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The Life and Times of Herbert Chapman: The Story of One of Football's Most Influential Figures [Hardcover]

Patrick Barclay
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

9 Jan 2014

Herbert Chapman, the boss of the all-conquering Arsenal team of the 1930s, was the father of all football managers, arguably the greatest of all time and certainly the most imaginative. Much of the game's scenery, including floodlights and numbered shirts, was pioneered by Chapman. The legacy of his tactical approach also survives to this day: fast and lethal counter-attack was his invention.

As a player, a bustling attacker, Chapman was a relative journeyman. He moved into management at the age of 29 with Northampton Town, and from then it was a swift climb to remarkable eminence. At Huddersfield in the 1920s he built a team that was to win three consecutive League titles. When he left for Arsenal and the richer potential of the capital, his new club - which, like Huddersfield, had won nothing before his arrival - became the most famous in the world. Arsenal were champions in 1931 and two years later completed their own hat-trick of titles. Although the 55-year-old Chapman died prematurely before the second title was celebrated at Highbury, his bequest has proved immortal.

Patrick Barclay's perceptive and highly informed biography weaves Chapman's story into the momentous times through which he lived: the profound tragedy of the First World War into which several of his players were drawn, the subsequent General Strike and Depression, and the rise of Fascism. Among those influenced by his footballing legacy are such Arsenal successors as George Graham (who made a close study of his life) and Arsene Wenger, who was fully aware of Chapman's special place in the pantheon before taking over at Highbury in 1996. Chapman had the name of its nearest Tube station changed from Gillespie Road to Arsenal, but it was more than a club that he put on the map. As Sir Matt Busby, the builder of Manchester United, was to assert, Herbert Chapman changed the game of football.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W&N (9 Jan 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297868500
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297868507
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.7 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 110,568 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Barclay vividly and brilliantly conjures up a forgotten sporting age. (David Lister The Independent 2014-01-11)

Anyone, Gooner or not, who gazes up at his statue standing in slightly paunchy, plus-foured glory in front of the Emirates stadium and desires to learn more about the Yorkshireman who first too Arsenal to the heights need look no further than this, surely definitive, biography. (Simon Redfern The Independent on Sunday 2014-01-05)

Barclay's hugely entertaining story is as full of off-ball incidents and punch ups as today's game....(the book is) robust as Herbert Chapman's desk.. (Robert Fox LONDON EVENING STANDARD 2014-01-30)

Barclay's eloquent writing is a fine tribute to the Arsenal legend. With a backdrop of war and accusations of illicit player payments while at Leeds City, there's also plenty for non-Gooners. (Four Four Two 2014-03-01)

Book Description

The definitive story of the father of modern football, Herbert Chapman.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars too much 'times': not enough 'life' 29 Jan 2014
By Alan D
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I wanted to learn more about Herbert Chapman, who was Britain’s most successful football manager of the first half of the 20th century. At Huddersfield Town, which was one of England’s smallest First Division clubs with low attendances in a rugby league stronghold, he built a team that won Division One three times in succession – although he left in 1925, before the third title had been won, attracted by the greater rewards available at Arsenal. He was not an overnight success at Arsenal, who stayed in mid-table for several years while he rebuilt the team, but in 1931 he led them to be the first Southern club to win Division One, and they went on to be champions four times in five years – although Chapman died of pneumonia in 1934, midway through this run of success. Chapman is also credited with popularising the use of a ‘back three’, introducing a 3-2-2-3 formation instead of the previous 2-3-5.
This book is entitled ‘the life and times of Herbert Chapman’, and I was frustrated that it contained too much general history and not enough about the teams Chapman built. Some of the additional material about early 20th century football was fascinating – I was interested to read about some of the footballers who served in the First World War, and was particularly interested to read about the 1915 match-fixing scandal which led to Division One being expanded from 20 to 22 clubs. But I already have a reasonable knowledge of more general British history, and I could have done without some of Barclay’s more remote dissertations – for example, those about Elgar, Oscar Wilde and Sir Oswald Mosley.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing 9 Mar 2014
By hoofer
I was expecting great things from this book about a great football innovator by a respected football journalist.
As a chronological record I can believe it is 100% accurate. Sadly it includes many diversions into the lives of Edward VII, Oscar Wilde and more.
But the biggest omission is the lack of analysis. I could not find any real analysis of the systems Chapman used and the way he organised his teams. This book does not explain HOW Chapman revolutionised English football, it merely describes what Chapman achieved.
A great opportunity missed.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Life & Times of Herbert Chapman 29 April 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I ordered this as a birthday present for my husband. He is a fiendish Arsenal supporter and thoroughly enjoyed the book.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Too much other stuff 27 April 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I purchased this book in order to learn about Herbert Chapman and his influence on modern football. What was it that made him successful and how did the various innovations claimed for him come about. I'm left with no real answers to these questions and too much writing about the social and economic history of the time. Also too much information about other teams and players of the time and matches which do not appear to have any relevance to Herbert's life. This is an interesting area but more appropriate for a general history of football at that time but not here. Of course the background against which Chapman lived is relevant but I think Patrick Barclay has veered off track too many times. At times I felt that may there were not too many facts about Chapman's life especially his football brain available to Patrick Barclay so he 'padded' out the back with too much general background.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Needed a revamp 21 April 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Even 80 years after the great man's death this brings the era and the man to life again and is far superior to other histories of HC

Rod Dean
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good read with plenty of background info 5 April 2014
By Roystyn
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Well written and an easy read especially for Arsenal fan but generally a good football book that should appeal to a wider audience.
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