The Magic of Highbury …. lest we forget – written by London

Today I am going to take you on a journey to a very special place in your heart: you are sitting on a packed train surrounded by people you do not know, nobody is smiling at you but regardless of that you feel a sense of well being, a common bond, a kindred spirit. The tube comes to a halt at a familiar stop, the whole train empties and the mass of bodies’ walks slowly up hill, through a poorly lit tunnel with a rounded ceiling for what seems like ever before finally coming to the end where your eyes are shocked by the sudden glare of day light.

It’s hard to focus but as you do you notice the familiar sight of police on horses, and the sound of men crying programmes, you turn LEFT and make your way past colourful stands with people selling scarves, pennants and pictures of old heroes. On your right are the giant gates to the North Bank, the sight takes you back to your boyhood. Just after is a little sweet shop that sells favourites like Aniseed Twist and Cola Cubes.

Tickets, tickets who wants tickets are spoken in loud whispers and always out of police earshot. In front of the small Victorian terraced houses old programmes are meticulously laid out which draw you in and spark a memory of a game gone by, you continue walking, to your left you feel the surge of people arriving from Finsbury Park joining the flow, just after is the Supporters Club, a private world of cheap beer or so I was told.

The Chippy comes into sight followed shortly after by the smell before you turn right into Avenel Road and the familiar, intoxicating blend of horse shit and Hamburgers engulfs you. Men are crying out ‘get ya gooner, get ya gooner’ and pretty girls are shouting ‘up the arse only a pound’. You look up and realise that you are now in a sea of people, the occasional cry of “Come on you Gunners” can be heard which sets  your heart racing just that bit faster. The entrance to the Marble Hall is now in sight, the old man in a uniform with a white sash across the front is standing in the doorway with the occasional fresh faced youth player looking around for his guests.

Just after you take your place in the cue to the entrance with all the other people holding little red books, as you get closer the clunk of the cast iron turnstile gets louder and louder before it is your turn to meticulously tear out your match day ticket and enter through the back of the wardrobe and into Nania, ok it isn’t the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe but it was always a magical place to me. You turn left and make your way up the concrete steps with a red hand rail until you pass a cloud of smoke made by men hovering around Ladbrokes, you carry on until you see the entrance to your block, you pass through the arch and without fail the intense excitement hits you, no matter how many times you go through that arch the sense of wonder never recedes, the view of the beautifully groomed pitch and the majesty of art deco stands can never be tired of.

Ladies and Gentlemen you are in the Home of Football.

Written by London.

48 Responses to The Magic of Highbury …. lest we forget – written by London

  1. London says:

    Good Morning Peeps

    A little trip down memory lane today, hope you like it.

  2. samui gooner says:

    london very nostalgic brought back countless memories going back to my first match 1957 to my last match.
    funny enough my first match aston villa 2-1 first match emirates villa a draw, a lot of water under the bridge since then but have witness some great matches over the years. and I suspect a lot more to come

  3. Hrochnick says:

    Nice. Let’s not forget the ever increasing roar of the crowd already in the stadium as you got closer too, at least until the end of terraces and the new North Bank!

  4. Mike L says:

    Evokes wonderful memories. From my first game in 1967 against Leeds, to that almost scripted Wigan game when we said farewell to the old place. Well done.

  5. Big Raddy says:

    I took every step of the walk with you …. very evocative and a super start to the week.

  6. tommystout says:

    yeah, i liked that piece a lot London.
    Thanks (not) for reminding me about that chippy, its etched in my memory as the worst fish & chips i ever had.
    Monday morning and i’m still smarting at Boltons bully boys.
    I’ve got a good feeling about this season!

  7. tommystout says:


    i’ll be amazed if diaby isn’t out for a while

  8. ASNLthruNthru says:

    Great nostalgia. I used to turn left out of the station and right into the Norfbank, although being early would always have time to stroll around amongst the crowd, past the supporters club etc etc .First game for me at home to West Ham in ’66 ,viewed from the “schoolboys enclosure” with woolly hat, scarf and rattle.George Eastham, Joe Baker ,Jim Furnell (better than Yashin)Alan Skirton , Ian (oh my god) Ure, David Court, what a mid -table bunch they were! Still, I followed in my (then already deceased) dad’s footsteps and went ,on me tod, to see The Arsenal at Highbury,not to be disappointed,however. How times have changed!

  9. Peter W says:

    A very nice piece of writing sir! I saw my first match in 1956 and your beautifully structured article has brought back a lot of nostalgic memories. I am going to print it and read many more times! Thank you.

  10. Rasp says:

    Morning all,

    Superb evocative article London. A lot of research has been done into what sparks memory and smell followed by sound were discovered to be the most important.

    The loudest roar I heard on saturday at the Emirates was before the game from the supporters watching the TV’s upstairs when Everton got their third goal. I was really disappointed by the lack of passion/fire/testicles of the supporters I was sitting amongst in the North Bank upper.

  11. tommystout says:

    Rasp –
    i think the atmosphere is the only thing lacking at the emirates now, its time for the fan to realise that they have to do their part, the 12th man so to speak.
    Do you think arsenalisation or the people in charge of it will be able to do something in the future to get the crowd going.
    Also i wonder if arsenalisation can do anything to prevent people leaving early.
    Everytime i watch this team now i’m filled with pride, we have the team, the style, the stadium, the ethic, all we lack is a fortress.

  12. tommystout says:

    nice to see barca beaten at home 2.0 by the minnows oddly named hercules! pique with smashed face, loving it!

  13. Rasp says:

    Morning tommy,

    I agree re: the fans. I was disgusted that so many leave without clapping the players off the pitch.

    I was impressed with denilson when he came on. He looked much more composed and confident and nearly scored his trademark goal from outside the box.

  14. tommystout says:

    i think denilson will have a lot of critics eating their words, much like song did,.

  15. London says:

    Morning Tommy

    Glad you liked the post.

    Re Denilson, of the many things that people haven’t noticed about him one of them is that he has a captain’s mentality and it is starting to show. I am not suggesting that I expect him to be Arsenal’s captain in the near future just that being a captain for Brasil throughout his youth is starting to show in a very positive way.

  16. London says:

    I was impressed with him on Saturday, he seemed very assured, he radiated a sense that he knew he belonged. It all bodes well.

  17. 26may1989 says:

    Nice piece London – if he’s still around I’m sure GN5 would love it………

    And Rasp, I did stick around till the players went off (as I always do), but I have to admit, it was as much to give Stuart Attwell some more stick as it was to applaud a fine performance from our boys.

  18. 26may1989 says:

    And for anyone wanting any info on our next opponents, this weekend Sporting Braga lost 3-2 away to Porto and are now 4th in the Portuguese league.

  19. kelsey says:

    classic line from your post London

    “Men are crying out ‘get ya gooner, get ya gooner’ and pretty girls are shouting ‘up the arse only a pound ” 😉

    I have to hold my hands up, I never experienced any of that as I didn’t stand at either the North Bank or the Clock End.At age 10 to 13 i was very short barely 4″10″ and did my growing in my later years at the end of my teens.

    As a schoolboy we would pensively look out of the window early on a Saturday morning to see if our fixture was on or not.(the weather in London in those days was decidedly worse) and then if we played I would go straight to the ground, and wait to get an unreserved schoolboy ticket in the lower East Stand.
    In later years I managed to get a season ticket in the West stand and it tok me under ten minutes to drive to the ground and park where the old coal depot was.
    I never left before the final whistle and often got home to see The Football results at 5.00 p.m. on the BBC.
    Do you remember the Evening Standard Pink Classified, which managed to have all the results at the various paper stands, usually outside the tube station, in what seemed minutes after the final whistle.

    Things are a little different now.

    .

  20. SharkeySure says:

    Great read that London .

    Familiarity !!! That write ups made me realise that I just don’t have that at the Emirates. Maybe its because I generally go straight in from Arsenal tube.

    Or maybe its becase at Highbury I was nearly always hanging about on Avenell Rd looking/waiting for my mate the tout who had my ticket. So yeah, hamburgers and horseshit, I know those smells well !!

  21. Nick McDonald says:

    Wow! Great article. You are so right about the excitement of walking up the steps onto the terraces. THOF is a place that will never be forgotten and even though it is now just a bunch of flats, when I exit Arsenal tube I still feel like it is there.

  22. London says:

    Tommy

    You are right it is a good article on the Brazilian. I have never been convinced of the stats argument in favour of Denilson, in fact, arguing that he completes x amount of passes in y amount of attempts always weakens rather than strengthen his position in my mind. To me it highlights the criticism that he isn’t adventurous enough. It isn’t surprising that he has a better pass rate completion than Cesc because Fàbregas plays further up the pitch and tries to make more potentially match winning passes many of which unsurprisingly don’t come off. I judge a player from my gut impression at the end of a game and on Saturday the boy did well.

  23. Rasp says:

    Wow we’ve got ‘perfect footballers’ – kozzer never loses a tackle and Denilson’s pass success is 100% 🙂

    As in all things, you only really find out about players when things go wrong. Denilson has weathered a very difficult period in his career, he has shown his mettle and emerged as a stronger player mentally and physically.

  24. Rasp says:

    Instead of whinging about Cahill’s red card, Coyle should watch this potentially leg breaking tackle by Robinson. In the slo-mo you can see that he deliberately lifts his foot over the ball (studs up) and aims at Diaby’s leg. It is a clear red card offence.

    The FA should be able to review tackles of this nature and dish out suitable punishment retrospectively.

    http://www.101greatgoals.com/videodisplay/paul-robinson-tackle-abou-diaby-6866634/

  25. SharkeySure says:

    Hey Rasp…its a pretty disgusting tackle whichever speed you watch it at.

    I’m really not looking forward to seeing the slo-mo when I get home tonight,.

    Some of the still pics are bad enough.

    If the FA do noting about it, then whats the point of their existence.

    Not even shown on MOTD, and I doubt it was repeated ad nauseum on Sky like some tackles are.

    Premier League is bent

  26. Rasp says:

    Sharkey,

    The tackle was right in front of where I was sitting and you could see straight away that it was a shocker. There was an audible intake of breath around me, I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had been a break.

    It was a ‘retribution tackle’ as they were still sore about the Cahill red. There is no way Diaby will make wednesday. He had a great game against Blackburn. We have seen in the past how he benefits from a run in the side, so its very sad for him and bad for us.

  27. Johnny says:

    God, I miss the old place. Horse shit and hamburgers, absolute classic. By the way, I thought the atmosphere on saturday was alright, better than it normally is anyway.

  28. Rasp says:

    Hi Johnny and welcome,

    I have come to the conclusion that the atmosphere is ‘regional’ in the Emirates. Saturday was the first time I have been in the North bank upper and expected it to be like Highbury – I was very disappointed. I normally sit upstairs opposite the away fans and it’s not too bad up there although the upper tier behind the goal (Clock End) is always the most vocal.

  29. Wodderz says:

    Hey up lads, regular reader and liked the article so thought I would comment. I did go Higbury quite a few times but I was never blessed with a season ticket unfortunately; however I do go to the emirates to most games and you didnt mention someone who used to be hanging about near the old stadium because I remember seeing him when I was about 16.

    When I come out of Arsenal station now and make my way past Highbury House (the offices) there’s always this one geezer, he’s normally wearing this top hat, a musky green jacket and holding a bucket! he just stares into the crowd of people and every five seconds in almost a whisper he says “Charity appeal……” does anyone know who I’m talking about and what he’s actually saying because I can never quite make it out??

  30. SharkeySure says:

    I don’t care or know who he is Wodderz, but that has made me laugh !

  31. Rasp says:

    Welcome Wodderz and thanks for taking the time to comment.

    My route to the ground was different so I can’t help with the i.d. – hopefully one of the regulars will provide the answer. It took me ages to work out “atscarvesnbadges” 😉

  32. Big Raddy says:

    Then there was the guy dressed up as a clown in red & white collecting money for charity by the turnstiles at the Clock End. He had a Doddy style tickling stick and would always give me a racing tip when I gave him the lucky 50p.

    I miss him ……

  33. kelsey says:

    and then there was Stan Flashman.

  34. London says:

    Peanuts, peanuts, get ya peanuts, roasted peanuts 😉

  35. kelsey says:

    You remind me of the old two ronnies sketch where one answered the previous question not the one actually put to them 😉

  36. SharkeySure says:

    Quality sketch that Kelsey.

    In a similar vein….search YouTube for ‘S.T.O.A’. Hilarious, well it is to me….

  37. redandwhiteviews says:

    Bloke with the doddy stick and clown hair still goes. Sits by the underpass to the left of the ground as you look at the club shop. Anyone know Worzel from the old north bank days? Sits near me nowaday. Must be ancient.

  38. tommystout says:

    i can’t believe bolton are actually appealing cahills red card.
    two footed both feet off the ground type of tackle from behind, any different to Joe Coles? – no not really.
    If this gets over turned i’ll be fuming.

  39. dandan says:

    good afternoon all. Great pieces London, Been there done thatas per your seconf one, first one we obviously played well. Long may it continue
    Nice and sunny here in Spain, Good result this weekend, laughed at the mancs,Spuds finding out about injuries now are they still laughing.
    Kelsey should contact you soon. talk to you all later byeeeeee

  40. SharkeySure says:

    I’ll be fuming too Tommy.

    Cahill’s ‘tackle’ is much much worse than Cole’s.

  41. Neamman says:

    Great piece, I always used to stop to look at the stalls and buy an anti spuds T shirt!!!! Anyone remember the old supporters shop, at one time you could buy player shirts rom them for 30 quid, i got a few

  42. SharkeySure says:

    Arse&Nose© says:
    September 13, 2010 at 16:39
    Anyone quized Mr.Song Bilong about his new hair-cut?

    Is it a tribute to Peggy Mitchel leaving eastenders?

  43. RockyLives says:

    Peaches – have emailed a potential post to you.

  44. Big Raddy says:

    Listening to an interview with the men who wrote Birds of a Feather,Love Hurts + many others (Marx & Gran) . They have written a new play (showing in Oxford called Von Rbbentrop’s Watch”.

    When asked what they would do with the money should Hollywood buy the play, they both replied that they would give all the money to Arsene Wenger with the proviso that he buy a new goalkeeper !!

  45. For now its going on well but the fact is, i need a good person who can fufill my dream to watch a live match at emirates,please.

  46. Rasp says:

    Morning Raddy,

    In that vein, what do you make of the idea of J Zee buying a stake in Arsenal and wanting to move to London and ‘play an active role’ in the running of the club? He’s got enough dosh to buy Lady Nina’s shares.

  47. Big Raddy says:

    Rasp. I would like to think that any investor into the club will be a died in the wool Gooner and not just someone looking for an high profile investment. If Puff is a Gooner – bring him on board.

    Edgar. You wouldn’t by any chance be Nigerian??

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