Henry Norris in 1926 - he makes some serious errors and breaks the law


Last updated: April 2008


Miners’ strike May-October; General Strike 3 to 12 May; martial law May to December.  1st greyhound track.  1st British grand prix. 1st use of the word photon.  Agatha Christie disappeared for a few days.  Published: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Winnie the Pooh.  Born: George Martin, George Melly.  Warren Mitchell, Leonard Rossiter.  Kenneth Williams, Eric Morecambe.  Ian Paisley.  David Attenborough.  Queen Elizabeth II. 


During 1926 was the date given by Charles Crisp in 1929 for his resignation from the board of directors of Arsenal Football and Athletic Company Limited; however, the files of the company at Companies House show him last listed as a director at the AGM of 1923; he was not listed as a director in 1924.


On Mon 11 January 1926 the FA Council finally got round to considering Jock Rutherford’s predicament, when it looked at its report of the investigation into Rutherford’s links with a betting company (see my file on 1925 for how this arose). [ROGER I NEED A LINK HERE TO SL25].  The Council decided that although Rutherford had been cleared in a court of law, he had still broken the FA’s Rule 43 about players’ connections with betting.  There was a lot of press coverage of this decision.  Arthur Bourke, writing as Norseman in the Islington Daily Gazette, thought the player had been very badly treated by the FA.  I don’t know whether Henry Norris was at the FA meeting to argue Rutherford’s and Arsenal’s case; possibly not, as he didn’t attend the quarterly meeting of the Feltmakers’ Company that evening, Mon 11 January 1926.  He may have been abroad, with his family at their villa in Villefranche on the French Riviera.  Even if he didn’t attend the FA Council meeting, it did give him what he would have been looking: the FA agreed, finally, to register Rutherford as a player again. 


On the afternoon of Wed 13 January 1926 Arsenal won their FA Cup third round replay 1-0 against Wolves; there was nothing special about the game except the referee, Kingscott, a very experienced man whom Norris had known for many years.  They met again in 1927.


On Sat 16 January 1926 in snow Arsenal 3 Manchester United 2 was Rutherford’s first Arsenal game in season 1925/26.  After Sat 23 January 1926 with Arsenal’s form faltering a little in Liverpool 3 Arsenal 0, Arsenal, Huddersfield Town and Sunderland all had 33 points and Arsenal were hanging on to top position by goal-difference only.  Arsenal 1 Burnley 2 on Wed 3 February 1926 knocked them off the top and in addition Haden broke his leg.  A couple of days later, on 5 February 1926, manager Herbert Chapman did a very good piece of business, signing Joe Hulme from Blackburn Rovers for the very good price of £3500.  But Arsenal’s injury crisis was so bad that in early February 1926 he had to persuade Dr James Paterson to come out of retirement temporarily to play again on the wing.  This negotiating transfers and getting people to retire from their retirement is something that in previous seasons Henry Norris would have been doing; but he wasn’t doing it now.


Hulme was rushed into the first team on Sat 6 February 1926 in which the bad run continued: Arsenal 2 Leeds United 4 was bad enough but at half-time it had been 0-4.  Despite still being nowhere near their full strength Arsenal did manage to stop the rot on Sat 13 February 1926, pride probably spurring them on as their opponents were Newcastle Utd: Arsenal 3 United 0.


I don’t know whether Henry Norris was watching these Arsenal matches.  Even if he wasn’t he would have been delighted with the gate receipts on Sat 20 February 1926 when 70000, one of the biggest crowds ever to watch an Arsenal match, saw the FA Cup tie Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 1 with 25000 fans from London locked out, and a particularly fine performance by Charles Buchan.  Perhaps Norris went to the replay, at 3pm on Wed 24 February 1926: Arsenal 2 Aston Villa 0 with Arsenal taking the lead after 3 minutes.


Chapman was still actively strengthening his squad.  On Tue 2 March 1926 he did another epoch-making bit of business, signing the great Tom Parker from Southern League club Southampton FC as a leader for Arsenal’s defence as Buchan was for its attack.  Parker played 155 consecutive matches for Arsenal, captaining the FA Cup winning side of 1930 and the first championship winning side of 1931.   Once again, though, it was Chapman doing the transfer work; not Norris who had always done it or at least been prominently involved, until this season.


Hulme and Parker were an investment in the future.  By early March 1926 Arsenal’s season was beginning to peter out.  On Sat 6 March 1926 Swansea Town 2 Arsenal 1 in the FA Cup sixth round was a rather ignominious exit; and Huddersfield Town were drawing away at the top of Division One, they went on to win their third of three championships.  There was still a goodly amount for Henry Norris to feel pleased about though if he wanted to get positive.  On Sat 13 March 1926 it was Arsenal 3 Everton 2.  Brain - who seems to have been liberated more than any other Arsenal player by Chapman’s arrival - scored another hat-trick, to inaugurate a run of 5 wins out of 6 during late March and early April.  The run came to an end in a top-of-the-table clash on Sat 10 April 1926: Sunderland 2 Arsenal 1 didn’t do their chances of being second in Division One much good as Sunderland were their nearest rivals; and Arsenal’s goal-keeper Lewis, and Sunderland’s Halliday were sent off together, I suppose they had been fighting.


Mon 12 April 1926 is the first sighting I have of Henry Norris in 1926; he was at the Guildhall for the Feltmakers’ Company’s quarterly meeting; William Hall and J J Edwards also attended it, the first time for quite a while they had all been at a meeting together.


I think Henry Norris attended the match on Sat 17 April 1926: Arsenal 3 Huddersfield Town 1 was a very good result, against Chapman’s old club; I’d have to check the statistics more carefully but I think Arsenal had never beaten Huddersfield in Division One before.  The win secured second place in Division One for Arsenal, the highest they’d finished since Henry Norris and William Hall got involved in the club.  The Times wrote that the game had to be stopped because a terrier was running loose on the pitch; it was rounded up by Parker and restored to its owner - who, according to one of Norris’ grand-children, was his daughter Joy.


At 6.15pm on Mon 26 April 1926 Henry Norris may have been at Highbury for a friendly - Arsenal 5 Hibernian 0 - which must have been part of the deal which had brought Harper to Arsenal. 

On Wed 28 April 1926 Henry Norris definitely didn’t see Bolton Wanderers 1 Arsenal 1; that evening, Wed 28 April 1926 he was at the Freemasons’ Hall in Covent Garden for the United Grand Lodge of England’s annual festival.  He hadn’t been to a Grand Lodge meeting for a while but this one was special: he was promoted to Past Grand Deacon (Junior), pretty far up the Grand Lodge hierarchy and in fact as high up as Norris got.  There was a dinner at the Connaught Rooms (next door) after the ceremony; I couldn’t find a guest-list for it but I should imagine he attended it.  He didn’t go to another Grand Lodge meeting for over a year.


Henry Norris was definitely around for the final day of football season 1925/26. 


Sat 1 May 1926 according to the FA in 1927 was the date on a cheque for £125 drawn on the bank account of Arsenal Football and Athletic Company Limited and payable to the Queenborough Motor Company, a company which the FA couldn’t find any evidence actually existed, but which Henry Norris told them (in 1927) was a notional company he used to buy items for Arsenal FC at wholesale prices. 


According to the FA in 1927, the cheque was cashed on Mon 3 May 1926 before having been authorised; it was authorised on Tue 4 May 1926.  However, in 1929 Henry Norris disputed this account.  According to him, the cheque was certainly dated Sat 1 May and authorised on Tue 4 May but it was paid into his bank account on Thur 6 May and then cashed by him on Fri 7 May 1926.


By the time the FA was making enquiries (in 1927), the cheque and all the administration connected with it had disappeared and in 1927 Norris refused to tell them anything about it.   Described in 1926 as covering hire of a car by Henry Norris between May 1924 and May 1926 (something the FA rules didn’t allow anyway) the £125 was in fact the second instalment of money due to Charles Buchan (see my file on 1925 for the deal it was part of) [ROGER I NEED A LINK HERE TO SL1925].  Buchan was paid the money by Norris, in cash, on Fri 7 May 1926; both the paying and the receiving of the money were unequivocal breaches of the FA rules.


Football on Sat 1 May 1926 was upstaged by the General Strike which was announced at 2pm to start Mon 3 May 1926.  A national state of emergency had already been called by the Conservative Government after the break-down of talks with the miners.  However, Arsenal 3 Birmingham City 0 rang down the curtain very pleasantly on Arsenal’s best season since Henry Norris and William Hall had rescued the club.  Norris had nothing to worry about at Arsenal then; though Fulham FC avoided relegation from Division Two only via this afternoon’s matches; and so did Clapton Orient not that Norris would have cared for that.


After the end of season 1925/26 a squad from Arsenal in charge went on a three-week tour of central Europe.  Herbert Chapman was in charge of the travelling group; it’s not clear whether any directors went with them or were even able to given the strike.  Henry Norris definitely was not with the travelling party at least at the start of the tour though he may have joined it later.  The Arsenal squad played matches in Budapest, Prague, Innsbruck and Vienna, six matches in all.  They were back in England by Mon 7 June 1926.


During the close season 1926 a modest amount of work was done on the ground at Highbury: a cinder track was put around the pitch, and the grandstand was repainted. 


During the close season 1926 Arsenal FC made an enquiry for West Ham’s player Ruffell but were put off by the asking price of £7000; it was most likely Henry Norris who was put off by it.  Then the club agreed a fee of £6500 with Sunderland FC to buy Kelly; only to have the player change his mind and decide to stay put.


Finally during the close season 1926 the bus used by the reserve team to get to its matches in the south-east of England was put up for sale - a deal of no importance at all except for what happened afterwards.  Henry Norris told William Hall that he would take charge of the sale as he thought he knew the best way to get a good price for it; and Hall left it to Norris to sort it out.  During May the bus was on sale at a garage in Upper Street, Islington, run by Mr James MacDermott.


At midnight on the night of Mon 3 to Tue 4 May 1926 the General Strike began.  From Tue 4 to Mon 10 May 1926 the strike was more or less total, with the Government using the military to move essential food supplies. 


I can’t imagine Henry Norris letting himself be too much inconvenienced by a general strike; and he hadn’t left the country to get away from it.  On Tue 4 May 1926 the directors of Arsenal Football and Athletic Company Limited held a board meeting, at which (according to Henry Norris) the cheque dated Sat 1 May 1926 was given the directors’ authorisation.  


At 6pm on Wed 5 May 1926 with the General Strike continuing, Henry Norris went to another meeting of senior freemasons, this time the Supreme Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of England.  Again he was there for a particular purpose: with 12 others Norris was promoted to what turned out to be his highest rank in the Grand Chapter, Past Assistant Grand Sojourner.  As far as I can tell it was the last Grand Chapter meeting he ever attended.


On Mon 10 May 1926 fissures began to appear in the General Strike.  Workers at the Woolwich Arsenal were amongst those who returned to work.  And on the morning of Wed 12 May 1926 representatives of the TUC told the Government that they were calling off the strike.

Mon 10 May 1926 some workers returned to their jobs, notably at Woolwich Arsenal.  At 1pm the news of the end of the strike was broadcast on the radio.  But the annual dinner of the Feltmakers’ Company, scheduled for the evening of Wed 12 May 1926 had already been put off until 2 July 1926.  On Fri 14 May 1926 railway union members returned to work; enabling other industries to begin to get back to normal.  Although the miners’ strike continued until October.

The General Strike hit many things very badly, of course; one of them was the Islington Daily Gazette.  It has never appeared as a daily since; when it got back into production it came out on three days a week only.  There was no football coverage in it until late August 1926, when a new football writer took over from Arthur Bourke/Norseman.


By Mon 31 May 1926 the agenda for the AGM of the Football League had been published.  Arsenal FC had put forward another series of measures designed to limit transfers.  One proposed moving the transfer deadline from its current date in March, to sometime in December; a couple of others suggested that transferred players be ineligible to play against their old club in a league match as they already were in the same season’s Cup games; and a last one suggested that newly-transferred players should be eligible for a benefit match - the current rules made them wait three years.


During June 1926 Arsenal signed forward John Lambert from Doncaster Rovers.  The deal, for £2000, brought Arsenal’s spending on players in the last two seasons to £25000 - despite all Henry Norris’ attempts to rein it in both at the club and nationally.


During the day on Mon 7 June 1926 the Football League held its AGM at the Connaught Rooms in Covent Garden.  Athletic News had a long report on what went on, and doesn’t mention Henry Norris being there.  When it came to the revisions to the rules put forward by Arsenal FC, the report reads as though Herbert Chapman was arguing Arsenal’s case at the meeting; and it was he that withdrew the idea about bringing forward the transfer deadline.  In the end only the revision about player eligibility was voted on; and only five clubs voted in favour.  It was not a good meeting for Henry Norris and transfer fees.  His old Football League acquaintance, the very influential Charles Sutcliffe, put forward a motion - which was adopted - saying that all clubs buying a player must pay the selling club the full transfer fee at the time of the deal; any club proposing to do anything else must make their case to the FL Management Committee.  Sutcliffe’s motion also forbade in so many words any transfer fee that involved cash for goals.  No names were mentioned in Sutcliffe’s motion; but it was clear that the deal Henry Norris had negotiated to buy Charles Buchan was in his and everyone else’s minds.  Buchan’s £100 per goal remained unique in transfer history for many years.


In the evening of the same day, Mon 7 June 1926 the AGM of the Football Association was held at its usual venue, the Holborn Restaurant.  It lasted eight minutes!


Either on Mon 7 June 1926 or Wed 7 July 1926 a deal was done for the sale of Arsenal’s reserve team bus.  The date of the deal seems uncertain.  Henry Norris and the FA in 1927 both give 7 June; but the affidavit of someone concerned in the deal gives 7 July.  No one disputed what happened, just the date it took place.


On Fri 2 July 1926 the Feltmakers’ Company held its annual dinner and ladies’ night at the Grocers’ Hall in the City of London.  Originally scheduled for early May it had been postponed because of the General Strike.  The unexpected change of date meant many members couldn’t come.  I haven’t found a list of those who did attend on the re-arranged date. 


On the evening of Mon 5 July 1926 the Feltmakers’ Company held its quarterly meeting at the Guildhall.  Henry Norris did attend this.


According to his own sworn statement of 1927, on Wed 7 July 1926 a cheque for the purchase of Arsenal’s reserve team bus was taken by local police chief Kearns to Arsenal’s offices at Highbury on behalf of the buyer, garage owner Mr James MacDermott.  The cheque was made payable to Arsenal FC but the amount had not been filled in.  Kearns handed the cheque to Harry John Peters, who completed the details on it by writing on it an amount of £170, the agreed sale price.  Peters made out a receipt for the cheque, which Mr Kearns later gave to MacDermott, and handed the cheque onto Herbert Chapman as the club manager.  Reader, you may think all this is tedious and trivial but we’ll be getting to the punch-line soon!  In 1927 what happened with this cheque helped bring down Henry Norris.


Either Wed 7 or Thur 8 July 1926 according to Henry Norris’ account of it in 1929 Herbert Chapman gave the cheque of £170 for the sale of the reserve team bus to Henry Norris, after Norris had would bank it himself.  Norris gave Harry John Peters a note to that effect and told him to debit his own account; though from Norris’ 1929 account of the incident, Peters didn’t do that until the following year.  Norris then put the cheque in his wallet, went off to the houseboat the Norrises owned at Henley-on-Thames, and forgot all about it.  In Norris’ account of this incident, given in 1929, he said that when Chapman handed him the cheque it was on the understanding that some at least of the money in it was going to be used to pay Charles Buchan (see my file on 1925 for the deal which brought Buchan to Arsenal) [ROGER I NEED A LINK HERE TO SL25].  However, when questioned about the cheque during the FA’s investigation into Arsenal’s financial affairs, in 1927, Chapman denied that he’d had the cheque in 1926.


On Fri 9 July 1926 the annual report of Arsenal Football and Athletic Company Limited was published, showing that the company now owned land in Highbury worth £48109 (the football ground) and land in Hendon worth £3819 (6 Haslemere Avenue Hendon, where Chapman and his family were living).  The company was buying both properties with mortgages which appear in the debts column.  The policy of buying up shares as and when the directors heard they were for sale had continued, as a result of which William Hall now owned 414 shares and Henry Norris 412.


About 17 July 1926 Mr Kearns heard from Mr MacDermott that the cheque payable to Arsenal FC for the reserve team bus hadn’t appeared out of the banking system yet.  He was sufficiently concerned to drop into the Arsenal offices again and speak to Harry John Peters.  Kearns was reassured to hear that the cheque had been passed to Herbert Chapman and would be cashed soon; he reported this news back to Mr MacDermott. 


On 20 July 1926 Edith Norris happened to mention to her husband that she was overdrawn at her bank in Henley-on-Thames.  Henry Norris didn’t like the idea of that, and he went through his wallet looking for some money to give her to clear the debt.  He found the cheque for £170 for the Arsenal bus, and endorsed it so that Edith could take it and pay it into her account - a process which involved Henry Norris forging Herbert Chapman’s signature: a clear case of fraud.  Edith took the endorsed cheque and paid the £170 into her account.  In those days and at least up to the 1970s, once they had finished making their way through the banking system, everyone’s cheques were returned to them to put in their filing as the main record of the transaction in which they had been involved; in due course, therefore, this cheque ended up back in MacDermott’s office.             

In mid-August 1926 with football season 1926/27 approaching, the Islington Daily Gazette finally appointed a football reporter to replace Arthur Bourke/Norseman.  The new writer was well known in north London sporting circles apparently, having played football for Tufnell Park FC and cricket for Essex County CC.  He didn’t give his name, though, when writing his column, only the nom de plume of St Ivel, and in tracking Henry Norris he was much less helpful than Arthur Bourke had been: St Ivel had closer connections to Herbert Chapman than any of Arsenal FC’s directors. 


However, St Ivel did mention Henry Norris being at the annual charity cricket match between Tufnell Park CC and the Arsenal squad, on Wed 18 August 1926.  Norris “took tea with the teams” according to St Ivel, words that suggested he hadn’t been there earlier in the day.  In earlier years Norris had been at the lunch to make a speech on Arsenal’s behalf; this year that speech was made by Herbert Chapman.  Perhaps Norris didn’t stay for the evening entertainment; if he did he would have seen a performance by the north London-based concert group the Bow Bells.


The close season 1926 was described by the Times as a very quiet one for transfers.  After two possible purchases had fallen through at Arsenal, only three youngsters had been taken on by the club, Lambert being the most prominent of them.  As a result of the injury he had sustained in June 1925, Tom Whittaker was not offered a contract with Arsenal FC for season 1926/27 because medical experts had been unwilling to give the club assurances that he would make a full recovery.  He’d already been out injured for one entire season (1925/26) with no end in sight.


Season 1926/27 began on Sat 28 August 1926.  Despite Arsenal 2 Derby County 1, the Times felt that Arsenal would have to improve their attacking play if they were to be championship contenders.  And in fact, they finished a eleventh - safe but not what was expected, after season 1925/26; but they reached their first FA Cup final.


During the autumn of 1926, probably in late autumn surgeons advising the FA reported that Arsenal’s Tom Whittaker’s could not continue as a professional footballer.  Whittaker had been injured while on tour with the FA, so the FA began to go through a process of calculating a financial package to compensate him for his prematurely-ended career.  After this report, and before 6 December 1926 he was offered a job on the training staff at Arsenal; it’s not clear who made the job offer but it will have been either Henry Norris or Herbert Chapman.


Shortly before Wed 1 September 1926, probably at the AGM of Arsenal Football and Athletic Company Limited, J J Edwards joined the company’s board of directors.  Mr Edwards was a solicitor with a practice based in London’s West End.  He was a leading light of the Feltmakers’ Company and had been known to Henry Norris since 1917 and William Hall since 1920; it will have been them that invited him to join the board - I presume by appointment rather than election.  I have not found any reference to Edwards going to Arsenal or any other football matches before this date; that may be because Arthur Bourke/Norseman at the Islington Daily Gazette didn’t think him notable enough to mention, but my own view is that Edwards - like many other Arsenal directors since Norris and Hall took over at the club - was not interested in football.


By Tue 7 September 1926, in the face of unprecedented demand for season tickets, the Arsenal directors had decided not to put any more on sale this season.


By Fri 17 September 1926 St Ivel, in the Islington Daily Gazette was describing Arsenal’s start as indifferent and there was a definite feeling of anti-climax in his match reports, and a lowering of expectations.  In particular Arsenal had developed the habit of letting their opponents score first - rather like Wenger’s teams have done in recent seasons, in fact.  Perhaps it is an indicator of a team in transition.  St Ivel was expecting team changes to be made; and on Sat 18 September 1926 in Arsenal 2 Liverpool 0, Charles Buchan played as inside-left (rather than inside-right) for the first time in his career.  The game was played in what the Times described as “sweltering heat”; both the goals came after a Liverpool player had had to go off injured. 


In mid-September 1926 Arsenal FC gave a donation of £36 to the Royal Hospital and Home for Incurables at Putney.  The club had given money to hospitals very often since Henry Norris and William Hall had taken charge there; but normally the money went to the Great Northern Hospital on Holloway Road, the nearest to Highbury and where Arsenal footballers sometimes went for treatment.  The donation to the hospital at Putney was a one-off and I don’t know the reason for it except that both Norris and Hall had lived in Putney in the past and Hall’s business was based near it, in Battersea.


During September 1926 Arsenal FC made a sluggish start to season 1926/27 and were below mid-table - a place they knew well - on Sat 2 October 1926.  They still had more of the fighting spirit than they’d tended to have when managed by Leslie Knighton though.  In their match that afternoon, Sat 2 October 1926 they were 0-2 down after 15 minutes and Baker was off having treatment.  Baker did return but could do very little; despite this handicap Arsenal fought back and the final score was Arsenal 2 Newcastle United 2.  The result looked better at the end of the season when United won the championship; they haven’t won it since.


In the evening of Thur 7 October 1926 Henry Norris was at the Guildhall for the main meeting of the Feltmakers’ Company’s year.  He was elected third warden - the next step up towards serving as the Company’s Master.  New Arsenal director J J Edwards attended this meeting - he very rarely missed any; William Hall didn’t miss many meetings either but he wasn’t at this one.


Arsenal seemed to be in a run of exciting draws; on the  afternoon of Sat 16 October 1926 it was Arsenal 2 West Ham 2, which the Times’ reporter described as one of the best he’d ever seen in London, though after a rip-roaring first-half the pace inevitably slowed in the second.  They could get it together if they had the right opposition though: on Sat 23 October 1926 Arsenal 6 Sheffield Wednesday 2 was another of the matches where Brain was able to run riot.  He scored the last four, all in the second half when Wednesday were completely over-run.


On Thur 28 October 1926 Highbury hosted the match Army 1 Football League 4, in which Arsenal’s Charles Buchan and Joe Hulme played.  The match could have been arranged by Henry Norris; but it’s just as likely that William Hall did the arranging - he was on the Football League’s Management Committee.   Another exhibition match was held on Thur 11 November 1926: Cambridge University v an Arsenal XI.  Neither Henry Norris nor William Hall had strong ties - or even any ties - with Cambridge University; perhaps Sir Samuel Hill-Wood was the initiator of this game. 

Draws do seem to have been the name of the game for Arsenal during the autumn of 1926, something that kept them in the lower half of Division One.  Though there are draws and draws, of course, and Sat 13 November 1926 produced one of the better ones: Huddersfield Town 3 Arsenal 3.


The Arsenal first-team might be struggling a bit but there were other reasons for supporters to be pleased.  As early as Wed 1 December 1926 St Ivel was writing in the Islington Daily Gazette that the Reserves were looking good for the London Combination championship.


Shortly before 4 December 1926 the FA made Tom Whittaker a final offer of £350 compensation for the career-ending injury he had suffered in June 1925.  The board of Arsenal FC, and manager Herbert Chapman, thought £350 was inadequate.  At a board meeting they decided to say so in public; and the directors also voted to give Whittaker £100 as a topping-up payment.  A strongly-worded criticism of the FA’s niggardliness, based on the Minutes of the recent board meeting,  appeared in the match-day programme on Sat 4 December 1926.  Arsenal 1 Bury 0 was (the Times reporter thought) the poorest game so far this season at Highbury and it seems the crowd thought so too: they started cheering ironically at all the poor shooting.


On Sun 5 December 1926 the Daily Express began to follow up the Whittaker story, by asking the FA to comment on what had been said in Arsenal’s match-day programme on Sat 4 December.  A member of the FA International Selection Committee gave the FA’s side of the story.  The man wished to remain anonymous; but something Henry Norris said in 1927 leads me to speculate that he was Charles Crump, a long-serving FA Council member with whom Norris had always had a rather prickly relationship.  The FA’s statement was published in the Daily Express on Mon 6 December 1926 and of course it said that the FA had treated Whittaker “handsomely” and that Arsenal’s response had been “ill-advised”.  It told the readers that the FA - not Arsenal - had been paying Whittaker’s wages from the date of the injury to the recent financial settlement, and that Whittaker had not been signed by Arsenal FC for the current season. 


The publication of the FA’s statement on Whittaker brought an immediate response from Henry Norris on Arsenal’s behalf.  On Tue 7 December 1926 the Daily Express printed a letter Norris had written in which he said that the FA’s statement had left out a great deal - for example, that £350 was one year’s wages only, at Whittaker’s current rate of pay; and that the FA had originally offered Whittaker far less than £350 and had tried to threaten him into accepting it.  The letter portrayed a wealth FA scrimping on its expenses by not insuring its players for the tour of Australia, during which Whittaker had been injured; and it said that if the players had been insured adequately at the time, the current problems in Whittaker’s case would’t have arisen.  Norris called the anonymous FA spokesperson “impudent” for saying that Arsenal’s response to the financial settlement had been ill-advised.


The matter rested there, apparently.  There was no response from the FA.  At least, not for a while.


Elsewhere events were proceeding more normally.  On Tue 7 December 1926 Bromley UDC approved a set of plans submitted by Kinnaird Park Estate Company: 2 semi-detached houses in Quernmore Road Plaistow.


Going into Christmas, on Sat 18 December 1926 the north London derby had an extraordinary first few minutes, with Arsenal 2-0 up after 2 minutes and Spurs getting one back after 3.  All the scoring was over by 53 minutes and it finished Arsenal 2 Spurs 4.  In its match report the Times quoted Herbert Chapman as supporting Henry Norris’ attempts to take a stand against ever-increasing transfer fees.  By Tue 21 December 1926 Arsenal had bought three players in as many weeks, but the club had paid only modest transfer fees in each case.


On Thur 23 December 1926 the (second) wife of FA Secretary Fred Wall was knocked down by a car on Southampton Row, Holborn.  Fred Wall was an old acquaintance of Henry Norris; he and his wife had been at Joy Norris’ wedding in July 1923.  Mrs Wall was badly hurt in the accident but she wasn’t in danger of her life.





Copyright Sally Davis March 2008