Leslie Knighton

Last updated

Leslie Knighton
Personal information
Full nameAlbert Leslie Knighton
Date of birth(1887-03-15)15 March 1887
Place of birth Church Gresley, Derbyshire, England
Date of death 10 May 1959(1959-05-10) (aged 72)
Place of death Bournemouth, England
Teams managed
1912 Huddersfield Town (caretaker)
1919–1925 Arsenal
1925–1928 Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic
1928–1933 Birmingham
1933–1939 Chelsea
1945–1948 Shrewsbury Town

Albert Leslie Knighton (15 March 1887 – 10 May 1959) was an English football manager. He managed Arsenal, Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic, Birmingham, Chelsea and Shrewsbury Town.

Management career

Knighton was born in Church Gresley, Swadlincote, Derbyshire. His own playing career was cut short by injury, after which he moved into coaching and management. He first had spells as an assistant manager at Manchester City (1909–12) and Huddersfield Town (1912–19) – and was briefly caretaker manager of the latter in 1912. In 1919 Knighton was appointed secretary-manager of Arsenal, shortly after the club had been promoted to the First Division. [1]

He oversaw the club for six years, but Arsenal never finished higher than mid-table, their best finish during his tenure being ninth in 1920-21. [2] Neither did Arsenal do well in the FA Cup under Knighton - in only one season, 1921-22, did Arsenal get beyond the second round of the competition, eventually losing to Preston North End in a quarter-final replay. [2]

During his time at Arsenal, Knighton had numerous fallings-out with Arsenal chairman Sir Henry Norris; Norris put a strict cap of £1,000 on transfer fees and refused to sign any player under 5'8" tall or eleven stone. [1] When Knighton signed the 5' tall Hugh "Midget" Moffatt from Workington in 1923, Norris was furious when he found out; he overruled his manager and promptly sold the player to Luton Town before he'd played a League game. [3] To get round Norris's rules, Knighton used his guile to sign some unusual transfers, such as the amateurs Reg Boreham and Jimmy Paterson - the latter was the Arsenal club doctor's brother-in-law, and went on to play nearly 80 games for Arsenal. [4]

Despite Norris's interfering, Knighton, thanks to an informal scouting system of his friends and former colleagues in the North, signed several high-quality players for Arsenal; these included Bob John, Jimmy Brain and Alf Baker, all of whom would be part of Arsenal's trophy-winning side of the early 1930s. However, he could never knit together a solid winning side and Arsenal's performances gradually declined towards the end of his tenure; they finished 19th in 1923-24 and 20th in 1924-25. [2]

During his final season at Arsenal, Knighton was involved in one of the first recorded cases of doping; before a January 1925 FA Cup first round tie against West Ham United, Knighton gave the players what he described as "little silver pills", given to him by a Harley Street doctor who was a fan of the club; although the pills were successful in increasing the players' energy, the side-effects caused them to have raging thirst. Arsenal drew the match 0-0 and before the replay they rebelled and refused to take them; Arsenal eventually lost 1-0 in the second replay after the first finished 2-2. [1] Knighton's activities, entirely legal under the rules at the time, were not made public until he recounted the episode in his memoirs.

Norris dismissed Knighton in the summer of 1925 and replaced him with Herbert Chapman. Knighton later alleged that Norris has only sacked him to avoid paying him a bonus (estimated at up to £4,000) from a benefit match that he was due. [5] Norris denied this and instead cited Arsenal's poor record that season (having finished 20th and knocked out of the FA Cup first round), but later regretted his dismissal, stating it was the one mistake in his career [6] and in his will left Knighton £100.

After leaving the Gunners, Knighton went on to manage Bournemouth (1925–28), Birmingham (1928–33), whom he led to the 1931 FA Cup Final, Chelsea (1933–39) taking over from the long serving David Calderhead, and Shrewsbury Town (1945–48), before their election to the Football League. Knighton retired to Bournemouth after suffering ill health and took on the less pressurised job of a golf club secretary, during which he found time to write an autobiography, Behind the Scenes in Big Football (1948). He died in 1959, aged 72.

Related Research Articles

Sir Henry George Norris was an English businessman, politician and football club director, most famous for his chairmanship of both Fulham and Arsenal.

Shrewsbury Town F.C. English association football club

Shrewsbury Town Football Club is an English professional football club in based in Shrewsbury in Shropshire, England, which plays in League One, the third tier of English football. The club plays its home games at New Meadow.

Herbert Chapman English association football player and manager (1878-1934)

Herbert Chapman was an English association football player and manager. Though he had an undistinguished playing career, he went on to become one of the most influential and successful managers in the early 20th century, before his sudden death in 1934. He is regarded as one of the game's greatest innovators.

John Bond (footballer) British footballer (1932-2012)

John Frederick Bond was an English professional football player and manager. He played from 1950 until 1966 for West Ham United, making 444 appearances in all competitions and scoring 37 goals. He was a member of the West Ham side which won the 1957–58 Second Division and the 1964 FA Cup. He also played for Torquay United until 1969. He managed seven different Football League clubs, and was the manager of the Norwich City side which made the 1975 Football League Cup Final and the Manchester City side which made the 1981 FA Cup Final. He is the father of Kevin Bond, a former footballer and coach.

Alfred Baker was an English footballer.

John Hollins English footballer and manager (born 1946)

John William Hollins MBE is an English retired footballer and manager. He was initially a midfielder who, later in his career, became an effective full back. Hollins, throughout his footballing career, featured for clubs such as Chelsea, Queens Park Rangers, and Arsenal. Hollins made 714 First Division appearances, an English top division record for an outfield player and second only to goalkeeper Peter Shilton.

The 1980–81 season was the 101st season of competitive football in England.

The 1974–75 season was the 95th season of competitive football in England.

Frederick James Arthur Cox DFC was an English football player and manager. Playing as a winger, he scored 25 goals from 182 appearances in the Football League either side of the Second World War, and was on the winning side for Arsenal in the 1950 FA Cup Final. He then spent 14 years as a manager at Football League level.

The 1969–70 season was the 90th season of competitive football in England.

George Jobey was an English football player and manager. He won the league championship as a player with his hometown club Newcastle United.

The history of Arsenal Football Club between 1886 and 1966 covers the time from the club's foundation, through the first two major periods of success and the club's subsequent decline to mid-table status in the 1960s.

The history of Arsenal Football Club from 1966 to the present day covers the third, fourth, and fifth periods of success in Arsenal's history, including three Doubles, a Cup Double, and success in European football.

1993 Football League Cup Final association football match

The 1993 Football League Cup Final took place on 18 April 1993 at Wembley Stadium, and was played between Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday. Arsenal won 2–1 in normal time, in what was the first of three Wembley finals between the two sides that season; Arsenal and Wednesday also met in the FA Cup Final of that year, the only time this has ever happened in English football.

The history of the FA Cup in association football dates back to 1871–72. Aside from suspensions during the First and Second World Wars, the competition has been played every year since.

The 1983–84 season was the 85th completed season of the English Football League.

The 1989–90 season was Manchester United's 88th season in the Football League, and their 15th consecutive season in the top division of English football.

The 2019–20 FA Cup was the 139th edition of the oldest football tournament in the world. It was sponsored by Emirates and known as The Emirates FA Cup for sponsorship purposes.


  1. 1 2 3 Soar, Phil; Tyler, Martin (2005). The Official Illustrated History of Arsenal. Hamlyn. p. 41. ISBN   0-600-61344-5.
  2. 1 2 3 "Arsenal". Football Club History Database.
  3. Soar & Tyler (2005), pp.42-43
  4. Soar & Tyler (2005), p.42
  5. Soar & Tyler (2005), p.43
  6. Soar & Tyler (2005), p.46