A relatively quiet year for Henry Norris
Last updated: April 2008
Death of Lenin; Stalin’s rise to power; Fascists in Italy begin to take power; Hitler begins Mein Kampf. First Labour Prime Minister. End of the Islamic caliphate. Geneva Protocol. First fax sent - US to Sweden. Foundation of IBM. First winter olympics. Rhapsody in Blue. Births: Lee Marvin. Gloria Vanderbilt. Robert Mugabe, Jimmy Carter. Marlon Brando, Doris Day. Sarah Vaughan, Chet Atkins, Henry Mancini. Tony Hancock. Truman Capote. Benoît Mandelbrot.
At the beginning of the year Henry Norris was still recovering from an operation he’d had early in December. He was probably at the family villa in Villefranche, south of France.
During 1924 Henry and Edith Norris became grand-parents, with the birth of Joy Barton’s son Rex. This needs further investigation to get a more accurate date.
Also during 1924 negotiations continued between Arsenal Football and Athletic Company and St John’s College for the purchase by Arsenal FC of the freehold of the land they had leased from the College since 1913. As chairman of the club and with the director with most experience of land purchase negotiations, Henry Norris led Arsenal’s side of the discussions.
On Mon 7 January 1924 the Feltmakers’ Company held its usual quarterly meeting. Henry Norris didn’t attend it.
On Sat 12 January 1924 Arsenal 4 Luton Town 1 in the FA Cup was seen by the Lord Mayor of London and his sheriffs as well as a crowd of 37500. As Arsenal FC had decreed often in the past, season tickets were not valid for the game, though season ticket holders could buy their own seat for 5 shillings. Henry Norris didn’t attend this match; William Hall was in charge of arrangements for the guests.
After Sat 26 January 1924, Cardiff City 4 Arsenal 0, Arsenal were fourth from bottom. Arsenal were back at Cardiff on Sat 2 February 1924 in the FA Cup: Cardiff City 1 Arsenal 0. It was a bad month: Arsenal lost all four of their games. I don’t think that Henry Norris saw any of them.
On Fri 29 February 1924 the AGM of the Property Owners’ Protection Association was held at the Cannon Street Hotel. It was followed immediately by a meeting at which POPA members considered what they should do to put their case in a proposed governmental review of the current rents act. In the past (see my file on 1918) [ROGER I NEED A LINK HERE TO SL1918] Henry Norris had been a member of POPA; he may still have been one, but he didn’t attend this important meeting.
By Sat 1 March 1924 the Times was considering Arsenal as a possible for relegation. Fulham FC were also dangerously near relegation from Division Two. But Arsenal 3 Liverpool 1 eased Arsenal’s strain temporarily. The club bought a new forward, Ramsay, from Kilmarnock, but he doesn’t seem to have done them any good. On Wed 12 March 1924 it was Aston Villa 2 Arsenal 1; and on Sat 15 March 1924 Notts County 2 Arsenal 1 put them in real trouble. Again, on Sat 22 March 1924 Arsenal 1 Notts Forest 0 relieved the stress. Given their recent poor form, the result on Wed 2 April 1914 Liverpool 0 Arsenal 0 was a good result; the Times said that Arsenal had had the better of “a very poor match” but had showed “weakness in shooting” - something that had been characteristic of Arsenal teams for many seasons. On Sat 5 April 1924 they won at home for the first time for weeks: Arsenal 2 Burnley 0.
On Tue 1 April 1924 Bromley UDC considered the first planning application they had received from Kinnaird Park Estate Company for over a year. They passed a plan for one house in Park Avenue, Plaistow.
The first definite siting of Henry Norris in England during 1924 is on the evening of Mon 7 April 1924 when he was at the Guildhall to attend the quarterly meeting of the Feltmakers’ Company. He may have only just have returned to England.
On Fri 11 April 1924 Sir Henry Foreman died. Henry Norris had known him for many years, as mayor of Hammersmith from 1913 to 1920, as a fellow MP, as a freemason at Fulham Lodge number 2512, but mainly as the owner of the Clarendon Restaurant in Hammersmith. The funeral was held on Mon 14 April 1924 but neither Henry nor Edith Norris attended it. Edith sent a wreath, on her own, to commemorate Foreman’s involvement in the founding of Hammersmith Red Cross.
On Fri 11 April 1924 the libel case Norris v Armfield was held in the Lord Chief Justice’s court. See my file on 1923 for why it was needed [ROGER I NEED A LINK TO 1923 HERE]. The hearing was very short, with only two speeches being made: by Henry Norris’ barrister Campion, and a very brief one by his opposite number, Fraser, on Armfield’s behalf. No evidence was necessary because Armfield had already admitted libel and paid Norris 100 guineas in damages and a sum (the amount wasn’t mentioned in the newspaper coverage) to cover Norris’ costs in the case.
On Sat 12 April 1924 Arsenal had a good win: 2-0 against Sunderland, their opponents being without Charles Buchan who was playing in England 1 Scotland 1 at Wembley. In his match report Arthur Bourke, writing as Norseman in the Islington Daily Gazette, said he thought that Arsenal had played the best football he’d ever seen from them. But again, Henry Norris doesn’t seem to have seen it; he may have been at the international match.
Arsenal’s form was so fitful, though. Good Fri, 18 April 1924 Everton 3 Arsenal 1, was followed by Sat 19 April 1924's Sunderland 1 Arsenal 1 and after this one, the Times thought they only needed one more win to be sure of staying in Division One. On Easter Mon, 21 April 1924 they lost a relegation battle match: Arsenal 0 Everton 1, and Arthur Bourke/Norseman was describing the end of season as a “long drawn out agony”. Sat 26 April 1924 was another relegation battle, against the club immediately below them, but this time, Preston North End 0 Arsenal 2 pushed Arsenal up to fifth from bottom and Bourke hoped they were safe at last. There’s no evidence that Henry Norris saw these games; Sat 26 April 1924 was FA Cup Final day and Norris may have been at Wembley for Newcastle Utd 2 Aston Villa 0.
On the afternoon of Sat 3 May 1924 Arsenal lost their last match though it no longer mattered: Arsenal 1 Preston North End 2 left them fourth from bottom. In his match report, Arthur Bourke/Norseman, in the Islington Daily Gazette, wrote of the huge strain the last few weeks had placed on Arsenal’s players.
The Division One championship was decided on goal-difference for the first time. Herbert Chapman’s Huddersfield Town won it; the first of their three championships in a row. Chelsea were relegated, Spurs and West Ham also ended in the bottom half of the table - not so bad for West Ham in their first season in the top division; but the London clubs had had what Bourke called a “drab” season. Fulham 1 Stockport County 0 kept Fulham FC in Division Two, which I’m sure Henry Norris was relieved about although he no longer played any active part in the club’s management.
In his Arsenal news column in the Islington Daily Gazette on Mon 5 May 1924 Arthur Bourke/Norseman gave a list of the players already re-signed by Arsenal for season 1924/25; the list didn’t include Moffatt. For the likely reason why, see my file on May 1923. [ROGER I NEED A LINK TO 1923 HERE]. That afternoon, Mon 5 May 1924 London Professionals 3 London Amateurs 1 was played in aid of the Kinnaird Memorial Fund; but I don’t even have certain evidence that Henry Norris attended this.
It’s possible that Wed 5 May 1924 was the date of the ending of the arrangement at Arsenal FC by which the chauffeurs of Henry Norris and William Hall had their wages paid by the club. Norris gave this date for its ending in a legal document of 1929; however it contradicts all the other information on it, which all suggests May 1923 as the date it finished. For more information on this, see my files on 1921, and 1923 [ROGER I NEED LINKS TO SL1921 AND SL1923 HERE]; and in 1927 it formed the main plank of the case against Henry Norris, as discovered by the FA Commission of Inquiry.
On Thur 8 May 1924 a touring squad from Arsenal FC set out for Germany on a three-week tour. They visited Berlin, Nürnberg, Stuttgart, Hamburg and Köln and the runaway inflation Germany was experiencing at this time caused the players to go rather berserk on buying souvenirs! No doubt some of the club’s directors were with the squad during the tour; but I don’t know whether Henry Norris was one of them.
By Mon 12 May 1924 if not before, Henry Norris will have heard that Phil Kelso had resigned after the club’s narrow escape from relegation; Norris had appointed Kelso to the job. Ex-player Andy Ducat - whom Henry Norris had inherited when he and William Hall took over at Woolwich Arsenal FC in 1910 - was appointed a few days later to succeed Kelso.
On the morning of Mon 2 June 1924 the Football League held its AGM at the Connaught Rooms in Covent Garden. Henry Norris certainly attended it; he tackled the Management Committee on the subject of capping transfer fees. The Management Committee’s spokesman in reply was Norris’ old acquaintance Charles Sutcliffe. Sutcliffe told the FL members - but essentially he was talking to Norris - that the report the Management Committee had issued during season 1923/24 had said all that was necessary on the workings of the transfer system; and that if the 12-strong Management Committee hadn’t been able to agree on a method of regulating the cost of transfers, it wasn’t likely that the 86-strong full membership would be able to do so. Therefore the Management Committee was recommending that the subject be dropped. Norris must have known this, of course - his fellow Arsenal director, William Hall, was a member of the Management Committee. Nevertheless, he said he would make another attempt to cap transfer fees, at next year’s AGM; but he didn’t, and this seems to have been his last public stand against the rising price of players.
On Tue 3 June 1924 Bromley UDC passed an application from Kinnaird Park Estate Company: one house in Quernmore Road Plaistow. It seems that the directors of KPEC had decided to restructure the company’s finances - downwards. On Tue 1 July 1924 solicitors Rodgers Gilbert and Rodgers, acting for Kinnaird Park Estate Company, began an action in the High Court, using the Companies (Consolidation) Act 1908 to reduce the value of shares held in the company from £40000 to £20000. Henry Norris’ acquaintance from Kent Lodge number 15, Arthur Gilbert, will have been the solicitor in charge; it was probably Gilbert who first involved Norris in the company.
On the evening of Mon 7 July 1924 Henry Norris went to the Guildhall to attend the quarterly meeting of the Feltmakers’ Company.
9.22am either Tue 5 August or Wed 6 August 1924, just after training began at Arsenal FC for season 1924/25, 50 people went on a day out on the Thames; a day clearly organised by Henry Norris, because of where they went. All the other Arsenal directors went, with the office staff, the players, and several sports reporters including Arthur Bourke/Norseman of the Islington Daily Gazette. They all took the 9.22 train from Paddington to Windsor. There they boarded the river-boat Empress of India and went down the Thames as far as Reading, having lunch, tea and then dinner on board. At Henley they all got out to play a cricket match. Norris seems not to have made the trip from London; he and Edith had a house-boat at Henley so he probably met the river-boat party there. He didn’t make the return trip to London either; Hall presided over the after-dinner speeches.
If Arsenal FC’s day out on the Thames was on Wed 6 August 1924 (Bourke/Norseman didn’t specify its date) it would explain why Henry Norris didn’t go to the AGM of Fulham Football and Athletic Company Limited despite being one of its largest shareholders. In 1924 this was held on the evening of Wed 6 August 1924 and big changes were made in the club’s hierarchy to go with the change of manager (see above May 1924). Norris’ estate agent acquaintances Edwin Evans and J C Watts took over as club president and chairman and a new member joined the board of directors - Tom Pearks, whose name isn’t familiar to me so I take it Norris didn’t know him well. As part of the efforts to usher in a new era at the club there were even discussions of whether to change the colours the team played in; though no change was made there.
On the afternoon of Sat 16 August 1924 the first of two practice matches took place at Highbury. I don’t have a list of which directors attended it; but Henry Norris did usually go to these matches, at which the first eleven for at least the start of the season was chosen.
On Mon 18 August 1924 the Athletic News did its pre-season survey of Division One, including lists of all the squads. There had been very little transfer activity during the close season. Despite yet another close encounter with relegation, Arsenal FC bought only a few players and no one of any note; though they hadn’t sold any either.
On Wed 20 August 1924 the annual report of Arsenal Football and Athletic Company Limited was published. Charles Crisp was no longer a director. Once again, despite trouble on the pitch, the financial situation of Arsenal FC had improved. The club’s overdraft was now only £3423 though it still owed sundry loans to the amount of £3250 and a different group of creditors £4856.
On the afternoon of Sat 23 August 1924 Henry Norris, William Hall, John Humble and George Peachey all went to Highbury to see Arsenal FC’s second practice match.
On Mon 25 August 1924 the end of an era was announced in the Athletic News when editor J A H Catton, writing as Tityrus, retired as its editor after nearly two decades in the job; though he continued to write regularly for the paper for several seasons more. Many tributes were printed in this issue, including one from William Hall as a member of the Football League Management Committee and good friend; though no tributes from any football clubs were printed. Henry Norris had also known J A H Catton well and had been grateful to him for his championing of Arsenal’s return to Division One in 1919 (see my file for more details). [ROGER I NEED A LINK TO SL19 HERE]. Elsewhere in this issue of Athletic News did its usual pre-season review of teams in Division One; Arsenal’s squad did not include Moffatt, bought by Knighton against Henry Norris’ clearly stated prejudices (see my file on 1923 for his signing). [ROGER I NEED A LINK TO 1923 HERE].
Probably during season 1924/25 Arsenal FC’s manager Leslie Knighton began to press the board of directors for more money to spend on players. He felt that (despite the match-day evidence to the contrary at the end of season 1923/24) the squad was only one or two players short of something special. But they had to be good players, who would cost more than Arsenal FC had been able to pay while their first priority had been paying off their debts. It was mainly Henry Norris who Knighton needed to persuade; it was he that had wanted transfer fees capped at £1000 (see my file on 1923 for that). [ROGER I NEED A LINK TO 1923 HERE].
Football season 1924/25 began on Sat 30 August 1924 with larger-than-usual opening day crowds. Notts Forest 0 Arsenal 2 included the day’s fastest goal, 3 minutes into the 90. The unusual start continued on Mon 1 September 1924 with Arsenal 1 Manchester City 0 and on Sat 6 September 1924 with Arsenal 2 Liverpool 0, after which the Athletic News noted that Arsenal had never before won three Division One games in a row. On Sat 13 September 1924 they dropped their first point in Newcastle Utd 2 Arsenal 2 but gave what the Times thought was their best performance so far, taking the lead but then having to recover from going 2-1 down.
Wed 17 September 1924 was more like normal business: Manchester City 2 Arsenal 0; but on Sat 20 September 1924 it was Arsenal 2 Sheffield Utd 0 and Arsenal were second with virtually the same first team that had struggled so much during season 1923/24; champions Huddersfield Town were top and the only team in Division One that had not yet lost.
On the afternoon of Sat 27 September 1924 West Ham 1 Arsenal 0 caused Arthur Bourke/Norseman to rage at the choices made by Arsenal’s when both their first-choice wingers were injured: neither Dr Paterson nor Haden had played, despite being available. Clearly, Bourke/Norseman thought this loss was quite unnecessary.
However, the hierarchy at Arsenal were making some effort to strengthen the squad; perhaps this was Henry Norris listening to his manager’s arguments. During week-commencing Mon 29 September 1924 Arsenal offered Preston North End £4500 plus the player Turnbull for forward Tom Roberts. However, there were rival bidders, and on Thur 2 October 1924 Roberts signed for Burnley, saying that he didn’t want to go to live in London. On that day, Thur 2 October 1924 the Islington Daily Gazette broke with its usual careful practice and published a letter criticising Arsenal’s team selection along the lines that the paper’s Arthur Bourke/Norseman had taken earlier in the week. In case they were not aware of it, the letter told readers that Haden, at least, had been fit to play for the first team on Saturday, but instead he’d played for the reserves. The letter asked why the management was so keen on playing players out of position rather than using capable substitutes and demanded to hear some answers on these questions from the club’s directors.
That evening, Thur 2 October 1924 was the main meeting of the year at the Feltmakers’ Company, held as usual at the Guildhall. Henry Norris went to this. This occasion is the last in 1924 that I have evidence that Norris went to: the sequence of Arsenal games below is given in the hope that he saw some of them. I have no evidence of his definitely attending any of them.
During October 1924 Arsenal had a series of tough games and slid down the table though on Sat 25 September 1924 they got what the Times thought was a “well-deserved” in the north London derby in a game dominated by the defences: Arsenal 1 Spurs 0 flattered Spurs; only their goalkeeper had managed to prevent an embarrassment for Spurs. After Sat 1 November 1924, Bolton Wanderers 4 Arsenal 1, Arsenal were mid-table. The game on Sat 8 November 1924 ended Arsenal 0 Notts County 1, Cock scoring the only goal. The Times described it as “an unpleasant game to watch”. Sendings-off in Henry Norris’ day were rare, but Cock was sent off in this game and the Times thought an un-named Arsenal player should have gone with him.
On Tue 21 October 1924 Bromley UDC passed a planning application made by Kinnaird Park Estate Company for one garage at 4 Park Avenue, Plaistow.
Sat 15 November 1924 was a good win for Arsenal: Everton 2 Arsenal 3. Another good away result was Cardiff City 1 Arsenal 1 on Sat 29 November 1924 in which Arsenal’s young goalkeeper Lewis was outstanding. During December 1924 the team’s rather up-and-down form continued: on Sat 6 December 1924 Arsenal’s Woods got a hat-trick in Arsenal 4 Preston North End 0 but then on Sat 13 December 1924 they showed what the Times described as “Lack of finish” in Burley 1 Arsenal 0 before coming back strongly on Sat 20 December 1924 despite Utd having a lot of the play, in Arsenal 6 Leeds Utd 1, the highest number of goals scored by one team on a day of high-scoring matches. The game was a triumph for James Brain, who got four.
As this file heads to Christmas 1924 the point I’m making is that Arsenal’s season was going reasonably though the team had a slight down-turn over the Christmas matches, losing two out of three. But was Norris paying attention? Possibly not:
On Tue 16 December 1924 Bromley UDC approved a planning application from Kinnaird Park Estate Company for one garage at the house then known as Lullingstone, Park Avenue Plaistow. Due to the way in which Bromley UDC wrote up the Minutes of its meetings I can’t tell whether this garage is the same as the one in the application of 21 October; or at a different address.
The wish of Arsenal’s manager Leslie Knighton to bring one or two class acts into Arsenal FC’s team reached crisis point at some time when Henry Norris was at the house at Villefranche on the French Riviera. Oh! How I wish I had a certain date for this! But I haven’t. The most likely time was Christmas 1924/New Year 1925 but there’s a mite of evidence from Sunderland that it might have been as late as February 1925: Knighton heard on the football gossip grapevine that the great, though aging, forward Charles Buchan might be for sale. In Norris’ absence, Knighton called a board meeting himself, and after some eloquent persuasion got the rest of the directors to agree to allow him to try to do a deal for Buchan, offering up to £6000. Sunderland wouldn’t accept less than £7000 so the deal fell through. But - as was inevitable I suppose - Norris did find out what had gone on while his back was turned. For more on Charles Buchan see my file Henry Norris: Players Who Came Back to Haunt Him. [ROGER THIS FILE ISN’T WRITTEN YET BUT I’LL NEED A LINK].
During the whole of 1924 Henry Norris did not attend any of the meetings of the freemasons’ hierarchy at the United Grand Lodge of England. However, he may have continued to attend the regular meetings of his favourite lodge, Kent Lodge number 15; their records of attendance are not available to me, so I have no information on this.
IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE SOURCES OF ALL THIS INFORMATION, SEND ME AN EMAIL AND I’LL SEND YOU THE SOURCES FILE.
Copyright Sally Davis March 2008