Why are they immortalised with a statue at The Arsenal #1 – Herbert Chapman


I often walk around the Emirates, reading the stories behind the Arsenal players adorning the outside, alongside supporters’ stories regarding their personal experiences with each individual. The walkways leading to the stadium have different players looking down on us, as we make our way to and from our wonderful stadium,

It got me wondering; what makes someone, out of all the great players, managers etc we have had, deserve the ultimate accolade of having a statue unveiled?

Herbert Chapman, Tony Adams, Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp currently have that honour, with Arsene Wenger soon to join this elite group of individuals, so I thought I would look at each person’s history and why they have been honoured in such a way, starting with Herbert Chapman.

I searched high and low for his history and, by chance, came across the final AW match against Huddersfield (thanks Phil), where the following had been written in their matchday programme. I have cannibalised it, in order to make it reflect Herbert Chapman’s links with us.

Chapman made a career as a player before turning to management. He turned out for over a dozen teams, including Rochdale, Northampton and Tottenham Hotspur.

He entered management during his third stint at Northampton as player manager, before he took over the reins at struggling Leeds City.

Chapman spent seven years at Leeds, before receiving a lifetime ban from football for a case involving illegal payments to players and two blackmail attempts in 1921!!!

However, after appealing against the ban and winning, he returned to football later that year to take over at Huddersfield Town, where he guided them to their first ever major honour in 1922, the FA Cup – their only win in this competition to date.

Just two years later, he won the league title and The Terriers became the first team in history to claim three in a row.

But in 1925, his involvement with The Arsenal began…reportedly after being offered almost double the salary that he was on!!!

In his first season in charge, we finished 2nd, the highest ever in our history at that time.

Two years later, he guided us to our first ever major trophy, beating his old club Huddersfield in the FA Cup final – followed by the first Arsenal league title ever the next season.

In doing so, they racked up 66 points, when only two points were recorded for a win!!!

The club then finished second in 1931/32 then crowned champions once again in 1932/33, 33/34 and 34/35, completely dominating the English game.

Tragically, Chapman contracted pneumonia during the 34/35 season and died at the age of just 55.

To this day, we can still see some of the innovative ideas this great man brought to the club:

Including; Teams walking out side by side – Arsenal tube station (where he persuaded London Underground to re-name Gillespie Road and the original name is still visible on the tiles) – The famous Highbury Clock – numbers on the back of jerseys – smashing the world transfer record – even stating that goal line judges were needed over 90 years before the technology became an actuality, saying “I am convinced that referees need their help if they are to avoid mistakes and injustices”.

Of course, the red shirts with white sleeves, which our club have worn since the 1930’s, were also introduced by this incredible man back in the 1932/33 season.

There are so many more to list, but there is one last act that I want to note.

It’s all about doing it ‘The Arsenal Way’…..when Huddersfield Town celebrated their centenary in 2008, the club was presented with a replica of the bust of Herbert Chapman that had stood in the famous Highbury entrance hall by our club. It currently takes pride of place at the Terriers training ground entrance.

Worthy of a statue? Indeed and he should also have one of our stands named after him, a brilliant manager who was way before his time and introduced “The Arsenal Way” in my opinion.

Could any other manager have the same kind of influence at our Club?



  1. @Ken1845- what a fantastic Topic Headline. And you are so correct in what you say about such an innovative Manager clearly ahead of his time. I am looking forward to the next instalments providing they are solely based on the statues we have and NOT for any future pretenders.Thank You

    1. Phil, my next subject will be Tony Adams, followed by Thierry Henry and then Dennis Bergkamp.

      I believe the statue for Arsene is ready, but the club are holding the unveiling ceremony in order not to disappoint the 60,000 plus who paid homage at his last home game and this will happen once the coronavirus has gone!!!

      Back to HC though and I’m hoping others will come up with more facts on him.
      I remembered, just after posting off to Pat, that he also introduced the “W” formation into football.

      His statue, near enough facing the clock outside the stadium, was another brilliant piece of planning don’t you think?

      By the way, where is your article? Too busy knitting I suppose?!?!

      1. Brilliant article Ken, I don’t think anyone mentioned Floodlights, another innovative experiment that Chapman tried twenty years before they were finally installed, also European Football competitions that finally commenced in 1955. another Chapman innovation. He asked for the goal line judges after we were robbed by the famous “over the line final” in 1932 where the linesman was closer to halfway line than the Newcastle right winger who crossed the ball a good foot over the line. Love the story from Jon about getting the Bolton officials drunk.. Also winning the league in ’31 with a record number of points (66) and the most goals, 127 in 42 games with the points record finally equalled by the Tottenham double side of ’61 as usual some 30 years later.

  2. Great read Ken and I look forward to next instalments. In answer to your last line question the answer has to be NO, for the simple reason that Chapman took us from an underachieving club with no trophy success at all(at top level) to the most famous club in the world. No future manager could ever hope to compete, as we already were world famous when they came. Probably the closest was Allison, followed by Wenger, Graham, Mee and Whittaker with the rest lagging way behind.
    I slightly differ from Phil’s view that only those with statues should qualify for your articles. That would rule out far too many influential people in our history; Sir Henry for instance who is, imo, the single most important person in our history, above even Chapman. Why not write about HIM,when you can educate so many younger fans?

    1. Thanks Jon, Chapman was a visionary and, did indeed, transform our club and, at the same time, the world of football.

      As for Sir Henry, Not sure when I will get the time, having submitted another two articles for approval,, plus four more “Immortalised” subjects – it would be a fantastic subject to explore though, as he was another man of many colours and a rogue to boot!!!

      1. Ken I imagine you already know the story of when HC and a very young Bob Wall were meeting Bolton’s directors in an hotel to agree a fee for David Jacks incoming transfer? I am tempted not to spoil it for anyone reading it by me but I’ll be spoiler so here goes. HC and BW were there before the Bolton guys and told the barman that HC and BW would be drinking G and T’s but with no gin at all in their glass and the Bolton chaps would be served many Gand T’s , all on Chapman (generous but crafty man) containing much gin and hardly any tonic. The meeting went “swimmingly”(to coin a phrase) and Arsenal picked up Jack for the sum of “£10,000, a fortune at that time.BUT CHAPMAN WOULD HAVE PAID MORE, .BUT IT PROVED UNNECESSARY. Perhaps he was related to Sir Henry and they shared those “rogue genes”!

        1. Yes Jon I did know that one and it’s a great story.

          There is so much rich history in our club and I feel that I really don’t want to shove these stories/views down those fans younger than us, in case it has a negative response – I’m just hoping that, like some of us older fans, it’s not only the present and results that matter…it’s more about the tradition and what made The Arsenal the club they are.

          1. KEN WOULD YOU NOT THEN AGREE WITH ME THEN, when I say that any Gooner who is not interested in our famous names and stories from the distant past is not a real Gooner? I believe the vast majority are very interested and would welcome more info from knowledgeable fans like you. SURELY EDUCATING PEOPLE IS NOT “SHOVING” THEM (presumably,down their throat , to finish that phrase). Is this not how EVERYONE learns, including us older fans too?
            Ones own views are one thing, but factual stories and info, quite another.

          2. Yes Jon, part of being a supporter is knowing your club and its history.

            However and as you can see from the response so far, our way of judging things is so different today – it has to be an instant thing and what happened before doesn’t matter.

            I am not criticizing this attitude, oi is the world we live in and I well remember gotanidea (whatever happened to him/her?) addressing us as “old fogies”.

            I am doing this to broaden my knowledge of the club, by investigating these four/five people and hoping I can learn from others with their views or memories.

            Already completed the Tony Adams article, sending it off tomorrow. What aplayer he was!!!

      1. Pat, surely you mean AND David Dein , not or! And with these articles from such as Ken, Anders and more from both promised, your site is about to achieve promotion from a lower division right into the Prem strata! Much more like it!

          1. PAT I love the word “trying”. It is so deliciously and usefully ambiguous. But I am teasing and do take your point,

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