All things Arsenal
As most of you are aware I am a huge footie fan I love watching footie and the team of my choice is Arsenal – I have supported them since I don’t know when, but I just remember having a crush on Charlie George a long haired forward who won us the `double ` in the 1971 with his blistering goal against Liverpool in the FA Cup Final.
So I was so excited when my family paid for a Stadium Tour of Arsenal with an ex-player in my case Kenny Samson.
Well I set off last Wednesday on the Train to Finsbury Park and I don’t know what it is with London and me but after lovely weather the day before it decides to pour down with rain!
Anyway the train journey was incident free ( I went from St Neots as it was more direct and the trains were much nicer and cleaner – thank you WAGN).
I arrive at Finsbury Park and as you come out of the station the first thing you see is a shop `Arsenal – World of Sport Shop` and this massive picture of the team in the new kit for next season – for those of you that don’t know Arsenal are moving to a new bigger stadium in Ashburton Grove a stones throw from Highbury this is because they have outgrown the old stadium and will allow for more fans to enjoy watching the team play,
For those of you wondering what will happen to the old stadium don’t worry, because the east and west stand are listed buildings they will be turned into luxury apartments. The north and south bank are to be turned into affordable housing. Apparently there is a waiting list for the luxury apartments already!
I then made my way to the stadium and the famous marble halls, as I arrived there was a small group of people waiting outside we all walked up the stairs and into the main entrance where we were greeted by Kenny Samson who welcomed us all, we then had to sign in and get our visitors badges we were a small group only eight of us usually the tours have around twenty people on them so it was really nice, Kenny then showed us the FA Cup that we had won on penalties against Man Utd not a few weeks before.
We were then taken on a fantastic tour around Arsenal it began with a tour of the various trophies we have won, to the press conference room where new players are introduced to the media or managers answer questions from the media about the performance of the team that week.
We were then taken out to where the rich and famous sit in the directors boxes where the likes of Sven Goran-Eriksson sit to watch the game – they had just re-laid the grass on the pitch and it was the most greenest of green. As next season will be the last at Highbury all season ticket holders will be offered their seat.
Next came the best part of the tour a look round the changing rooms not because I am a perv but because you get to see where they all get changed for the game. Sitting in front of Henry and Bergkamps shirts was something awesome.
We then got an even closer look at the pitch as we left the changing room and made our way through the players tunnel and out into the stadium to where Arsene Wenger the managers sits for the game.
All the time we are being shown around Kenny Samson is telling us the lots of interesting stories and facts about Arsenal.
Did you know……………………
Arsenal is the only football team in London with an Underground Station named after them.
This is largely down to foresight of Herbert Chapman, who pushed hard for the Tube stop just behind the North Bank to be re-christened. “Whoever heard of Gillespie Road,” he said at one point in the talks. “It is Arsenal around here!”
The idea had first occurred to Chapman when he visited the newly relegated Arsenal in 1913 as manager of Leeds City. It took months of lobbying and the change meant that thousands of tickets, maps and signs had to be replaced. Even machinery had to be re-configured.
Eventually, on November 5, 1932, Arsenal made its debut on the London Underground.
Arsenal provide seven players in the England team 14 November 1934
The foggy afternoon of November 14, 1934 saw Arsenal provide seven of England's starting XI for a friendly against world champions Italy, a record contribution that still stands today.
Last game in the red and white kit v Everton 11 May 2005
The final home game of the 2004/05 campaign was a poignant occasion for a number of reasons.
The Club's decision to mark its last year at Highbury with a commemorative 'redcurrant' strip meant that the famous red and white shirt was making its final appearance at the famous old stadium. The next time red and white shirts will be seen is at the new stadium.
Ian Wright breaks Cliff Bastin's goalscoring record 13 September 1997
'Wrighty' cemented his place in Arsenal history on a magical day at Highbury. Ian Wright broke the record against Bolton in a 4 – 1 stunner in which he scored a hat trick and took home the match ball.
Few would bet against Thierry Henry doing likewise when the final season at Highbury gets underway. Wright ended his Arsenal career with 185 goals; the French striker finished the 2004/05 campaign just four short of that mark.
I left the tour on a high my purse lighter but with the biggest smile on my face