On this day in 1934, Herbert Chapman’s successor, Joe Shaw, took his first game as Arsenal manager.

Herbert Chapman died at the young age of 55 on 6 January 1934 from a sudden bout of pneumonia. The Arsenal legend had coached the team from 1925, developing our long-sleeved, red shirt to red with white sleeves. He also established a more attractive style of football, which wasn’t necessarily like the Wenger-ball we play (or are supposed to play) today but was progressive for the era nonetheless.

He turned Arsenal from just a football team into a club.

Chapman quite rightly has a statue outside the Emirates to commemorate everything he did for this club and will continue to go down as one of the most influential people in our history.

Joe Shaw, Chapman’s successor, had once been a Woolwich Arsenal player. In fact, the full-back featured in a total of 326 games for the club including the FA Cup, before calling it quits on 11 March 1922 at the age of 37.

Originally from Bury and then Accrington Stanley, Shaw was at Arsenal through it all, relegation, the war, promotion back to the first division, our move to Highbury in 1913. He was a true servant to the club and not a breed of player we’re often privileged to see in modern football. Shaw dedicated his entire life to the team and is one of the only few to both play for and then coach the club he loved.


After retiring as a football player, he still remained loyal to Arsenal, choosing to coach our reserve team.

A week after Chapman passed away, Shaw, the new temporary manager, took charge for the rest of the season and managed his first game on 13 January. He had big shoes to fill, so it was probably a good thing that Arsenal beat Luton 1-0 in the FA Cup.

What wasn’t so good is the subsequent league losses to Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton (sounds a bit familiar). Chapman had left Woolwich Arsenal top of the league after only losing twice all season and now it looked certain that Shaw wouldn’t be unable to hold onto the top spot for long.

Fortunately, Arsenal managed to get a hold of themselves and won three successful games against Derby, Huddersfield and Liverpool. It wasn’t great but we hung in there.

Despite everything, Shaw went on to win the league for the club and went down in history as one of Arsenal’s ‘most successful’ managers, despite only being in charge for three months and being in charge for 23 games.

He also registered what is technically Chapman’s third league win, despite many only counting the two while he was alive.

Although he wasn’t as successful as his predecessor, Chapman, who, as well as his league titles, won the FA Cup once and led the team to four top-four finishes, it was good going considering how little time he’d spent in charge. He’s inherited a team but Chapman was a fantastic manager, who the team respected.

Thinking back, it’s rather miraculous that Shaw managed to win the league after just a few months, given the circumstances.

Shaw had a win percentage of 60.87%; Arsene Wenger’s is 57.78%. Although, considering Wenger has been in charge for over 20 years, I think that’s probably a little unfair on the boss. Shaw didn’t have as much time to mess up. Although, it would be interesting if he had been in charge for longer. Perhaps he could have outshone everyone.

Imagine, having a manager who not only played for the club but would go on, giving everything, his entire life. That’s a manager the players, club and fans could get behind. However, it’s an occurrence that doesn’t tend to happen these days.

After his brief stint in charge, Shaw returned to the reserves before retiring for good in left in 1956. He died in September 1963 aged 80.

Aside from Herbert Chapman, who already has his statue outside the Emirates, unveiled in December 2011, Joe Shaw surely deserves at least a plaque. The hero spent his whole life dedicating his time to Arsenal Football Club.

‘Legend’ is an understatement.