The death of Herbert Chapman

January 6, 1934
Mr. Herbert Chapman, one of the most famous football personalities of the day, whose managership of the Arsenal Football Club brought the club from struggling obscurity to its present proud position, died in London to-day.

Mr. Chapman, who was known not only in the football world, but throughout the country as a real sportsman, died from pneumonia. He was aged 52.

Death took place at his home at Hendon. Last Wednesday he returned home with a very high temperature and was told to remain in bed. He had a chill. Late last night he took a sudden turn for the worse and doctors and specialists were called in, but without avail.

Mr. Chapman was regarded as an inspired leader in the world of football. First Huddersfield and then the Arsenal were carried from the depths to the heights of success by his genius.

It was with Huddersfield that he really made his name as a manager, but it was not until he became controller of the Arsenal that his fame became world-wide.

Night football, a white ball, a timing clock and a limitation to transfer fees were things Mr. Chapman tried to introduce, and the reason that they did not really catch on may be due as much to the fact that he was ahead of his time as to anything else.

Many tried to fathom the secret of the Arsenal’s success, but it was generally known that the team’s plan of campaign was always decided at a conference between Mr. Chapman and his men before a match began. Off the field, Mr. Chapman was a genial, kindly soul and always ready to give a helping hand to a footballer who had seen better days.

His arrival at Highbury had a remarkable effect upon the club. For years the Arsenal had been languishing in the bottom half of the league table, but in his first season with them they were runners up for the championship and in the following year they reached the final of the FA Cup competition.

Mr. Chapman has been described as the man who introduced big business into football. He spent his early career in professional football as an inside right for Tottenham Hotspur, and then he became player-manager of Northampton Town. After this he gave up actual playing and took over the task of managing Leeds City. It was from there that he went to Huddersfield and although they were at that time anything but a rich club his perseverance and keen insight soon made them one of the finest teams in the country.

When Mr. Chapman moved to Highbury it was for a salary of over £2,000 a year, which was said to be the highest wage ever paid to a football manager. How well he justified this salary is proved by the fact that in three successive seasons the arsenal made an aggregate gross profit of well over £15,000.

The news of Mr. Chapman’s death came as great shock to the officials of the Arsenal Club. They knew he had been indisposed, but had no idea that his illness was likely to prove fatal. Sir Henry Norris, former chairman of the Arsenal F.C., when he heard the news, said, “I am very sorry that he has been called away so early. He was a very able manager.

Mr. G.F. Allison, the Arsenal director and radio commentator, said, “Herbert Chapman was an extraordinary man – a man of amazing vitality and energy. He lived for football, not only for the club with which he was associated, but for the players who were under his care. He was such a master of the psychology of the players that he could make a moderate player into a good one.

The Arsenal finished the 1924-5 season struggling at the bottom of the first division League. Since then, under Herbert Chapman’s managership, we have always been either near the top or else champions, and have always been a power in the Cup. That has been entirely due to Chapman’s managerial skill, and above all to the amazing faculty he had of getting the best out of the players.

“During my 30 years association with professional football there has only been one Herbert Chapman, and with great respect to everybody else, I do not see where there is another.”

Alex James, the Arsenal’s Scottish International inside forward, was greatly affected when told the news, “Mr. Chapman,” said James, “was the most popular  manager a team could have. All the boys would do anything for him. I do not suppose there will ever be anybody like him in the game again.

The King and Queen and the Prince of Wales knew Mr. Chapman well. At Wembley Cup Finals in which Arsenal have appeared in recent years the King – who is a keen follower of football – has chatted with Mr. Chapman and discussed points of the game with him.
(Gloucestershire Echo: January 6, 1934)

Herbert Chapman (picture from newspaper same day).
Herbert Chapman

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