England Caps: 30
Player: 1933 - 1939
Edris ‘Eddie’ Hapgood was a very respected cultured defender who played for Arsenal and England in the Thirties and captained both teams.
Weight TrainingHapgood was playing amateur football while working as a milkman before he was enticed into playing professionally with Kettering Town. Arsenal came in for him in 1927 paying £950, and immediately put him on a strict weight training regime and build-up diet as he was so frail looking. They forced him to abandon his vegetarianism as well.
Herbert ChapmanHapgood made his Arsenal debut in 1927 under their legendary manager Herbert Chapman, the most influential figure in English football for decades. Hapgood was initially second choice at left back but after couple of years he was the first choice.
International DebutHis debut in the England side soon followed in a tour match against Italy in 1930, a 1-1 draw, and he quickly became a regular in the side. In fact, his leadership and calm, efficient defending lead to his appointment as England captain, in 1934. Cracks were beginning to appear in England’s world superiority, they had been beaten by Hungary and Czechoslovakia earlier in the year, though their unbeaten home record still stood (assuming the ‘home’ countries didn’t count).He could have got an easier match. The opposition were the Italians, recent winners of the second World Cup, which England had declined to enter, making this match the ‘real’ World Cup, as far as the English press were concerned. Played at Highbury Stadium in North London, the match became known as ‘The Battle of Highbury’.
Battle CommencesRight at the start of the match, a foul by England centre-forward Ted Drake on Luis Monti broke a bone in the Italian’s foot and he couldn’t continue. The remaining ten men set about England with a vengeance and Hapgood’s broken nose was one of the more minor injuries suffered. Three goals to the good at half-time, England were lucky to win 3-2 at the final whistle, as the Italians played football rather than rugby in the second half.
Two years later, another match against a team from outside the British Isles would cause controversy for Hapgood, but this time not for football reasons. A match against Germany had been arranged, in Berlin, as part of a tour that took in France and Switzerland.
Political CoercionOn orders from the Foreign Office, when Hapgood and the rest of the team lined up with the German side at the beginning of the march, they gave Nazi salutes. This caused a furore in the press back home, but the politics were more important than the game.
England won the game 6-3, but that wasn’t really a problem for the Germans as England in those days usually won. The battle that Germany won was the cementing of the English policy of appeasing German aggression in Europe.