1919 - Henry Norris in Parliament; Arsenal in Football League Division One; Norris’ final break with Fulham FC

Last updated: April 2008

Troops sent in to quell rent riots in Glasgow.  Amritsar Massacre.  Another police strike in Britain; 2000 sacked.  3rd Afghan War.  Treaty of Versailles.  Lutyens’ Cenotaph built.  Britain leaves the gold standard.  Edington’s measurements prove Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.  Firsts: non-stop transatlantic air flight (Alcock and Brown); crossing of the Atlantic by an airship; woman bar student (Lincoln’s Inn), woman MP to take her seat at Westminster (Lady Astor) .  Founded: Bauhaus (Weimar).


Immediately after being elected in the General Election of 1918 Henry Norris’ acquaintance from the Metropolitan Water Board and the London mayors’ circuit, Sir George Elliott, fell out with his constituency party.  Elliott told the local party that he wasn’t prepared to give them his  continued, unconditional financial support; he wanted the local office shut down and the political agent made redundant.  When the local committee refused to do either of those things, Elliott responded by refusing to attend Executive Committee meetings and broke off all communication with the local party.  In October 1922 with a general election imminent, he was de-selected by his constituency party and replaced with a candidate sent from Conservative Party head office.  This sounds completely irrelevant to the life of Henry Norris; but more or less the same thing happened to Norris in 1921-22.


At some stage quite soon after demobilisation began, Henry Norris’ brother John Edward joined the staff at Arsenal FC as the club’s assistant secretary.  Before World War 1 he had had the same job at Fulham FC.


On Wed 1 January 1919 the first round of the London Combination’s Victory Cup was played: Millwall 0 Arsenal 1 was one of the results.  I’m not sure Henry Norris went to that match but he was definitely at Highbury on Sat 4 January 1919 to see the same sides play a London Combination league match: Arsenal 4 Millwall 1.  Because demobilisation had barely begun, football crowds were still small: 8000 were at Highbury.


On the morning of Mon 6 January 1919 the Football League Management Committee met to discuss the demands being made by the newly re-formed Players’ Union (to see what those were please go back to late 1918) [ROGER THIS NEEDS A LINK TO 1918].  They also met representatives of the Southern League to talk over the possible amalgamation of the two league; though it was clear to them that the Southern League had no practical plans to put forward.  


The afternoon of Sat 11 January 1919 was Fulham v Arsenal, which I hope that Henry Norris was able to see after several years of having to miss it: Fulham 3 Arsenal 1.


Presumably since the cease-fire had come into effect, the mayors of the London boroughs had been organising their district’s part in Gratitude Week.  This began on Sun 12 January 1919; all the events under its umbrella were in support of the King’s Fund for Disabled Officers and Men of HM Forces.


On Mon 13 January 1919 an important editorial appeared in the very influential Athletic News.  Its writer (anonymous but it’s likely to have been the editor, J A H Catton, whose writing name was Tityrus) urged the Football League Management Committee to state ASAP what they were going to do about Chelsea FC, saying that there was “a grievous wrong to remedy”.  The article put forward the view that Chelsea’s relegation at the end of season 1914/15 had come about as a result of a fixed match (to read more about this notorious occasion see my file on 1915) [ROGER THERE NEEDS TO BE A LINK HERE TO SL15] and that they ought to be reinstated in Football League Division One.  The easiest way to do this, thought the writer, was to enlarge Division One to 22 clubs - he’d already heard people in football circles talking along these lines.  He’d also heard people arguing that Spurs ought to go back up with Chelsea if Division One was going to be bigger - but he didn’t agree on that point.  Instead he argued that, “The Arsenal have a case for consideration as the oldest League club in London, and one of the most enterprising in the face of difficulties which would have appalled most directors”.  He argued that there were two reasons for putting Arsenal in an enlarged Division One: firstly the financial hardship the club had suffered, which had been the consequences of war and government policy, rather than bad management; and secondly, the club’s loyalty to the Football League, being its first member from the south of England.


As you see, I’m not suggesting that Henry Norris wrote the editorial.  But if he had done so himself he couldn’t have put Arsenal’s case more clearly.  Henry Norris knew J A H Catton well; and his fellow Arsenal director and Football League Management Committee member William Hall knew him better.  No doubt they had been bending his ear recently!  Catton had also been a regular at Highbury, while doing work based in London during the war; perhaps he’d even become a fan.


Henry Norris probably read Athletic News, if he didn’t already know what was in it (Catton had been a regular at Highbury during World War 1 and was well-known to Norris and William Hall) on Mon 13 January 1919 on his way to a meeting of the full membership of the Football League, called to discuss this and other difficult issues - like the state of football’s pitches after so many years of neglect, and travel to football matches on railways lacking both plant and personnel.  Representatives of the Players’ Union had been invited to attend the meeting to hear a debate on what wages they should receive during the rest of season 1918/19.  Henry Norris took his full part in that debate, on Arsenal’s behalf, and was quoted in the Times in its report of the meeting, Tue 14 January 1919.  Eventually the Players’ Union accepted £2 per week from 1 February to 26 April 1919; I suppose the London Combination clubs were bound by that.  The rest of the Football League’s meeting seems to have been rather confused, with the members making decisions that they later ignored.  They came out against extending the length of the football season; Henry Norris had voted in favour of the extension.  And they also voted against amalgamating their own league with the Southern League; and thus against increasing the number of members in their league.


On the following day, Tue 14 January 1919 a the first meeting of the Football Association in 1919, the members voted to lift the restrictions it had imposed on football on 19 July 1915: this meant that players could be paid again; and that games could be played on days other than Saturday and public holidays.  A date of 1 May 1919 was set as the start-date for registration of players for season 1919/20.  That evening, Tue 14 January 1919 William Hall, but not Henry Norris, attended an informal discussion at which officials of the FA, Football League and Southern League discussed post-war football.  On a majority vote (rather than the majority by two-thirds that was necessary at a formal Football League meeting, for example), this discussion-group came out in favour of an extended football season.


After the meeting of Mon 13 January 1919 Claude Kirby, chairman of Chelsea FC, seized the initiative in the wake of the editorial in the Athletic News: the directors of Chelsea FC wrote to the Football League Management Committee formally requesting that their club be reinstated in Football League Division One.


Henry Norris was probably not at the game on Sat 18 January 1919 which ended Arsenal 3 Brentford 3, but he will have been pleased to see that crowds were getting back to peace-time levels: 30000 were at the match.  Brentford FC had been leaders of the London Combination for some time, on the back of regular goals from striker Henry Albert White.  (For a great deal more on H A White and Henry Norris, keep reading through until 1923; and see my file Henry Norris: Footballers Who Came Back to Haunt Him). [ROGER I NEED A LINK HERE BUT THE FILE ISN’T WRITTEN YET.]


Meanwhile Henry Norris’ everyday life went on: on the evening of Wed 15 January 1919, as mayor, he chaired the regular meeting of the London Borough of Fulham at Fulham Town Hall.  During the war these meetings had been held once a month; now the councillors decided that the time had come to revert to holding them once a fortnight.


On Mon 20 January 1919 one of Athletic News’ staff writers pointed out that if the Football League didn’t increase the number of clubs in its divisions, there might be no London clubs in Football League Division One in season 1919/20.  The writer dropped a hint that if they weren’t put back in Division One, Chelsea FC would prefer to stay in a more permanently-organised London Combination, rather than go into Football League Division Two.  Charles Sutcliffe, who had run the Football League virtually single-handed during the war, used his regular column in Athletic News to argue that the Football League had a moral duty to right the wrong done to Chelsea FC by the fixed match of Good Friday 1915.  In the next few weeks, he reiterated this belief very often, and it did weigh with football people when the big decisions had to be taken.


At 2.30pm on Tue 21 January 1919 Henry Norris attended a meeting of the full LCC where - as with football - how to restart normal life now that the fighting was over was the main topic of debate.  The councillors decided that the LCC elections due in March would go ahead, despite the fact that soldiers not yet demobbed would not be able to vote in them.


On the afternoon of Mon 27 January 1919 the first meeting of the FA Council since May 1915 formally withdrew the restrictions of 19 July 1915 except for saying there would be no FA Cup this season (1918/19).  It agreed that the FA would attempt to negotiate with the Board of Customs about the Entertainment Tax - introduced as a wartime fund-raiser but now having all the appearance of a permanent fixture.  The meeting left it to the individual professional clubs to decide what or even if they were going to pay wages this season.  And it too rejected the idea of a longer football season.  Because the FA Minutes don’t list who was on the FA Council at any time, I don’t know whether Henry Norris was at this meeting; but I would suppose he was a member of the FA Council.


With their letter to the Management Committee, Chelsea FC had (inadvertently) fired the starting gun for elections to the Football League.  Between Mon 27 January and Mon 3 February 1919 and despite the votes passed so far against increasing the number of FL members, both Spurs and Arsenal issued circulars to members, stating their case for inclusion in a larger FL Division One.  Arsenal’s case was very much as already stated by Athletic News: the number of years the club had been a member; the financial problems resulting from the decisions of government.  Other clubs also got their campaigns started, seeking entrance into Football League Division Two.


During February 1919 Fulham Lodge number 2512 held its first ladies’ night since 1914: a dinner to which all members’ wives were invited with them.  As a member of the lodge Henry Norris was entitled to go to this, and to take Edith, but I don’t know its exact date or whether he did attend.  Once resumed, the ladies’ nights continued, in February, at least until 1923 when Norris resigned from the lodge for the second time.


On Mon 3 February 1919 the Athletic News printed another article in support of Arsenal’s return to an enlarged FL Division One; and reported that there was a lot of support for them, on the grounds that they had originally been a works team (though that hadn’t been true of Arsenal since the 1890s).


Tue 4 February 1919 was a proud day for Henry Norris.  At 2.30 the LCC held its regular meeting of all its councillors but he wasn’t able to attend.  At 2.45pm on Tue 4 February 1919 he was at the House of Commons, on the Coalition benches, for the new Parliament’s first sitting.  Lloyd George was Prime Minister, in the anomalous position of being a Liberal presiding over a majority which was largely Conservative.  The Conservative Party leader Bonar Law was leader of the House of Commons, and J Austen Chamberlain was Chancellor of the Exchequer.

In the evening of Tue 4 February 1919 Norris returned to Fulham to go with Edith to a concert at the Town Hall in aid of the Fulham branch of the Dispensary for the Treatment and Prevention of Consumption (TB); as the borough’s mayor Norris was chairman of the Dispensary.


During his time as MP: from February 1919 to August 1922 according to his own account of 1927, Henry Norris was present in the House of Commons for virtually all its sittings.  Representing his constituency now provided the background noise of his other work and I’m not listing his attendances each day; see my file Henry Norris in Parliament 1919-22 for more details on what he did there. [ROGER I’LL NEED A LINK HERE BUT THE FILE ISN’T WRITTEN YET.]


Between 4 February and 10 March 1919 the directors of Arsenal FC conducted negotiations with Manchester City FC and were given permission to offer City’s assistant secretary a job.  Henry Norris then contacted Leslie Knighton by phone, and Knighton went to London to meet all the Arsenal directors at the House of Commons for an interview.  At this meeting Norris made it plain to Knighton where Arsenal’s priorities lay: that getting a good team together would be a secondary consideration to that of enabling the club to pay off its heavy debts.


Starting 2.45pm Wed 5 February 1919 the swearing-in of the MP’s began at the House of Commons.  And here I have to give a quick explanation to those who intend to read on about Norris at least until late 1922: Hansard’s House of Commons Debates is the reference for anything taking place in the House of Commons BUT Hansard never lists who was actually in the chamber at any time; so unless your MP speaks, or votes, you can’t tell if he’s there or not.  Henry Norris later said that he attended virtually all sessions of Parliament that took place during his time as an MP, and he probably did; but I can’t verify that, you’d be surprised how FEW times Parliament actually has a vote!  If you want to follow his career in Parliament further, see my file Henry Norris in Parliament 1919-22. [ROGER I NEED A LINK HERE BUT THE FILE ISN’T WRITTEN YET].


Although there were a lot of new ideas circling in the months after World War 1's fighting stopped, some things seem to have stayed the same.  At 7pm Wed 5 February 1919 Henry Norris, as mayor of Fulham, ordered the press out of the Council chamber before the regular meeting of all the councillors began.  The Council had finished its business at 7.20pm.  Writing up what it could do of the evening’s events on Fri 7 February 1919 the Fulham Chronicle continued its criticism of the way Fulham borough was being run by supposing that the ejection of the press, and the shortness of the meeting, were because Fulham’s elected local representatives had “no opinions whatever to express”.


On Thur 6 February 1919 Fulham Football and Athletic Club Limited held an AGM, the last at which Henry Norris was on the company’s board of directors.


On the evening of Mon 10 February 1919 as mayor and mayoress of Fulham, Henry Norris and Edith were at the Clarendon Restaurant in Hammersmith, amongst the guests at a dinner organised by Fulham Tradesmen’s Association (which became Fulham Chamber of Commerce later in the 1920s).   Also there, having helped to organise the event, was Edwin Armfield, a local builder (in a small way) and influential mover in Fulham Conservative Party circles; he and Norris would clash bitterly in the next two or three years although this occasion was one of good humour and harmony, Norris making a speech emphasising the good relations that had always existed between the Tradesmen’s Association and the Council.


In February 1919 the flu epidemic was still continuing: flu deaths in Islington, for example, rose slightly in the middle of the month.


On Sat afternoon 15 February 1919 Henry Norris and his fellow Arsenal FC directors William Hall and George Davis were in a crowd of 16000 at the north London derby match, the pitch being “almost unplayable” after the recent thaw.  Arsenal 4 Clapton Orient 0.  After a good two months Arsenal were now second in the London Combination, though Brentford had a six-point lead at the top.


At 2.30pm on Tue 18 February 1919 the LCC held its regular meeting of all its councillors; Henry Norris didn’t attend it.


By Tue 19 February 1919 the thaw had turned into the worst flooding in north London since 1904.  Both the Royal Gunpowder Factory and the Royal Small Arms Factory in Enfield were under water.  The Times reported that floodwaters in the Lea Valley had made travel by car and tram almost impossible there.  Highbury’s site on a hillside meant that it wasn’t flooded.


On the morning of Sat 22 February 1919 at Birmingham, before the match English FL v Scottish FL, representatives of the two leagues met to discuss transfer fees and other difficulties.  The English Football League had another vote on increasing the size of its two divisions; this time it came out in favour of 22 clubs in each, together with a strong recommendation that Chelsea FC should stay in the enlarged FL Division One.  A date was fixed for a formal meeting of the full Football League membership to elect which clubs should join its Division One and Division Two.  I don’t know whether Henry Norris was at that meeting.  The match finished English FL 3 Scottish FL 0.  If he hadn’t gone to Birmingham Norris might have seen Arsenal 1 QPR 3 at Highbury with a crowd of 13000.


It’s possible that Henry Norris had problems closer to home just then: the flooding in the Thames Valley didn’t subside until the night of Sun 23-Mon 24 February 1919.  Queensbury House in Richmond, where the Norrises were living at the time, had gardens down to the Thames - they were probably under water.  At Shepperton Lock the river had been 2-3 miles across, with water levels 8 feet above normal.


On Tue 25 February 1919 the directors of West Ham FC dealt the Southern League a body-blow by voting to apply to be elected to the Football League Division Two.  In the following week the club undertook an energetic campaign in support of their case, beginning with the formal application but also including a circular sent to all current Football League members, and personal canvassing of individual members - probably including Henry Norris.


At 3.15pm on Wed 26 February 1919 a charity match was played at Stamford Bridge in aid of the Chevrons Club and the RAF Overseas Contingent: RAF 2 George Robey’s XI 1.  George Robey’s team was made up of players from clubs in the London Combination including men from both Arsenal and Fulham.


On the morning of Thur 27 February 1919 at the Society of Arts, in central London, there was a conference of local authorities based within 30 miles of London on how they should prepare for the central government’s post-war housing schemes, in which they were to play a major part.  I haven’t been able to find a list of who attended this but Henry Norris may have represented Fulham at it.


On Sat afternoon 1 March 1919 there was a crowd of 25000 for Millwall 0 Arsenal 3.  Henry Norris may have been amongst them. After it, Fulham were second in the London Combination and Arsenal third; but Brentford were still top.


At 2.30pm on Tue 4 Mar 1919 the LCC held its last full meeting before the LCC elections.  Henry Norris attended it.  I think that he had never intended to stand as a candidate in the coming election so this was his last duty as one of Fulham’s two councillors though officially he was still in office until Fri 7 March 1919.  Voting in the LCC elections took place on Sat 8 March 1919.


After the meeting of the London Borough of Fulham on Wed 5 March 1919 at Fulham Town Hall, Henry Norris, as mayor of Fulham, presented the Military Medal to local man Lieutenant-Corporal Rogers of the First King’s Liverpool Regiment.


On Fri 7 March 1919 all but four of the 29 mayors of London boroughs attended a lunch at the Mansion House, City of London, given by the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress.  There was no guest list but I would imagine Henry Norris was amongst the 25 who did attend.


On Sat 8 March and Sun 9 March 1919 West Ham FC continued their high-profile campaign to be elected to Football League Division Two by spending the week-end canvassing votes in Manchester before the Monday meeting of the full Football League.  Representatives from South Shields FC did the same.  But there’s no record that anyone from Arsenal FC spent the week-end this way.


Henry Norris may have spent the afternoon of Sat 8 March 1919 at Arsenal 5 Fulham 0 with a crowd of 22000.


At 2.30pm on Mon 10 March 1919 all the members of the Football League met at the Grand Hotel Manchester to map out the post-war future of professional football in England.  Henry Norris was definitely at this meeting, representing Arsenal.  The decisions made that afternoon demonstrate several things about the Football League members: on a number of issues they had been influenced by the views expressed in the Athletic News; the decisions of West Ham and South Shields to go out actively seeking votes did pay off; and the members had liked the method of sharing of gate money used by the London Combination, which had been West Ham’s idea.


The main decision they took was a formal vote to increase both the divisions to 22 clubs each: two extra places in Division One and four in Division Two.  Voting would normally have taken place to choose all the extra clubs; but feeling amongst the members in favour of Chelsea  was so strong that they were returned to Football League Division One without a vote being necessary.  Only the other five teams were chosen by vote.  On the vote to add clubs to Football League Division One, Arsenal FC won by 10 votes, getting 18; Spurs were second with 8; Barnsley, Wolves, Nottingham Forest, Birmingham City and Hull City also ran.  Coventry City, West Ham, South Shields and Rotherham (in that order of number of votes) were elected the new members of Football League Division Two.


To accommodate the increase in members, the football season was extended: from season 1919/20 it would begin on the last weekend of August and end on the first weekend in May.  The Football League also voted to replace their previous system of pooling gate money with the one used by the London Combination: whereby the host club paid the visitors’ club 20% of the net gate. 


The meeting agreed that the wages being players at the moment would continue until the end of season 1918/19.  For season 1919/20 the members voted for a maximum wage of £4/10; discussion of bonuses was left to the Football League’s AGM (always at the end of May).


Henry Norris must have been a relieved man at the end of the Football League Division One voting.  He made a speech thanking those members who had voted for his club for putting Arsenal FC in the top division: it was now up to he and the directors to take the chance offered them to pay off the club’s debts as quickly as possible.  After the meeting he acknowledged the role Athletic News had played in the voting by writing to its editor, J A H Catton/Tityrus to thank him personally.  By Mon night 10 March 1919 news of the voting had reached London: the news about Chelsea, Arsenal and West Ham was causing a good deal of excitement amongst London football fans.


A red-letter day for Norris in Manchester was followed by one in London: shortly after 9pm on Tue 11 March 1919 Henry Norris made his maiden speech in the House of Commons, during the Committee stage of the Rent and Mortgage Interest (Restrictions) Bill.  The Act, meant to cap the levels of rent on working-class housing had already been in force since 1915; but when originally passed it had been meant to come to an end one year after the end of the fighting - November 1919.   The proposal now was that it should continue in force for two more years - to the end of 1921.  The debate had been going on for several hours by the time he spoke: he had voted in a division timed at 6.53pm; it was adjourned at about 11pm and continued the following day.  In fact, in some form the Act continued in force beyond Norris’ lifetime.  If you’re interested enough to read what Norris said on this occasion go to my file Henry Norris in Parliament 1919-22. [ROGER THERE’S A LINK NEEDED HERE BUT THE FILE ISN’T WRITTEN YET].


At 3.30pm on Wed 12 March 1919 there was a return match at Stamford Bridge: RAF v George Robey’s XI.  I couldn’t even find out the score, let alone who went to the match apart from Arthur Duke of Connaught; but it looks as though William Hall may have gone to it, rather than Henry Norris.  Later that evening, Wed 12 March 1919 William Hall presided over a dinner for freemasons with footballing connections (there were not as many of those as you’d think) and in the report of the two events, which were to raise money for charity.  Henry Norris may have gone to the football match but he didn’t attend the dinner.  On Wed evening 12 March 1919 he chaired the regular meeting of the London Borough of Fulham in Fulham Town Hall.


I should imagine - but I don’t know for sure - that on the afternoon of Sat 15 March 1919 he went to the top-of-the-table clash which ended Brentford 2 Arsenal 0; and if he did go he got a good look at Brentford’s striker Henry Albert White.


On Mon 17 March 1919 in his regular column in Athletic News, Charles Sutcliffe reminded its readers that to pay a maximum wage of £4 per week to the best players, entrance money to matches would have to go up.  And in the Islington Daily Gazette, also on Mon 17 March 1919 its football reporter, Arthur Bourke/Norseman reported that the directors at Arsenal were already talking about raising the price of getting into Highbury - something Norseman was against, unless the club was going to make an effort (and spend the money) to get more of the crowd under cover.


In mid-March 1919 there were localised outbreaks of smallpox, I think confined to north London.


On Sat 22 March 1919 Henry Norris, William Hall and George Davis were in a crowd of 20000 at Highbury for Arsenal 3 West Ham 2, in which West Ham played for 80 minutes with only 10 men after a player had gone off injured (no substitutes allowed for any reason during Norris’ lifetime).  That same afternoon Aston Villa played its first football game since May 1915.


On Mon 24 March 1919 Henry Norris asked his first parliamentary question: he wondered whether any other MP’s had seen a poster he’d noticed in a shop window in Spring Gardens (where the LCC had its HQ).  He told the MP’s that the poster denounced one of the members of the government (he didn’t name him) as a traitor.  On Mon 24 March 1919 Norris’ four-year period serving on the trustees of the Fulham Waste Land and Lygon Almshouses charity expired. 


On the evening of Thur 27 March 1919 Henry and Edith Norris, as mayor and mayoress of Fulham, attended a meeting at Christchurch Parish Hall, Studdridge Street, part of the local effort to raise money for a war memorial in the church.  Although Henry Norris’ friend Councillor Shaw and William Hayes Fisher, now Lord Downham, were both at the meeting, it wasn’t well-attended.


On Fri 28 March 1919 the Feltmakers’ Company held an annual dinner at Café Monico in Shaftesbury Avenue.  I haven’t found a list of those members who went to it, but as it was the first one the Company had ever held, perhaps Henry Norris made an effort to be there.


On Sat afternoon Sat 29 March 1919 there was heavy snow in London but the north London derby went ahead and got a crowd of 33000 and gate money of £1300, the highest since World War 1 had been declared.  Arsenal 1 Spurs 0.  Henry Norris was there, with George Davis, and also Charles Crisp, seeing his first match for a couple of years.  A player identified in the programme only as “Newman” played for Arsenal at half-back, making his first appearance for the club; this was probably Clem Voysey.  By the end of March 1919 clubs were already signing players for season 1919/20, Voysey was one of them and thereby hangs a tale.


On the afternoon of Mon 31 March 1919 the London Combination Victory Cup quarter-finals were held and thereby hangs another, very noisy tale with a sad outcome.  The result at Highbury was Arsenal 1 Fulham 4; and Arsenal immediately lodged an appeal against the result, claiming that Fulham had allowed Hunter to play despite being warned that he wasn’t eligible.  The press also thought that this wasn’t cricket: one writer described Fulham’s team for this fixture as “Kelso’s international team”.  (Phil Kelso was Fulham FC’s manager, appointed by Norris amongst others.)  Henry Norris was at the game, chatting with Athletic News’ reporter Nomad about the ground improvements they would be making at Highbury before season 1919/20.


On Mon 31 March 1919 Henry Norris asked a second question in the House of Commons; this time about taxes levied on people buying the freehold of the house they had originally purchased as a leasehold property. 


In the financial year ending 31 March 1919 Henry Norris made a donation to two charities he’d never given money to before and never gave to again as far as I can tell: the Dr Edwards and Bishop King’s charities.   He may have been persuaded to make the donation by his freemasons’ contacts at Fulham Lodge; as T Blanco White was both the founder of Fulham Lodge and the clerk to the trustees of the two charities.


In early April 1919 there were still a lot of measles cases in Fulham: an epidemic had been running for a long time there.


On the evening of Wed 2 April 1919 Henry Norris chaired the regular meeting of the London Borough of Fulham.  He and George Peachey were both re-appointed to serve another four years as the Council’s representatives on the trustees of the Fulham Waste Land and Lygon Almshouses charity; until 24 March 1923.  The charity’s almshouses are still there, on Fulham Palace Road.


On Fri 4 April 1919 the Committee of the London Combination heard Arsenal’s appeal against the result of the Victory Cup tie played on 31 March.  Henry Norris was at the meeting to make Arsenal’s case that because their opponents had fielded ineligible players, Arsenal should be given the tie by default.  He didn’t get exactly what he wanted, but the Committee did order the tie to be replayed, again at Highbury, on Thur 10 April.  But then there was uproar in the London Combination because between Fri 4 and Fri 11 April 1919 Fulham FC appealed against the appeal decision and won: the match scheduled for 10 April was never played and Fulham went into the semi-finals on the result of the original match.  Henry Norris was furious at Fulham’s behaviour and as you will see below, it caused him to break with his first football club; but he got his own back in a rather original way in the final.


Crowds at football matches were back to pre-war levels by early April 1919: on Sat 5 April 1919 there were 35000 for Arsenal 2 Chelsea 1, a record for season 1918/19.  Arsenal’s gate receipts from the last matches at Highbury had been £3300.  Henry Norris went to the Arsenal/Chelsea match and chatted to Arthur Bourke, who as Norseman wrote the football columns in the Islington Daily Gazette. 


On Mon 7 April 1919 Henry Norris was involved in another Question Time at the House of Commons.  Bus and tube fares had just gone up - some fares were now 50% higher than they had been before World War 1 had broken out.  Norris asked several questions of the President of the Board of Trade, trying to get him to define what if any powers he had over fares in London.


Between 7 and 14 April 1919, some weeks after his job interview, Leslie Knighton was appointed manager of Arsenal FC.  After Norris was dead, Knighton told people that he’d been given the job on the understanding that Norris would not authorise any transfer fees of over £1000 no matter who the player was.  As even in April 1919 players of no particular distinction were fetching £3000 on the transfer market, this very low figure restricted Knighton’s attempts to build a good team.  In 1919 this caution might be attributed to Arsenal’s grim financial situation; but if you read on through these ‘diary’ files, Norris’ decision was not just about money. Knighton also said in later years that he’d been hampered in his search for players whom he could buy more cheaply, by Norris’ refusal to allow him to develop a scouting network.  Both these issues caused big (and I mean BIG) rows between Norris and not only Knighton but Chapman, his successor.  In the 1920s, football club managers’ duties covered office administration as well as team affairs.  Even Herbert Chapman was expected to sign off Arsenal FC’s annual accounts; though Arsène Wenger is very well-qualified to do that job I’m sure nobody would dream of asking him to waste his time thus!  Already in 1919, though, managers were getting help in the office: Harry John Peters, appointed in 1913, would continue at Arsenal as club secretary - he seems to have done the office manager’s job.  Help for Knighton in the office, then, but you can see it in a very different way: see my file on 1913 [ROGER I NEED A  LINK TO SL13] for how Peters was appointed on Norris’ personal recommendation, having previously worked for the Allen and Norris partnership. For more discussion of what might have been going on here, see my file Henry Norris and His Employees Except for the Most Famous One [ROGER I’LL NEED A LINK TO THIS FILE BUT IT ISN’T WRITTEN YET].


On Wed 9 April 1919 Henry Norris was involved in Question Time again in the House of Commons, this time with the President of the Local Government Board.  Firstly he enquired whether the Government would give a grant to subalterns who had opted to stay on in the Army of Occupation for the new uniforms they would need.  The answer was no.   Then he asked if the Local Government Board could produce any figures for the expenses of elections in London, where voting for the LCC, the Boards of Guardians, and the local councils were all held on different days.  Norris suggested that all the elections be held on the same day, to cut costs, but was told by Major Astor, for the LGB, that because the various bodies didn’t actually cover the same areas, it would be very difficult to stage all their elections on the same day.


On Thur 10 April 1919 Henry Norris and four other MP’s were portrayed in the Evening Standard’s ‘Matt’s Caricatures from Westminster’ column.  There’s definitely a touch of the walrus about Matt’s portrayal of Henry Norris, who was shown with the still-fashionable big moustache and his neck stretching forwards and upwards.


Henry Norris was not allowing the London Victory Cup row to die: on Fri 11 April 1919 he wrote an open letter complaining about the behaviour of the London Combination’s committees, and accusing Fulham FC of violating “all the canons of true sportsmanship”.  The letter appeared in Athletic News on Mon 14 April 1919.  Probably on Fri 11 April but certainly by 21 April 1919 Norris resigned from Fulham FC’s board of directors, for the second and final time (for the first time, see my file on Henry Norris in 1913) [ROGER THIS NEEDS A LINK TO SL13].  His business partner William Gilbert Allen was the guiding force at Fulham FC at this time and might be said to have condoned his manager’s choice of team; so how he and Norris got on with each other after this event I really can’t imagine.


On Sat 12 April 1919 20000 went to Highbury to see Spurs 2 QPR 3; Arsenal beat Clapton Orient 0-2 at Homerton; and Brentford 5 Fulham 0 secured the London Combination championship for Brentford.


On Mon 14 April 1919 a meeting of the FA resulted in an agreement to raise the basic price of entry to all football grounds (this was something the FA still had control over in 1919) to 1 shilling including Entertainment Tax.  The FA’s price rise applied only to standing room and only to men; clubs were left to decide for themselves what to charge juveniles, and women, for standing on the terraces, and what to charge for seats in the grandstands.


Uncertain date but probably during spring 1919 Henry Norris, as chairman of the Fulham branch of the Dispensary for the Prevention and Treatment of Consumption, went to its national office to argue that Fulham needed more funding than it had been getting.  I don’t know what response he received.  The Fulham branch’s AGM was held on the evening of Wed 16 April 1919 and Norris, as the mayor of Fulham, chaired it for the last time.


On Good Fri 18 April 1919 Henry Norris may have gone to see Crystal Palace 0 Arsenal 3. 

On Sat 19 April 1919 there were 23000 at Highbury for the London Victory Cup semi-final Chelsea 4 Crystal Palace 0.  I’m not sure whether Henry Norris was at Highbury for the game.  After it, the Cup organising committee met and picked Highbury to stage the final. The other semi-final was played at Stamford Bridge and ended Fulham 2 Spurs 0, in which Fulham played their normal first eleven.

On Easter Mon 21 April 1919 the last fixtures of the London Combination season 1918/19 were played: the last before the return of professional football.  Arsenal 3 Crystal Palace 2.






Copyright Sally Davis March 2008