Friday 14 February 2020

004 highbury arsenal


Date of First Visit: 9th NOVEMBER 1968




ATTENDANCE 34,168 (2,000 Toon fans)


Mee 'debut' visit tih the 'smoke' tih see the Toon play Arsenal, torned oot tih be a real 'eye opener'. For 'innocent'? school kid's like meesel and mee mate 'Billy' the thing that fascinated us as we travelled on the supporters bus through the streets of London was just how big the bloody place was.

Mile after mile of endless streets an' buildings, and even at six in the mornin' it was quite busy.
(Wi'd left Tyneside at midnight, as yih did in those days)

As this was wor forst time doon London to watch The Toon, we were taken tih see 'the sights' like 'The Hooses of Parliament', 'The Tower of London', and 'Big Ben'.

Next to the Hooses of Parliament there was an aad gadgie sellin' poppies from a staall as it was rememberance Sunday the followin' day. Aa got mee eye on a huge poppy at the back the size of a futbaall rosette and insisted that that!was the one aa wanted!

Aa gave him a threpny bit and he reluctantly pinned it to the lapel on mee 'nanny goat' an' aa felt as pleased as punch with mee new 'fashion accessory' as aa sauntered off doon the road! (aa say 'reluctantly', as aa think he wanted more than threepence for it!) (one pence in todays money!)

Aalso on the tour was a visit tih Downing Street, where aa was hopin' tih meet Harold Wilson, the then Prime Minister, for a bit 'crack' aboot futbaall. (he supported Huddersfield Town)

In the 1960's, yih could actually waalk reet up tih the front door of 'Number 10' (unlike nuw, where there are huged spiked gates at the bottom of the street tih bar the way, because of the threat of terrorism) (how times change!) 'Officer Dibble' was guardin' the front entrance, and aa asked him if ah could knock on the door and speak tih the Prime Minister.

"Is Harold in?", aa said in an optimistic voice, "a'v got some important business tih discuss with him aboot futbaall!",
---but, aall ah got was one of those,

---Aa thought it best not tih ask him again, for the fear of bein' hoyed into 'The Tower of London', so wih left very disappointed, (not knowin' what 'Harold' thought of the Toon's chances that day!) and headed for Islington, 'Norf Landon'!.

We arrived at Highbury a while later, and (as luck would have it!) the team bus pulled up ootside the main entrance just as wih got there.
The directors, one wearin' a monocle! (a member of the 'McKeag Clan', ah think?) got off forst, and with their 'noses in the air', they completely ignored the loyal fans who'd travelled doon tih London.

The players in contrast, (a'm glad tih say!) acknowledged the waitin' supporters and signed a few autographs before gannin in.

The uniformed usher on the door looked very regal (as did the stadium!) and as wih entered the East Stand paddock the grandeur of Highbury was there for aall tih see.

The two double decker 'mirror image' stands, with whitewashed balcony waalls on either side of the pitch, looked very impressive, and it was certainly a million miles better than anything wih had at St. James' Park (which still had open terracin' on two sides of the pitch!) To wor right was The Northbank End where the Arsenal 'choir' congregated underneath the roofed terraces and to wor left was the open Clock End which (of course!) had a huge clock the size of 'Big Ben' at the rear of the terracin'

Aalthough the match ended nowts each, it was far from a borin' game, with the Toon by far the better team, and for every save that McFaul in the Newcastle goal had tih mek, his counterpart Bob Wilson in the Arsenal goal had tih mek two.

However, 'The Mags' were very lucky not tih give a penalty away when 'Pop' Robson punched an Arsenal shot ower the bar, which the ref. and linesman did'nt see (much tih the annoyance of 'The Gunners' forwards!) who had tih settle for a corner.

Later on, things evened themselves oot, when 'Pop' evaded several tackles, in a run from one end of the pitch tih the other.

His shot, which was gannin in, was deflected tih Jackie Sinclair who fired a powerful drive into the net!---anly for the ref. tih disallow it for offside!. (looked o.k. tih me, like?)

This was an excellent performance from the 'Black 'n' Whites' in a game wih should iv won easily.
On the final whistle wih headed for the 'bright lights' of the 'West End' with wor 'guides', and in particular, we made for the seedy 'red light strip joints' of 'Soho' for some more 'sight seein'! ('Fenwick's window' in Northumberland Street was neva like this!)

(For 'innocent' 14 year old's like me and Billy, this was the REAL 'EYE OPENER'!)

©Fink ™(the mad-sad grundhpper!)


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