Tuesday, 7 August 2018

The Arsenal Cafe, London N5

Way back to Arsenal FC's footballing days at Highbury Stadium, there were all sorts of places along the routes to the ground that would become fans favourite haunts for a quick bite to eat on the way to the game. The burger & hot dog stalls that parked up round the ground specially for match days, or the fish and chips shops in the locality. There were also several Arsenal-themed cafes which were open most of the week, but inevitably had their busiest days when there was a match on. 

I took this photograph of ARSENAL CAFE around 1990, which was in Gillespie Road, just around the corner from Highbury. Like so many local cafes throughout the nation that were or are situated up-tight to their neighbouring football grounds, these places often serve as a sacred part of a fans pre-match ritual.

Some can survive for decades, along with the yellowing memorabilia on their walls triggering nostalgic memories of players or successes past, or serving as a learning board for fans too young to remember - reinforcing the special role that these cafes play as home turf for fan camaraderie and pre-match chatter. 

I've no idea when the Arsenal Cafe closed down, most likely around the time that Arsenal left Highbury for the Emirates Stadium, and would be grateful to anyone reading this who may know...

With Arsenal's 2018/2019 Premiership Season just around the corner, I've accompanied this image with a piece of the club's history, which would be typical of the kinds of framed ephemera adorning the walls of the likes of ARSENAL CAFE...

Taken from a folded two-sided sheet with printed facsimile signatures, and a photograph of the 1965/1966 squad. It has some relevance to the present day, as this was from the final season of Billy Wright's short-lived managership, when the Club had one of their poorest ever runs of form in living memory, a feat which was echoed by Arsene Wenger's final season in charge of the team.. 

So what next for the Arsenal?