What is the name of the man who built the modern Arsenal?

If you have read any of my ramblings on the topic of the early days of Arsenal before, you’ll know that I believe the modern Arsenal was founded in 1910.


The reason for that is simple – in 1910 the existing owners of Woolwich Arsenal FC put the club into liquidation, and ultimately sold the club to Henry Norris.


Norris then took a series of steps that founded the modern club, namely


He moved the club to Highbury in 1913

He gained us promotion to the first division in 1919

He brought in Herbert Chapman in 1925


To me there can be no doubt that Norris was the man who made the modern Arsenal.


But should we be calling him “Norris”.  Surely he is “Sir Henry Norris”.


Well, up to a point (and of course what follows is just my point of view).  Henry Norris was granted a knighthood after the First World War, an honour that was given to him in recognition of his work in running a recruitment office in Fulham, signing up young men to fight in the trenches before there was a general call-up.


This was obviously after the period that this site deals with – which is 100 years ago.  So in October 1909 he was very much “Henry Norris” and not “Sir Henry”.


But why do I go further and just call him “Norris” rather than “Mr Norris”?   I hadn’t thought about this until the note came in to the correspondence section of the site pointing out that Norris did get a knighthood.


The fact is, Henry Norris was not a nice man.  He was widely seen as a bully who would bulldoze his visions through, without reference to anyone else.  All the records that we have of him show that in meetings (for example) he would shout and rage until everyone else shut up and let him have his way.


Of course Arsenal benefited from him, but I don’t think we should hide his personality.  And in some curious way, knowing his personality makes me want to call him “Norris”, and not “Sir Henry” or “Mr Norris”.


Just me of course, but that’s how it is.


MAKING THE ARSENAL – the new book about Arsenal FC which tells the story of Henry Norris’ take-over of the club in 1910 – can now be ordered ahead of publication at the end of October.  For details of the book and to place an order just click on this link.


(c) Tony Attwood 2009

One Reply to “What is the name of the man who built the modern Arsenal?”

  1. For what he did for us then EVERY Arsenal fan should call him SIR HENRY NORRIS. I agree that he was not a nice man and a definite bully but we would never have been playing at Highbury had it not been for his bullying. I believe (and my facts maybe incorrect) that Highbury was a rec owned by the church and Sir Henry Norris pretty much stole this land and started building stands on the ground without any permission from local residents or the church. HAd SIr Henry not been a bully then who knows what would’ve happened to our beloved Arsenal. I do love your articles Tony – always enjoy reading them with interest.

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