By Tony Attwood
OK, I know there is a bust, and it used to be in the marble halls at Highbury.
Now it is at the Directors’ Entrance at Emirates Stadium and (according to the club) “greets the thousands of guests which visit the stadium each year.”
Well, yes, up to a point. (Apart from the fact that it should be “who visit” and not “which visit”). The directors’ entrance is on the Emirates Stadium’s official tours so yes lots of people see it.
Actually, just to be accurate, this ain’t the original Herbert Chapman bust, but a replica – they left the original at Highbury (hopefully on purpose).
But here’s the problem. Chapman is revered as the founder of the modern club – the man brought in by Norris who completed the Great Task, of the transition from a small club from Kent to a giant in world football.
And I don’t get to go in the Directors’ Entrance.
So how do I venerate Chapman upon arrival at the Ems? How do I say to people who I take along for an occasional visit when my partner can’t use her ticket, “This is the Founder. This is the man who started the Great Task”.
(Sorry I seem to have slipped a bit into North Korean here – but you know what I mean).
There is not any Chapman anywhere as far as I know, on the way into Arsenal. (OK maybe there is and I don’t happen to pass it so I have missed it so you can now tell me, and I will issue a full apology for wasting your time).
At a time when the club has put the old south bank clock on the outside of the stadium opposite the south bridge, and put a new replica giant inside the stadium and given us back the North Bank and the Clock End, where is the tribute to Herbert Chapman?
Chapman was the visionary, as well as the man who gave us success. He introduced numbering on shirts (the FA and League told him to stop), he wanted to take floodlighting forward (it had been tried for years, and he wanted it as a regular feature), he proposed the ten-yard penalty semi-circle (the “D”). He got Gillespie Road tube station change to Arsenal, and indeed he changed the name of the club from The Arsenal to Arsenal.
And perhaps most of all, he gave us our first major trophy – the Cup in 1930, and then the League in 1931, before tragically being cut short in his prime.
Which therefore leads to the question – why is there no HERBERT CHAPMAN STATUE at the Ems?
Now I know you can’t go round putting statues up all over the place in an area that has 60,000 people walking around it at the time of a match. But the designers have been innovative in building the Highbury Wall which commemorates every player who ever played at Arsenal.
So surely there must be somewhere to put a statue to Chapman that each and every one of us can pass, and reflect upon as we go to the go and point it out to guests and visitors, and be photographed next to?
I’m going to start my own little bit of lobbying on this – I hope you feel it is a good idea.
About this site
The Woolwich Arsenal web site exists to explore all aspects of Arsenal’s history. To give some focus much of the reporting is on Arsenal 100 years ago (hence “Woolwich Arsenal”) but the site does also pick up on other historic issues – such as this campaign to get a Chapman statue.
Want to know how Tottenham have stolen our history? Read the story of the 1919 promotion from an Arsenal perspective, and much more – all indexed on the index page.
And if you fancy knowing about what football and life was really like 100 years ago, trying “Making the Arsenal” which is available from that last link, or via Amazon.