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Eddie Hapgood

Personal information
Full nameEdris Albert Hapgood
Date of birth24 September 1908
Place of birthBristol, England
Date of death20 April 1973(age 64)
Place of deathLeamington Spa, Warwickshire, England
Playing positionFull back

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Edris Albert "Eddie" Hapgood (24 September 1908 20 April 1973) was an English footballer, who captained both Arsenal and England during the 1930s.

Hapgood was born in Bristol and started his footballing career in the mid 1920s as an amateur playing in local football (while employed as a milkman), before getting his big break at Kettering Town in the Southern League. He was signed by Herbert Chapman's Arsenal for £950 in 1927. Initially a thin and fragile player, Arsenal's trainer Tom Whittaker forced him to take up weight training, and abandon his vegetarianism, and Hapgood eventually became known for his physique and power.

Hapgood made his Arsenal debut on 19 November 1927 against Birmingham City but was initially used as backup for left back Horace Cope; he didn't become Arsenal's regular left back until early 1929, but after that he made the position his own, right up until the outbreak of World War II in 1939. He played 35 or more matches in every season in that period, earning a reputation as an elegant and unruffled defender. Hapgood went on to succeed Tom Parker as Arsenal captain, and led a side which dominated English football in the 1930s, winning five League Championships and two FA Cups.

Hapgood also played for England 30 times, making his debut against Italy in Rome, on 13 May 1930, which finished a 1-1 draw. Hapgood became England captain and wore the armband 21 times; his first match as captain was the infamous "Battle of Highbury" on 14 November 1934, against Italy, who were reigning World Champions at the time. England had declined to take part in the World Cup, so the match was billed as the "true" World Championship match. The match was notoriously dirty, with many players sustaining injuries, including Hapgood himself with a broken nose; England beat the Italians (who were reduced to ten men for most of the match) 3-2.

Hapgood also captained England in another infamous match, against Germany in Berlin on 14 May 1938, where Hapgood and his players were made to give the Nazi salute before the match, under pressure from British diplomats. Hitler was not in attendance; England won the match 6-3.

The Second World War cut short Hapgood's playing career (he was only 30 when hostilities broke out). Hapgood served in the Royal Air Force during the war, whilst also playing for Arsenal and England in unofficial matches. In June 1940, he was one of five Arsenal players who guested for Southampton in a victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage. It was during the war that Hapgood fell out with the Arsenal management, after he was loaned out to Chelsea and eventually left the club under a dark cloud. He played 440 times in all for Arsenal, scoring two goals.

In 1945, he wrote one of the first footballing autobiographies, entitled Football Ambassador, and after the war moved into management. He had stints in charge of Blackburn Rovers, and then Watford and Bath City. After that he left football completely; he fell on hard times and wrote back to his old club Arsenal asking for financial assistance (as he had never been given a testimonial match) but the club only sent him £30. He spent his later years running a YMCA hostel in Harwell, Berkshire and in Weymouth, Dorset. He died in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, on Good Friday 1973. He was 64 years old.

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