The Directors Diamond Club entrance at Emirates Stadium houses bronze busts of five men who have each made their mark on the Club.
One of Highbury's most famous features is the bronze bust of legendary manager Herbert Chapman. It is situated in the Marble Halls and is the first thing visitors see as they walk up the steps of the East Stand.
As Arsenal manager between 1925 and 1934. Chapman’s team won the league four times in five years, and his development of advanced diets, fitness and tactical approaches was revolutionary.
The bust was crafted by Sir Jacob Epstein and was commissioned and paid for by 12 of Chapman’s friends shortly before he died in 1934.
In June 2006 the bust was temporarily removed and two exact replicas were made by Morris Singer Art Founders in Braintree, Essex.
One of the replicas now resides in the Diamond Club entrance at Emirates Stadium, and the other was presented to Chapman’s former team, Huddersfield Town in 2008 to commemorate their centennial. This bust is housed in the entrance to the Galpharm Stadium.
The original bust was returned to Highbury and forms part of the concierge entrance in the Grade II-Listed East Stand to the Highbury Square development.
The bust of former Director Denis Hill-Wood, now positioned in the Diamond Club entrance at Emirates Stadium, had previously been located on the Directors’ Landing of the East Stand at Highbury for many years before the Club moved to their new home in 2006.
Three generations of the Hill-Wood family have maintained an association with Arsenal Football Club, which stretches back to the 1920s. Denis Hill-Wood was the Club’s Chairman for 20 years and was viewed with great affection and respect by the world of football, and was a guiding force in the Club’s continuing ethos of traditional values and doing things ‘the Arsenal way’.
On his death in May 1982, Denis was succeeded as Arsenal Chairman by his son Peter who is still the Club’s Chairman to this day, and who fittingly unveiled his father’s bust in its new location in October 2008.
During the unveiling ceremony Peter Hill-Wood said of his father: “Denis Hill-Wood was a true Arsenal man and guided this Club as Chairman for over 20 years with dignity, passion and with great leadership.”
The bust of current manager Arsène Wenger, which is cast in bronze, was created by figurative sculptor Etienne Millner, who painstakingly worked on the piece for over eight months.
Etienne Millner's previous commissions are wide ranging and have included monumental portraiture, figure groups, busts of politicians, writers and musicians. Among them are Toyah Willcox, Viscount Whitelaw and Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck.
Prior to it’s completion in 2008 an exact replica of the bust was unveiled by Arsenal Chairman Peter Hill-Wood at the Club's AGM in 2007 in front of hundreds of Shareholders.
On unveiling it in it’s current location, Chairman Peter Hill-Wood said:
“The bust of Arsène Wenger is in recognition of the truly fantastic job which our current manager has done at this Club. Under Arsène’s management, we have experienced fantastic success and witnessed his teams demonstrate such an exhilarating brand of football. Arsène is the Club’s most successful manager and we are proud to have him here at Arsenal Football Club.”
Long-serving Arsenal director Ken Friar OBE was honoured at the 2012 Annual General Meeting with a bust to celebrate more than 60 years of service to Arsenal Football Club.
He was given another surprise as his bust was unveiled on a plinth at a special ceremony at Emirates Stadium. Mr Friar’s family, friends and fellow board members were in attendance as chairman Peter Hill-Wood paid tribute to Mr Friar before unveiling the bust.
"It was a total surprise," Mr Friar told Arsenal.com. "We had a board meeting, finished it and Ivan Gazidis said to me that there was something to show me in the Executive area. I didn't think anything more of it, we just dumped our papers, headed over there and it was a total surprise.
"It really is unbelievable. I have spent my lifetime here and never, ever thought this would happen. I feel very flattered and honoured, particularly for the family.
"It has been a great honour and something I never thought I would achieve. I hadn't even thought about it but here we are, it has happened and I have to be grateful for it. Sometimes you think it is all a dream."
Mr Hill-Wood served on the Arsenal board for 51 years from 1962, following in the footsteps of his father, Denis, and grandfather Samuel in a family legacy stretching over 86 years.
He retired in 2013 and he was joined by family, Arsenal board members and manager Arsène Wenger for a surprise ceremony to unveil the bust in the directors' entrance of Emirates Stadium.
Paying tribute to Mr Hill-Wood, Arsenal chairman Sir Chips Keswick said: “We are delighted to mark Peter’s contribution in this way. He has been at the heart of all the Club’s major decisions over the past 51 years and his steadfast and visionary leadership have underpinned the progress we have made in that time.
“His contribution to Arsenal Football Club, and that of his father and grandfather before, is immense. We felt it important that it was formally recognised in this way.”
Following the ceremony on December 5, 2013, Mr Hill-Wood, who is recovering well after illness, said: “This was a big surprise for me. I knew nothing about it in advance and I am very flattered and honoured.
"I always regarded it as a great honour to help lead this wonderful football club and I have so many great memories during my time on the board and as chairman. I still have many friends at the Club, and I look forward to following our continued progress.”
These busts can be viewed in the Directors Diamond Club entrance between turnstiles A & S at Emirates Stadium.
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.