Exploring The Hill-Wood Arsenal Legacy

Having been chairman of Arsenal Football Club since 1982, it’s no wonder that most Arsenal fans can’t imagine the club without Peter Hill-Wood. Despite his long reign, the Hill-Wood Arsenal legacy stretches much further back in time.

In fact, the Hill-Wood family first entered the Arsenal fold over 82 years ago, which now includes three generations worth of their lineage.

After such an extensive history, it’s about time we examined the role of the Hill-Wood family at Arsenal Football Club. We’re going to explore their rise to power, their individual impact, and of course, the future of the Hill-Wood legacy, and what that means for Arsenal.

[title]Samuel Hill-Wood (1929–1936 and 1946–1949)[/title]

Arsenal first came into contact with the Hill-Wood family in 1929 via Sir Samuel Hill-Wood 1st Baronet.

Before his time at Arsenal, Samuel was a Conservative politician & member of Parliament, representing the High Peak constituency from 1910 – 1929. In his youth, he played Cricket professionally for Derbyshire from 1894 – 1901. Additionally, he inherited his father’s well established Cotton business.[quote_right]”Samuel Hill-Wood was the perfect man to help Arsenal establish itself as a big club”[/quote_right]

Samuel was also chairman of Glossop North End at the beginning of the 20th Century, helping guide them to the Football League Second Division in 1898. He cut ties with the club in 1914.

After stepping down as MP in 1929, Samuel Hill-Wood took over as Arsenal Chairman. He reigned over the club during our first years of real success throughout the 1930s, which was largely down to Herbert Chapman, a legendary Arsenal manager who passed away in 1934. Hill-Wood temporarily stepped down during WW2, but returned to the club after the war, holding his post until his death in 1949.

Coming from a sport, business & political background, Samuel Hill-Wood was the perfect man to help Arsenal establish itself as a big club. He would have offered firm financial stability and was clearly an intelligent man who understood the world of sport  & business.

[title]Denis Hill-Wood (1962-1982)[/title]

After his father’s death in 1949, Denis Hill-Wood seized his opportunity to succeed him in 1962, after a thirteen year gap in the Hill-Wood Arsenal partnership.[quote_left]”[He oversaw] the club win the League & FA Cup double in 1971, as well as the FA Cup once again in 1979.”[/quote_left]

Denis was Samuel’s third son, and like his brothers & father before him, also played Cricket professionally for Derbyshire.

A bust of Samuel Hill-Wood was commissioned and used to stand inside the Directors’ Landing of the East Stand of Arsenal’s Highbury stadium, and now stands in the Directors’ Entrance of Emirates Stadium after Arsenal’s move there.

Denis reigned over Arsenal for twenty years, overseeing the club win the League & FA Cup double in 1971, as well as the FA Cup once again in 1979. Certainly, the period of Arsenal history under Denis Hill-Wood was one of transitional success both on and off the pitch.

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[title]Peter Hill-Wood (1982 – Present)[/title]

Following his father’s death in 1982, Peter Hill-Wood immediately succeeded him as Arsenal Chairman. In keeping with one of the many family traditions, Peter also one game of First-Class Cricket for the New Forresters in the year 1960.[quote_right]”Arsenal have been extremely successful under Peter Hill-Wood. However, most will argue that such successes are down to personalities such as Arsene Wenger & David Dein.”[/quote_right]

After a spell in the British Army, Peter entered the banking industry, eventually rising to become a vice-chairman of Hambros Bank, having previously been in charge of its investment division.

Unlike his grandfather & father, Peter has been happy to be less involved in the day-to-day running of the club. Instead, he has handed such responsibilities to board members such as David Dein, and more recently, Ivan Gazidis.

It’s fair to say that Arsenal have been far more successful under Peter Hill-Wood in comparison to his father’s & grandfather’s reign. However, most will argue that such successes are down to personalities such as Arsene Wenger & David Dein.

Of course, this is not to say that Peter has had no input. Twenty years of service to the club is no easy feat.

[title]The End of The Hill-Wood Arsenal Legacy?[/title]

O December 2nd 2012, Arsenal Football Club announced that Peter Hill-Wood suffered a heart attack. Although Peter is now recovering well, the fact remains that he is now nearing his eighties, and may not be at the helm of Arsenal for much longer.

Peter Hill-Wood has two sons and a daughter, Julian, Charles and Sarah. So far, no news of any Cricket involvement has been reported. There doesn’t seem to be any indication of an immediate successor for Peter, especially not from amongst his own heirs.

Perhaps then, the legacy will end with Peter Hill-Wood, just as it began in 1929 with his Grandfather, Samuel.

The video below epitomizes the sheer depth of the Hill-Wood Arsenal legacy. It shows Peter Hill-Wood unveiling the statue of Hertbert Chapman outside the Emirates Stadium, on Arsenal’s 125th Anniversary. Herbet Chapman was the first manager acting in the time of Samuel Hill-Wood, all the way back in 1929.

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