What a photo, eh? (it clicks big, and should then click bigger)
While looking for something else I came across this wonderful photo. It’s taken at the Arsenal Stadium, what everyone knew – erroneously – as Highbury, a place I know (knew – sob!) so well. The occasion: The Arsenal vs Glasgow Rangers. The date: 17th October 1951. Attendance: 62,000. Weather: Smog with fog, turning to a smokers smog with more fog. Ah yeah, and the result: The Gunners 3:2 Rangers. Go on, click on the pic.
For American readers, this was a football (that’s ‘football’) match in North London, back when London was famously smogged out in the immediate post-war years. It was also at the home of the Arsenal, the glorious Gunners, my club, my father’s club, my grandfather’s club and a place I went to hundreds of times before we moved to a shiny new stadium just around the corner. Like countless other Gooners, I think the shiny new home is nice and impressive, but Highbury is Highbury, the place we were baptised into Goonerdom and which will always be home.
But what a photo! I love how culture opens doors to society how it was in times past, and this is a photo I can look at endlessly. I had pretty much the same view for countless matches, from the Clock End and to the right of where the photographer is here. I’ve always loved night matches. They’re the evenings when, with the floodlights on, you can’t see any buildings, planes or stars. It’s as if the match is taking place under a deep black dome. All stadiums feel more intimate and matches more intense under lights, which is why many evening games have the best atmospheres. Alright, that and a bit of boozing time before kick-off then.
I wonder if the photographer knew he was capturing a wonderful image, or if he was just snapping away. He’s on a gantry at the back, near the copper on the left, so maybe he was a press man. I suppose working class men didn’t have cameras in those days and just about everyone there would have been a working class man. It was only the upper tiers in those famous, old East and West Stands which had seating in those days, and professional types sat there. Everyone else stood. Maybe my grandfather was there. I bet my father was. He used to bunk off school to watch the Arsenal squad train, and he went to all the matches he could, doing whatever he could to earn the (what, shillings?) to get in. I’ll have to ask him if he recalls it when I see him tomorrow.
I was thinking about changing the boring Windows wallpaper on this here laptop. Decision made then and the new wallpaper found.