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The Man Spurs Will Never Forgive

I've expressed my disdain for transfer news dozens of times, so with an impending summer of annoying garbage in store and no 'real' football to write about, I have decided to produce a series to replace the twenty questions gambit which will be on hiatus in the summer. (My propensity to produce series is common amongst obsessives)! So I have decided to focus on Arsenal's intimidating history to look for its pinnacle figures. Men who were responsible for the evolution of the club, either as players, managers or administrators. A club such as Arsenal is blessed with a multitude of such figures, so there are omissions. Men such as Don Howe, who has had three spells at the club including as Assistant Manager to Bertie Mee in the 71 Double triumph. Ken Friar who joined the club in 1950 as a messenger and rose to become our Chief Executive and is now our acting Managing Director. Great players such as Ted Drake, Ian Wright and Robert Pires, though beacons of our club, do not make the list. These are the men that are the perpetrators of Arsenal's fortune, men who became synonymous with the grandeur associated with Arsenal Football Club, the revoltionaries who put us on the map. Throughout the summer I'll take a whistle stop tour through the lot.

Where else could I possibly begin? Herbert Chapman I hear you cry? No. I begin with a man who was the catalyst for our success, the man who bullied Arsenal into the collective conscious. Politician, racketeer, Machiavel. A controversial figure whose legacy can be summed up thusly. Seventy years after his death and eighty years after leaving the club, Spurs still hate him. Of course I am talking about Henry Norris. Aptly, Norris was a distant relation to a sixteenth Century diplomat of the same name who was executed for his, ahem, attention to Anne Boleyn. Like his distant Grandfather, Henry Norris would revel in befriending and betraying the upper echelons of high society. Norris was born in 1865, leaving school at 14, he developed his sharp negotiating acumen as an estate agent. He was almost solely responsible for Fulham's regeneration, he quickly acquired a fortune in property, building up a network on contacts and connections which he would later call upon to aid the Gunners. He was made Mayor of Fulham, a leading Tory and a Freemason. Norris did not so much press the flesh as pound it into submission, whether it be with his legendary charm or his fearsome bark. Norris stood at over six feet tall and wore a thick monacle, which distorted his gaze. This added to a Bond villainesque kind of presence, which he utilised fully to impose himself on detractors.

In 1912, the well to do Norris wanted to buy a London football club and challenge the North of England's dominance in the sport. With Chelsea, Clapton Orient and Tottenham Hotspur all operating soundly, Norris knew he could barge his way onto the board of troubled Woolwich Arsenal with ease. He was the Abramovic of his time. The Arsenal board welcomed his savvy negotiating skills, as a Director of Fulham he had bartered Fulham from the Southern League to Division Two in just four years, leading to unfounded accusations of bribery. Norris wanted to merge Fulham and Arsenal, but for the only time until his ill reputed expulsion from football, the Football League blocked Norris from doing so. He was however, allowed to stay on as a Director of Fulham whilst simultaneously being Arsenal's Chairman. With the merger blocked, Sir Henry set about a contingency plan. With Woolwich Arsenal in the midst of a 1912/13 campaign that would see them relegated in front of meagre crowds in the inaccessible backwater of Plumstead (where a good deal ofmy family hail from incidentally, it's still a pain to get to) in front of tiny crowds, Norris sought about moving Arsenal into the London Borough of Islington. He set his sights on Finsbury Park, a short jaunt from the West End, better transport links and a much bigger population.

Using his swelling address book, Norris secured six acres of land owned by the St. John's Divinity College at Avenell Road- a sight used by bishops and priests to play cricket. Of course, local clubs saw the threat. Orient, Spurs and Chelsea continued to lobby the football league to block the move. If the local NIMBYs we faced securing the Emirates looked hard work, what Norris faced was infinitely more challenging. An F.A. Committee investigated the proposed relocation, but guess what? The committee was coincidentally packed with Norris' chums and they gave it the go ahead. Next up, the Church Committee who vehemently opposed the idea of an 'ungodly' practise such as football taking place on holy grounds. But a 20,000 cheque seemed to quell their protests. Norris' friendship with the Archbishop of Canterbury cannot have harmed Norris' quests to get the deeds signed by, erm, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Norris erstwhily promised not to sell intoxicating liquor and not to host matches on holy days. Sir Henry found promises easy to make and impossible to honour. By 1915, booze was on sale in Highbury's walls and the Gunners were fulfilling home fixtures on Christmas Day.

Norris also extended his vast network to the local press, Islington hacks that opposed the move found themselves on the breadlines rather quickly. Norris was also accused of deliberately leaking news of the move during Arsenal's 1912/13 relegation season to the local press and underinvesting in the team to strengthen his grounds for becoming football's first gypsies. Once the opposition had been bribed, charmed and removed, Norris set about constructing the ground. Having made his fortune in property and architecture, he knew exactly where to begin. Henry happened to be chummy with fellow Mason J.Whiting, the Mayor of Manchester. Norris used this contact to establish a friendship with the architect of Newton Heath's Old Trafford ground Archibald Leitch. Arsenal had their architect, Norris hired locals as labourers, the thought process being that this could set the foundations for a North London fanbase and instill a sense of local pride towards the downtrodden nomads. Tottenham countered with a press campaign pleading with North Londoners not to support 'the interlopers.'

With Arsenal having successfully increased their fanbase with the move, Norris' most controversial act was on the horizon. The team were still not performing. They finished fifth in the Second Division in the 1914/15 season, before football was suspended for the war. Chelsea and Tottenham occupied the bottom two positions in Division 1. At the resumption of competitive football in 1919, the Football League were restructuring the football league. Norris used his legendary negotiating savvy by convincing the football league that London based Arsenal would be a more enticing prospect for the top flight than Wolves or Barnsley (who finished above Arsenal in Division Two). Norris would once more call upon backslapping from the boardroom drinks cabinet and promised his good friend the Chelsea chairman that his club would be offered a reprieve and their league status would be assured if they voted for Arsenal's promotion. Arsenal won the vote eight to eighteen and were elected tothe topflight, Wolves and Barnsley stayed down and Tottenham were relegated. The rivalry that enused lasts to this day.

Sir Henry got his comeuppance in 1929. He was found guilty of bribing Sunderland's Charlie Buchan to sign for the Gunners in 1925, in the says of the maximum wage. (Ironically, Arsenal would be the club instrumental of the removal of the maximum wage in the early sixties). He was also found guilty of using club accounts for personal use and pocketed the 125 fee for selling the team bus. In 1929, the F.A. banned him from football for life. But Norris ensured that his upwardly mobile approach would be preserved and Arsenal's legacy would continue to grow. In 1925, he appointed Herbert Chapman as manager and the rest, as they say, is history. Norris was the man who set the foundations for the Gunners' continued success, he took a club in the doldrums and propelled them, by foul means or fair, into football's correct social circles. Arsenal would always be seen at the right parties thereafter. The North London derby is his most identifiable legacy. Years before 71 or 2004, or 1987 or Sol Campbell, Norris sewed the seeds of hatred. He ensured that the gypsies usurped the landed gentry.LD




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday May 6 2008

Time: 8:46PM

Your Comments

Thats a prettyyyy sweet read..is Henry Norris related to Chuck?
ajwb
It has also been said that Norris, bribed the League Chairman and owner of Liverpool, John McKenna at the AGM in 1919 whereupon he made a favourable speech in favour of Arsenal. So bribery finally entered the English game.
kernowboy71
so boring jus cos u havent won anyfin in 3 years dnt mean u ahv to go on about the past. i giv it 2 out of 10
arron11
Arron11, I give your SPAG 1 out of 10 mate.
Little Dutch
I don't think Norris needed to bribe McKenna - he had to persuade enough of the other clubs to vote for his proposals. Suspicion only fell on McKenna because his club Liverpool had been involved in an earlier bribery scandal. If bribery was involved it was already rife in the English game long before Norris' charms were brought to bear.
Amos.
An interesting side story to the whole 1919 vote is apparently the origin of the football cliche sick as a parrot. In 1908 Tottenham had gone on a tour of Argentina. On the ship on the way home and in recognition of their success the ships parrot was presented to the club by the captain. It survived happily at the club for ten years - dying on the day that Arsenal were given Spurs' place in the first division in 1919.
Amos.
Gotta love footballing folklore, like the story about the horse buried under the North Bank (turned out to be untrue). Iliked the story about Herbert Chapman, when negotiating the transfer of Ted Drake from Southampton, instructed his secreatry to surreptitiously give Southampton's manager double measures of whiskey in his drink, to, ahem, smooth the wheels of negotiation and get a decent price.
Little Dutch
Sir Henry >>> God.
Lex touched me.
An excellent article, looking forward to next installment, keep it up.
Armory
Where it all started. If it wasnt for that bellwap youd all be yiddos lol. What a total **** he must of been, the corruption involved was outrageous. My Dads told me the story a million times its almost like folklore, and it sums it all up. Good read though. And btw i shall see you guys at the McAlpine stadium in pre season for that Herby Chapman memourial etc. A close mate of mine plays for Huddersfield lad called James Berrett + i should be in the players lounge afterwards wouldnt know what to say to Wenger if i saw him, would have to control my passions lol
HuddersfieldYiddo
Sir Henry Norris, still widely regarded as the dude responsible for Spurs being poo for the last 50 years. Always looking for someone to blame. He's a bloody hero in my book ... lol
Rocky7
Brilliant article LD and very informative. Didn't know about this guy. I kneww about the move but nothing about the guy who precipitated it. Found a pic of him on the Arsenal website. Dude was scary! I can see why you wouldn't want to say no to that guy! http://www.arsenal.com/images/n/norris_sirhenry1.jpg
Keplaz
It's boring as usual, but at least highlights the facts that you are Gypo thieves and conmen. Maybe you should have set up on the isle of wight.
YidEdy
Or better still Alcatraz !!
YidEdy
Of course what our delusional Spud friends always forget to mention is that despite any machinations that may have gotten Arsenal promoted, Spuds were dead last in the first division that season and were going down anyway- they always make it sound like we went up at their expense which is not true. And besides, we've been in the top flight ever since which is not something they can say (relegated in 1928, 1935, 1977, possibly more but I got bored looking through the tables).
elbondo
Such drivel I suspect was expected.
col8
Before worshipping him, you should recall that if he'd had his own way, you would all be supporting Fulham at Craven Cottage.
kernowboy71
It's what he did do not what he didn't that matters kernowboy. He also apparently looked at buying Tottenham before settling on Woolwich! Norris isn't someone to worship but as a product of the times he was incredibly successfull at what he did do even if, thankfully, he didn't always get his own way.
Amos.
Norris is a true enigma. He defines the term 'Machiavelian', in fact, you'd be forgiven for thinking that 'The Prince' was his bible. There is plenty to dislike, he was a bully who had a moral arrogance when it came to the law. But in those days the class system was much more rigid and entrepeneurs tended to behave this way because they would go unchallenged. He was aware of his physical advantages, accounts from those that dealt with him say he was a terrifying individual. I have a history of Highbury book written by Jon Spurling and one gentleman said he faced the trenches and the Luftwaffe with less fear than he met Norris. There is also plenty to admire, he did his utmost to get the community involved in the move to instill a sense of local pride in the club, he was an opportunist who revived the fortunes of an ailing club forever. Without his intervention, we would probably be a Lower League nobody playing to miniscule crowds in Woolwich. You can't fault his innovation, he was ahead of his time. His means are certainly questionable, if not always legally, then ethically. Ironically, only twelve hours after writing this article, I picked up fourfourtwo magazine and there's an excellent feature on the MK Dons.
Little Dutch
Excellent article, informs the youth of today, where we came from and what skull duggery went unpunished, thank god!!!!
Harry671
Great article, LD, and not at all boring. It's only boring to kids with a short attention span and can't read more than 5 words at a time. I've read quite a bit about Norris and the origins of the Spurs-Arsenal hostility. When I started to follow the club, I made it my business to delve into the club's history. Norris was a formidable character. The man had no ethics at all. I can understand the spurs grievance to a point but as someone else pointed out it's not as if they weren't going to be relegated anyway. He's no hero, certainly. I like the way you lent a class analysis to the whole thing, "gypsies" v. the "gentry." Spurs' reaction ("interlopers") strikes me as just the well off taking umbrage at the less well to do coming in and muscling in on their turf. Reminds me of Ferguson's (and all of Man United for that matter) sulky reaction to Wenger when he arrived and started to challenge Utd's domination of the league.
jaelle
tried to email paul mustchin .... but kept giving me a not able to deliver messege, just wondering how you become a site journalist and if there are any oppotunities avaliable ?
Achilles
Good read LD. He *****ed off Spurs, and thats good enough for me ;).
prits
He almost made Chelsea extinct as well. Rumour has it, that when he was in property in Fulham, he wanted to demolish Stamford Bridge and have it all converted into affordable housing, but was blocked from doing so. A bit like when you hear that story that Hitler nearly died in childbirth, but the midwife saved his life by untangling the umbilical chord from around his neck.
Little Dutch
"A bit like when you hear that story that Hitler nearly died in childbirth, but the midwife saved his life by untangling the umbilical chord from around his neck." -- thank you for this, LD, you made my morning on such a grey rainy Manhattan day!!! :-D
jaelle
HAHAH TRYIN TO BRING BACK THE MEMORIES AS THEY HAVE BEEN NONE IN LAST 3 YEARS, WASTE OF FINGER TYPIN, ROLL ON NEXT YEAR
123spurs
I bet in 90 years Ill be reading articles about the great Spurs tinpot cup winning team of 2008. You won't have won the league by then either.
Little Dutch
an we hammered the scum to win it an beat the might chelsea.......yell never forget that 5.-1 ye couldnt even hammer us that much.....an a cup is better then no cup.....
123spurs
A domestic cup isn't better than a CL place according to a recent article on Vitalspuds. Seems some are less deluded than others.
Amos.
3rd is better than eleventh. Much better. Forty seven years is longer than four years. In the words of Mos Def, it's simple Mathematics.
Little Dutch
When teams don't actually win titles or medals in a season, they try to imply that other European recognised competitions held in domestic country are some how inferior. Every team should attempt to win every competition they enter or match they play because such an attitude produces a winning mentality. That is what Mourinho understood. There are 85 teams who won't qualify for Europe who would be delighted to have won the Carling Cup. And despite what fans say, players want to win medals especially in competitions held during the season which are recognised by the footballing authorities. Ask Hleb to show his medal collection if he leaves to join Inter. People will forget who finished 3rd by 2009, but will recall the last few winners of the Carling Cup before then.
kernowboy71
the thing is ye have a title winning team ye have done that b4 we havent so yer expected to win an have failed again there is a diference boy 71 ur right...plus ue lost league yer selfs
123spurs
I wanted to win the Carling Cup, sure. I went to every round and have done for years, but I support the decision to play youngsters and given the choice between winning the Carling Cup and finishing eleventh and having the season we've had, it's no contest. Your season hasn't impressed Berbatov either, if I gave Daniel Levy the choice between our season and yours, I know which he would choose. So you'll have to excuse us if we don't really take trophy jibes from a set of fans who have in all likelihood, have never clapped eyes on a Premiership trophy and have probably never witnessed a Champions League fixture.As I've said time and again, MK Dons fans aren't here jibing us for the silverware they've collected this year. They're realistic.
Little Dutch
Henry Norris did more to shape the club than anyone
codbater
Has their trophy has come with European qualification, which produces additional sponsorship revenue? Several players will want to sign based on the opportunity to play in one of the European cups. As for the Berbatov comments, essentially he has become almost like our Henry in that most play goes through him, possibly to the detriment of the team. A nice 150% profit can be spent as Ramos likes. Levy will be unhappy with the season but realising that there needed to be change, will feel that qualifying for Europe plus winning a trophy is better than finishing 5th and will attract further money for our new stadium.
kernowboy71
It the choice is between finishing 5th or winning the CC to achieve UEFA cup qualification or achieving it through winning the InterToto championship then I don't suppose there is an awful lot of difference. But that wasn't the proposition put forward. The proposition was would you take winning the CC and Uefa competition over finishing third and qualifying for the CL? If you wouldn't then why do so many spend so much time here trying to convince us we should? Levy wouldn't and neither would most if any of the Spud players.
Amos.
Of course we'd like to play in the Cl silly boy, but given the choice of winning NOTHING again, and silverwear, we'll take silverwear thank you very much. You lot seem to think youv'e won something by playing in a tournament you simply NEVER have a prayer of winning. The term is also rans.
YidEdy
No true YidEdy - we know we haven't won anything. It's your lot that think you have won something that anyone really cares about. Our chances of winning the CL no matter how slim are vastly greater than yours. The fact that you have no chance of winning the PL doesn't stop you trying to compete every year does it?
Amos.
YidEdy if you were honest, and if given the choice you would take 3rd & champions league football over the CC cup & 11th place. Yes its fun to have a laugh at our expense because we have not won a trophy in 3 years. And yes i understand it being the first year Spurs can take digs in the last 10 because of the 5-1 win and you want to make the most of it. But dont try and convince us that you have had a better year. You might have had more joy than us due to our dissapointment of throwing a 5 point lead away but we are playing in another leauge than you.
paul_ownz
Let's try some role reversal, let's say some pre season predictions came true. Tottenham, powered on by superstar signing Darren Bent, barge their way into the top four, finishing a respectable third place. Arsenal meanwhile, fall away terribly, without Henry the young players cannot cope and we crumble, limping into an embarrassing eleventh spot. However, in his desperation, Wenger actually fields the first team in the Carling Cup in a bid to garner some semblance of respectablity to our ailing campaign and we win it, beating Spurs along the way, though Spurs have beaten us home and away in the league. Given that scenario, are you seriously telling me that Spurs fans would be on this forum saying that Arsenal had had a better season than Spurs?
Little Dutch
Also ask yourself, what do you think is the more likely scenario. A) Tottenham win the league in the next five years or b) Tottenham are relegated in the next five years. If a clairvoyant told you one of those scenarios would definitely happen in the next five years, absolute certainty, you're telling me you wouldn't start preparing for the Championship?
Little Dutch
Fellas, we're in danger of being just as bad as them recently. For years now spurs have been more bothered about what we're doing and less so about what they're doing. Now because they have some ammunition (if you can call the micky mouse cup ammunition) we are drawn into arguments that we've always scoffed at before. Blackburn, Middlesbrough, Leicester, these teams won the CC and went on to......er.........do nothing. Until you're in the CL you are still little Tottenham.
navydave
If that happened LD and we had only won 11 league games, i would probably be calling for a change in managment. I would of complained that Wenger didnt know what he was doing. Spurs fans would be hounding us how they are the best team in North London. We would be laughed at how we resorted to the CC. The CC cup would of been no consolation at all for me. And thats why we and Spurs are in 2 different leagues. We have high standards and are left dissapointed that we fizzled out at the end of the season. Spurs finished 6 places & 15 plus points lower than the previous 2 years, but the least prestigious of the cups is considered a great triumph. Go on spurs fans, tell me how we really cared about the cup because 2 of our players were fighting.
paul_ownz
ld,i like the hitler analogy, means we are right under your skin, a compliment in a perverse sort of way!! carefree!!
springy
arse fans cant accept it a cup is better then none were not boasting about ur mighty mickey cup win jus sayin we entered it an won it beat full team chelsea an 90% full team arse, yer supposed to be challenaging but ye have nothin to show for it........cl league yer jus there to make up the numbers ....ie fin 3rd or 4th...............lets put it this way...how man teams fin 3rd an 4th win cl ...none = fact except liverpool i wonder why.....an spurs to be relegated fantasy world ur in...an rreason ye lost league is ye have the form of a relgation team another fact
123spurs
little dutch ur a funny guy. an sounds like a glory hunter
123spurs
90 percent team would mean we had at least 9 first team players starting. Fabianski, Hoyte, Traore, Diaby, Denilson, Silva, Bentdner, Walcott. Thats 8 players who are not first team you Penarse. So you beat a 28% full arse team. Even if you count Fabregas who came on after 18, thats a 40 percent Arsenal team. Jog on
paul_ownz
"I wanted to win the Carling Cup, sure. I went to every round and have done for years." You obviously didn't read that part of my post 123, on one hand you mock Arsenal's lack of trophies yet call me a glory hunter? Explain.
Little Dutch
second leg u had galas adey allumina. fab.ther all squad players not reeves player there ia diff an u cant see this rfresh ur memnoreis secdong,leg sp this is ur so called reserve team i think not we had jus as much revers players as ye.... arse team...Arsenal (4-4-2):- Fabianski; Sagna, Hoyte, Gallas (Capt.), Traore (sub Eduardo, 64); Hleb, Denilson (sub Fabregas, 18), Gilberto, Diaby; Walcott (sub Adebayor, 64), Bendtner spurs team Spurs (4-4-2):- Cerny; Chimbonda, Dawson, King (Capt.), Lee; Lennon (sub Huddlestone, 73), Jenas, Tainio, Malbranque; Berbatov (sub Defoe, 63), Keane (sub Boateng, 63)
123spurs
Dont expect much of an explanation LD, I am about ready to give up on getting a semi-decent response from this one! His lack of basic knowledge on arsenal is only exceeded by his lack of knowledge on everything he says.
Unwell
help line for gunners fans 08000 51 51 51
123spurs
 

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