Chairman at helm during Arsenal’s years of triumph
Tributes to Peter Hill-Wood, former Gunners chairman who has died aged 82
11 January, 2019 — By Calum Fraser
Peter Hill-Wood: ‘a great and dry sense of humour’
NOT many football fans could watch their boyhood team win a league title for the first time in almost 20 years with a last-minute goal against their arch rivals and keep their cool.
But Peter Hill-Wood, former Arsenal chairman who has died aged 82, was never one to get over-excited.
Ken Friar, Arsenal’s long-standing executive director and a good friend of Mr Hill-Wood, remembers that May night in 1989 when Arsenal won the league at Anfield. Mr Friar said: “We had a lot of amusing moments on away matches. I think back to the trip to Liverpool in 1989 when we pulled it off in the dying seconds.
“We’d been watching the game on the edge of our seats. It was a nailbiting final few minutes and then we scored that last-minute decider. He turned around and I think his words were: ‘Never in doubt.’ This was about the understatement of the year.”
The old Etonian and merchant banker took over as chairman of the north London club from his father Denis in 1982.
He saw Arsenal through one of its most successful periods, bringing in managers George Graham and Arsene Wenger.
Mr Hill-Wood was instrumental in the club’s move from Highbury to the 60,000-seater Emirates Stadium in 2006.
Mr Friar said: “He was a great Arsenal supporter. He came to virtually all the matches and was certainly not just the ordinary director. He had the club at heart.
“He had a great and dry sense of humour, although he was quiet. He got on well with the players and managers. It was a very personal thing.”
He added: “He let people get on with their work. There was never a question of banging the table and saying ‘I am chairman.’ He didn’t interfere but had a watching brief on everything that was going on.”
Mr Hill-Wood resigned as chairman of the board in 2013 after a heart attack and was succeeded by Sir Chips Keswick.
Born on February 25, 1936, he died of lung cancer on December 28.