Son of a Gun!

Musings on Arsenal Football Club by a Singaporean Gooner (Gooner since 1988)

Baptism of the Son of a Gunner June 20, 2009

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 mural at the Arsenal station leading up to the exit was actually competed barely a week before my arrival. A kind fellow fan took this picture for me.

The mural at the Arsenal station leading up to the exit was actually competed barely a week before my arrival. A kind fellow fan took this picture for me.

I went to the famous old stadium through the London Underground.  This is the Arsenal station formerly known as the Gillespie Road Station.

I went to the famous old stadium through the London Underground. This is the Arsenal station formerly known as the Gillespie Road Station.

A day time, clearer picture of the station.

A day time, clearer picture of the station.

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.

This is the my very first picture with the stadium and that scarf on my neck was the one I bought at one of the roadside stalls.

This is the my very first picture with the stadium and that scarf on my neck was the one I bought at one of the roadside stalls.

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!

The stadium sight at night. Isn't it awesome?

The stadium sight at night. Isn't it awesome?

I collected my ticket from the ticketing counter barely 10 metres away from this picture.

This is the entrance to the private carpark for the Arsenal staff.

This is the entrance to the private carpark for the Arsenal staff.

It is heavily guarded with stewards and policemen and quite a number were waiting to catch a glimpse of any football star arriving.

The Arsenal merchandise shop.

The Arsenal merchandise shop.

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!

My first picture inside the stadium!

My first picture inside the stadium!

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!

Dennis Bergakamp, my favorite Arsenal player, warming up.

Dennis Bergakamp, my favorite Arsenal player, warming up.

He retired at the end of that season, and it was so sad for me knowing we will be losing a legend forever.

Thierry Henry in person!

Thierry Henry in person!

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.

This was my view from where I was seated. Fantasic right? Just like on television, except it's 'live'!

This was my view from where I was seated. Fantasic right? Just like on television, except it's 'live'!

Gunnersaurus, our club mascot! He was playing one-two passing with the players. He had a surprisingly good touch!

Gunnersaurus, our club mascot! He was playing one-two passing with the players. He had a surprisingly good touch!

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.

Standing outside the East stand, where the entrance to the famous marble halls is.

Standing outside the East stand, where the entrance to the famous marble halls is.

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.

A glimpse of Arsenal's future home - the Emirates Stadium

A glimpse of Arsenal's future home - the Emirates Stadium

 

3 Responses to “Baptism of the Son of a Gunner”

  1. […] Baptism of the Son of a Gunner […]

  2. Ben Says:

    Excellent piece! Brings back my memories of going for my first game. 3-0, we beat Man City. It is a shame we couldn’t find a way to keep Highbury for some football or as a training facility. And was good to finally meet up with you yesterday!

  3. Son of a Gunner Says:

    Yes, it remains the best trip I’ve ever made in my life! Highbury will always be special.

    Indeed, it was good to watch a game together! Cheers! 😀


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