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The Life and Times of Herbert Chapman by Patrick Barclay

Release date: 12th January, 2014
Publisher: W&N

List Price: £20.00
Our Price: £13.40
You Save: £6.6 (32%)
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They came from large families with northern, working-class roots to inspire two [then] modest clubs to the pinnacle of English football.

They dragged a player from his bed to sign and, enraged by a cup defeat, effectively sacked another.

Parallels between Herbert Chapman and Brian Clough abound.

Author Patrick Barclay paints vivid pictures of society and sport from a bygone era in this wonderful, thoroughly researched work, which demands a place on the bookshelves of discerning football lovers.

Clough would have admired the calculating way his predecessor is reputed to have brought David Jack to Arsenal, where Chapman won championships in 1931 and 1933, having achieved a similar feat at Huddersfield Town in 1924 and 1925.

Bolton were demanding £13,000 – almost double the world record – for their forward Jack.

Before the clubs met to negotiate in London's Euston Hotel, Chapman slipped the barman two pound notes to ensure he and a colleague were served whisky and dry ginger, without whisky, and gin and tonic, the gin absent, while the Lancashire contingent were unsuspectingly treated to rounds of doubles. The deal was done for £10,890.

That anecdote may have to be substituted, however, because the author has unearthed a more plausible account. Yet it is one Clough, who led Derby County and Nottingham Forest to dizzy heights, would embrace just as warmly.

Later Chapman can be found in Bolton, with managing director George Allison, enjoying a lavish lunch of oysters, grouse and fine wine, after negotiations for Jack are deadlocked. The Bolton chairman was summoned to their hotel for cocktails, dinner, cognac and cigars before Arsenal’s offer of £11,500 down was accepted.

Well past midnight, the party piled into cars to find Jack’s house, wake the sleeping player and inform him of his new employers – a scenario re-enacted in 1967 when Clough roused the future Derby and England centre-half Roy McFarland.

Chapman, like Clough, abhorred “shoddy behaviour or lapses of professionalism” and Tommy Black’s boots “never touched an Arsenal sock again” after he conceded a penalty in the Gunners’ historic 2-0 FA Cup defeat by Walsall in 1933. Black was sold to Plymouth Argyle.

Thirty-five years later, Derby’s Bobby Saxton unfathomably handled to give Leeds United a winning penalty in a League Cup semi-final tie and swiftly found himself sold – to Plymouth.

Chapman was a man ahead of his time when he forecast a rich future for European club football, though he was, of course, never to realise the opportunity to pit his wits against the continent's best. Nevertheless, he didn't do too badly at Highbury...


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