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Arsenal Stadium was a football stadium in Highburymarker, North Londonmarker, which was the home ground of Arsenal Football Club between 6 September 1913 and 7 May 2006. It was popularly known as Highbury due to its location and was given the affectionate nickname of "The Home of Football" by the club.

It was originally built in 1913 on the site of a local college's recreation ground and has been significantly redeveloped twice. The first came in the 1930s, from which the Art Deco East and West Stands date; the second in the late 1980s and early 1990s following the Taylor Report, during which the terraces at both ends of the pitch were removed, making it all-seater with four stands. The resulting reduction in capacity and matchday revenue eventually led to Arsenal opting to build the Emirates Stadiummarker nearby, to which they moved in 2006. Currently, Highbury is undergoing redevelopment to turn it into an apartment complex, with most of the stadium being demolished; parts of the East and West Stands will remain to be incorporated into the new development.

The stadium also hosted international matches – both for England and in the 1948 Summer Olympics – and FA Cup semi-finals, as well as boxing, baseball and cricket matches. Its presence also led to the local London Underground station being renamed to Arsenalmarker in 1932, making it the only station on the Underground network to be named after a football club.

History

The original stadium was built in 1913, when Woolwich Arsenal moved from the Manor Groundmarker in Plumsteadmarker, South East Londonmarker to Highbury, leasing the recreation fields of St John's College of Divinity for £20,000. The stadium was hurriedly built over the summer of that year, and was designed by Archibald Leitch, architect of many other football grounds of that era; it featured a single stand on the eastern side, and the other three sides had banked terracing. The new stadium cost £125,000. It opened whilst not yet fully complete, with Arsenal's first match of the 1913–14 season, a 2–1 Second Division win against Leicester Fosse on 6 September 1913; Leicester's Tommy Benfield scored the first goal at the new ground, while George Jobey was the first Arsenal player to do so. Highbury hosted its first England match in 1920. Arsenal bought the stadium site outright in 1925, for £64,000.

The façade of the East Stand, on Avenell Road, in 2005.
The Clock End, with executive boxes above, in 2005; since demolished.
No significant portion of Leitch's original stadium remains today, following a series of bold redevelopments during the 1930s. The first of these was the West Stand, designed by Claude Waterlow Ferrier and William Binnie in the Art Deco style, which opened in 1932; the same year, on 5 November, the local Tube station was renamed from Gillespie Road to Arsenal. Leitch's main stand was demolished to make way for a new East Stand, matching the West, in 1936. The West Stand cost £45,000 while the East Stand went far over budget and ended up costing £130,000, mainly thanks to the expense of the facade. The North Bank terrace was given a roof, and the southern terrace had a clock fitted to its front, giving it the name The Clock End.

For the next 50 years, the stadium changed little, although during World War II the North Bank terrace was bombed and had to be rebuilt; the roof was not restored until 1956. Floodlight were fitted in 1951, with the first floodlit match being a friendly against Hapoel Tel Aviv on 17 October of that year. Undersoil heating was added in 1964. Unlike at many other grounds, Arsenal refused to install perimeter fencing, even at the height of hooliganism in the 1980s, a decision that saw it struck off the list of eligible FA Cup semi-final venues.

In the early 1990s, the Taylor report on the Hillsborough disaster was published, which recommended that football stadiums become all-seater. The North Bank, which had become home of Arsenal's most passionate supporters, was demolished at the end of the 1991-92 season, and a new all-seater stand opened in its place the following year. During the work, a giant mural of fans was placed behind the goal at that end, to give the illusion that the players were kicking towards a crowd rather than a construction site. The mural initially attracted criticism for its absence of black fans, which was quickly rectified.

The redeveloped North Bank is perhaps best remembered for the game that its occupants witnessed in the first game it was in use - the opening day of the 1993-94 season on 14 August 1993. Arsenal, holders of the FA Cup and Football League Cup and among the bookmaker's favourites for the Premier League title, were playing a Coventry City side widely tipped for relegation that season. Arsenal were firm favourites to win the game, but surprisingly lost 3-0 to Coventry with all 3 goals coming from striker Mick Quinn. [37890] [37891]

The Clock End was also redeveloped, with a roof and executive boxes fitted in 1989 and seating installed four years later.

Structure

At the time of its closure, the stadium consisted of four separate all-seater stands; the pitch was aligned north-south, with the North Bank Stand and South Stand (popularly known as the Clock End) at the ends. The East and West Stands ran alongside the pitch and are two of the few examples of British football stands designed in the Art Deco style. The East Stand incorporated the club's offices and was well known for its marble halls (though the floors were actually terrazzo) which are often cited in media depictions of the stadium, and the facade that faces onto Avenell Road. The stand is considered architecturally significant enough to have been designated a Grade II listed building.

The stadium's main entrances were on Gillespie Roadmarker, Avenell Road and Highbury Hill. When it closed, Highbury had a capacity of 38,419 (approximately 12,500 in the North Bank, 11,000 in the West Stand, 9,000 in the East Stand and 6,000 in the Clock End), all seated, and had Jumbotron screens in the south-east and north-west corners. Before the Taylor Report and the era of all-seater stadiums in Britain, both the North Bank and Clock End consisted of terracing, and the stadium often saw crowds of up to 60,000 or more; its largest attendance was 73,295 on 9 March 1935 when Arsenal played Sunderland in the First Division; the game finished 0–0.

Arsenal Stadium was well known for its very small immaculately-kept pitch, which measured only 109×73 yards (100×67 metres). Arsenal's groundsmen, Steve Braddock and his successor Paul Burgess, have won the FA Premier League's Groundsman of the Year award several times.

Closure and redevelopment

A replica facade of the famous cannon made from polystyrene for the redevelopment
The post-Taylor capacity of Highbury was limited to 38,419, while Arsenal's success during the 1990s and 2000s meant that virtually every home match was filled to near total capacity. Restrictions, such as the East Stand's status as a listed building, and the fact the stadium was surrounded on all sides by a residential area, made any future expansion of Highbury difficult and expensive. Eventually, Arsenal decided to leave Highbury and construct a new stadium, the Emirates Stadiummarker in nearby Ashburton Grove, which opened in July 2006. Arsenal's offices were moved to a new building, Highbury House, which was named in commemoration of the former stadium.

For their final season at Highbury (2005–06), Arsenal ran a series of promotions honouring the stadium's legacy. A commemorative logo was designed, featuring the club's traditional Art Deco crest from the 1930s; the club's history at Highbury was also celebrated through a series of themed matchdays. On the field, Arsenal temporarily set aside their traditional red shirts with white sleeves for the season and adopted a solid redcurrant shirt, the colour they wore during their first season at Highbury in 1913–14.

Arsenal's final game at the stadium was their FA Premier League match on 7 May 2006 againstWigan Athletic, which they won 4–2, with their captain and all-time leading goal scorer, Thierry Henry, getting a hat trick. After the stadium's closure, Arsenal held an auction to sell off many of the stadium's parts, including pieces of the pitch, the goal and former manager George Graham's desk; sale of the stadium's seats had to be cancelled, however, after it was found they contained trace amounts of the toxic metal cadmium.

Arsenal Stadium is currently (as of 2009) being redeveloped and converted into apartments, in a project known as "Highbury Square", a scheme that will see 711 properties built on the site. The North Bank and Clock End stands have already been demolished, with the famous clock having been moved to the new stadium; the exteriors of the listed Art Deco East Stand and the matching West Stand are being preserved and incorporated into the new developments, while the rest of the stands' structures have been removed. The pitch will become a communal garden. In October 2005 the proposed apartments went on sale; as of May 2006 all properties in the North, East and West Stands had been taken. The apartments are expected to be ready by 2010.

Other roles

As well as being home to Arsenal, Highbury occasionally functioned as a home stadium for England matches; 12 internationals were played at Highbury from 1920 to 1961, most of them being friendlies. These included both England's first full home international against opposition outside of Great Britainmarker and Ireland (Belgium in 1923), and the "Battle of Highbury", England's 3–2 win over World Champions Italy in 1934, where seven Arsenal players started the match. Highbury was also used as a football venue for two matches in the 1948 London Olympics – a first-round match and a quarter-final. It was also provisionally named as one of London's two host stadiums for the 1966 FIFA World Cup (along with Wembleymarker), but was eventually dropped with White City Stadiummarker taking the role instead. By the time of Euro 96, the pitch had been ruled too small for international football and the stadium would have been ineligible.

Highbury was the venue for twelve FA Cup semi-finals as a neutral ground, the first in 1929 and the last in 1997, although between 1984 and 1992 it was off the FA's list of approved venues, after Arsenal's refusal to install perimeter fencing following a pitch invasion by Everton fans during their semi-final against Southampton. It also hosted the London XI's home leg against Lausanne Sports in the 1955-58 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup semi-finals; London won 2-0 on the night and 3-2 on aggregate. Clapton Orient also played a single home game at Highbury in 1930 while their own ground, Lea Bridge Roadmarker, underwent development work to meet League standards.

Arsenal did not always play their home matches at Highbury in the 93 years they were based there. During the Second World War the stadium was used as an ARP station and was bombed; Arsenal played their matches at White Hart Lanemarker, home of North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, until Highbury re-opened in 1946. More recently, Arsenal's home UEFA Champions League matches in the 1998–99 and 1999–00 seasons were played at Wembley Stadiummarker, as Highbury's already limited capacity had to be reduced to accommodate advertising hoardings. Arsenal's record at Wembley (P6 W2 D1 L3) was relatively poor, and after two seasons the club switched back to playing at Highbury, not least because since Wembley closed for rebuilding in October 2000, it would not have been able to host their 2000–01 campaign.

Highbury has also hosted several cricket and baseball matches, and it was the venue for the 1966 World Heavyweight boxing title bout between Henry Cooper and Muhammad Ali, which Ali won. It has featured on the silver screen as well, having been the backdrop to at least two movies: The Arsenal Stadium Mystery, and Fever Pitch.

Final record of results

Arsenal

Arsenal's complete competitive record at Highbury is as follows:

Competition P W D L F A Win %
League 1689 981 412 296 3372 1692 58%
FA Cup 142 92 32 18 305 123 65%
League Cup 98 69 14 15 195 74 70%
Europe 76 50 17 9 153 60 66%
Charity Shield 5 4 0 1 13 6 80%
Total 2010 1196 475 339 4038 1955 60%

England

England's record at Highbury is as follows:

Competition P W D L F A Win %
World Cup Qualifiers 1 1 0 0 4 1 100%
British Home Championship 1 0 0 1 1 2 0%
Friendly matches 10 8 2 0 42 12 80%
Total 12 9 2 1 47 15 75%

FA Cup semi-finals

FA Cup semi-finals held at Highbury are listed below. Teams in bold went on to win the competition that year

# Date Winner Score Loser
1 1929 Portsmouth 1–0 Aston Villa
2 1937 Preston North End 4–1 West Bromwich Albion
3 1939 Portsmouth 2–1 Huddersfield Town
4 1949 Leicester City 3–1 Portsmouth
5 1958 Manchester United 5–3 Fulham
6 1978 Ipswich Town 3–1 West Bromwich Albion
7 1981 Tottenham Hotspur 3–0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
8 1982 Queens Park Rangers 1–0 West Bromwich Albion
9 1983 Brighton & Hove Albion 2–1 Sheffield Wednesday
10 1984 Everton 1–0 aet Southampton
11 1992 Liverpool 1–1 Portsmouth
12 1997 Chelsea 3–0 Wimbledon


Footnotes and references

  1. Quoted in
  2. Includes Premier League, First Division and Second Division.
  3. One of these matches, a 5-1 win over Farnborough Town in 2004, was officially an "away" match, but after the draw the venue was switched to Highbury at Farnborough's request.
  4. Includes Champions League, Cup Winners' Cup, UEFA Cup and European Super Cup.
  5. One of these matches was a 3-0 win against a "Rest of Europe" side in 1938; although caps were awarded at the time, FIFA have since struck it from their records as an official international. The Football Association continues to recognise it as an official match. Reference:


Further reading



External links




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