Ground No. 30
Visited - Tuesday 2nd December 2003
Result - Arsenal 5-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Competition - Carling Cup
Attendance - 28,161

Of all the grounds that I had on my list to go to, Highbury was near the top, and with Arsenal supposedly moving within the next few years I wasn’t going to miss this chance. Despite this though, we weren't exactly looking forward to the trip, with our away form being awful, there’s not many teams that go to Arsenal and come away with anything, but with Arsene Wenger likely to play the youth team for the League Cup then there was a slight glimmer of hope.

The journey down to London went quite well, and I got down there early and spent the day in the capital. Before the game just spending most of the day walking round London, seeing the sights and all, something which I hadn’t done since being in primary school! Once it was getting dark I decided to go up to the ground, earlier than when I'd normally get to places. So, got the tube up to Arsenal station in time for the game, and from there you cant really miss the ground! Once at the ground, I had a good walk around the outside having a look at the stands, in particular at the East Stand, which is the most impressive.

I have to say that once inside however, it really disappointed me, I was expecting so much more from it, but in the Clock End where we were sitting, the roof didn’t cover half of the seats, so we got wet, and the height of the stand is really shallow, and of course there was a bloke in front of me who was about 6’5”, so spent most of the night trying to look around him! The legroom was sparse, all of this added to not great facilities underneath left me rather disappointed. The rest of the ground looked ok, especially the huge North Bank, and the East Stand looked good as well, but nothing out of the ordinary, maybe if I wasn’t getting wet and we were winning I would have thought more of it!

The game was awful. As we had hoped, Arsenal put out their youth team, with the only names you would have heard of being Vieira, Aliadaire and Kanu, but to their credit their team was brilliant, we were awful, but that’s not taking anything away from Arsenal because they deserved the win. By the time their 5th went in, it was embarrassing, not just because we were getting stuffed by 16 & 17 year olds, but because we really were so poor.

Off the pitch the stewards were OK, we didn’t really see them much, which in itself is good I suppose. The food on offer wasn’t brilliant, just the normal over-priced rubbish you expect from most grounds.

Once the match had finished, I left the ground to walk up to the tube station, although I had intended to get on at Finsbury Park instead of Arsenal so I could get straight back to Euston without changing. As it is, it was better to get on there anyway, whilst walking past Arsenal station the queues were something else, a lot of the Arsenal fans were saying how they had never seen anything like it. There was still a queue to get into Finsbury Park, but it wasn’t too bad, and I was soon back in Euston and sitting on the train ready to go home.

Overall it had been a good day out, but as have said quite a few times this season, it was just a shame that the football had to get in the way of it!

Ground No. 30 (return visit)
Visited - Friday 26th December 2003
Result - Arsenal 3-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Competition - FA Barclaycard Premier League
Attendance - 38,003

This was due to be my second trip within a month to Highbury. The first one hadn’t been too good, being humiliated by Arsenals youth team, so there wasn’t many of the Wolves following who had seen that game that were looking forward to a repeat performance. With the likes of Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Freddie Ljungberg, etc. due to play, needless to say it only helped to worsen our fears for the eventual outcome.

The journey down there wasn’t one of the easier ones to plan for this season, being on boxing day and with no public transport I'd had to arrange a lift down to London, which was made even more difficult by a 12pm start.

We got down there easy enough though after an early start, the M6/M1 was fairly free of traffic, other than a few cars from the Black Country making the same journey as us. Once in London, we parked up at the ASDA in Southgate, before catching the tube down to Arsenal station.

With the early kick-off there wasn’t much time before the start to do anything, so we just walked around the ground, looking at the impressive East Stands façade. There was no trouble from the home fans, and we were able to wander around the outside of the ground in a fairly relaxed atmosphere.

With the building of Ashburton Grove, it’s a shame that this ground will be going, but from walking around the outside you instantly see why they have to move. There is no space to build, indeed you can’t even see most of the stands because of houses being between them and the road.

For the League Cup game I had been in the Clock End, but this time we were in the West Stand, which with all the supporting pillars, and overhang of the second tier gave a very poor view. It was interesting being in a stand of this age, in one way an enjoyable experience for someone of my age (early-twenties) from seeing how a lot of stands must have been prior to the rebuilding of a lot of grounds in the 90s, but the poor view made me glad that I didn’t have to sit here every game.  

The game itself wasn’t especially brilliant. Arsenal were clearly superior, and never really got out of first gear. It was a straight forward win for them, with Jody Craddock putting in a performance up to his usual poor standards, scoring an own-goal and gifting Arsenal another one. Thierry Henry scored their 3rd with a great run, using his pace and skill to score a trademark goal.

Arsenal fans have a reputation for producing a poor atmosphere, but although it wasn’t the best, they did put a bit of effort in and the North Bank got a few songs going, with the fans on the other side of the segregation in the West Stand sparking some amusing banter throughout the game between the two sets of supporters.

Facilities, as expected, were poor. After using the West Stand toilets before the game, I decided to go in the South Stand at half-time, but due to the way the concourse and entrance/exits are situated right next to a food outlet, it is near impossible, and potentially dangerous to get in and around the stand, so that didn't really help add to the matchday experience.

Getting away from the ground afterwards wasn’t too bad, from previous experience I decided to go to Finsbury Park instead of getting on the tube at Arsenal station, and the decision paid off, getting into the station and on a train quickly. It was then a short ride back up to Southgate and the car. The journey back to the midlands was good, although we had to drive through torrential rain for some of the way.

It was nice going back to Highbury again, it’s probably the most characteristic ground in the country, although the game and result seemed to make the whole trip a bit pointless, especially with the early start and difficulty in getting down there, still its one I hope to do again before they move.

Ground No. 30 (return visit)
Visited - Saturday 29th January 2005
Result - Arsenal 2-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Competition - FA Cup
Attendance - 37,153

After beating Millwall in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup, we had been drawn away to another London side, this time Arsenal. The draw had left me with quite a few mixed feelings, on the one hand it would be great to go back to Highbury for a 3rd, (and probably last) time, especially as I hadn't taken any pictures on my previous visits, but in all likelihood we knew that it would be the end of our cup run for this season.

In the run up to the game, there was a lot of debate as to whether Arsene Wenger would field a weakened squad against us, but unfortunately he announced that it would be a full strength team playing, so filled with dread, and thoughts of a heavy loss, we made the short journey down to Birmingham, before changing trains and stations to get to London via a cheap offer from Chiltern Railways. The journey went well, and we arrived in the capital just after midday, changing straight from the train to the underground and off up towards Finsbury Park.

After leaving the tube, we took some time to go around Arsenal World, and pick up a programme, before making our way to the ground to take some pictures of the outside. Having been around the ground before, there was nothing new to note for me, however just a feeling that I've had before of confusion about the exterior, of in particular the East Stand. I really cant decide whether I like it or not, on the one hand it’s a listed building for a reason, and that’s that it is certainly unique among grounds in Britain, with its 1930s style façade. Its always nice to see something different compared to the cheap, bland metal/breeze block design of a lot of grounds, but in places it does look like it could do with some repair work, the same with the West Stand opposite, although there isn’t really much you can see of that stand.

After finishing off going around Highbury we had a brief walk down to the Emirates Stadium to see how it was progressing from the last time we were here, and it really is coming on now, impressively so, and it will certainly be a good ground to visit when it is finely open. After taking a few pictures of it we were due to go and meet a few friends in a pub, but with time pressing on, we decided to go into the ground, so walked back round to our entrances, which were on the East side of the Clock End.

We found our seats, and despite my two previous visits, I had forgotten just how bad Highbury is inside. With seats being squeezed in, and the overhang of the executive boxes being ridiculous, not to mention the low height between rows it really isn’t a good place to watch football, even if you manage to not be standing behind a pillar! We were on Row 35, which was just under the overhang, and fortunately it didn’t affect us too badly, although it made getting pictures a bit difficult during the match itself. The facilities are like the stand, a complete joke, that’s if you can even get to them, as the concourse is perhaps the most poorly designed one at a football ground I have seen.

After taking a few more pictures of the ground empty, the game got started, and we came out fielding an unusual defensive formation, but one that seemed to help us cope with Arsenal throughout the first half, with each player giving it their all, and not allowing the Arsenal players any time on the ball. Such was our perseverance that we went into the break at 0-0, having had the better chances, and really thinking that we ought to have been ahead if anything.

When the game resumed in the second half, almost immediately we once more should have been in the lead, but Olofinjana couldn’t make anything of a decent cross when he was unmarked in the box. Unfortunately Arsenal soon made us pay for that, and on 53 minutes, Henry won a penalty for them when he dived over the oncoming Michael Oakes to con referee Mike Riley into awarding him the spot kick. Vieira took it for them, and scored with ease. After that they never looked back, and had plenty of chances to finish the game off, but couldn’t get past an inspired Oakes, who made save after stunning save, but he couldn’t do anything late on when Ljungberg increased their lead to 2-0. Despite a good showing from our team, the game finished like that, with Arsenal probably deserving to go through.

Throughout, our 5000 travelling fans had created a good atmosphere, but this wasn’t returned by Arsenal supporters, who put in pretty pathetic show themselves, with hardly a noise being made. The chant of “You’ll soon be Chelsea fans…” was the best of the afternoon, and sadly, there probably was a fair few of them who that is true of.

After leaving the ground, we waited around for a while to let the crowds go down, before getting back on the tube at Finsbury Park to Marylebone, before catching the train home, arriving back in reasonably good time.

Overall it was a fairly good trip, nice to visit Highbury for one last time, it might not be too comfy a place to watch football, but it has got a lot of character, its just a shame they havn't combined that with acceptable facilities, especially given the age of the stand we were in, I've sat/stood in many stands of similar capacity, that have been better designed, despite some being 30 years older! When they do eventually move the short distance down the road, then hopefully it will be more of an enjoyable experience for a day out there.

Arsenal Underground Station

West Stand Home Turnstiles

West Stand Away Turnstiles

Welcome to Highbury

The Club Shop

The Ticket Office

Rear of the East Stand

Main Entrance

Rear of the East Stand

The North Bank

Rear of the North Bank

The West Stand

The North Bank

The East Stand

The East Stand

The North Bank

The West Stand

Highbury Panoramic 1

Highbury Panoramic 2

1 comment:

  1. Hi there,

    Fantastic blog, been stuck on here for an hour now and only came to comment on this!

    I was wondering if I could gain permission to use the "Highbury Panoramic 2" photo as the basis for a painting I'd like to do. Depending on the success of the work I'd be looking to produce a small run of prints.

    It's a fantastic photo and there are very few out there and sadly they're aren't going to be anymore opportunities to acquire one of my own. Hence why I'm keen to gain your permission.

    I'm currently a design student and during the summer I'm trying to raise money for my final year degree show in ways like this where I can improve my skills as well, which is even more vital. So all money raised would be towards this final year of my education. Obviously this could take it into a territory where you might be looking to look for some money for the image so let me know what you'd be after and we'll try and work something out.

    Would greatly appreciate a reply to my email address ( as I'd love to talk about this in greater depth.