Peter Hill-Wood obituary: A true Arsenal man

Former Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood (pic Nick Potts/PA)

Former Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood (pic Nick Potts/PA) - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Former Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood has died at the age of 82. Read on for Layth Yousif’s obituary on a Gunners off-field legend whose passing marks the end of an era at the North London giants.

Born in Kensington, London on February 25, 1936, Mr Hill-Wood was educated at Eton College

He was the third generation of his family to serve as chairman of Arsenal, following his father, Denis Hill-Wood (1962 to 1982), and his grandfather, Samuel Hill-Wood (1929 to 1936 and 1946 to 1949).

Mr Hill-Wood served in the Coldstream Guards, rising to the rank of lieutenant. After leaving the Guards, he began a highly successful career in the banking industry, becoming vice-chairman of Hambros Bank while holding a number of directorships within the industry.

Hill-Wood was a colleague of Chips Keswick – a former Bank of England director – at Hambros and subsequently saw him recruited to the Arsenal board to provide strong City contacts at a time when the club were financing their new stadium

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It is debatable that without these contacts Arsenal would have been able to raise the funds required to complete the Emirates project.

Hill-Wood sold much of his family holdings in the club to former vice-chairman David Dein in the 1980s and 1990s and the rest to Stan Kroenke, attracting vitriol among fans for doing so – in a decision which still rankles with many today.

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However, no-one cared more about the club and he was always a true Arsenal man who loved the club on and off the pitch.

He joined the Arsenal board in August 1962, becoming chairman of the Gunners in the summer of 1982 after the death of his father Denis - remaining in the role until June 2013, when ill health forced him to step down.

He was seen as the last of the ‘gentlemen investors’ who saw his role as custodians of a great institution rather than as a money-making exercise.

Prior to the contentious final few years of Arsene Wenger’s reign Mr Hill-Wood’s performances at the annual AGM were unmissable for their unintentional hilarity [See Layth’s piece on inadvertently leetting slip Arsene Wenger was to be the next manager in September 1996].

During his time in charge the club enjoyed huge success.

He presided over the appointment of George Graham as manager who went on to lift two league titles, the FA Cup, League Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup.

His father, three uncles and grandfather all played first-class cricket for Derbyshire County Cricket Club with the family having close ties with Glossop in the county.

An Arsenal statement on Friday paid fulsome tribute to him saying: “As we celebrate the unique achievement of 100 consecutive years in the top flight this season, the Hill-Wood family were at the helm for the lion’s share of this special century, a testament to their tenacity and judgment in ensuring we have remained a significant force in English football for so long.

Peter and his family’s influence on the club cannot be understated, but at this most difficult time for his family and friends, it is Peter the man who we remember with great fondness. Our thoughts are with his wife Sally and his children Sarah, Julian and Charles.

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