Herbert Chapman

(1878—1934) football manager

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(1878–1934) A Yorkshire-born Englishman who became a leading manager-coach in professional football in the 1920s and the 1930s, leading Huddersfield Town to two (1924–5) and Arsenal to two (the first in 1931) league titles in England's Football League Division 1. The three successive Arsenal titles from 1933 to 1935 (the second and third of these after his death) equalled his old club Huddersfield's record that had been achieved the season after he left for Arsenal. Chapman was born into a working-class family and received a technical education but combined this with playing football at top amateur and also professional level (including a spell in London playing for Tottenham Hotspur), and moved into management with Northampton Town and Leeds City, where charges of illegal payments to players tarnished his success (the Leeds club became the first club ever to be expelled from the League). He re-emerged, though, in 1921 to take the manager's job at Huddersfield, and was then attracted to the job at Arsenal (where again, financial irregularities were proven, but Chapman escaped personal censure).

Chapman was a brilliant adapter—though not inventor—of modern tactics (exploiting the changes in the offside law, for instance), and combined image-building and marketing initiatives with his determined team building, insightful coaching, and dictatorial disciplinary philosophy; he introduced team talks, golf as relaxation, and medical conditioning. Tony Mason calls him one of the greatest modernizers of football and the football business:Chapman certainly embraced football modernity; his broadcasts and journalism were full of ideas about the future development of the football business. He was in favour of floodlights, of numbering players' shirts, and of making Arsenal stadium more attractive for spectators. One of his shrewdest moves was to persuade the London Electric Railway in 1932 to change the name of their Piccadilly Line station adjacent to Highbury from the mundane Gillespie Road to the charismatic Arsenal. He was among the first to recognize the growing threat of European football to British superiority. He thought the size of the selection committee of the England team should be reduced from twelve to three. He had a European-wide reputation and looked forward to a European nations' championship. (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004).A confirmed workaholic, Chapman died suddenly of pneumonia after catching a cold. A bust by Jacob Epstein stands in the lobby of Arsenal's new stadium, The Emirates, to which the club moved in 2007.

From A Dictionary of Sports Studies in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.

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