notice and left on 16 May 1925. Chapman’s Huddersfield were on a tour of Scandinavia, and returned on 4 June, and there was clearly immediately some talk between Chapman and Arsenal even if there had not been earlier.
Meanwhile, Sir Henry Norris opened discussions about the transfer of Charlie Buchan. This was thus before Chapman signed for Arsenal – but Buchan claimed later that he was told about the transfer possibility by Chapman, which suggests the discussions between Sir Henry and Chapman started even before the Scandinavian tour, and included the option of buying Buchan. It is also possible that Chapman made signing Buchan one of his demands for taking the job.
On 10 June Huddersfield’s directors met with Chapman to discuss the move to Arsenal, and on 10th or 11th June 1925 Chapman called Sir Henry to accept a job offer. Arsenal then bought a house in Hendon for Chapman and his family.
Around June 15 Arsenal announced that they had not just bought a house for their manager but also the whole of the area on which the Highbury stadium was built, and some extra land from the College that was leasing it to the club (until now the ground had all simply been leased). The College was now in real financial trouble and yet another new era was starting.
On Monday 22 June 1925, exactly 32 years to the day after Jack Humble took the chair for the first ever AGM of the newly formed Woolwich Arsenal Football and Athletic Club Ltd, Herbert Chapman took up the job of Secretary Manager of Arsenal FC. An iconic moment if ever there was one.
On 15 August 1925 a crowd of 11,406 came to Highbury for a pre-season practice match. On 22 August at the second such game 13,269 turned up.
But then on 29 August the season kicked off with…. a 1-0 home defeat to Tottenham. Using much the same team as performed so poorly last season Chapman then produced four wins and two draws, ultimately taking Arsenal to its highest ever position in the league thus far: 2nd.
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