The Henry Norris Hour

Henry Norris is the crusty old football correspondent of the Bugle newspaper and an ardent Arsenal supporter to boot. He has had somewhat of a sabbatical but he is back in business. Each week he’ll bring you his forthright views on all things AFC…please be advised, it is not for the faint-hearted! And, yes, he DOES hit the bottle early…

Mark the dates in your diary, gentlemen, and indeed gentlelasses: November 28, 2017; and May 13 2018. Prior to today’s announcement of the Premier league fixtures these two dates had very little significance as far as the concerns of all those who throw their hats into the Arsenal ring are concerned.

Let me explain. On the two aforementioned dates, the glorious Gunners will face Huddersfield Town. It may have escaped your attention but Huddersfield Town, known as the Terriers, find themselves in the top-flight ahead of next season thanks to a play-off final victory over Reading at Wembley (did you know their previous nickname before the Royals was the Biscuitmen?).

A turgid 0-0 ensued, which included extra-time, and the West Yorkshire tykes came through a tense penalty shoot-out without any nails, but with the spoils for their efforts in the shape of a triumph in a game said to be worth close to around £200million.

Indeed, it has to be said that David Wagner, their manager and former Kraftwerk mascot (1982 tour to Malta), has engineered an amazing elevation in the club’s fortunes (only five years ago they were reduced to being a corner shop in a Rotherham council estate).

The significance of their promotion may not have been met with too much interest by Arsenal supporters, but the arrival of Huddersfield Town in North London in November could well be subject to a celebration of the late, great Herbert Chapman. There is talk in the corridors of power at the Emirates Stadium that the fixture will become known as Herbert Chapman Day, with the usual bumflufferies surrounding such hoo-hars.

Chapman, of course, served both clubs to great effect and chalked up the not inconsiderable achievement of winning the old first division title three years in succession at both Highbury (the home of football that is so sadly missed by those who paid homage to their team at the Old Girl) and Leeds Road (the former home of Town).

I had the pleasure of meeting Chapman many times before his premature death at the age of 55 in 1934 (I am older than you think) and I can only describe him as an absolute gent. The little known fact that he spoke no English never held him back. It is well recorded how innovative he was; and he can be credited with many developments within the game, such was his evolutionary thinking. His ideas included more tactical thinking, the use of a white football, numbered shirts, pretend eyebrows, fidget spinners and smoking during matches.

I am reassured, thankfully, by the great and the good within the boardroom that there is no possibility of the mention of the fact that Chapman played for the then non-league Tottenham Hotspur, from Middlesex, a team for whom he scored 11 goals in their 1905–06 Southern League campaign. Bless them, those little Lillywhites!

Talking of the team “who dare not win the league title since 1961” (hey, they won it 10 years before that, too so don’t bloody mock), I see the Royal Arsenal will be locking horns with them two weeks before the Huddersfield game, at home, and again, at Wembley, in February. The Cocks (see their famous badge) are playing at Wembley because White Hart Lane is being painted, apparently.

As ever I shall be at every single Arsenal match and have already ordered a new e-pipe to calm my nerves during the encounters. Pip pip for now, old beans.