[ROGER THIS FILE CARRIES ON STRAIGHT AFTER SL20]
Last updated: March 2008
Very difficult to date this precisely, but during 1920, probably late 1920 the Conservative Party in Fulham was short of funds.
On Sat 28 August 1920 the enlarged Football League began its season 1920/21: Arsenal collapsed in the last 30 minutes to a thumping defeat: Aston Villa 5 Arsenal 0.† One at least of the Arsenal directors must surely have seen this but I donít know whether it was Henry Norris.
Results over the next few weeks were not as bad as this start might indicate.
On Thur 9 September 1920 Fulham Football and Athletic Company Limited held the first AGM after Henry Norrisí acrimonious resignation from the board of directors (in 1919 - see my file). [ROGER I NEED A LINK TO SL19 HERE].† Though he was no longer actively involved in the running of the club, Norris still owned 200 shares; his sister Ada and and his wife Edith also owned two shares each.† They were all entitled to attend the AGM; though I daresay only Henry Norris actually did.
On Sat 11 September 1920 Arsenal 2 Manchester City 1 got a crowd of 42000.† Reviewing this for the Islington Daily Gazette Arthur Bourke/Norseman thought Arsenalís forward play had improved since last season; and their fitness had been the decisive factor in weather more suited to cricket.† I donít know whether Henry Norris saw this game.† However by Sat 25 September 1920 at Arsenal 2 Middlesbrough 0 Bourke was seeing more of what he was used to at Highbury: a forward line† ďdisjointed and badly ledĒ and too easily marked out of the game; Arsenal had still been very fit and energetic but there was little to show for it.† Although Henry Norris might not have been attending many matches (itís difficult to find out how many if Bourke doesnít mention seeing him), he had been busy on Arsenal FCís behalf lately: the programme for this match announced that the directors would be appealing to the official arbitrator against their most recent ratings assessment.† The programmeís column called Boardroom Notes accused the London Borough of Islington of trying to ďcrush us out of existenceĒ; the column was always written anonymously but this one has hallmarks Iíve come to associate with Henry Norris - I think he wrote it.
There was financial business going on at Arsenal Football and Athletic Company too, with Henry Norris almost certainly involved since seller and probable buyer were or had been close associates of his: on Tue 28 September 1920 ex-director Walter Middleton sold all the shares he had in Arsenal FC: 100, a considerable amount for one person to hold in the club at that period.† The document doesnít make clear who bought them.† It was not Henry Norris; I think it was his close friend George Peachey, a director of the club since late 1919 (for what was probably his appointment as director, see my file on December 1919). [ROGER I NEED A LINK HERE TO SL19].
On Sat 2 October 1920 Middlesbrough 2 Arsenal 1 was Arsenal succombing to late goals again.† They were near the bottom of Division One; newly-promoted Huddersfield Town - embarking on their period of greatness though not yet managed by Herbert Chapman - were near the top.† It seems that Arsenalís manager, Leslie Knighton, did persuade Henry Norris and the other directors to do something but it may not have been the right thing: on Thur 7 October 1920 Arsenal bought forward Harold Walden from Bradford City.† It had no immediate effect: on
Sat 9 October 1920 again in cricketing weather, it was Arsenal 0 Bolton Wanderers 0 and Arthur Bourke in the Islington Daily Gazette was getting increasingly fractious in his match reports about Arsenalís forwards frittering away chances set up for them by the work of the rest of team.† Again he accused the forwards of being badly led.† According to Bourke there were 38000 at this match.† Maybe some at least should have made the far more tricky trip to Homerton: by Sat 16 October 1920 Clapton Orient were top of Division Two.
On the pitch, not very exciting; but in the accounts department, still a lot of trouble.† On Tue 19 October 1920 the annual report of Arsenal Football and Athletic Company Limited was issued, the first to show George Peachey as a director.† The club was still heavily in debt: Humphreys Limited were still owed £10484 for their work of eight years before, building the grandstand; and ďsundry creditorsĒ (Iíve no idea who) were owed £5943.† In addition the club had an overdraft of £17000; giving evidence in court in 1929, Henry Norris said he personally guaranteed £10000 of it.††
On the afternoon of Mon 25 October 1920 Spurs 2 Arsenal 1 was played in aid of the London Professional Charity Fund.† Writing about that match, Arthur Bourke/Norseman, in the Islington Daily Gazette, noted that both clubs fielded weakened teams; but Spurs had more good players in their reserves than Arsenal had in theirs.
Presumably between Mon 25 October and Sat 30 October 1920 Arsenal signed Dr James Paterson, the well-known winger (left side for preference though he could play on either).† Dr Pat, as he was known, had played as a professional for Glasgow Rangers, but was now a GP and registered as an amateur - a real throw-back to the early days of football.† He played his first game for Arsenal on Sat 30 October 1920: Arsenal 2 Derby County 0.† Arthur Bourke/Norseman welcomed Paterson warmly in his match report, hoping he would bring some much-needed leadership to Arsenalís forwards when he was able to play.† Because of the commitments of his medical practice, Paterson didnít play many away games.† On Sat 6 November 1920 he took no part in Blackburn Rovers 2 Arsenal 2, a game in which both Arsenalís goals were scored by defenders.† At this stage in the season Spurs, just come up from Division Two, were way above Arsenal in the league.
At 7.30 Mon 8 November 1920 Arsenal FC was well-represented at a dinner given at the House of Commons by Baldwin Raper, the MP in whose constituency Highbury was situated.† Like Henry Norris, Raper had been elected for the first time in the General Election of December 1918 but he was a much younger man, so I donít know how well they would have known each other.† However, Raper had been to Arsenal games - not for political ends, he was a genuine football fan.† Henry Norris, Charles Crisp, William Hall and George Peachey attended Raperís dinner as directors of Arsenal FC; with manager Leslie Knighton, secretary Harry John Peters and most of the first eleven.† Henry Norris made a speech about Arsenal as a business - rather revealing, I think; and perhaps very modern in terms of 2008.
Arsenal FC were doing rather better in Division One than at the start of the season.† On Sat 13 November 1920 Arsenal 2 Blackburn Rovers 0 was seen by many football writers as indicative of their improvement since August: a good win on a pitch made treacherous by morning rain.† On Sat 20 November 1920 Huddersfield Town 0 Arsenal 4 was an excellent result and was Arsenalís eighth match without defeat.† I wish I knew how many or even if Henry Norris attended any of these matches; but given Arsenalís financial position and his own stake in that, lending and guaranteeing so much, even if he was elsewhere he must have taken an anxious interest in their results.
On Mon 22 November 1920 Henry Norris asked two questions during question time in the House of Commons: the first about rent rises on Regent Street; and a second about cheap railway fares for groups travelling to sports fixtures - these had been discontinued during World War 1 and, as is so usual, had not been put back into operation after the war had ended.
During Thur 25 November 1920 the head office of Fulham Board of Guardians, on Fulham Palace Road, was besieged by unemployed people demanding rises in the benefit paid to them by the Board.† I believe the HO was not in Henry Norrisí constituency of Fulham East; however a lot of his constituents would have been recipients of Board payments, particularly in the working-class area of Sandís End which he had also represented as a councillor (1906-19); and in addition his wife Edith was an elected member of the Boardís governing body.† At 8pm that day, 25 November 1920 an emergency meeting of the Board was held at an hourís notice to consider what they should do; Edith Norris was amongst those members unable to get to it.
On Sat 27 November 1920 Arsenal 2 Huddersfield Town 0 put Arsenal in the top half of Division One; for once one of their strikers, Pagnam, was having a run of form.†
On the evening of Tue 30 November 1920 as the MP for the district, Henry Norris went to a meeting at the West Kensington Hall Challoner Street, organised by the Baronís Court Ward of Fulham East Conservative and Unionist Association.† Not many people had turned up for the meeting; to those that had done so Norris made the speech Iíve relied on for his House of Commons attendances - he said heíd been present for virtually all its sittings since his election.† NB 15 MAR 2008 THIS ISNíT COMPLETE - MISC PROVISIONS BILL is this Ireland?
On the evening of Wed 1 December 1920 the United Grand Lodge of England held its quarterly meeting at the Freemasonsí Hall in Covent Garden.† Henry Norris was present.
On Fri 3 December 1920 the West London Observer published a letter written by Henry Norris., following the recent besieging of the Board of Guardiansí head office (see 25 November above).† In the language of football - sportsmanship, passing the ball - it was addressed to local employers, especially those in the building industry, urging them to take on more workers from amongst Fulhamís unemployed.† It would be interesting to know whether, as a partner in a local building firm himself, he took his own advice.
On the afternoon of Sat 4 December 1920 George V, as President of the FA, was at Stamford Bridge with a crowd of 60000 for Chelsea 1 Arsenal 2.† Unlike some of his royal successors in the job, George V was a keen football goer, attending ordinary league games like this one as well as the FA Cup Final.† On this occasion he arrived 20 minutes before kick-off and was presented to all the players in both teams.† I couldnít find definite evidence that Henry Norris was at the game but Iíd be surprised if he wasnít there.†
Between Mon 6 and Sat 11 December 1920 Arsenal FCís appeal against their ratings assessment was heard by the arbitration committee.† The committee found in Arsenalís favour and awarded the club a revised assessment, to run for the next five years (I suppose this means to the end of the financial year 1924/25).
On the afternoon of Sat 11 December 1920 there was a crowd of 50000 for Arsenal 1 Chelsea 1 (Chelsea had a goal disallowed offside) on a day when dreadful weather kept crowds low on the whole.† Henry Norris was definitely at this match.† I donít know whether he went to Yorkshire on Sat 18 December 1920 for Bradford City 3 Arsenal 1; the defeat was Arsenalís first since 2 October so theyíd been on a good run.† They were able to bounce back from the set-back, too, on
Christmas Day, Sat 25 December 1920: Everton 2 Arsenal 4 was a very good result.† However in-form striker Pagnam was injured in the reverse fixture, Mon 27 December 1920: Arsenal 1 Everton 1 and over the next few weeks the teamís form went into decline.
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Copyright Sally Davis March 2008