Better Days?

January 11, 2017

 

The Old Days. We always think they were better …

Would you exchange the better standard of football we see every season at The Emirates for the mud and passion of Highbury?

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Why do I long for a TA/Steve Bould  tackle which would “let the player know you are there” as opposed to the Guardiola idea of staying on your feet?

Some of the intricacy of our current teams passing football is beyond ken but I yearn for a Radford bullet header from a hopeful punt from George Armstrong. Why is hoofball so looked down upon as a short-term tactic?

Why did the architects of The Emirates build the stands so far from the pitch? It makes the paying punter spectators as opposed to being fans involved in  the play as we were at Highbury. Why can’t PL stadiums have a standing section?

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Football has become sanitised (IMO). Is the sport better for it?

p.s. This post was inspired by a photo of the tunnel at Arsenal Tube Station published by Chas.

written by Big Raddy


Bring back Highbury ……

December 11, 2015

It’s been a good week for Gooners………. great result in Greece, through to the knock out stage, literally!

But I’ve been thinking recently about the old Highbury stadium, all the times I was there, through the good and the bad, and for me Highbury will always signify the Arsenal, the greatest team in London and even greater in North London.

highbury

It got me wondering as to why the new stadium wasn’t given the same name…. why not New Highbury Emirates Stadium…. or the Emirates Highbury Stadium… or just New Highbury Stadium? Ok I know it was all to do with money and sponsorship, but a little bit of nostalgia wouldn’t have been too hard, would it?

I still say Highbury when talking of home games…. it’s been extremely difficult to say the Emirates…. I wonder if in the future they could re-think the name…. would that be possible, other stadiums have done it, haven’t they?

So my rant is bring back the great name of Highbury Stadium…. I miss it and I’m sure many others do too…..

 

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When did your love for Arsenal start?

August 20, 2015

Well mine started when I was as an infant; I was one of the few who happened to be born within the sound of Highbury roars and with my entire family steeped in Arsenal tradition it seemed as natural as drinking milk made from Cow and Gates milk powder.

Arsenal in WW11

The war years of the 30’s and 40’s were bleak times and most of the men in the family were away at war, the Arsenal players and club were also deeply involved in WW11. In fact during WW11 42 of Arsenal’s 44 full time players were drafted into service, along with most of the administration staff. Arsenal stadium itself was turned into an ARP “Air Raid Precautions) facility. Arsenal played its war time home fixtures at White Hart Lane; Tottenham had used Highbury for some of its home games during WW1.

The Arsenal stadium also paid the price when it was bombed in 1941. The North Bank was wrecked after a fire broke out and the roof collapsed and much of the terracing on the South Stand was damaged too and these had to be repaired before Arsenal could return home after the war. Another bomb, weighing 1,000lb, had fallen near the stadium in October 1940. Meanwhile tonnes of concrete that had been blown over the Clock End terraces needed to be removed.

Seven Sister Road WW11

Arsenal was one of the leading sides during the Second World War, having dominated English football for much of the 1930s. They won the League South ‘A’ title in 1939/40 but lost the League War Cup Final the following season. Leslie Compton missed a penalty in a 1-1 draw with Preston at Wembley and Arsenal lost the replay 2-1 at Blackburn. Arsenal followed the example of other clubs and used “guest players” most notably Bill Shankly, Stan Mortensen and Stanley Matthews. In 1941/42 a number of London clubs formed a breakaway London League and Arsenal romped to the title with 108 goals in 30 matches.

They returned to the Football League South a season later and, in 1942/43, won the championship and the League South Cup. Reg Lewis netted four times in that 7-1 Cup Final win over Charlton. He would of course go on to become an even more significant Wembley winner seven years later, grabbing both goals as Arsenal beat Liverpool in the 1950 FA Cup Final.

Underground during WW11

During air raids my family used to take shelter in the Arsenal Underground Station or in the Caledonian Road Underground if we were visiting family in N7.

Bombs droppd on Highbury Oct 1940 to June 1941

Even though these were very bleak years in most peoples lives to us kids it was our reality, we were poor, hungry, scruffy and always grubby; but kids being kids we made our own fun and games. Kicking our rag footballs against the chalk goalpost we drew on the Avenell Road entrance to Highbury and imaging we were Arsenal players was to us a joy and it, along with my family’s tales about the clubs history and its players made me an Arsenal fan for life……

Tell us when your love for Arsenal started?

GunnerN5


The history of Arsenal’s grounds through the ages

July 9, 2015

Arsenal’s Ground’s

(From 1887 to present))

I thought it would interesting to go back to our roots and take a look at the various grounds that we have played on from our inception in 1887 to the present day.

Let’s start with our very first games which were played on Plumstead Common –

Plumbstead Common

From January 8th, 1887 to June 30th, 1887

(No League games were played)

The Royal Artillery exercised their horses on the common which left the playing surface badly rutted and almost unplayable. The changing rooms were located in several local Pubs and the teams goal posts were stored in a neighbouring back garden and had to be erected for every game. They only played 5 games on the common before looking for another location.

Sportman’s Ground

From September 30th, 1887 to February 12th, 1888

(No League games were played)

The Sportman’s ground was located close to Manor Field and was previously a pig farm. The ground was also located on the edges of Plumstead Marshes and was constantly water logged. Arsenal was beginning to attract hundred if not thousands of fans and that created a problem due to the soggy grounds and inadequate facilities.

Manor Field

From August 1st, 1888 to June 30th, 1889

(No League games were played)

This was another ground that did not fit the team’s needs, they used the Railway Tavern as a dressing room and they borrowed wagons, to create elevation, for the fans to stand on. It became obvious that they had to move when an estimated 10,000 fans turned up for the London Charity Cup final.

Invicta Ground

From September 1st, 1890 to May 31st, 1893

(No League games were played)

This ground was perhaps the best in Southern England as it had a grandstand and a half decent pitch. Although they were shunned by other Southern clubs they went ahead and applied for membership in the league and their application proved to be successful.

In 1891 Arsenal became the first Southern club to turn professional. When the landlord of the Invicta Ground decided to increase the rent Arsenal took the opportunity to move on and they made the decision to purchase Manor Field. Their final game at Invicta was a 0-1 loss to Stoke City on April 29th, 1893.

Manor Field

From August 1st, 1893 to April 27th, 1913

(343 League games were played)

10, 000 fans were in attendance at the first game played here; it was against Newcastle United on September 2nd, 1893 and ended in a 2-2 draw. Their highest attendance was 32,850 against Aston Villa on October 8th, 1904. Their biggest win at Manor Field (which was also their highest all time league victory) was 12-0 against Loughborough on March 12th, 1900; it was also proved to be their lowest crowd when only 600 fans showed up.

In 1893 the club now known as Woolwich Arsenal FC was elected into the Football League Division 2. Due to a crowd disturbance against Burton Wanderers the ground at Manor Field was closed for 5 games; during this period Arsenal played 1 game at Priestfield Stadium and 1 game at Lyttleton Ground.

Sir Henry Norris purchased a plot of land 10 miles away in Islington and Arsenal started to build Highbury Stadium.

Highbury

From September 6th, 1913 to May 7th, 2006

(1,691 League games were played)

The first match at Highbury was 2-1 victory against Leicester Fosse and was watched by a crowd of 20,000. The final match against Wigan Athletic resulted in a 4-2 win and 38,359 people were in attendance.

The highest attendance at Highbury was when 73,295 watched a 0-0 draw against Sunderland on March 9th, 1935. The lowest attendance was when only 4,554 watched Arsenal lose 0-3 to Leeds United on May 5th, 1966.

The biggest home win was a 9-1 victory against Grimsby Town before 15,751 people on January 28th, 1931. The biggest defeat was a 2-6 loss watched by 30,000 against Sheffield United on March 26th, 1921.

Emirates Stadium

From August 19th, 2006 to post GunnerN5

( League games played TBD )

The move from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium enabled the club to increase the capacity from 38,419 attendees at Highbury to 60,432 at the Emirates. The increased revenue was needed to allow Arsenal to become more competitive in the transfer market.

The first league goal at the Emirates Stadium was scored by Olof Mellburg of Aston Villa the game ended in a 1-1 draw.

The Emirates story is in progress and will not be completed for many more seasons.

 

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Compliments of Arsenal.com here are some famous home and away Firsts…

First competitive match (as Woolwich Arsenal):
v Newcastle Utd (h) – Manor Ground Plumstead 2 Sept 1893 – League (Second Divison) Drew 2-2 (W Shaw, A Elliott)

First competitive match at Highbury (as Woolwich Arsenal):
v Leicester Fosse 6 Sept 1913 – League (Second Division) Won 2-1 (Jobey, Devine pen)

First competitive match as Arsenal:
v Bristol City (h) 4 April 1914 – League drew 1-1 (Winship)

First league match at ‘home’:
v Newcastle Utd (h) – Manor Ground Plumstead 2 Sept 1893 – League (Second Divison) Drew 2-2 (W Shaw, A Elliott)

First league match away:
v Notts County (a) 9 Sept 1893 Lost 2-3 (A Elliott, W Shaw)

First Premier League match:
v Norwich City (h)15 Aug 1992 Lost 2-4 (Bould, Campbell)

First FA Cup match (Played at Manor Ground, Plumstead):
v Ashford United (h) 14 Oct 1893 – FA Cup (1)) Won 12-0 (Elliott 3, Henderson 3, Booth 2, Heath 2, Crawford, Powell)

First League Cup match:
v Gillingham (h) 13 Sept 1966 (Round 2) drew 1-1 (Baldwin)

First home match in European competition:
v Staevnet (Denmark) 22 Oct 1963 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Lost 2-3 (Skirton, Barnwell)

First away match in European competition:
v Staevnet (Denmark) 25 Sept 1963 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Won 7-1 (Strong 3, Baker 3, MacLeod)

First match in UEFA Champions League:
v RC Lens (a) 16 Sept 1998 Drew 1-1 (Overmars)

First match in Charity/Community Shield:
v Sheff Wed at Stamford Bridge. Oct 8 1931, Won 2-1 (Joe Hulme, David Jack)

First match at Emirates Stadium:
v Ajax (Dennis Bergkamp Testimonial) 22 July 2006. Arsenal 2 (Henry 55, Kanu 80) Ajax 1 (Huntelaar 37)

First competitive match at Emirates Stadium:
v Aston Villa 19 August 2006. Arsenal 1 (Gilberto 83) Aston Villa (Mellberg 54)

First player to be sent off at Emirates Stadium:
Ivan Campo (Bolton) (2 yellows) 14 April 2007 (Lge) (won 2-1)

First Arsenal player to be sent off at Emirates Stadium:
Philippe Senderos (v Portsmouth (Lge) 2 Sept 2007 won 3-1)

(Copyright 2015 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source 8 Jul 2008)

GunnerN5


Arsenal Fail To Entertain Us

April 2, 2015

We’ve had many debates on this site regarding the role the Emirates crowd plays (or more accurately, fails to play) in creating a positive atmosphere that will lift the players. The negativity can be suffocating at times. But then I got to thinking – is there more the club could do to help in this respect? All of a sudden not only did the light bulb come on, it blinded me with its intensity.

The answer is YES, YES, YES, Arsenal could do so much more. We cannot complain about the entertainment value of the superb football that Arsenal is famous for, but what comes before and after is pretty woeful.

The matchday/evening experience should be just that, a time of fun, of bonding, of celebrating everything about Arsenal with fellow supporters, not just 90 minutes top class football sandwiched between lengthy periods of dirge.

Our older contributors who went to Highbury will remember the characters, the bands that used to play downstairs at the Northbank, the Peanut Sellers, the guy who used to shout out “Come on you rip roaring”, the friendly rivalry between The Clock End, The Northbank and The East stand (whatever went on in the West Stand?) and so many other things that made the whole matchday experience more enjoyable …. and more importantly bonded and united us as Arsenal supporters.

Pre-match at Highbury was a blast, the crescendo of energy leading up to kick off was intoxicating. Not so at The Emirates. Unless it’s your first time, no-one gets to the ground early to be entertained – the stadium is awesome, but there isn’t any entertainment to speak of in the build up to kick off.

There is a reason why TV companies use warm up acts to get the audience in the right mood to play a part in live recordings …. it works. Yet the build up to games at the Emirates is antiseptic and insipid.

We have an American owner who knows only too well from his US sports franchises that add on entertainment either side of his events is a real crowd pleaser and increases income – so why not in football? Would supporters of his US sports businesses be content to settle for 1 guy in a padded dinosaur outfit to entertain 60,00 people – of course not.

We play scintillating football, but let’s be honest, the build up to games in the stadium is just plain dreary. What’s wrong with injecting a bit of razzamatazz into proceedings? Let’s get the supporters fired up and in the mood to be positive.

I’m not advocating turning Arsenal into a cheap carnival, the football is why we go, but much more could be done  in the build up to the game to raise the supporter’s spirits and create an upbeat atmosphere for the game. The young supporters that go to the Emirates deserve a bit more effort from the club.

So what could we do? Its simple, just look at the things about the game we used to love 30 years ago and where possible reintroduce them, and take a leaf out of the American’s book and adopt some (not all of the cheesy stuff) of their practices.

For a start, the music at the Emirates is rank – not Uptown Top Ranking. There could be events/competitions on the pitch that encourage crowd participation ( – without interfering with the player’s warm up). Certain types of food and drink could be sold to you in your seat without the need to queue for the entirety of half time. There could be entertainers moving among the supporters in the lounges. Why not have a band playing in the bar area and maybe use them to promote some much needed songs for our players – what Londoner doesn’t enjoy a sing-song?

The stewards could be trained to be more helpful and more positive in their approach. I feel for chas, the steward who regularly stands in his area is one of the ring leaders of the moaners and groaners – he should not be in the job.

There could be competitions, free promotional hand-outs, the big screens could be used to interact with supporters before games as they do in the US. Perhaps we could have a guy with some wit and personality making the announcements? Everything should be Arsenal related, and everything could be so much more fun.

This is a win/win situation. The fans are happy; the atmosphere is positive; the team benefits; the club makes money, The Arsenal wins.

I’m expecting many of you to tell me I’m mad and football is a serious business that should not be turned into a carnival, but others may buy into the idea … I’d welcome suggestions of other things the club could do to enhance the matchday experience …. over to you ……..

Rasp

 


An Invitation to Highbury

June 7, 2014

This little trip down memory lane comes from my brother, Jon Vines.

The story began with Arsenal’s Double cup-winning season of 1992/3. We’d beaten Sheffield Wednesday twice in both domestic cups, the Coca-Cola and the FA Cup and the club had promised a parade of both trophies after the opening home game of the new 1993/4 season.

Jon’s son, Matt was very excited at the prospect and set about investing a big effort into making an Ian Wright poster. The plan was to move right down the front of the lower tier while the cups were paraded to within touching distance and to get Wrighty to sign the aforementioned poster.

Well, the day arrived and the parade was scheduled for after the game with dodgy Midlands opponents Coventry City. However, things didn’t go as planned and Micky Quinn, later of Talkshite notoriety, scored a hat trick and the good guys got thumped three nothing. This from Wiki, “He (Quinn) attracted the crowd chant of ‘Who ate all the Pies?’ due to his physique, which he used as the title of his 2003 autobiography. Other nicknames included ‘Sumo’, ‘Hippofatamus’, and ‘Bob’, the latter from football fans who claimed that he bore a physical resemblance to the television presenter Bob Carolgees”.

Mickey Quinn: four goals on his debut.

After the game George Graham spent so much time trying to explain the result to the media that when he returned to the dressing room, the players had got changed and a message was broadcast over the tannoy that there would no longer be a parade of the cups. As a 13 year old, Matt was devastated and Jon decided, as a shot to nothing, he would express his and his son’s disappointment by writing to the club.

Within a week, Jon’s wife took a phone call at their home and called for Jon to come take the call. When he asked who was speaking, the reply came back, ‘Ken Friar, secretary of Arsenal Football Club’! (Upon being told the details of that phone call at a later date, Vines Senior (Matt’s Grandad) was particularly impressed as Ken Friar had always been one of his heroes. Friar had reportedly been given a job as a matchday messenger aged 12 when he’d kicked his football against the car of the current Arsenal manger George Allison in 1946 and then worked his way up through the ranks to eventually become Managing Director).

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The upshot of the call was an invitation, on behalf of George Graham, to visit the club and have a private audience with the manager and the cups. Jon managed to wangle an extra invite for ‘Grandad’ and the three generations of the Vines family had a guided tour of the Marble Halls, met George Graham and even got to hold the trophies. They were also the first members of the public allowed into the newly opened Arsenal Museum at Highbury.

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Matt also managed to bump into Ian Wright in the corridor and got his much desired autograph after all.

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The newspaper clipping below is from The Independent in March 2000 and the last line says “Even now, as a rising 20 year-old, Matthew would rank it as one of the best experiences of his childhood” Jon said. The day as a whole, that is, not just the bumping into Ian Wright in a corridor.

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Written by LBG via chas.    


An Arsenal Blast from the Past 1932/33 League Divison 1 Championship

March 21, 2014

The 1932/33 season saw Arsenal win it’s second League Division One Championship it was the first of three successive Championship wins 1932/33, 1933/34 and 1934/35. During the eight year period of 1930/31 to 1937/38 they won five League Championship titles. In the 1932/33 season they scored 111 goals, Cliff Bastin getting 33 of them, a record for a winger unlikely ever to be beaten. That year there was also a shock defeat in the FA Cup losing 0-2 away to Walsall, Herbert Chapman got the local underground station, Gillespie Road renamed to Arsenal, and he also introduced the now famous white sleeves in a match against Liverpool in March 1933. Unfortunately Chapman died of pneumonia in January of 1934, he was succeeded as manager by George Allison with Tom Whittaker and Joe Shaw as coaches, George went on win the League titles in both 1933/34 and 1934/35. The 1934/35 season saw Sunderland emerge as their main competitors; Arsenal lost 1-2 away then they drew 0-0 at Highbury on March 9th 1935 in front of Arsenal’s all time record crowd of 73,295.

Arsenal were the outstanding team in the Football League, early on in the1932/33 season Leeds United were one of their main competitors and they were involved in a titanic tussle for the leadership of the First Division. On Boxing Day 1932 Leeds travelled to Highbury, at the time they were six points adrift of Arsenal in the League standings and to everyone’s surprise it was Leeds who triumphed beating Arsenal by 2-1, with Charlie Keetley getting both goals in front of a huge 55,876 crowd, while Joe Hulme scored the lone Arsenal goal. Incredibly enough this set the scene for the very next day, when they played again in the return fixture at Elland Road where the crowd of the previous day was exceeded and a new record attendance for Elland Road was set at 56,796. For safety reasons the gates were locked and hundreds clambering on nearby house roofs as well as the Peacock Public House and various vantage points on Beeston Hill, in an attempt to get a glimpse of the action. Victory would have strengthened Leeds United’s championship aspirations but they were held to a goal-less draw by the star-studded Gunners and ended up the season in eighth position.

Arsenal went on to take the Football League Championship that season and were so dominant and overwhelming that they went on to become only the second team in Football League history to complete a treble by winning the Championship again in 1933-34 and 1934-35, Huddersfield Town being the first team to achieve the treble of Championships from 1924 to 1926.

In an English International game played at Highbury against Italy on November 14th, 1934 England fielded seven Arsenal Players Frank Moss in goal, George Male at right back, Edie Hapgood at left back, Wilf Copping at left half, Ray Bowden at inside right Cliff Bastin at inside left and Ted Drake at center forward. Ted Drake scored one of England’s goals in a 3-2 victory, during the 1934/35 season Ted netted 42 times for Arsenal.

players training

Arsenal training: Apr 27, 1935

The Arsenal team was chock full of Internationals and household names and their line ups at the time usually included such names as: Frank Moss; George Male, Eddie Hapgood, Frank Hill, Herbie Roberts, Bob John, Joe Hulme, David Jack, Tim Coleman, Jack Lambert, Alex James, Cliff Bastin, Wilf Copping, Ray Bowden and Ted Drake

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Arsenal 1932-33 Team

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gn5 league standings

NB: That’s the type of League table that I like, no Manchester United, Manchester City or Tottenham Hotspur anywhere to be seen – those were the days my friends………

GunnerN5