Arsenal Stadium

Arsenal Stadium

Infobox Stadium
stadium_name = Arsenal Stadium
nickname = Highbury, "The Home of Football"

fullname = Arsenal Stadium
location = Highbury, London, England
opened = 6 September 1913
renovated = 1932-36, 1992-93
closed = 7 May 2006
demolished = 2006; being redeveloped as housing
owner = Arsenal Holdings plc
operator = Arsenal
construction_cost = £125,000 (1913 original)
£175,000 (1930s redevelopment)
£22.5m (1990s redevelopment)
architect = Archibald Leitch
(1913 original)

C. W. Ferrier and W. Binnie
(1930s redevelopment)
tenants = Arsenal FC (1913-2006)
seating_capacity = 38,419 (at closure), 73,000 (peak)
dimensions = 109×73 yds / 100×67 mcite web

title=Key Facts

Arsenal Stadium was a football stadium in Highbury, North London, which was the home ground of Arsenal Football Club between 6 September 1913 and 7 May 2006. It was popularly known as Highbury due to its location and was given the affectionate nickname of "The Home of Football" by the club.cite web

title=Old Highbury

It was originally built in 1913 on the site of a local college's recreation ground and has been significantly redeveloped twice. The first came in the 1930s, from which the Art Deco East and West Stands date; the second in the late 1980s and early 1990s following the Taylor Report, during which the terraces at both ends of the pitch were removed, making it all-seater with four stands. The resulting reduction in capacity and matchday revenue eventually led to Arsenal opting to build the Emirates Stadium nearby, to which they moved in 2006. Currently, Highbury is undergoing redevelopment to turn it into an apartment complex, with most of the stadium being demolished; parts of the East and West Stands will remain to be incorporated into the new development.

The stadium also hosted England matches and FA Cup semi-finals, as well as boxing, baseball and cricket. Its presence also led to the local Tube station being renamed to Arsenal in 1932, making it the only station on the network to be named after a football club.


The original stadium was built in 1913, when Woolwich Arsenal moved from the Manor Ground in Plumstead, South East London to Highbury, leasing the recreation fields of St John's College of Divinity for £20,000. The stadium was hurriedly built over the summer of that year, and was designed by Archibald Leitch, architect of many other football grounds of that era; it featured a single stand on the eastern side, and the other three sides had banked terracing. The new stadium cost £125,000. It opened whilst not yet fully complete, with Arsenal's first match of the 1913–14 season, a 2–1 Second Division win against Leicester Fosse on 6 September 1913; Leicester's Tommy Benfield scored the first goal at the new ground, while George Jobey was the first Arsenal player to do so. [cite web

title=Arsenal's First Game at Highbury
] Highbury hosted its first England match in 1920. Arsenal bought the stadium site outright in 1925, for £64,000.

No significant portion of Leitch's original stadium remains today, following a series of bold redevelopments during the 1930s. The first of these was the West Stand, designed by Claude Waterlow Ferrier and William Binnie in the Art Deco style, which opened in 1932; the same year, on 5 November, the local Tube station was renamed from Gillespie Road to Arsenal. Leitch's main stand was demolished to make way for a new East Stand, matching the West, in 1936. The West Stand cost £45,000 while the East Stand went far over budget and ended up costing £130,000, mainly thanks to the expense of the facade. [cite book

author=Soar, Phil & Tyler, Martin
title=The Official Illustrated History of Arsenal
publisher=Hamlyn | year=2005
id=ISBN 0-600-61344-5

] The North Bank terrace was given a roof, and the southern terrace had a clock fitted to its front, giving it the name The Clock End.

For the next 50 years, the stadium changed little, although during World War II the North Bank terrace was bombed and had to be rebuilt; the roof was not restored until 1956. [cite web | url= | title=Highbury - A history | | accessdate=2008-08-18 ] Floodlights were fitted in 1951, with the first floodlit match being a friendly against Hapoel Tel Aviv on 17 October of that year. Undersoil heating was added in 1964. Unlike at many other grounds, Arsenal refused to install perimeter fencing, even at the height of hooliganism in the 1980s, a decision that saw it struck off the list of eligible FA Cup semi-final venues.cite book

author=Hornby, Nick
title=Fever Pitch
id=ISBN 1-84018-900-2

In the early 1990s, the Taylor report on the Hillsborough disaster was published, which recommended that football stadiums become all-seater. The North Bank, which had become home of Arsenal's most passionate supporters, was demolished in 1992, and a new all-seater stand opened in its place the following year. During the work, a giant mural of fans was placed behind the goal at that end, to give the illusion that the players were kicking towards a crowd rather than a construction site. The mural initially attracted criticism for its absence of black fans, which was quickly rectified. [cite web

author=Gleiber, Steve
title=Arsenal Football Club - The Glorious History, 1987 to today
] The Clock End was also redeveloped, with a roof and executive boxes fitted in 1989 and seating installed four years later.


At the time of its closure, the stadium consisted of four separate all-seater stands; the pitch was aligned north-south, with the North Bank Stand and South Stand (popularly known as the Clock End) at the ends. The East and West Stands ran alongside the pitch and are two of the few examples of British football stands designed in the Art Deco style. The East Stand incorporated the club's offices and was well known for its marble halls (though the floors were actually terrazzo) which are often cited in media depictions of the stadium, [cite news

title=Pool, gym, garden, marble halls...
work=The Observer
author=Garrett, Alexander

] and the facade that faces onto Avenell Road. The stand is considered architecturally significant enough to have been designated a Grade II listed building.cite web

title=A Conservation Plan for Highbury Stadium, London
publisher=Islington Council | accessdate=2007-01-23 | pages=p.7


The stadium's main entrances were on Gillespie Road, Avenell Road and Highbury Hill. When it closed, Highbury had a capacity of 38,419 [cite web

title=Arsenal Stadium, Highbury
] (approximately 12,500 in the North Bank, 11,000 in the West Stand, 9,000 in the East Stand and 6,000 in the Clock End), all seated, and had Jumbotron screens in the south-east and north-west corners. Before the Taylor Report and the era of all-seater stadiums in Britain, both the North Bank and Clock End consisted of terracing, and the stadium often saw crowds of up to 60,000 or more; its largest attendance was 73,295 on 9 March 1935 when Arsenal played Sunderland in the First Division; the game finished 0–0. [cite web | url= | title=Club Records: Appearances/Attendances | | accessdate=2008-08-18 ]

Arsenal Stadium was well known for its very small immaculately-kept pitch, which measured only 109×73 yards (100×67 metres). Arsenal's groundsmen, Steve Braddock and his successor Paul Burgess, have won the FA Premier League's Groundsman of the Year award several times. [cite web

title=Super Surface at Emirates


Closure and redevelopment

The post-Taylor capacity of Highbury was limited to 38,419, while Arsenal's success during the 1990s and 2000s meant that virtually every home match was filled to near total capacity. [cite web | url= | title=Arsenal Football Club plc | work=The Political Economy of Football ] Restrictions, such as the East Stand's status as a listed building, and the fact the stadium was surrounded on all sides by a residential area, made any future expansion of Highbury difficult and expensive. [cite web | url= | title= | title=Arsenal consider leaving hallowed marble halls | work=The Independent | date=1997-08-18 | accessdate=2008-08-19 ] Eventually, Arsenal decided to leave Highbury and construct a new stadium, the Emirates Stadium in nearby Ashburton Grove, which opened in July 2006. Arsenal's offices were moved to a new building, Highbury House, which was named in commemoration of the former stadium.

For their final season at Highbury (2005–06), Arsenal ran a series of promotions honouring the stadium's legacy. A commemorative logo was designed, featuring the club's traditional Art Deco crest from the 1930s; the club's history at Highbury was also celebrated through a series of themed matchdays. On the field, Arsenal temporarily set aside their traditional red shirts with white sleeves for the season and adopted a solid redcurrant shirt, the colour they wore during their first season at Highbury in 1913–14.

Arsenal's final game at the stadium was their FA Premier League match on 7 May 2006 against
Wigan Athletic, which they won 4–2, with their captain and all-time leading goal scorer, Thierry Henry, getting a hat trick. After the stadium's closure, Arsenal held an auction to sell off many of the stadium's parts, including pieces of the pitch, the goalposts and former manager George Graham's desk; [cite news

title=The Highbury Auction - Arsenal under the hammer
work=Yahoo! UK & Ireland News
] sale of the stadium's seats had to be cancelled, however, after it was found they contained trace amounts of the toxic metal cadmium. [cite news

title=Toxic fears hit Highbury auction
work=BBC Sport


Arsenal Stadium is currently (as of 2008) being redeveloped and converted into apartments, in a project known as "Highbury Square", a scheme that will see 711 properties built on the site.cite web | url= | title=Highbury Square Development (Revised Scheme) | publisher=Islington Council | accessdate=2008-08-18 ] The North Bank and Clock End stands have already been demolished, with the famous clock having been moved to the new stadium; the exteriors of the listed Art Deco East Stand and the matching West Stand are being preserved and incorporated into the new developments, while the rest of the stands' structures have been removed. The pitch will become a communal garden. In October 2005 the proposed apartments went on sale; as of May 2006 all properties in the North, East and West Stands had been taken. The apartments are expected to be ready by 2010. [cite web | url= | title=Buy a home at The Stadium, Highbury Square! | | accessdate=2008-08-18 ]

Other roles

As well as being home to Arsenal, Highbury occasionally functioned as a home stadium for England matches; 12 internationals were played at Highbury from 1920 to 1961, most of them being friendlies. These included both England's first full home international against opposition outside of Great Britain and Ireland (Belgium in 1923), and the "Battle of Highbury", England's 3–2 win over World Champions Italy in 1934, where seven Arsenal players started the match. Highbury was also used as a football venue for two matches in the 1948 London Olympics – a first-round match and a quarter-final [cite web

title=XIV. Olympiad London 1948 Football Tournament

] – although it did not host any games in the 1966 FIFA World Cup or Euro 96, both of which were held in England; by the time of the latter, the pitch had been ruled too small for international football.

Highbury was the venue for twelve FA Cup semi-finals as a neutral ground, the first in 1929 and the last in 1997, although between 1984 and 1992 it was off the FA's list of approved venues, after Arsenal's refusal to install perimeter fencing following a pitch invasion by Everton fans during their semi-final against Southampton. It also hosted the London XI's home leg against Lausanne Sports in the 1955-58 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup semi-finals; London won 2-0 on the night and 3-2 on aggregate. [cite web

title=Inter-Cities Fairs Cup 1955-58 Results

] Clapton Orient also played a single home game at Highbury in 1930 while their own ground, Lea Bridge Road, underwent development work to meet League standards.

Arsenal did not always play their home matches at Highbury in the 93 years they were based there. During the Second World War the stadium was used as an ARP station and was bombed; Arsenal played their matches at White Hart Lane, home of North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, until Highbury re-opened in 1946. More recently, Arsenal's home UEFA Champions League matches in the 1998–99 and 1999–00 seasons were played at Wembley Stadium, as Highbury's already limited capacity had to be reduced to accommodate advertising hoardings. [cite book | author=Soar & Tyler | title=The Official Illustrated History of Arsenal | year=2005 | pages=p. 197 ] Arsenal's record at Wembley (P6 W2 D1 L3) was relatively poor, and after two seasons the club switched back to playing at Highbury, not least because since Wembley closed for rebuilding in October 2000, it would not have been able to host their 2000–01 campaign.

Highbury has also hosted several cricket and baseball matches, and it was the venue for the 1966 World Heavyweight boxing title bout between Henry Cooper and Muhammad Ali, which Ali won. It has featured on the silver screen as well, having been the backdrop to at least two movies: "The Arsenal Stadium Mystery", and "Fever Pitch".

Final record of results


Arsenal's complete competitive record at Highbury is as follows: [cite web

title=Arsenal at Highbury - a complete record

Photo gallery

Footnotes and references

Further reading

*cite book
author=Glanville, Brian | title=Arsenal Stadium History: The Official Illustrated History of Highbury Stadium
id=ISBN 0600612171

*cite book
author=Smith, Bruce
title=Highbury: The Story of Arsenal Stadium
id=ISBN 1845960122

*cite book
author=Spurling, Jon | title=Highbury: The Story of Arsenal in N5
id=ISBN 075287344X

External links

* [ Highbury - The Final Salute] Official tribute on
* [ Highbury Square] Official website of the redevelopment project
* [ Arsenal Stadium] History and photos at Keke's Stadium Mania
* [ Highbury] Photos at The Stadium Guide

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