In the 1940’s many of us Avenell Road boys used to play football using the Avenell Road gate into Highbury as a goal.
We played with rag footballs (made by my Mum) and each of us took on the name of one of our heroes (I was Jimmy Logie), it was a great time in my life, we were so very poor monetarily but so very rich in friends, family and of course – football.
Due to a job change my family had to move from Avenell Road to Oldershaw Road, N7 (long since been demolished) and I was so distraught that I threatened to leave home and stay with my Granddad in Stavordale Road, N5, but I had second thoughts when my Dad agreed.
Being an Avenell Road boy my heart will always belong on the street where I was born, I estimate that I attended close to 1,000 games at Highbury (including reserve games) so it’s no wonder that I was upset, but understanding of our reasons, when the club decided to move to Ashburton Grove.
I always believed that our familiarity with the snugness of Highbury worked in our favour and by the same token it created big tactical issues for our opposition – this caused me to think that the sheer size of the Ashburton Grove pitch would not be suitable to the style of football that we were accustomed to playing. However looking back over our record in the first twenty seasons of the EPL some very surprising facts emerge – the Emirates has proven to be a more solid fortress than our fabled home at Highbury.
These are the statistics for home games at The Emirates vs Highbury:
We score more goals per game 2.03 vs 1.97
We have fewer goals per game scored against .79 vs .83
We have won a higher % of games 65.79% vs 62.50%
We have lost a lower % of games 11.40% vs 13.24%
We have tied fewer games 22.81% vs 24.26%
We have more points per game 2.20 vs 2.12
We have a higher % of points won 73.40% vs 70.6%
Here are the statistics for our away games, while we have been at The Emirates:
We score more goals per game 1.78 vs 1.38
We have more goals per game scored against 1.28 vs .94
We have won a higher % of games 44.74% vs 43.75%
We have lost a lower % of games 28.07% vs 29.41%
We have tied more games 27.19% vs 26.84%
We have more points per game 1.62 vs 1.61
We have a higher % of points won 54.10% vs 53.6%
The move to the Emirates has proven to be the right decision in almost every aspect with the notable exception of goals scored against in away games and the recent lack of silverware. Looking at the data I can only conclude that while we showed improvement we did not improve at a rate high enough to be consistently ahead of our opposition.
Was leaving Highbury a mistake?
Not in GunnerN5’s opinion.