Herbert Chapman 1878 -1934 - Britain's most influential football manager ever

Herbert Chapman was born in Kiveton on 19th January 1878, and died in 1934 aged 55. He's buried in Hendon Churchyard, north-west London after contracting pneumonia while scouting for new signings for Arsenal at Bury on a cold wet new years eve. Most of his contemporaries would probably have worked down the pit, or maybe in the steel industry. Instead, Herbert became the most successful British football manager of all time. In an article in the Sunday Times (Jan 10 2004) there was a full page spread on him, and a table that listed the 10 all time greatest football manager. The ranking and the club they were most successful with is:

1. Herbert Chapman - Arsenal

2. Jock Stein - Celtic

3. Matt Busby - Man Utd

4. Bob Paisley - Liverpool

5. Bill Shankly - Liverpool

6. Alf Ramsey - Ipswich

7. Bill Nicholson - Tottenham

8. Brian Clough - Notts Forest

9. Alex Ferguson - Man Utd

10. Tom Watson - Liverpool

During Herbert's playing career he turned out for:
Kiveton Park, Ashton North End, Stalybridge Rovers, Rochdale, Grimsby Town, Sheppey United, Worksop Town, Northampton Town, Sheffield United, Notts County, Tottenham Hotspur.

He managed:

Northampton Town (1907-12) where he got the job of player manager and won the Southern League.

Leeds City (1912-19). The team was disbanded for "financial irregularities" in 1919 (they reformed as the current Leeds United in 1920, and it also shows that dodgy footie deals are not exactly a new development either!).

Huddersfield Town (1921-25) - Huddersfield were champions in 1923-4 and 1924-5 and won the FA Cup in 1922.

Arsenal (1925 - 1934) - 2 more championships and another FA cup, and founded Arsenal as the giant they are today. There's an Arsenal fan site with a huge tribute/profile to him ('the man who made Arsenal great') at www.arsenalarsenal.co.uk/Chapman.htm

. herbert chapmanChapman book In 1998 a book was written about him - click left to buy it from WH Smith.

Herbert died half-way through the second of a run of Arsenal's three consecutive title's in the 1930's. He was apparently responsible for persuading London Transport to rename Gillespie Road tube station to the "Arsenal" tube station.
The "Official History of Arsenal 1886-1996" has an entire chapter on this Kiveton luminary and he features prominently in their club museum.

Innovations championed by Herbert were:

Numbered shirts

Clocks inside grounds
White footballs
Team meetings
Synthetic pitches
Managers picking the team (not board members)

Incidentally, the official Sheffield Wednesday FC archive lists one Harry Chapman, born Kiveton Park 1879, who played 298 games for Sheffield Wednesday between 1901 and 1911 - he was Herbert's brother. Herbert was the tactician and leader, Harry the onfield do-er but they were a very successful duo by any standard.

Brian Richerby of Bradford UK also emailed me with the following message: In the info [in the original article] on Herbert Chapman you miss that he was manager of Northampton Town prior to Leeds City. He recruited my grandmother's 1st husband, Frederick Lessons from Notts Forest circa 1907. Fred Lessons succeeded as manager when Chapman departed in 1913.

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