My earliest memory of Highbury Stadium is eating sandwiches and drinking orange squash, surrounded by football players in the Halfway House, a tiny lesser known private room annexed half way down the tunnel.The famous Arsenal clock ©afc
From this room you could hear the clip clop of studs going up and down the long concrete steps that took the players down the incredibly narrow gently sloped tunnel from the dressing rooms to the hallowed surface of the immaculate Arsenal pitch.
When you look into the history of this tiny room that so many know so little about you can almost liken it to a tiny but incredibly important organ within the body of giant.The restored facade of Highbury, now the entrance to Highbury Square. Courtesy Allies and Morrison ©Dennis Gilbert
Since Arsenal F.C. moved out of Highbury and into their brand new purpose built Emirates Stadium in 2006, Highbury has been turned into Residential flats. However, the facade of the beautiful Grade II listed Art Deco East and West stands remain, as does the iconic marble hall entrance. Even the playing area that was witness to so many historic moments remains as an open garden space.
There is so much I could write about Highbury Stadium, not least the fact that it seemed impossibly squeezed amongst residential houses, suddenly appearing as you turn a corner as if transported from another world.The new development of Highbury, Highbury Square. Courtesy Allies and Morrison ©Dennis Gilbert
The stands were compact and tight around the pitch bringing the action close. This meant you could hear the players shouts and appreciate the speed with which they played the game. I occasionally watched games from the players paddock, situated directly behind the little glass boxes that used to house the manager and physiotherapist.
I spent almost 30 years going to the church of Arsenal, worshipping some of the best football players that ever graced the game, including the likes of Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira, but the privilege I had in having a father that played for Arsenal for a decade, meant I got to witness not only the grandeur of the stadium, but also the beating heart.The pitch of Highbury Stadium, transformed into a communal garden. Courtesy Allies and Morrison ©Dennis Gilbert