Highbury Memories- Part One

RocktheCasbah

Established Member
Elite
Arsenal v Leeds United- January 1993

When my mum’s cousin, Alison, met a guy named a young police officer named Steve, little did I realise I would soon be enlisted in Steve’s efforts to get in with the family. I was fifteen at the time and drifting through school towards predicted disaster at the GCSE front. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do the work required, it was a more a case of, well, how can I put this? I just didn’t want to. Yes, that’s it, and nor did I particularly want to shave, and so it came to be that on a cold January evening I was sat on a Picadilly Line tube train speeding towards Arsenal with Steve lecturing me about putting more effort into my studies. And shaving the *** fluff off my face. Which, on reflection, he was definitely right about.

I was more concerned, as I half listened to Steve’s seemingly half hearted but genuine efforts to talk some sense into me, with the fact that when I had phoned the box office prior to Steve’s arrival at the house, they weren’t sure there would be any tickets left in the last hour and a half leading up to kick off. Steve assured me that we would be in time, and anyway, if we weren’t there were always the touts. The touts? I thought he was joking; after all, he was a P.O.L.I.C.E.M.A.N. No, I knew that if we arrived too late, so be it, we would be going home empty handed having wasted a couple of hours on the Picadilly Line. This did not help my pre match mood, which made it even more difficult for Steve to talk to me as we headed towards Arsenal tube.

As we emerged from the windy passage at Arsenal, it didn’t take long to ascertain our (my) worst fears had been realised, the game had indeed sold out. I hadn’t really believed Steve, when he said the touts were an option. He was about to prove me wrong. We wandered along past the main entrance to the North Bank, which of course was a building site fronted by a mural at the time, weaving through ticketholders, programme sellers, the stalls that populate Gillespie Road on a matchday, in search of our prey. I was terrified; the initmidating masculinity of the touts scared me, the idea of buying tickets from touts constricted my bladder so much I was in dire need of a toilet.

We turned right up Avenell Road toward the Marble Halls and suddenly I realised Steve was deep in conversation with someone. I didn’t really want to know, especially as Steve’s friends were all around us- yes the boys in blue- nonetheless Steve turned to me, sliding his wallet into his pocket and proffering two tickets for the Clock End. To this day I remember that he had got an adult and a junior ticket, face value eight and four quid respectively. A total price of twenty-five seemed a small price to pay, especially as the money wasn’t coming from my pocket. We didn’t hang around outside for long, which was good, if looking for a tout was bad, being in possession of a possibly counterfeit ticket was worse and by now I was close to boiling point. Steve’s next words didn’t really help, “If these are fake, I’m gonna nick him.” I wondered, possibly aloud, how Steve would find this guy, let alone nick him. Looking back now, I wonder what Steve had done with his warrant card, and also marvel at the fact that he was prepared to take such a risk just to go to the Arsenal- after all he’s a Portsmouth fan.
Anyway, admission was negotiated without too much trouble, which is more than I can say for the Clock End urinal, the masculinity of the place was overpowering from my perspective- it was my first time in the Clock End. And I guess I was still rattled by our manner of admission- kid’s stuff, I know. Anyway, we found a spot approximately ten, maybe twelve rows of steps directly behind the Clock End goal, and waited for the arrival of the teams.
We were minus Ian WrightWrightWright, who was serving one of his numerous suspensions that season- this one, I think, was for “punching” David Howells. Though if what he did could be deemed a punch, you’d have to think the FA Disciplinary committee must have been a proper set of wimps.
Plugged into Capital Gold via my sister’s walkman, the first half was a disaster, Leeds were the current champions of England and Lee Chapman and someone else scored a couple of what seemed like horrible, really scrappy goals in front of us to put them 2-0 up at the break. We were in trouble. General Graham did his stuff at half time (we were later to find out) and Arsenal came out fighting in the second half.
Barely ten minutes into that second half, Ray Parlour managed to get into the Leeds penalty area and swept the ball past John Lukic in the Leeds goal, we were back in it. Cue the resounding chant, “OOH AHH RAY PARLOUR!” Well, as resounding as it could be with one end of the ground a building site.

From then on, I knew it was going to be alright; we increased the pressure on the Leeds goal, but were not managing to find the crucial goal. Steve commented halfway through that second half that we might as well not have bothered. I replied that we were going to do it, not out of hope, I just knew, somehow it would turn out okay. Finally, with ten minutes left, and twenty five yards out, Paul Merson cut in from the left, past one of the Chris’s playing for Leeds at the time, Fairclough or Whyte, I can’t remember, and unleashed a thunderbolt that screamed past the dive of Lukic, if he did dive- he might not have bothered, again I can’t remember- and slammed into the top corner of the Clock End goal. Right in front of us. Everyone around me went mad, and so did I. About five minutes later, the guy in front of me turned around and asked me “Is this yours?” I looked at him and what he was holding, my sister’s walkman. I hadn’t even noticed that I wasn’t listening to Jonathan Pearce anymore. I smiled and thanked him, returning the (intact) black Sony brick to my pocket.

We left, I think just as the game was hitting injury time, Steve reasoning that it was unlikely that another goal would come. Besides which, he had work to get to and the last one in bought the donuts. As I would find out in later years, the Clock End is probably the worst area of the ground to exit and is also furthest from the tube, I couldn’t argue really. It was only due to Steve’s generosity that we were there in the first place. So we headed off and got on the tube, only to encounter a Leeds fan- possibly the nicest one I’ve ever run into- who greeted me with a smile and the words, “We’ll get you next time, son.”
Well, in the replay, the returning Ian Wright would prove him wrong with two goals in an enthralling game, which we eventually carried 3-2. Of course we then went onto avenge 91 at Wembley in the second of three Tottenham semi finals, before Andy Linighan wrote himself an unlikely page in Highbury history with the latest Cup Final goal of all time.
Oh, and despite a heroic drive from Isleworth to Merton, Steve did, unfortunately for him, end up buying the donuts…
 

Tegh

Established Member
Paypal me the money, and I'll get him one tonight.
It was indeed quality, as usual.
 

Andrew Cole Linighan

Active Member
Arsenal Vs Tottenham Hotspur.
0-0. (1995/96).

This North London Derby was going to be a weekend fixture. Had a letter come through the Post the week before, saying the game was to be played on the Monday Evening. I was taking a workmate with me, we managed to get time off work. I started driving towards London, taking the A40 past Oxford then the M40. I parked at Ruislip Gardens Tube Station. We started our journey on the London Underground, travelling on the Central Line then changing at Holborn to go on the Picadilly Line North to Arsenal Tube Station. The train was quite quiet at first, then began to get busier as we travelled towards Central London. We got off at Arsenal Tube Station, we made our way through the long walkway at the Station towards the Exit. Once outside, we had a look at the Street Stalls that sold Arsenal Memorabilia, old programmes etc. We had a Hot Dog and a Burger from a Fast Food Stall. Afterwards, we made our way towards Highbury. As we approached Highbury, there were cries of 'Programme'. I bought a programme then we made our way towards the Clock End Stand.
It was getting busier, there were Ticket Touts about. We got to the turnstiles then made our way into the Ground.
We were seated in the middle of the Stand. It got busier. The Sp**s fans were seated to the left of us in the corner of the Clock End. Both sets of Supporters exchanged plesantries. The game started, Gerry Francis was the Sp**s Manager up against Bruce Rioch of Arsenal. Sp**s had the likes of Teddy Sheringham and Andy Sinton playing. Teddy Sheringham got injured then went off to receive treatment. He came back onto the pitch with his head bandaged up. He was greeted with Indian noises from the Arsenal Fans as he came back on. Chances were few and far between, both sides were cancelling each other out. The game finished 0-0. The Arsenal fans at the end of the game were instructed to leave before the Sp**s fans. As we started to slowly make our way up the steps towards the Exit, we looked to our right and we could see the Tottenham fans ripping up the seats and throwing them up in the air. Exiting Highbury, we made our way towards Arsenal Underground Station. Outside the Station entrance was two queues if Supporters waiting to use the Underground. Police on Horseback were instructed supporters on were to wait to board the Train.
A good night watching the North London Derby.PXL_20210524_174932530.jpg
 

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