Making the Arsenal: extract from the most detailed book on Arsenal’s history

Here’s an extract from MAKING THE ARSENAL – the new book which covers the collapse of Woolwich Arsenal and the take over of the club by Henry Norris.   There’s details of how to purchase the book at the end.


At this point of the story, Jacko Jones, football reporter at the Daily Chronicle has been trying to find out what Henry Norris is up to in relation to his possible take-over of Woolwich Arsenal.   On 26 February 1910 he is sent to cover the match at the Manor Ground, and travels with his photographer, Edward.


At the ground Edward and I tried out some new ideas. He took a few photographs of the Hen and Basket and its clientele, and while he was doing that one old timer told me that Woolwich did have one brilliant player – Charlie Buchan, a 17-year-old apparently playing in the reserves. This old boy claimed to have watched the reserves against Croydon Common. He said that Arsenal won 3-1 and Buchan scored one of the goals.


Back at the ground we found Dick Bartlow, the groundsman whom I’d bought a few drinks for last season, and I asked him. He certainly knew Buchan and said he had played at least three games for the Woolwich team, and had trained twice a week with the team as an amateur – which is fairly common.

But Dick then said the story he had heard was that young Buchan had given the club a bill of 11 shillings for his travel costs to and from the ground. That, I could imagine, would have gone down like a lead sandwich given the state of the Woolwich finances. Dick said the club had refused to reimburse him. As a result, Buchan refused to play any more games for the club. Edward took Dick’s photograph but chose to do it just where the players come out – just as they came out. Everyone and everything went flying, and there was a great roar from the crowd.


One of the Sunderland players cut himself on some broken glass and needed to be patched up, so they had to start with ten men. Immediately Edward was the hero, and after he’d sorted his equipment out there were huge cheers as he started to walk around the pitch to take up a place near the goal Woolwich were attacking. Sensing his moment of fame Edward waved imperiously and they all waved back – which was much more fun than the match. I ran over to the crowd and shouted “Take your caps off” mimicking the move with my hat, and as they did Edward got the picture.


Sunderland scored while we were larking about, but it didn’t matter too much.

I stopped at the bookshop in Fleet Street before we went into the office, and they sold me a copy of Anarchism and outrage by Freedom Press. Edward wondered why I was so interested in anarchism, and I just said, “Knowledge – it’s all knowledge.”


“You should come round with Marie, and get to know Sophia better,” he said. Then seeing my face added, “She just takes a little getting used to.”


Sunday 27th February


While waiting for any comments on my piece on yesterday’s game Edward and I followed the Buchan story back through the archives. Turned out that for the rest of last season after his bust-up Buchan had played for Northfleet in the Kent League. (Not more Kent – I can’t stand it.) But then scouts became aware of Buchan, and Bury offered him wages of £3 a week.


And then, would you believe, my old pal Norris had become involved. According to Athletic News he offered Buchan a deal which meant that Buchan could be a teacher (which he wanted to be) and a footballer. They offered him £1 10s a week but Buchan wanted £2, and the deal fell through. After that we found him on the books at Leyton in the Southern League. That was a stroke of luck because I’d occasionally bumped into the correspondent at the Leyton Times when doing Clapton Orient pieces in the early days, and Edward and I took the underground to Finsbury Park followed by an omnibus to his offices.


Derek Widlow was indeed duly at his desk, as he always was seven days a week, and had the Buchan story ready and available in return for a drink or three. Buchan, he thought, was paid £3 a week at Leyton and at the same time as playing did teacher training at a college. That was significantly more than Fulham offered, and he was playing in a lower league. I began to wonder about Norris’ ability to see the world straight.


The Leyton files showed Buchan had first played versus Plymouth Argyle in September last year and had continued playing ever since. According to my man on the spot, he was the best thing that had ever happened to Leyton, and there was no way in which Buchan should be playing at this level.

“Someone should take him on,” he said.


Edward took Derek’s photograph.


MAKING THE ARSENAL is available on line – orders received now will be despatched the moment the book is released – in approximately ten days.

You can read more about the book by selecting the appropriate link…

·        If you are in the UK click

·        If you are in the rest of Europe visit

·        If you are in the rest of the world go to


If you have any questions about the book or buying it please do email or call me on 01536 399 013

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