Arsenal Memories – The Highbury atmosphere was incredible

Highbury memories. by Ken 1945

The comradeship, the closeness, the pitch, the always positive fans, the police band, the half time manual scores going up, the clock icon, the peanut seller weaving in and out of the crowd, the programme seller doing exactly the same thing, getting caught in the old-fashioned turnstiles, the surging crowd when we scored, the cigarette smoke, the closeness of the players, the tiny little merchandise shop, the old-fashioned season tickets featuring the tear off stubs, numbered for each match, the enormous line of fans patiently waiting to get in when I first started going, the list goes on and on.

Some personal memories:
Carrying my eldest daughter through the turnstiles when she was six years old and not paying for her during one season. It ended when a steward asked me to accompany him back to the turnstiles and point out which turnstile operator had let me do this.

I refused to tell him and, with my daughter in tears and expecting to be escorted out, while losing my season ticket, the steward took me to the clock end, apologised that we had to stand and asked me not to do it again!!!

Walking round the ground when we were playing Blackpool. The crowd was so sparse, it was no problem to walk around and stand where ever I wanted to… we lost 4-1 If I remember correctly.

Arriving for a cup match late, just getting in before the ground was declared full and not being able to see any of the game, except in sudden glimpses as the crowd surged forward. What an atmosphere it was though, and the crowd was incredible. As I was being pushed to the exit at the end of the game, someone shouted “watch that little lad, he’s going to get trampled”. Thinking
this would be fun, I made out it was happening – the next second I was hoisted up in the air and handed down the top of the crowd to the entrance.

Don’t ask me how it happened, but the next thing, I was sitting on a chair outside a lovely old ladies front garden, trying to sip my first ever taste of either whisky or brandy!!!

She made me sit there until the crowd was nearly gone and then gave me half a crown to buy some chocolate at the kiosk outside The Arsenal Underground station – I bought my first ever Mars bar for sixpence and my day was complete.

How I miss that majestic stadium, with it’s wonderful history and players, in later years, I was able to take one of my team of pharmacy sales people to the boxes at the clock end for a daylong meeting. The service from the club was first class, as was the food and drink.

One of the lads brought along his WHU scarf and within seconds, I had opened the sliding doors and threw the thing down onto the clock end terraces and made him wait until lunch before he was allowed to go and retrieve it.

The season of the Invincibles was, of course, a wonderful experience, viewed from the North bank lower tier season ticket seat.

At the end of the final game, the atmosphere was indescribable, joy, relief, unbelievable in both cases.

As the players came walking around, the upper tier was bouncing up and down at an alarming degree. So much so, that some of the fans from the lower tier actually moved away because it looked as if, any minute, the upper tier would fall on top of us – however, as the Invincibles turned the corner from the east stand, all was forgotten and we all we’re singing, dancing, hugging each other, crying with joy and wanting this feeling to go on for ever.

It brings a lump to my throat just thinking about it all once again – Oh to be a Highbury Gooner!!!!


Tags Arsenal memories


  1. Great memories for you Ken. Such Highbury memories for me too. I lived just off Blackstock Road so that majestic stadium was ingrained in my hipoocampus. Our club was the home of class and dignity, it had the air of something special. A unique magic for countless special years which finally culminated with the invincibles. Now the magicians have gone and we are left with impersonators and self-serving owners.

      1. I assume, Jon, you are a similar age to me. It’s great that you use words to express yourself with such certainty and clarity. Whilst I don’t have the confidence in the present manager that you do, more importantly we have a joint long history of enjoying and supporting this great club. For me the problems are my great memories………at the present the club is just a shadow of those memories.

  2. My earliest memories are of going to my Nan and grandad who lived in Jackson Rd – just off the Holloway Rd where my young brother was deposited and the three of us would walk to the ground. Always just below the clock and we always stood with our backs against the barriers as a safety precaution in case of one of those surges when there was a big crowd. My mum’s brothers and a couple of cousins would often come along. A family afternoon out. Later it was taking my son and seeing his face as Tony Adams led the team out and it is etched in my memory.
    I just loved the anticipation as we walked along the backstreets, all smiles and allwrapped up in the camaraderie of being with our fellow gooners

    1. SueP
      Sue, good days, good memories indeed. That walk to Highbury to watch games was very special. I hope one day the Emirates will evoke the same experience.

  3. My first time at Highbury – the late 1940’s – think it was 1947 when I was 5 years old. Loved the place. Just magic. Saw so many golden oldies (in no particular order):

    Jimmy Logie, Cliff Holton, Joe Mercer, Jack Kelsey, Don Roper, Wally Barnes, David Bowen, Dennis Compton, George Eastham, David Herd, Joe Baker, Bob Wilson, Charlie George, Frank McClintock. George Graham, Danny Clapton, Joe Haverty, Jimmy Bloomfield……………… so many more heroes.

    I used to get the Piccadilly Line from Hammersmith to the Arsenal. Spent all my pocket money on tube fares and getting into Highbury. I remember I used to get out of the station and even when I was there 2 hours before kick off I’d start running to the ground. Couldn’t wait to get in – down near the front at North Bank end. Adults would pass me over their heads so I could get at the front and see the game.

    There was something so special about Highbury. So much more and so much better than Stamford Bridge, WHL and Upton Park. Regal, majestic and inspiring. Highbury!

    There were so many magic moment for a fan like me. Winning the Inter-Cities Fair Cup in 1969 (“MY” first attendance for Silverware after years of jealously having to put up with the continual taunts of my mates who supported the dreaded Spurs. The first Arsenal Double team (I was doing night-school at Waltham Polytechnic every Tuesday evening at that time but Arsenal played their mid-week home games on Tuesday nights. Every time I’d sit in the college refractory around 6 p.m having a cuppa between lectures when suddenly, almost without realising it, I’d be off in my Austin A.35 from Walthamstow to Finsbury Park for the game. Was threatened with expulsion by the College senio lecturers but I couldn’t not go !!

    One truly wonderful game that stands out above all others (apart from FA Cup and league triumphs) was in 1964. Arsenal 4 Spurs 4. 64,000 people plasma and my 2 Gooner mates! Losing 4-2 at half time against the Spurs Double side plus Jimmy Greaves. No chance. But when Geoff Strong (or was it Alan Skirton???) went up for that last minute corner of the match and equalised past Bill Brown it was magical. Fabulous. Unforgettable.

    Now I watch at the Emirates from the Diamond Club – jeez how times have changed! Love it – after all I’m a “young” 78 yearly now BUT nothing but nothing for me compares to Highbury, and standing on the North Bank in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s!

    We love you Arsenal, of yes we do. We love you Arsenal oh we love you”.

    Will be so happy when we clear out some of the rubbish we have in the current squad. At least 5 or 6 are them are not fit to wear the shirt! Hope that doesn’t mean you’ll delete the whole of my post!!!


    1. Magnificent post Peter. In that 4-4 draw we were 2 -4 down going into thE final muinutes. Baker scored and Strong then equalised. CUE MAYHEM!

    1. Sue P, a “fair few” is entirely accurate . I’d say about ten in the squad need to leave, most of them urgently, before things can much improve.

      1. Cheers Sue.

        Hi Sue,
        Being an Arsenal man for over 70 years, this current “mob” make me so sad. One them is probably the worst player I have ever seen in an Arsenal shirt (and he cost over 30 million pounds!!!). Several others should be dumped asap. We are now a Premiership Tier 3 team (at best) and unless we do something soon I don’t think we have a hope of getting back into the top EPL. Sad sad sad.

        Apart from that, have a great Christmas and New Year. 4.

        Best – Peter

        1. Same to you Peter
          PS I wrote the other day of my teenage desire for Peter Marinelllo who was a record transfer of £100,000
          It’s laughable these days.

  4. What a memorable read KEN. YOUR VERY BEST THUS FAR IMO.

    Just not the same now though, as everything is so dismally corporate and profit driven which has spoilt everything in football, other than the actual game. And VAR is doing its level best to ruin even that. Sigh!

    Worst thing the game ever did was removing the old maximum wage and the gross greed from which all the other evils flow comes directly because of that greed.
    Easy to see that so very clearly when we are old enough to remember when the game still had a soul and was not ALL done for MONEY MONEY MONEY.

  5. Not living near Highbury we had to get the train to the game. We had to walk from Finsbury Park station to the ground with hundreds of other supporters, the smell of hot dog stands, vendors selling scarves and rosettes. Then queueing up to get in and then watching the game standing in front of the West Stand, awful view at pitch level but so close to the pitch. Remember Peter Storey coming over to retrieve a ball while warming up and shouting to him “Come on cold eyes who are you going to do today “ and getting a wink and smile in return. Obviously didn’t have mobile phones so had to watch the boards for half time scores, Spurs losing always got the biggest cheer. Happy Days…….

Comments are closed

Top Blog Sponsors