My pilgrimage to the Emirates Stadium… my Mecca.

Welcome to the GunnersoreArse blog. Being blogged 918.74 kilometers from the Emirates stadium.

Well here I am, back in France and thinking about my trip to the UK. I had one main objective, to see a match at the Emirates but circumstances conspired against me and it ended up as a pilgrimage to the Mecca of football… Highbury and the Emirates Stadium. The day started in Bedfordshire and a I took the train to St Pancras, the first thing I noticed was how St Pancras and King Cross have changed from the filthy, drug addict and prostitute period of my youth, an International train terminal full of tourists and travellers.

I then walked up Caledonian Road as far as Copenhagen Street, just till Frank Maclintocks old pub the Sutton Arms… which is now a restaurant but it looked as if it’s closed down. I then walked up Copenhagen Street to Chapel Street market, and being a Monday there wasn’t a market. Onwards I went to the Angel and Upper Street, what a change, Upper street is now full of trendy bars and restaurants and a couple of glances into Estate Agents windows soon showed me that it’s now impossible to buy a house in Islington for less than £1 million. What a contrast to when I lived there in the 60’s and 70’s. I continued along, happily looking at French and Italian restaurants and trendy bars until I reached Highbury Corner and I just had to have a drink in the Cock. This was the next shock, £4 for a glass of wine… in France I can pay 8 euros (£5) for 5 litres of wine. However, the barmaid was friendly (and Polish).

After an expensive but still refreshing glass of white wine I continued into Holloway Road. Here I noticed quite a contrast to Upper Street, a bit more run down and tatty, the Holloway of my memories. I was getting close to Baileys so thought I’d stop there and see the internet famed barmaids who would serve me my second glass of wine. It wasn’t to be however, Baileys looked as if it was closed for refurbishment, onwards I continued, wouldn’t it be nice to have one of the famous pies for lunch in Piebury Corner… for fuck sake, Monday…. closed. So what I thought, I don’t care, I was getting close to my final destination… my pilgrimage would be finished soon. Before I got there though I thought I would pop into somewhere to see some old friends of mine, Collisbird and Whithey, Bookbinders at No1 Drayton Park Road, only to be told that the owners (my friends) have retired and moved to the South Coast.

So what I thought, at least the sun was shining and my final destination was still just around the corner. I finally get to Holloway Road tube station and before I turn into Hornsey Road to find the Mecca of my dreams, the end of my 1000 kilometer pilgrimage to the Home of Football, I see a pub next to the tube station and decide to have one final glass of wine before I take the short walk into Hornsey Road and Benwell Road. To my relief a glass of wine in this pub that didn’t have a name outside, was somewhat cheaper than at the Cock. Now I am excited, I am going to see the Emirates Stadium in the flesh for the first time since it was built. I drink my wine slowly and then with quite a lot of anticipation I step outside the pub, cross over Holloway Road and into Hornsey Road, past some very attractive female students who are smoking outside Middlesex University (I think that’s what it was called) I was too busy looking at young women.

Then… and then, it came into view… this edifice rising up from the concrete, from the old scrap yard where I once worked during the early 70’s, the eighth wonder of the world… rising higher and higher, with two massive cannons guarding the entrance to the steps. I was overawed, looking at the splendour of this magnificant building, the images of Arsenal greats on the side and as I mount the steps I see Dennis, rising into the air with a ball at his feet and then I turn to the right and there is Thierry, sliding across the turf in celebration of a goal and a plaque with photos of all the greats who have played for the Gunners…. I dropped to my knees and bowed, my pilgrimage to Mecca was finally achieved……… I cried with relief, tears of sheer joy and wonder at the impressiveness of what I was seeing. How could I have taken so long to finally get to see this magnificent tribute to my team called the Arsenal, this tribute to the greatest team in England, this edifice which celebrates great football and a history of a football team from Islington, North London. Just writing this now my first impressions are still with me, I can only say that it was impressive, truly impressive to see the Emirates Stadium for the first time. I feel truly honoured to be a Gooner.


It’s just coming up to the GunnersoreArse 12 month anniversary. I’ve managed to keep it going for that long but now, with internet problems I have decided to call it a day. It;s been a good journey and there have been some excellent bloggers commentating on this blog but time to say Sayonara my blooging friends… I’ve really enjoyed doing the blog, had some great laughs, met some lovely (virtual) gunners, apart from Limestonegunner who I met at O’neills in Euston Road last week for a drink. So GunnersoreArse bites the dust. I will continue occasionally to comment on Arsenal Arsenal, A Cultured Left Foot and Positively Arsenal, but this blog is now too much responsibility to write something every week. I’ll see you on the other side my friends.

Come on you Gunners!