Arsenal Beginnings Part 7: The Chapman era

1925-1934: The Chapman era

Henry Norris tempted the manager of then champions Huddersfield Town, Herbert Chapman, with a mega-money offer to take up the reins at Arsenal. Chapman’s first order of business was to purchase prolific Sunderland striker Charlie Buchan. The manager also adopted the WM formation at Arsenal to compensate for the change in offside rule.

Chapman’s effect at Arsenal was almost immediate as the Gunners came within touching distance of their first major silverware, finishing 2nd in the First Division in 1925/26. The next season saw them reach the final of the FA Cup where they lost to Cardiff City by a 1-0 scoreline. Continue reading

Arsenal Beginnings Part 6: Tottenham rivalry begins

1919-1925: Arsenal under Leslie Knighton

Following the club’s return to the First Division, ‘The’ was dropped from the club’s name and it began to be referred to as Arsenal, the name we know today. Tottenham and Arsenal had already grown into rivals owing to their physical proximity since Arsenal’s move to Highbury, but Norris’ act of getting his club into the First Division at the expense of Spurs is considered to be the definitive act of the famed North London rivalry. As ardent Gunners fans will know, Arsenal have never fallen out of the top division since their promotion in 1919.

Norris appointed Leslie Knighton as the new manager although ultimate control of the club remained in the owner’s hands. Knighton was known for having an eye for young talent and with Norris still reeling from the expenses of building Higbury, the new manager invested his limited funds wisely to snap up a number of young players and turn them into stars at Arsenal, the most notable among them being Bob John and Jimmy Brain. Arsenal finished their first season back in First Division in 10th place and the subsequent season in 9th place. Continue reading

Arsenal Beginnings Part 5: Move to Highbury

1913-1919: Move to Highbury and return to First Division

Henry Norris’ plan to merge Woolwich Arsenal with Fulham was blocked by the Football League and so the club was moved to the more developed location of Highbury, North London. Norris chose this site owing to its proximity to the Gillespie Road underground station. Tottenham and Clapton Orient were naturally against the move as were residents of Woolwich and Highbury, but Norris was a powerful figure in England and the majority owner saw the move through.

The Highbury plot was owned by the Church of England and Norris paid £20,000 for a 21-year lease. Norris reportedly spent £125,000 in the construction of the new stadium and Woolwich Arsenal were rechristened The Arsenal. Arsenal’s first match at Highbury was a 2-1 win over Leicester Fosse on September 6, 1913.

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Arsenal Beginnings Part 4: The financial meltdown

1904-1913: First Division and the financial meltdown

Woolwich Arsenal were now in the big league and the club brought in Charlie Satterthwaite and Bobby Templeton that year to cope with First Division football. The club finished in a respectable 10th place in their debut season in the top flight with Satterthwaite scoring 11 goals.

The next season ended on a similar note with Arsenal in 12th place, although that season will be best remembered for their scintillating Cup run, where they beat Watford, Sunderland and Manchester United to reach the semi-finals, where they lost to Newcastle United. The 1906/07 season saw Arsenal finish in 7th place in addition to another semi-final run in the FA Cup. Continue reading