No.1: My first visit to Highbury -
28th August 1967 - Arsenal v Liverpool
We sat in the East Stand Lower Tier; my Dad just paid at the turnstile – no advance ticket required - and I pushed hard against a heavy revolving turnstile that clanked loudly as it reluctantly turned before depositing me inside the stadium. I felt I had entered another world. My Dad may have bought me a drink or something to eat, I don’t remember, but I do remember climbing the few steps up into the stand and my first incredible sighting of that lovingly tended luminous green sward. My only previous experience of football pitches were the muddy battlefields in my local park dotted with the odd spot of dog mess. This was something completely different; it was an unforgettable moment.
I always found sitting in the lower tier at Highbury a rather strange experience. Because of the upper tier seating above, the ceiling – if you can call it that – was low and I would come away at the end of a game with the feeling I’d watched the match peering through a letter box. If anyone hoofed the ball up in the air, and I can assure you they did – often - it would disappear from view for a few moments, leaving you to watch the players jostling for position as though they were part of a life-sized spot-the-ball competition.
To be honest I don’t remember any details of that first game other than the fact that Arsenal won 2–0. My lack of any memories of the game bothered me and I wondered why that was. I decided to investigate and I think I found the answer; one newspaper report unenthusiastically described it as ‘a generally poor game’. But I had no comprehension of good football or poor football back then, just football – and Arsenal had won. I was hooked.