Upon knowing that the 93-year-old stadium would be pulled down 2006, I knew I had to go there at least once. I had promised myself to be there at least once in my life but the timing of the tearing down simply speeded up my trip. I saved one whole year working at two crap companies just for this one trip. And I can tell you, it is all worth it. At least now I can say I am a baptised Arsenal fan. I experienced the atmosphere and I was part of it. I was part of the Highbury legend.
I shall pay my tribute to the stadium with some pictures I took while I was there.
The stadium is well hidden within other houses. Just as Wenger described it, if it was the first time you are going there, you would be wondering where the stadium is and before you know it, there it is right in front of you.
It is so true. Luckily, I was travelling with a huge group of Gooners who had arrived at the Arsenal station together with me. So I just followed where the corwd were heading. The atmosphere was alrteady fantastic inside the train where almost everyone was an Arsenal fan and everyone were talking about the big match. I felt right at home!
As I came out of the station, I turned left where the crowd were heading and I saw rows and rows of roadside stalls selling either Arsenal memorabilia or selling food and drinks. I settled of an Arsenal scarf at 7 pounds as I left my two other Arsenal scarfs at the hotel. I had actually intended to return to the hotel to collect my scarf as it was supremely cold but decided against it when I was in the train as I felt so pumped up seeing all the Arsenal fans along with me. Plus the train was packed so I thought I might as well arrive at the stadium earlier and buy a scarf there. I also bought a cheese burger and a hot chocolate like most fans and began to soak in the atmosphere. But I couldn’t wait to finish up and be at the stadium, espcially knowing I was already so close!
I continued walking along the path where most fans were headed and kept wondering when I would finally see the entrance to the stadium. Then before I know it, I realised I was standing right at the entrance to the North Stand. “Welcome to Highbury” the banner read. I was estatic! I videotaped the scene and I couldn’t stop saying Oh my oh my oh my!!! Its Highbury!!!” One of my childhood dreams was finally realised.
I got a steward to take this photo for me. I also bought my match programme at the counter behind me. It was really cold at -4 degress Celcius, I was wearing at least 6 layers of clothes!
I collected my ticket from the ticketing counter barely 10 metres away from this picture.
It is heavily guarded with stewards and policemen and quite a number were waiting to catch a glimpse of any football star arriving.
It was packed with people and there is a queue forming outside the entrance. Luckily I bought my scarf at the roadside stall, which is licensed anyway! Notice the countdown clock dated only 102 days left before today. I made it, thank goodness!
The first team players were warming up on the field already! It was just so surreal to be witnessing my Arsenal heroes in action in person! As you can see, I had a prime view of the match. The ticket cost me 30 pounds after all!
He retired at the end of that season, and it was so sad for me knowing we will be losing a legend forever.
He look so tall, much taller than on television, in person. I bought the ticket not knowing if the big guns like Henry would be playing, but luckily he did play and he even scored on the night. Lucky lucky me.
Although the match did not end happily for us, it was still a win on the night and I witnessed goals from Henry and Robin Van Persie. I also learnt a lot of Arsenal songs and sang along with the crowd. It is really just so different to be there in person. My only regret is not being able to watch another match at this stadium. Although it is very old and you can feel the ancient colonial style of the stadium, there is just a certain beauty and charm about the place.
And so then, we hate to see Highbury demolished. But few Gunners fans will disagree that moving is the most logical step forward. So it is down to us and the team to make the new stadium a place of wonderful memories as well.
Goodbye, Arsenal Stadium aka Highbury.