Thursday, 15 August 2013

Highbury, August 1985

It's just a couple of days to go to the beginning of the new Premier League season, and supporters of the 20 competing teams are preparing for their emotions to be kicked up and down and around the field for yet another year.
So it's definitely appropriate to pull out of their paper wallet, a bunch of photographs that I took on August 24th 1985, with a Kodak Pocket Instamatic camera using 110 cartridge-based film. The match was Arsenal versus Manchester United, in the old First Divison, at the Gunners former ground, Highbury Stadium, Islington, London N5. It was Arsenal's second home match of the 1985-86 season.
These snaps were just taken for a bit of fun, but inevitably almost thirty years on, they have become an intriguing reminder of what our footballing past looked like.

The roasted peanut seller and his hand-sized white paper bags filled with nuts always stood around the stadium's main entrance in Avenell Road
A bright Summer's day on Avenell Road, a punky-looking mum (or is mum in the pink top?), police on horseback, and fans passing an entrance to Highbury's 'Clock End' - which is to the right of the photo

The iconic East Stand in Avenell Road opened in 1936. It's facade is now incorporated into the block of luxury flats that was built on the site of Arsenal's first North London home.
What is so striking about this snapshot of ordinary football fans outside the stadium in 1985 is that not one of them is wearing a replica shirt. In fact there are no scarves, or anything that identifies these fans as Arsenal (or perhaps Man Utd) supporters.

Looking down on the East Stand's lower tier. Note that it was split - with the front half for standing in, while the back half was seated. Again, these fans are wearing clothes that look like they were bought in C&A, rather than these days where expensive replica tops are purchased in the Club Shop.

The Arsenal players emerge from the East Stand's dressing room, and head for the centre circle
8: Ian Allinson, 2: Viv Anderson, 6: Tommy Caton, 4: Steve Williams, 7: Stewart Robson, 1: John Lukic, 3: Kenny Sansom

The players salute the fans, and the TV cameras on the balcony of the West Stand (built in 1932)
The rest of the team that day was 5: David O'Leary, 9: Charlie Nicholas, 10: Tony Woodcock, 11: Graham Rix, and 12: Paul Davis. Only one substitute allowed back then!

For the record, Arsenal lost the match 1-2 , and were to end 7th in Division 1 that season, three places behind United who were 4th.

Tomorrow I will post another set of photos taken at Highbury. This time in Arsenal's Championship winning season of 1990-91. It will be fascinating to see what a difference five years will have on football fans fashions...

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