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by Tony Attwood
If ever there was a time of one era ending and another beginning the early summer of 1925 was it.
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 for the job. 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…
Knighton 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 then some talk between Chapman and Sir Henry Norris at that moment, although it seems likely there had been such conversations earlier.
On 8 June the Football League voted to change the offside law so that two (rather than three) defenders had to be behind the ball, for a player to receive it in the opposition half, rather than three. (A couple of matches experimenting with this had been tried at Highbury in recent weeks).
Sir Henry Norris then opened discussions about the transfer of Charlie Buchan. This was before Chapman signed for Arsenal – but Buchan claimed later that he was told about the transfer possibility by Chapman, which suggests the discussions started before the Scandinavian tour, and included the option of buying Buchan. Maybe Chapman made signing Buchan one of his demands for taking the job.
On 10 June Hudersfield’s directors met with Chapman to discuss the move to Arsenal, and on 10th or 11th June 1925 Chapman either phoned or telegraphed Sir Henry to accept a job offer. Arsenal then bought a house in Hendon for Chapman and his family and they moved in the following year.
Then on June 15 Arsenal announced that they had bought Highbury and some extra land from the College that was leasing it to the club. Until this point Arsenal had been leasing the ground, meaning that at the end of the lease the club could be forced to leave the ground, pull down the stadium, and return the site to that of a recreational area.
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.
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