The Year 1927 - including the downfall of Henry Norris

Last updated: April 2008

Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.  1st transatlantic telephone call.  1st live sports broadcasts - rugby then football.  1st world snooker championship.  British troops were sent into China.  There was another bad flu epidemic.  1st use of automatic traffic lights.  USSR executed 20 British citizens for spying; diplomatic relations were broken off.  Published: Tarka the Otter.  Born: June Brown, Roger Moore, Ken Russell.  Cleo Laine.


Reader please be patient!  The year’s events are very confusing!!


Between 20 July 1926 and 31 Jan 1927 according to Henry Norris’ 1929 account but most likely very near 31 Jan 1927: Edward Liddell saw the cheque for £170 for the sale of the Arsenal reserve team bus: the one endorsed with Herbert Chapman’s name by Henry Norris (see my file on 1926 for the first episode of this drama) [ROGER I NEED A LINK TO SL26 HERE].  Liddell had played for Arsenal FC between 1914 and 1920 and by 1927 was employed by Fulham FC, on their scouting staff.  He saw the cheque in the offices of James MacDermott, who’d acted for Arsenal in the sale; either it was lying about there (most unlikely) or MacDermott showed it to him.  According to Norris in 1929, Liddell told his boss Joe Bradshaw, Fulham FC’s manager, what he’d seen; I suppose he’d recognised Norris’ writing.  Bradshaw was another ex-player with connections with Henry Norris; he himself had played for Woolwich Arsenal FC but never made it into the first team; and his father Harry Bradshaw had been Fulham FC’s manager when Norris was chairman there (see my files on the period 1903-07 for more on Harry).  Liddell and Bradshaw then told Fulham FC chairman John Dean; another old acquaintance but not necessarily a friend of Henry Norris (see my files on the period 1903-10 for more on Norris and Dean).


Over the winter of 1926-27 there was another flu epidemic; though not one on the scale of 1918.


This calamitous year began for Henry Norris with Edith Norris being seriously ill; she had to have an operation; and then the family went abroad to help her recovery.


During the period January to March 1927 Henry Norris did not attend any of the matches in Arsenal’s best FA Cup run since he and Hall had taken charge of the club, including the semi-final.  Edith Norris’s illness may be the reason; but Norris had been missing Arsenal matches on quite a big scale for several years by now, so he may not have seen Arsenal’s FA Cup run even if Edith had been well.


I don’t suppose Henry Norris saw it but Sat 1 January 1927 was one of those matches where James Brain scored a hat-trick: Arsenal 3 Cardiff City 2.


On Wed 5 January 1927 St Ivel, writing in the Islington Gazette, reported that Spurs’ manager was about to leave the club after 14 years in the job; he had been poached from Spurs by Middlesbrough FC.


Arsenal’s FA Cup run began on Sat 8 January 1927 with Sheffield United 2 Arsenal 3 in the third round.  Henry Norris was the only Arsenal director not to go to Bramall Lane: William Hall, George Peachey, John Humble, J J Edwards and Samuel Hill-Wood all saw the match, the result of which the Times described as “one of the surprises of the day”. 


Either Mon 10 January 1927 or immediately after it Edith Norris had an operation.  On the evening of Mon 10 January 1927 Henry Norris and William Hall were at the Guildhall to attend the quarterly meeting of the Feltmakers’ Company.  J J Edwards didn’t attend this meeting through illness: he’d probably caught flu.  William Hall led those who were there in expressing their concern about Edith’s health.


Tue 18 January 1927 was the due date for the next payment of £125 Henry Norris had to make to Charles Buchan under the agreement they had reached in June 1925 (see my file on 1925 for why Buchan insisted on money over and above his wages before he would sign for Arsenal). [ROGER I NEED A LINK TO SL25 HERE.] In 1929 Norris confirmed that he paid Buchan the money he was due, out of his own pocket.


On the afternoon of Sat 22 January 1927 Arsenal 1 Sheffield United 1 was the first ever football match to have a live commentary of it broadcast on the radio; unfortunately, frost on the pitch made good football impossible.  Presumably the use of Highbury for this epoch-making event was authorised by the board of directors, led by Henry Norris; though it’s likely that the impetus for it came from Herbert Chapman.  The commentary was spoken by H Wakeham of the BBC.  From 14.05-14.35, before kick off there was community singing, part of a nationwide campaign of it organised by the Daily Express; the singing was conducted by Thomas P Ratcliff who became famous for conducting FA Cup final crowds.  As well as Arsenal’s own brass band, the Band of HM Grenadier Guards played.


On the afternoon of Sun 23 January 1927 Arsenal’s brass band gave a concert in Pentonville Prison.  Herbert Chapman and George Allison went to represent Arsenal; Henry Norris wasn’t there.


The fourth round of the FA Cup was played on Sat 29 January 1927, again with a live radio commentary which for Arsenal fans would have been X-rated stuff.  Port Vale 2 Arsenal 2 included a ghastly own-goal by Parker, and an equaliser by Arsenal at 87 minutes; it also had in it Charles Buchan’s 250th goal in first-class football.  On the same afternoon, Sat 29 January 1927 Arsenal Reserves beat Southampton Reserves, I couldn’t find the score but it was their third win in 8 days and already they were looking good for the London Combination championship, four points clear at the top.


On Mon 31 January 1927 Herbert Chapman heard - what?  The only account of what he heard on that day is Henry Norris’s, from 1929; I think you could describe Norris’ way of putting it as skating delicately over a VERY dodgy issue.  Either directly from Liddell, Bradshaw and/or Dean at Fulham FC or - worse - via the football gossip bush-telegraph, Chapman found out that Norris had forged his signature on the £170 cheque; he may also have been told or worked out for himself that the cheque had been paid into an account other than that of Arsenal Football and Athletic Company Limited.


The FA Cup fourth round replay was on the afternoon of Wed 2 February 1927, Buchan scoring again in Arsenal 1 Port Vale 0.  I’ve said above that Henry Norris didn’t see any of Arsenal’s FA Cup run (he was at the Final).  On this occasion he was at home with Edith, who was out of hospital but still needing a lot of care.  If he had been at the match things would have been very different, both on the day and later.  The Times in its match report noted that Arsenal’s James Brain kept straying offside; it was a habit of his, mentioned on other occasions in the Islington Gazette; but this was an important match.  Trainer George Hardy’s behaviour on the touchline, trying to stop Brain doing that, led to such a row between him and Herbert Chapman (it’s not clear where it started, but it ended in the dressing-room) ostensibly over whose job it was to give Brain orders, that both William Hall and Samuel Hill-Wood were summoned from the grandstand to try to make peace.  As vice-chairman of Arsenal, William Hall took the decision to leave the matter with Herbert Chapman to resolve.  George Hardy apologised for his behaviour, but Herbert Chapman still demoted him to the position of second trainer until the end of season 1926/27, and wouldn’t commit himself on whether he would continue to employ Hardy after that.


After the match both Herbert Chapman and William Hall telephoned Henry Norris, as they probably usually did, if he was in England, after matches he hadn’t been to.  Neither of them mentioned the row between Chapman and Hardy; whether they thought Norris shouldn’t be bothered with it while his wife was still so ill; or whether they just didn’t think it was serious enough to bother with any further, I don’t know.  However, see my file on 1925 for the fact that Chapman had never thought Hardy was up to the job of first-team trainer; it had been Henry Norris who had insisted that Hardy stay in his post. [ROGER I NEED A LINK TO 1925 HERE.]


Also after the match on Wed 2 February 1927 though I don’t know exactly when George Hardy applied for a job as coach at Spurs. 


On Fri 4 February 1927 Herbert Chapman had photographs taken of the £170 cheque for the sale of the Arsenal reserve team bus.  Note the date he had it done: after the row he’d had with Hardy and Norris’ reaction to the way he had resolved it.


On the morning of Sat 5 February 1927 Henry Norris set out with the Arsenal squad on the journey to the weekend’s match at Anfield.  This is the first definite evidence I have for several years of Norris attending an away fixture.  On the way up to the north-west, Herbert Chapman told Norris what had happened on the Wednesday between him and Hardy; and how it had been dealt with.  Norris told Chapman that he had exceeded his authority in demote Hardy until the end of the season; he only had the power to demote an employee until the next board meeting, where the directors would decide what was to be done in the longer term.  Buchan was rested for the actual match, on the afternoon of Sat 5 February 1927, which was a dress-rehearsal for the next round in the FA Cup.  Liverpool 3 Arsenal 0 was the result of a game, played in thick must and full of what the Times described as “comic incidents in the mud”.


Norris does seem to have upheld Herbert Chapman’s decision to demote Hardy; it was only how long for that he disagreed with Chapman about.  On Mon 7 February 1927 Chapman promoted Tom Whittaker to the position of first-team coach.  See my files on 1925 and 1926 if you want further information about why Whittaker needed the job. [ROGER COULD I HAVE LINKS HERE TO SL1925 AND SL1926 PLEASE].


It’s not quite clear exactly when, but presumably very shortly before 13 February 1927 William Hall was told about Henry Norris’ forging of Chapman’s signature on the cheque for the sale of the Arsenal team bus; he probably found out because Chapman told him but he might instead have learned through hearing a piece of footballing gossip about it. 


On Sun 13 February 1927 Hall rang Henry Norris and said they must meet.  When they met up, later that day, Sun 13 February 1927, Hall told Norris that some people employed by Fulham FC knew that Norris had forged Herbert Chapman’s signature on a cheque.  Hall warned Norris that John Dean, the chairman of Fulham FC, was threatening to go to the FA to ask for an enquiry into the matter.  He urged Norris to resign in order to avoid such an enquiry but Norris refused to do so and the meeting between the two of them ended with Hall resigning as a director of Arsenal FC instead.


On Mon 14 February 1927 there was a board meeting of Arsenal Football and Athletic Company Limited; it seems all the directors attended at least the beginning of it, and as manager it was Herbert Chapman’s duty to attend it.  Mon 14 February is the date Norris implied for the meeting, in an account he gave in 1927; though in 1929 he said the meeting took place on Thur 17 February 1927.


I think the meeting was due to be held anyway but of course it was dominated by the issue of Norris’ forging of Chapman’s signature.  Even the consequences of the row between Chapman and Hardy seem to have been elbowed from centre-stage.  William Hall repeated to the other directors what he’d told Henry Norris the day before.  For the other directors, it was probably the first they’d heard of the cheque or of the controversy surrounding it.  According to Henry Norris’ account of 1929, Chapman told the meeting that he’d handed the cheque to Norris in early July 1926, and had not been involved with it again until hearing the rumours about it at the end of January 1927.  Hall refused to withdraw his resignation but he did agree to keep it a secret for the time being so as to prevent anxiety amongst the players as their good FA Cup run continued.


According to Henry Norris’ own account, in the months after the board meeting of 14 February 1927, up to July 1927 he was “openly and continuously insulted” by Herbert Chapman.


Definitely after the board meeting of 14 February; probably before 28 March 1927 another meeting took place between Henry Norris and William Hall, at which they continued to discuss the possibility that the FA would call an enquiry into the finances of Arsenal Football and Athletic Company Limited; they both knew, of course, that the FA had the right to see the accounts of any of its members, at any time.  At this meeting, the arrangement by which their chauffeur’s had been paid their wages by Arsenal FC was mentioned - it has to be by Norris, because William Hall promptly denied all knowledge of the arrangement’s existence.  See my files on 1921, 1923 and 1924 for the arrangement’s beginning and two possible endings for it. [ROGER COULD I HAVE LINKS TO SL21, SL23 AND SL24 HERE PLEASE].  Hall denied ever receiving any money this way; and said that Henry Norris was making it up.


Between 2 February and 19 February 1927 George Hardy was offered, and accepted, the job of coach at Spurs.  Spurs had been looking for a new manager; but Hardy was not offered that job.


Exact date unknown; around the time Henry and Edith Norris went to France is the date given in Henry Norris’ own account dated 1929: Harry John Peters, office manager at Arsenal FC presented the note Norris said he had written and given to him in early July 1926, authorising Peters to debit Norris’ bank account with the £170 for the sale of the Arsenal reserve team bus.  However, the money may not have reached the bank account of Arsenal Football and Athletic Company Limited until early April.


In the midst of all this uproar and coming and going, Arsenal FC still had matches to play.  On the afternoon of Sat 19 February 1927 it was the FA Cup fifth round: Arsenal 2 Liverpool 0 with both goals coming from free kicks, both in the first half-hour; Arsenal were then able to hold on despite an injury to Baker.  The Times now fancied Arsenal to win the competition, “in view of the rather curious character of the remaining opposition” after the complete eclipse of all northern clubs.  In second half Butler got injured as well, and though he stayed on the field because no substitutes were allowed for any reason in those days, he could only limp.


Spurs’ match against Bury on Sat 19 February 1927 was George Hardy’s first as Spurs’ coach; they won for the first time since November.  Writing about Hardy’s change of employer, St Ivel, in the Islington Gazette said that his decision to leave Arsenal after 16 years had come as a complete surprise to those not involved with the club, and had caused a lot of gossip.  St Ivel’s understanding was that Hardy had decided to go as a direct result of the row with Chapman.


Back in the non-football world, on Tue 1 March 1927 Bromley UDC passed two planning applications from Kinnaird Park Estate Company, both for garages.  The first was at the newly-finished house then known as Kenilworth in Park Avenue Plaistow; the second was at 3 Quernmore Road, the home of KPEC’s architect William Harrington.


At 3pm Sat 5 March 1927 there were 52821 in Highbury for the FA Cup sixth round Arsenal v Wolves.  A match commentary was broadcast again; this time the commentator was George Allison, a sports writer by profession whose association with Arsenal FC went back further than Henry Norris’s.  I think it was before kick off that a man ran onto the pitch carrying a mascot dressed in Arsenal’s colours; he was ordered to the grandstand by Charles Buchan.  It was 0-1 at half-time and Wolves had missed an easy chance to go 0-2 before Arsenal’s equaliser at 60 minutes; but the result was Arsenal 2 Wolves 1.


On Mon 7 March 1927 there was a big earthquake in Japan, centred on Osaka and Kobe.  So???  Well, Henry Norris’ sister Lilian and her husband Percival Gillbard had lived in Kobe since 1903; Mr Gillbard ran an import-export business there.  Norris’ grand-children tell me that the Gillbards lost their business as a result of damage caused by an earthquake; and this earthquake seems to be the most likely one.  Even if this earthquake wasn’t the one that destroyed the Gillbards’ livelihood, concern for the safety of his relatives was yet another thing Norris had to worry about when he already had quite a plate-full.


All was being sacrificed to the FA Cup run at Arsenal.  On the afternoon of Mon 7 March 1927 Hulme, Buchan, Baker and Cope were all rested and it showed, the weakened team putting in what the Islington Gazette’s St Ivel described as “an inglorious display”, being routed in West Ham 7 Arsenal 0.  Another poor performance on Sat 12 March 1927 in Sheffield Wednesday 4 Arsenal 2 caused the Times to comment that too many Arsenal players had their eyes firmly fixed on the FA Cup semi-final - which wasn’t for another two weeks.  The reserves were still going well though, and attracting bigger crowds than in past seasons.  On the afternoon of Wed 16 March 1927 they did a great deal better than the seniors against West Ham: Arsenal Reserves 3 West Ham Reserves 1.  Mind you - that wouldn’t have been difficult!


On Sat 19 March 1927 the first team lost again: Arsenal 1 Everton 2.  The Times noted that  Everton - I think still chaired by Henry Norris’ acquaintance William Cuff - had spent £20000 fighting relegation by buying new players; their team for this match contained six players bought within the last two months.


Then came the game that mattered.  Previewing the FA Cup semi-finals on Fri 25 March 1927 the Times expected Arsenal to win their tie as the team with “more polish” though their opponents actually had the better FA Cup record.


Sat 26 March 1927 was FA Cup semi-final day.  But Henry Norris was in Villefranche with his family at their villa there, while Edith recovered from her operation.   He missed a dull game at Stamford Bridge in which the lowlier team played the “more intelligent football”, according to the Times, Arsenal trying to play the short-pass game on a pitch churned up by heavy rain shortly before kick off; the Times thought they showed “a woeful lack of imagination” though that could have been down to the team’s nerves, probably the worse because they were so widely expected to win; the players’ relief and excitement when Hulme gave them the lead were clear for all to see.  Hulme had a brilliant game, Buchan scored the second, and it ended Arsenal 2 Southampton 1.  The winners of the other semi-final were Cardiff City.  On that afternoon, Sat 26 March 1927 Arsenal Reserves beat Leicester City Reserves, taking a commanding lead in the London Combination championship.


This Arsenal had got further in the FA Cup than any team with which Henry Norris and William Hall had been associated.  So it was rather sad that, speaking to the press after the match was over, Sat 26 March 1927 William Hall used the occasion to make public his resignation as a director of Arsenal FC.  He didn’t go into details of why he had made his decision; but he did go so far as to admit that it followed a disagreement with Henry Norris.


By Tue 29 March 1927 Arsenal FC’s ticket allocation for their first FA Cup final was so over-subscribed the club issued a statement saying they would not be processing any more applications.  That day, Tue 29 March 1927 the names of the Final officials were published: W F Bunnell of Preston would referee the match; the linesmen would be be D E Watson of Kent and M Brewitt of Lincoln.  On that day, Tue 29 March 1927 solicitor J J Edwards, acting for Henry Norris, went to court to obtain writs for defamation against John Dean, Joe Bradshaw, Edward Liddell and James MacDermott for what they had been saying and apparently writing about Norris’ connection with the cheque for the sale of the Arsenal reserve team bus.


On Wed 30 March 1927 football writer St Ivel discussed William Hall’s resignation in the Islington Gazette; bracketing it with Charles Crisp’s resignation from the board of directors several years before as if the departures had a lot in common; and regretting the loss to Arsenal FC of two men of such high-standing in football.


Meanwhile the investigations into Arsenal that William Hall had tried to prevent had begun.  Apparently in an attempt to prevent Norris’ latest libel case reaching court and treating the public to the spectacle of one of its members suing another, the Football League sent two members of its management committee to London, both of them old acquaintances of Henry Norris.  Charles Sutcliffe and Fred Rinder, chairman of Aston Villa, were at Highbury over the weekend of Fri 1, Sat 2 and Sun 3 April 1927 looking into the accounts of Arsenal Football and Athletic Company Limited.  At least when they arrived at the club and began their search, Henry Norris was still in the south of France.  He was told about what they were doing in a telegram sent by the remaining directors of the club; they asked him to return to England at once, and he seems to have set out immediately, by train: perhaps during the night of Fri 1 to Sat 2 April 1927.


Sutcliffe and Rinder found that the £170 for the sale of the reserve team bus had not yet been paid into the club’s bank account, giving some substance to the rumours that were flying about; in 1929 Henry Norris implied that it hadn’t been paid in by 5 April 1927.  During the weekend, most almost certain on Sat 2 April 1927 Sutcliffe talked to Henry Norris.  Norris showed him the promissory note he’d given to Harry John Peters in early July 1926, Edith Norris’s paying-in book for her bank account, and the envelope Peters had used to take the promissory note to the bank (as proof I suppose that the £170 was in the system somewhere, on its way to its proper place).  But at the end of the weekend Sutcliffe and Rinder agreed with each other that on the evidence they’d seen and heard they couldn’t prevent the court case.  Athletic News (to which Sutcliffe was very close) said on Mon 4 April 1927 that court action was now likely in the case.


By the afternoon of Sat 2 April 1927 Henry Norris was at Highbury; he saw Arsenal 0 Huddersfield Town 2.  The weekend was already bad enough, but Arsenal’s Cope and Hoar were both injured in the game and as a result were doubtful for the FA Cup Final.


After match was over on Sat 2 April 1927 Norris spoke to the press - not something he had often done in recent years.  He didn’t discuss the match, but spent his time trying to limit the damage to the club and himself resulting from the press coverage of William Hall’s resignation.  He confirmed that Hall had resigned over the same matter that had led to George Hardy’s departure; and also like Hall, he didn’t talk about the row between Chapman and Hardy at the FA Cup replay so the press still knew nothing about that.

Date unknown, but after the weekend of Sat 2 and Sun 3 April 1927; possibly as late as mid-May 1927 Charles Sutcliffe, presumably representing the Football League, had a meeting with Arsenal director J J Edwards who was acting for Henry Norris in his latest libel case.  It seems that his initial enquiries into Arsenal’s finances had convinced Sutcliffe that the FL should investigate further, but that they couldn’t do so until Norris’ attempt to sue for libel had been settled.  Sutcliffe told Edwards that the best outcome from Arsenal FC’s point of view was for Henry Norris to resign, as this would prevent any further investigation by the FL of the club’s accounts.  On his own and Rinder’s behalf Sutcliffe promised Edwards that if Norris did resign, that would be the end of the matter.


On Mon 4 April 1927 in the evening Henry Norris and William Hall both went to the Guildhall to attend the quarterly meeting of the Feltmakers’ Company; but J J Edwards missed this meeting.


On Tue 5 April 1927 Henry Norris wrote to Herbert Chapman as the limited company’s secretary, confirming that the cheque for £170 for the reserve team bus had not yet reached the company’s account; he enclosed with the letter a cheque for £250 to be paid into the company’s account.   He seems to have written the letter as part of getting ready to go back to the Riviera on that day, Tue 5 April 1927 but then he changed his mind and stayed put.  Edith Norris and the family returned to London.  


After the weekend of 2-3 April 1927 it seems Charles Sutcliffe thought Norris’ situation was bad.  Between that weekend and 26 May 1927, he had a meeting with Arsenal’s director J J Edwards, at which he suggested that Edwards persuade Henry Norris to resign from Arsenal to prevent any further enquiries by the FL or FA into the cheque for the reserve team bus.  Sutcliffe promised, and promised for Rinder, that if Norris did resign the FL, at least, would not investigate Arsenal’s finances any further.


On the afternoon of Wed 6 April 1927 the famous crime writer Edgar Wallace was at Highbury to present medals to those players taking part in a charity match: North London 2 South London 1.  Arsenal FC donated the use of Highbury for this fixture while the first team was in the north of England playing Newcastle United 6 Arsenal 1.  Between  Wed 6 and Sat 9 April 1927 the squad stayed in the north-east, undoubtedly to save the players two long journeys so close to the FA Cup Final but also, probably, to get away from the uproar that was engulfing the board room.  Even the Reserve team was feeling the heat: in the days before Fri 8 April 1927 they lost two games, including one at home.  After the game on Sat 9 April 1927, a second bad loss: Sunderland 5 Arsenal 1, Arsenal were getting perilously near the relegation zone although the Times thought their situation looked worse than it was as Arsenal had two home fixtures over the Easter weekend.  On that afternoon, Sat 9 April 1927, however, the Reserves recovered their form: Arsenal Reserves 3 Swansea Town Reserves 2 was followed by the English Railways Cup Final.


Previewing the Easter fixture list, the Islington Gazette noted that Clapton Orient would be fighting relegation again; one of their rivals to go down was Fulham FC.  Meanwhile at Arsenal, preparations for the FA Cup Final continued, with Tom Whittaker being put in charge of getting and then keeping Joe Hulme fit to play in it.  On Good Fri, 15 April 1927 Arsenal 2 Aston Villa 1; and on Easter Sat, 16 April 1927 Arsenal 4 West Bromwich Albion 1 despite a weakened team, freed Arsenal from the relegation worries that had crept in during the last few weeks.  However, Cope was not recovering quickly from his injury, and was a doubt for the FA Cup Final.


The week commencing Mon 18 April 1927 was the lead-up to the FA Cup Final.  On Wed 20 April 1927 the Times was able to publish Cardiff City’s team for Saturday but said that Arsenal would not be able to let the press know theirs until Friday, as they struggled to get players fit.  But on Fri 22 April 1927 the only progress made by Arsenal FC towards a cup final team was their declaration that Cope definitely wouldn’t make it, and Kennedy would play in his stead.  The club - meaning Herbert Chapman - still weren’t sure whether Baker and Hoar would be able to play; as they both did, this uncertainty may actually have been gamesmanship on Chapman’s part, rather than a genuine concern as to their fitness.  In previewing the FA Cup Final the Times predicted a low-scoring game between two sides known for their good defences; it also thought that Arsenal were too reliant on Buchan to spark their forward play.  


In this era of the World Cup and the Champions League it’s hard for us to appreciate just how important the FA Cup Final was as one of THE two fixtures in the calendar (the other being Scotland/England or its reverse).  The FA Cup Final on Sat 23 April 1927 was the biggest footballing occasion Henry Norris ever took an active part in.  The match was even bigger than usual, being the first to be broadcast live on radio.  The commentary was done by George Allison, who was fast gaining a reputation as the best in this very new business.


At 2.30pm King George V, President of the FA and a keen football match goer, arrived at Wembley.  A few minutes before kick off Henry Norris led the Arsenal team onto the pitch for the becoming-traditional ceremony in which the players of both finalists met the king.  Norris introduced George V to club captain Charles Buchan who then went along the rest of the line presenting the rest of the team: Lewis; Parker, Kennedy, Baker, Butler, John, Hulme, Brain, Blyth and Hoar.  Then, at 3pm Cardiff City v Arsenal kicked off. 


Neither team had won it before.  Arsenal had not been to a final before.  Both teams were very nervous, especially in the early stages.  The game was a poor one, from the footballing point of view; as many FA Cup finals are. Cardiff clearly agreed with the Times about Buchan: he was closely marked from the start and was heavily tackled several times, getting injured by one of them so as to be less effective for the rest of the game. 


It was a tragedy for Arsenal that the match was settled by one of those freaks that are remembered so much longer than even the best of play: with 20 minutes left and nothing much happening, Arsenal’s Lewis, goalkeeper that day although not Chapman’s first choice, reached for a ball and somehow let it squirm out of his hands at the feet of an onrushing Cardiff player.  Henry Norris’ only FA Cup Final in charge of one of the finalists ended Cardiff City 1 Arsenal 0; Cardiff fans made off with the net of the goal into which the goal had been scored.  It seems Norris didn’t take part in the speaking to the press after the match was over.


Not his year.


The football season wasn’t finished, though I don’t know whether Henry Norris saw any of the remaining matches.  On Thur 28 April 1927 Buchan’s injury hadn’t healed and Chapman made several other changes too, for Blackburn Rovers 1 Arsenal 2 which was a good win, coming immediately after the disappointment of the cup final.  Buchan wasn’t fit either for the last home game for the first team, on Sat 30 April 1927.  Another good win, Arsenal 3 Birmingham City 0, was watched by the New Zealand cricket tour party, presumably invited by Samuel Hill-Wood, an opening batsmen for Derbyshire in his day; possibly via his sons Basil and Wilfred, both of whom had gone on the MCC tour of Australasia during the winter of 1922-23.  On Mon 2 May 1927 Arsenal Reserves 3 Chelsea Reserves 0 guaranteed Arsenal the London Combination.  Commenting on the match in the Islington Gazette, St Ivel thought the reserves had played more entertaining football during the season than the first-team had.


On Wed 4 May 1927 Bury 3 Arsenal 2 was overshadowed by the death the previous Saturday of Bury’s full-back Wynne; he’d collapsed during the match and died of a brain haemorrhage.  The season went out with a bang, though, on the afternoon of Sat 7 May 1927 with Spurs 0 Arsenal 4.  By dint of their good run since the cup final, Arsenal ended in the top half of the table, earning Chapman a bonus of £250.  As I’ve mentioned already, season 1926/27 was the last time Newcastle United won the top division championship; after three seasons as champions Huddersfield Town were second.  Summing up season 1926/27, the Times considered the rise of Joe Hulme as one of its most notable events.






Copyright Sally Davis March 2008