Courtesy English Heritage.
English Heritage has unveiled a Blue Plaque at the former London home of Arsenal Football Club’s most successful manager, Herbert Chapman (1878-1934).
The plaque was unveiled at a ceremony which was attended by representatives of the clubs most closely associated with Chapman — Arsenal and Huddersfield Town — at Haslemere Avenue in Hendon where he lived from 1926 until his death in 1934.
Widely recognised as the first modern football manager, Chapman is the only person to have guided four different clubs to either FA Cup or League success in this country and is the first footballer to receive a commemorative Blue Plaque.
The pioneering forerunner to Sven and Co.
But, as current Arsenal Chairman Peter Hill-Wood explained at the ceremony, it is as an innovator that he is best remembered.
"Arsenal Football Club is delighted to be involved in today’s ceremony, which is commemorating a true legend in the history of our Club – Herbert Chapman," said Peter before describing him as "a truly revolutionary manager."
Having enjoyed a career as a player with the likes of Sheffield United and Tottenham Hotspur, Chapman began his career as a football manager in 1907 with Northampton Town.
Having guided them to the Southern League championship, he took over as manager of Leeds City in 1912. Despite the club’s suspension from the Football League due to financial irregularities they were declared champions in 1918 after play-offs among the various wartime League Champions.
However, it was at Huddersfield Town that Chapman made his name. Joining the club as secretary in 1920 he quickly rose to team manager and by 1922 brought the League’s newest club its first and, so far, only FA Cup success.
In 1924 he guided Huddersfield to the League Championship and repeated the success the following season. At this point Chapman left for the capital and Arsenal. By 1930 he had led the club to its first major trophy the FA Cup. Somewhat ironically their opponent on the day was Huddersfield.
Courtesy English Heritage.
Chapman took Arsenal to its first League triumph in 1932, with some of the era’s greatest players, like Charles Buchan, Alex James and Cliff Bastin, in his team.
Retaining the trophy in 1933, the club was on the verge of a third title in a row when the manager contracted pneumonia and died just four months before the team completed its hat-trick in 1934.
Yet Chapman's endeavours to change football and promote it in the public domain particularly place him among the UK's most repected managers.
"During his time at Arsenal," added Peter Hill-Wood, "Herbert Chapman not only transformed the team’s performances, he also introduced many revolutionary initiatives."
Among his legacies to modern football is the ‘stopper’ centre half (created when the offside rule was introduced in 1925), the 10-yard penalty semi-circle and numbering on players’ shirts.