Arthur Fairclough's playing career never got off
the ground due to ill-health, but he became a successful adminstrator
at Barnsley as they entered the Football League in 1898, and after a brief
break from the game, returned as their manager to take them to the FA Cup
Final of 1910, where they lost in a replay to Newcastle United. Two years
later, Fairclough took the team one step further as they beat West Bromwich
Albion to take the trophy.
After his success at Barnsley, he was persuaded to join Huddersfield where
he laid the groundwork for the success to be achieved by Herbert Chapman. When
Huddersfield chairman J. Hilton Crowther decided that a Leeds-based team would
be a better vehicle for his attentions, he persuaded his manager to move with
him, and so Fairclough took over from Dick Ray as Leeds United manager for
the club's first full season in the Football League.
Fairclough put together a useful team, and in 1923-24 he saw his side win
promotion to the First Division. The following year saw the signing of the
goal-scoring talents of Tom Jennings and Russell Wainscoat, to stand alongside
the defensive abilities of Ernie Hart and Tom Townsley. Despite Jennings
astonishing haul of 35 goals in 42 games, 1926-27 saw the side relegated
and Fairclough resigned in the close season. He briefly returned to
management with Barnsley in 1929, but resigned after a year in the job.