8 June: Amidst Arsenal upheaval the offside rule changed

It was one of the most odd coincidences.  Just after Herbert Chapman joined Arsenal, the offside rule changed – a rule which Chapman then exploited to develop a new approach to football.   Here’s the timeline.

On 11 May Arsenal advertised for a manager.  Herbert Chapman, who had just won the league with Huddersfield, and whose team had smashed Arsenal 5-0 at Highbury on February 14, applied.  We don’t know for sure why he applied – maybe he had talked with Sir Henry on February 14, or maybe he fancied London, or maybe he wanted to prove himself again, or…

Meanwhile Leslie Knighton worked out his notice and left on 16 May 1925.  Chapman’s Huddersfield were on a tour of Scandinavia, and returned on 4 June, and there was clearly then some talk between Chapman and Arsenal even if there had not been earlier.

And on 8 June the Football League voted to change the offside law to two defenders behind the ball, rather than three.  (A couple of matches experimenting with this had been tried at Highbury in recent weeks).

Sir Henry Norris then opened discussions about the transfer of Charlie Buchan.  This was before Chapman signed for Arsenal – but Buchan claimed later that he was told about the transfer possibility by Chapman, which suggests the discussions started before the Scandinavian tour, and included the option of buying Buchan.  Maybe Chapman made signing Buchan one of his demands for taking the job.

On 10 June Huddersfield’s directors met with Chapman to discuss the move to Arsenal, and on 10th or 11th June 1925 Chapman called Sir Henry to accept a job offer.  Arsenal then bought a house in Hendon for Chapman and his family and they moved in the following year.

Around June 15 Arsenal announced that they had bought Highbury and some extra land from the College that was leasing it to the club.  Yet another new era was starting.

On Monday 22 June 1925, exactly 32 years to the day after Jack Humble took the chair for the first ever AGM of the newly formed Woolwich Arsenal Football and Athletic Club Ltd, Herbert Chapman took up the job of Secretary Manager of Arsenal FC.  An iconic moment if ever there was one.