22 June: The day Herbert Chapman took over at Arsenal


Day by Day: the videos – An Arsenal video for (almost) every day of the year in order. 

by Tony Attwood

Of all the days that I write about in this series, this one sticks in my memory as it happens to be my birthday.  Which of course is not a matter of consequence to anyone other than myself and my family and friends, but it feels nice to have a birthday associated with the great man.  Indeed a birthday associated with two highly significant moments in the club’s history.  As will become clear in a moment.

On 10 June 1925 Huddersfield’s directors had met with Herbert Chapman to discuss his potential move to Arsenal, and on 10th or 11th June 1925 Chapman telegrammed Sir Henry Norris to accept the Arsenal owner’s job offer.  Arsenal then bought a house in Hendon for Chapman and his family.

It is hard to overestimate how big a story this was at the time.   Huddersfield had appointed Herbert Chapman (who at the time had been banned from football for life because of the scandal at his previous club, Leeds City) on 31 March 1921 with the club in 18th position in the 1st division – its first season in that division.

The following season, under Chapman, Huddersfield won the FA Cup for the first and only time in their history.  In 1922/23 Huddersfield came 3rd in the 1st Division again for the first time and in the subsequent two seasons, the club won the league.  It was an utterly amazing rise for a previously insignificant and unsuccessful club living on small crowds.

Around June 15 1925 Arsenal announced that they had bought Highbury and some extra land from the College that was leasing it to the club.  A new era under Henry Norris 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.  Interest was indeed growing in what the club might become – after the poor final season with Knighton in charge.

But then on 29 August the season kicked off with….  a 1-0 home defeat to Tottenham at a Highbury packed to overflowing.   However, using much the same team as collapsed last season under Knighton, Chapman then produced four wins and two draws, ultimately taking Arsenal to its highest ever position in the league thus far to finish the season in 2nd.  It was also the season that saw the dramatic change to the way in which Arsenal lined up.  Although trophies did not come immediately, changes were afoot.

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 

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