Lancashire-born Arthur Chadwick took over the management of Exeter City in April 1908 as the club prepared for the transition to professional football. Initially appointed as player-manager he appeared in 41 league games for the Grecians before concentrating on management. Remaining in post either side of the First World War, he eventually stepped down in December 1922 by which time the club was in its third season in the Football League. Prior to Exeter City he had played for Burton Swifts, Southampton, Portsmouth, Northampton Town and England and, after his departure from Exeter fourteen years later, managed Reading and Southampton. Returning to live locally, he died watching a game at St James’ Park in 1936.,
Born in 1875, Arthur Chadwick played football in his youth at both Church FC and Accrington FC. In the 1891 census he was recorded as a cotton weaver. He started his senior career playing for Burton Swifts (55 league appearances; seven goals) before moving on to Southampton in 1897. A centre half, he helped the Saints to win the Southern League championship in 1897-98, 1898-99 and 1900-01. He also played in the FA Cup Final of 1900, as well as winning two caps for England against Wales and Scotland respectively with the latter being played at Celtic Park in front of over 60,000 fans. Arthur also became the first Saints player to be sent off in a League match when playing against Sheppey and, in his four seasons with the club, made a total of 96 appearances, scoring 6 goals.
In May 1901 he moved to local rivals, Portsmouth, and was part of their side who won the Southern League title in 1901-02. He made 70 League appearances and scored 12 goals. However, he was on the move again in 1904, signing for Northampton Town. Arthur then returned north to sign for Accrington Stanley in 1906; moving on to Haslingden in February 1908 before linking up with Exeter City in April 1908 as player-manager. City had made the decision to turn professional and were soon accepted into the Southern League for the 1908/09 season.
His first outing for the Grecians was a successful one, scoring in the 3-2 home win over Norwich City in September 1908. His performances drew praise with one local newspaper reporting that ‘Chadwick was once more the star performer...In defence and attack he is the artiste,and his generalship is indispensable’. Making 19 appearances (2 goals) in 1908/09, he played 21 times in the subsequent campaign scoring four times but was by now winding down his playing career. Officially hanging up his boots in 1910, although he did feature once more in the Boxing Day 1911 game against Plymouth Argyle, he now concentrated on training and managing Exeter City which he was to do for the next twelve years of his life.
Proving to be an important figure in the club’s history Arthur Chadwick made his mark at Exeter City in many ways including:
- building a squad of mainly northern players to begin the professional era
- spotting local talent like Dick Pym from Topsham
- changing the club’s colours from green and white to red and white
- overseeing preparations for the squad for the 1914 tour to South America (ill health prevented Arthur from travelling but it was in effect his team who were Brazil’s first ever opponents)
- rebuilding the team after the ravages of WW1
- managing the club as it joined the Football league in 1920
Arthur’s long association with the club lasted until his resignation was announced in the local press on 16 December 1922 (see below). With his decision becoming effective shortly after Christmas he was to move to Reading as manager, but in October 1925, he resigned in order to take over as boss of his former club, Southampton. He found immediate success by guiding the Saints to the semi-final of the FA Cup in 1927. At the end of 1928-29 Chadwick grew disillusioned with the club, as they had sold their best players to survive financially, and he also became weary of football in general and resigned on 16 April 1931 thereby ending his long association with the game.
Arthur had kept his house in Pinhoe Road, Exeter and returned to the city after the Southampton job. He died whilst seated in the grandstand at St James’ Park during Exeter City’s game with Clapton Orient on 21 March 1936. Writing at the time of his funeral a local football correspondent reflected that people described him as 'uncompromising' but 'none questioned his integrity'. Arthur was, he wrote, 'a straight man and a fine manager held in the highest esteem throughout the realms of football' before adding ‘his views on the game were decided in character. Woe betide the footballer under his charge who banged the ball in the air when he could have kept it along the ground’.
Arthur Chadwick is buried in Higher Cemetery, Heavitree alongside his wife Winifred who died in 1949. The grave became overgrown and dilapidated but was restored by Exeter City FC Museum Trust in 2021 thanks to donations from City Supporter Groups (Grecian Goal, Senior Reds and Cans4City) and Southampton FC. On 24 March 2023 the restoration was marked by a ceremony when Exeter City Manager Gary Caldwell and Alan Parkinson representing Accrington Stanley laid flowers on the grave.
The announcement of Arthur Chadwick’s resignation as manager of Exeter City, as reported in the local press on 16 December 1922 is worth reproducing in full:
"EXETER CITY'S MANAGER: Resignation of Mr. Chadwick
The resignation by Mr Arthur Chadwick of the post of manager of the Exeter City Association Football Club has been announced, but it will not become operative until after Christmas.
An observant and cool-headed North-countryman, Mr Chadwick has been through deep waters with Exeter City, and his un-sparing and inspiring efforts on behalf of the organisation in those early days will be remembered with both admiration and gratitude for many years to come.
A Remarkably Good Team
After a distinguished playing career with Southampton in its palmiest Southern League and English Cup days, with Portsmouth and with Northampton, Arthur Chadwick, an English International centre half, left his home in Lancashire in the summer of 1908 to take over the player-managership of the new Exeter City professional club, and brought along with him a remarkably good team to set the ball rolling.
Many very fine players were secured by him in subsequent summers. If the club had had a better financial backing some of these men, no doubt, would be wearing the Grecians' colours today, for the pick of them were transferred for ridiculously small sums to keep the wolf from the club's door, and they have rendered fine service ever since to the teams of their adoption.
Only One Point Lost
Re-starting operations after the war, Mr Chadwick once again built a capital team. They were at their best in the second half of the season, when only one point was conceded at Exeter.
Had the club fully realised the changes brought about by the war, it is probable that they would have spared no efforts to keep that team together. But the players were dispersed, and with greatly intensified competition now prevailing amongst the bigger clubs, the City found the vacant positions very hard to fill.
Substantial transfer fees for some of the finest players on the club's books enabled the Directors to purchase St. James's Park, but other valuable young men left with free transfers to seek employment elsewhere, and Exeter City suffered very badly from the playing point of view. And this, after all, is the only point of view that matters, for success on the playing field leads, quite naturally, to financial prosperity. Mr Chadwick has had the most difficult of tasks (how difficult probably he alone knows), and Exeter City owe him a very great deal that cannot be represented in terms of money.
He is too active a man to settle down in quiet retirement; the game of football is in his blood, and his future in Soccer will be watched with the keenest interest locally by the multitude, who cannot and would not forget his great services to the City club."
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