Emirates Stadium: A Soulless Bowl or Waiting on History?

July 20, 2010

I bet all you lucky souls out there with tickets in the Orange and Green quadrants can’t wait. Yes, YES, YES, YES no longer are we the Orange, Green, Blue and Yellow Quadrants, its back, we are the North Bank, we are the Clock End …….. um …. we are the North Bank/Clock End Emirates? Arsenal? Highbury?

Does the chant stay the same, will we be hearing the blissful:

WE ARE THE NORTH BANK
WE ARE THE NORTH BANK
WE ARE THE NORTH BANK HIGHBURY

WE ARE THE CLOCK END
WE ARE THE CLOCK END
WE ARE THE CLOCK END HIGHBURY

Are the words staying the same or will they be changed?

First off, I sadly never got to see the mighty Arsenal play at Highbury and its honestly a thing that saddens me. So, for a change in this post instead of rabbling on like I normally do and thinking I’m right about everything, I am going to ask the regulars here, and those of you who pop in, who have been to Highbury regularly and now the Emirates some questions.

Has the Emirates got a raw deal?

I know its a structure made from cement and steel etc. but to me stadiums are living, tactile, almost breathing objects. They echo of battles lost and won, of players who have taken to the field as warriors. Highbury is packed to the gills with this history: Herbert Chapman leading out his groundbreaking Arsenal side through the marble hallways. Liam Brady curling in another screamer with his left foot. Ian Wright scoring goal after goal with a smirk on his face. The battles and hidings we gave them lot down the road. Bergkamp and Henry leaving the opposition looking like idiots (not that it was confined to Highbury). Adams scoring THAT goal to confirm the title, celebrating the Invincibles. Looking up at the Clock for it to hit 3.

There is a certain sense of attachment to Highbury, I have it and have only ever walked past it as a block of flats.

But is it time to move on?

Of course I don’t mean to forget. How could you forget? It would be sinful to forget, but when is it time to stop longing and whining that we are no longer at “home” at Highbury?

The Emirates or rightly Ashburton Grove has done nothing wrong. It is a wonderful stadium, and aside from Wembley I can’t think of a ground in England that comes remotely close to it. It is something to be very proud of. Its only fault is that it has seen us through a tough time (if constantly finishing in the top 4 and getting to the latter stages of the Champions League are indeed tough times) and for that it is almost at times treated with disdain.

There haven’t been too many epic games there, or a single trophy held aloft but we’ve been there for FOUR seasons, not 93 years. They will come, give history a chance to be written.

I was reading an interview with Johnny Lydon in FourFourTwo this month and he reckons the sense of community has gone from the club since the move to the Emirates. Again, that is a question for those of you in the know? Although common sense would tell me that the Clock Enders and North Bankers no longer sit together, have been split and people are getting accustomed to new faces.

But maybe instead of moaning at the club, its time for the fans to do something about it? Personally, I’m a firm believer in “ask not what your club can do for you, but what you can do for your club” The powers that be have given us back The Clock, The North Bank, and have added as much Arsenal features as possible. Why not try to keep the chants going this season – yes, even if we have to sit down. Why not get to know the person sitting next to you? Maybe its just my inability to keep my mouth shut but I met the most fascinating Gooner at the Bolton match two seasons ago who told me of his trips abroad donkeys years ago to see Arsenal play. The club can only do so much, at times we have to help ourselves.

I had planned on going to a home and away match this season. I now think an away match and two home matches are in order – I’ve just got to sit in the North Bank and Clock End.

Whether I like it, you like it, or anyone else likes it or not our home is now the Emirates. Its great to look back on Highbury and it’ll be always here in our hearts (maybe more so yours than mine) but if we keep looking back over our shoulder, we won’t know our way forward, and this club is moving forward.

We may have moved ground, but aren’t we still The Arsenal?