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Arsenal’s three statues at the Ems: exclusive revelation of who is on show

By Tony Attwood

In early August 2010, I was privileged to get a meeting with Ivan Gazidis the chief executive of Arsenal FC.  I was there as part of a delegation of fans putting forward ideas about Arsenal and the wider world.  And because (as you may know) I am interested in Arsenal’s history, I put forward some ideas about, well, not to put too fine a point on it, Arsenal’s history.

The notion of putting up statues in the area around the ground was not the only idea I came up with, but it was one, and I set out my plans for statues in some detail.

My point was that in the days of Highbury everyone was able to see the famous bust of Chapman – all you had to do was attend on a non-match day and go up to the box office, and there the old boy was in all his glory.

Now however Mr C is tucked away in the Directors’ entrance, away from us mere mortals, the fans, the guys who pay for our tickets.  Of course there are good reasons to have the bust there – it is important to impress these Johnny-come-lately directors of other clubs who own oil mines and the like, and yes it is true we can still see one of the copies of the bust in the shop.  But even so…

So I said, let us have a statue of Herbert Chapman.  And next to him, let us have a statue of our founder Jack Humble.

Now I have to admit I am not a great reader of faces but I try and follow the expressions of those sitting on the other side of the table (metaphorically) and I got a feeling that maybe there was an interest in the Chapman bit, but not Jack Humble.   Humble was a leap too far into the dark, but Chapman – that rang a bell.  And a statue.  Oh yes.  That was definitely on.   1-0 to the Tony Attwood.

I have not changed my view on Jack Humble, indeed if you follow my ramblings on the AISA Arsenal History Blog you will know that the notion that Humble was the central figure in the club’s foundation, growth, development, and survival has been proven over and over again.   But if you look around the stadium you will see that Arsenal in its wisdom has not recognised Humble but has recognised other figures who either drifted away from the club, or actually went and joined the opposition.

So no Humble, but I thought, yes, I have made a bit of an impact here.   And when the message came out from Arsenal that three statues were being put up, I thought, “now this is an interesting coincidence – the notion of statues and the notion of three.”  And I thought, “What clever bugger came up with that idea?”  And then I thought, “Oh I remember.  Me.”

My three suggestions were Humble, Chapman and Wenger, with Mr Wenger’s statue being added after our Great Lord and Most Successful Manager has retired.   But it seems we have three at once.  So who?

We start with Mr Chapman as the first.  That’s a given.  But then what?

My thinking then is we have up George Allison.  You’ll know George from the Arsenal Stadium Mystery movie – he joined the club in 1910 as “Gunners Mate” editing the club programme in Woolwich.  He wrote the first ever club handbook, made his way up the rankings, and after the death of Herbert Chapman, and the conclusion of that season with Joe Shaw in charge, became manager, winning the third of the three consecutive championships.  (I won’t repeat the rest of his work – there’s a whole series about him on the AISA Arsenal History site).

Chapman and Allison worked together, and Allison continued the legacy.  Those two were the founders of our league and cup success.  But who else?

We discussed this within the AISA Arsenal History Society (of which you will note this is very much NOT an official communique – but rather a ramble by me in the true spirit of Untold), and the conclusion was clear.  Bertie Mee – the club physio who gave us Euro success and the first double.

So there you have it, Chapman, Allison, Mee.  We circulated the notion among those in the know (stonemasons, truck drivers, crane operators, that sort of thing) and by and large we seem to have come up with the goods.

Unless all those buggers are lying.

The Arsenal History Society will be represented at the grand opening on Friday, and the press will dutifully announce that Arsenal has put up its statues.

But just remember, as always, you read it here first.  Or not.  As the case may be.  But anyway, at least I can say, the idea of three statues came from the meeting between Arsenal FC and the Arsenal History Society in August 2010.  I was there, I put the idea forward, and even though this makes me look hopelessly egocentric, I am rather proud of what I did that day.


Follow us on Twitter @Untold Arsenal

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“Making the Arsenal”is available on Amazon, Arsenal on line, the Woolwich Arsenal site and in the Arsenal store.

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20 comments to Arsenal’s three statues at the Ems: exclusive revelation of who is on show

  • TheSKAGooner

    Some day, when I have a son or daughter to take to see The Arsenal in person, I’ll go round to the statues and tell my kids – “I once wrote some articles for the man who is responsible for these being here.” And I will be so very proud to tell them so.

    It’s a marvelous service you’ve done for EVERY Gooner, Tony, and we can’t thank you enough. 🙂

  • That’s nothing – I had a private meeting with Al Fayed and told him the Fulham fans were desperate for a Michael Jackson statue.

  • Now that I think about it, this time last year I was round Roman Abramovich’s playing a couple of rounds of Buckaroo and I mentioned what a good player that Fernando Torres is.

  • walter

    When I had my first meeting with Tony in the flesh a few seasons ago when I just had started writing a few articles for Untold we walked around the ground after our 3-0 win against Villa and when we stood in front of the wall Tony told me about his idea about the statues.
    As most of Tony’s ideas I really liked it.
    So I know what it means for Tony. And I must say I am absolutely delighted about the fact that his idea will become reality this week.
    I really hope that Arsenal somewhere will put up a little sign on one of the statues (or on all) recognising his idea.
    Maybe a litle sign saying: ‘From an Untold idea”.
    We will know the meaning behind it.

  • bc

    Lee chapman ian allinson and me. now there is 3 arsenal heroes well i am anyway lol!

  • Gooner Gal

    Tony, I have been wondering if the source of your success is that daring red hat you wear? Blogs, books, acronyms, statues. What ever will you think of next?

  • Gooner Gal

    Can I also say off topic, that Socrates was a genuine world class midfielder and a benchmark for the term itself. The likes of Lampard, Milner and Barry are not and I doubt ever will be, even though this term is often used to describe them.

  • Rog B

    A GOONER HISTORIAN MAKING HISTORY….I love Untold and everything that you and Walter and the rest of Untold’s team are doing. Untold is unique and miles ahead of most of the other blogs about Arsenal that are available….infact I find that one of the most attractive assets of this site is that it doesnt blow its own trumpet when it brings something new to the table i.e. the history/media/Ref watch etc etc…On this occasion Tony being the father/founder? of the aisa history site, to actually see his own historical suggestions be put in place at our home….Well,for something as historical as statues being cast…well done Mr Attwood , you deserve a trumpet fair…no need to blow your own…Respect

  • Kentetsu

    Two new articles about the Arsenal history – periods 1886-1891 and 1891-1896 – and in both mention of Tony challenging the current reading of Arsenal history. Statues coming up after a suggestion of Tony to Gazidis. Articles by Tony’s hand in the official Match programme. It looks like Tony himself is becoming an Arsenal legend!

    About the history articles that appear on the Arsenal website, it’s nice to read that Arsenal now do perceive their own history as ambiguous and do not follow the established history blindly any longer. Another triumph for Tony (and Andy Kelly), I guess.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Well done your Lordship ! Take a bow . Like TheSKAGooner I hope to visit the ground and take it all in.
    Could you Tony ,also suggest that a little grotto be built in some corner so that those fans who have supported(served) the club with undivided loyalty(at least 50 years or more) be recognized by little figurines of themselves or of their respective national “little beings”.
    Can you imagine the number of Elves , Trolls ,Leprechauns etc.,from far and wide,and with variety too.
    In this region they are called Toyols. Ugly little buggers they are too.Take a look at this recent Malay movie promo –
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Bh8KsXravc

  • walter

    I think we should ask for a statue of our own Arsenal legend… Tony Attwood. Oh and the statue must have a hat 😉

  • Mahdain

    @walter agreed…tony must be a very happy man now that the club are finally acknowledging that the official history is not all correct… kudos to you tony

  • Mahdain

    and i really think you are going to get featured in the 125 years fans special…they have started with frank stubbs and you never know they might ring you one of these days 🙂

  • Andy Kelly

    Well done Tony, and thank you for stepping aside so that I can represent AISA Arsenal History Society at the official unveiling on Friday.

    Thanks should also go to Mark Andrews who has brought in another facet to the AISA AHS. I thought I researched the club’s history to the nth degree but Mark takes it to another level.

    Here’s hoping that our next project is taken on board by the club so that we can create another “oh, I never knew that” moment.

  • WalterBroeckx

    To Tony Attwood, Andy Kelly and now apparantly also Mark Andrews: I just would like you all to know that I really appreciate what you are doing and admire you for the work you put in to this.
    It must be a hell of a job and very time consuming. But I can imagine that every time you dig out a new piece of unknown history you will get a great feeling of satisfaction from this.

    Long may you continue and much may you find!

  • The Law

    RedAction just tweeted that one of the statues to be unveiled on Friday is of Herbert Chapman.

  • You are all being too kind – except when being silly – but I rather like the idea of a grotto with elves.

    I will add something slightly more serious though: I got to attend the meeting with Mr Gazidis because I was elected as a committee member of Arsenal Independent Supporters Association (AISA) in order to develop an independent approach to Arsenal’s History.

    That independent approach has been greatly aided by Paul Matz of AISA (who nominated me for the committee) and by Andy Kelly and Mark Andrews who have put endless hours into researching Arsenal’s history.

    You cannot believe how much work those two guys have done, how many hours they have spent in libraries searching through ancient newspapers and magazines, unearthing new evidence. And you won’t believe the total re-write of the early history of Arsenal that will emerge next year when we publish our books on Royal Arsenal and Woolwich Arsenal.

    But my point is that membership of AISA is open to everyone (www.aisa.org) and that is a direct channel of conversation between fans and those who run the club. It is there, it can be used.

    All I have done is used that channel of communication, accepted the invitation of Paul Matz to turn the Arsenal History blog into part of AISA’s work, while trying to stay true to the original ideal of Untold Arsenal – to support Arsene Wenger, and to offer an opportunity for publication of work that is not published elsewhere.

    That’s why Untold has such a great range of writers covering injuries, the media, refereeing, corruption, match previews, economics etc. Because supporters have offered to write for Untold and for the History blog (www.blog.woolwicharsenal.co.uk) The invite for new writers remains on the home page – we are looking for new individual articles and new ideas for series all the time.

    My point therefore is, all I have done is taken the opportunities that are there, and then tried to create more opportunities for the exploration of ideas via the two blogs. (That actually sounds horribly pompous but it is not meant to be).

    The club can be difficult to communicate with, and it would have been nice if someone had come back to AISA and said, “oh by the way, thanks for the idea about the statues – we’re going to do it”, but at least AISA has been invited to the opening ceremony on Friday. Andy and Paul will be there to record the moment, and I’ll be there on saturday to take a look.

    Of course it is going to be rather embarrassing if my prediction of who the three guys represented in the statues actually are, is wrong, but being wrong is just life. That’s what makes Untold separate from the AAA – they can’t ever accept that getting it wrong is what humans do. For Untold, exploring the options and possibilities is the most important thing.

  • Mahdain

    hey tony any truth to these reports? the 3 statues to be unveiled are going to be of henry,adams and chapman apparently

  • Andy Kelly

    You’ll have to wait until Friday to find out 😉