Tribute to Ivor Arbiter (1929-2005)

Greensnet Editor
Wed 24 Aug 2005, 14:00

The following tribute was published in the matchday programme on 23rd August 2005.

"He was a true gentleman." Those were the words most used in the many tributes that were paid to the Chairman, via letter, card, telephone or e-mail. In fact, everyone that he met in football was treated as a friend and with respect. A friendship and respect that became mutual. And any Hendon supporter asking the Chairman an honest, sensible question was given an honest and sensible answer.

In almost every boardroom in and around the south east and beyond Ivor was quick to sing the praises of our Supporters Association, and for a man who had been so successful in business, he stood in wonder and respect at the work done by the Supporters Committee and its helpers in fundraising activities and in the work carried out by them and all our other volunteers on matchdays. They were not just supporters - to Ivor they were all friends.

A local man, he first became associated with Hendon Football Club when the Arbiter Group Plc became sponsors and we carried the famous 'Fender' guitar logo on our shirts, but it was to be a couple of years later, in August 1994, that he became our Chairman.

It was of course in the music industry that he made his name, and just like football, he was a highly respected figure in that field. It was Ivor who designed the Beatles logo featuring the dropped 'T' and he also sold Eric Clapton his first Fender Stratocaster. Jimi Hendriz was also one of his customers. His obituary in the Daily Express said that Ivor was regarded as a "hero to musicians." Well, he was also a bit of a hero to many Hendon fans as well.

Drums were Ivor's personal interest and he opened a shop called Drum City in the heart of London's music quarter on Shaftesbury Avenue in the Fifties. He was noted in the trade for his long list of 'firsts' - introducing new products into this country he made his shop an aladdins cave for musicians. More significantly he introduced the first Fender Stratocaster to Britain. If you wanted to purchase a set of drums from an expert it was Ivor you went to and with that in mind Brian Epstein was drawn to his shop with an unknown drummer - Ringo Starr. He sold Ringo a set of Ludwig drums and that brand went on to become the number one choice for drummers everywhere.

Ivor was unique in the music industry, always looking for new things to introduce and develop. You won't need many clues as to who first introduced Karaoke to Britain - yes, it was Ivor! Two years ago when he retired from the Arbiter company did he decide to give up work at 73 years of age? No! He opened up his own small factory in Dorset producing a drum set that he designed!

It was of course his football business that endeared him to Hendon supporters and it was on his instruction that the Arbiter Group purchased the club from Victor Green in August 1994. Midday on Friday 12th August was the deadline for the club to fulfil its commitments for the season. That deadline came and went and the clubs very future hung in the balance. We went into our first game at Slough Town the following day not knowing if there would ever be a second game. The agreement finally went through on the Monday. Without the eleventh hour intervention of the Chairman there would be no Hendon Football Club today.

Although his funeral service was held just 24 hours after his passing it was attended by an incredible number of people. They came from the music business, his boat club, professional football, non-league football and friends alike. So many that the service had to be relayed to many more people outside on television screens. At the end of the service a lone female singer sung his favourite song "My Way." Somehow, her voice full of emotion, she managed to get through the song, there could not have been a dry eye in the place. It was a wonderfully moving farewell.

Goodbye Mr Chairman