The idea was not only to give the new ground a sense of being a continuation of Arsenal’s history, but also of helping to solve the congestion problem that arose as friends agreed to meet at a particular entrance. The notion was people would now say “I’ll meet you at Thierry Henry” etc – and that is what happened.
We also suggested that one of the statues should be of Herbert Chapman looking up at the stadium as if to say “I did this.” And that’s what we got.
Of course not every idea that we came up with was accepted: another suggestion was that we should have a statue for Henry Norris who rescued the club in 1910 and moved Arsenal to Highbury.
However the successful blackening of Norris’ name by those who deposed him in 1927, and by scurrilous journalists ever since made that too much of a controversial idea, but the club did take it upon themselves to restore Sir Henry’s grave, and that of Herbert Chapman, and I think that was a very worthwhile gesture.
I did also put the idea forward that if we could not have a statue of Sir Henry there should be some recognition of the triumvirate of other great radical reformers that the club has had, but that one has not yet found favour. But I am still hopeful that one day it might..
My three nominations were :
Jack Humble: one of the founders of the club who stayed on and became part of the committee that ran the club. He was the chairman of Arsenal when we entered the league in 1893 and remained as a director through the Norris era, resigning only when the Hill Wood family took over the club and removed all the previous directors.
Herbert Chapman, of course, the man who gave Arsenal its first triumphs, and whose statue we now have opposite the south bridge.
Arsene Wenger, who once more transformed the club, giving us our influx of players from around the world, the new training facilities, the incredible youth project which allowed the club to pay for the new stadium, the Unbeaten Season, three League titles and the record seven FA Cup wins.
And it seems that maybe we are about to get the Wenger statue. Another little triumph for the Society.
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