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.

Postscript:

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!

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15 thoughts on “My pilgrimage to the Emirates Stadium… my Mecca.

  1. So much has changed in Holloway Road in the few short years since the Emirates was built. It’s still a bit tatty, but it looks like the money men are getting on the scene and are starting to change some of the grotty bars and kebab shops into cool eateries and trendy hangouts. The Bailey has gone for good and rumours are that a trendy Indian restaurant is going to replace it. Of course the Famous Cock is still there near Highbury & Islington station, but I suspect there will be more changes to come on Holloway Road.

  2. How sad!
    Chris, You have kept us entertained with your great sense of humour and some wonderful stories.
    I will miss you and your site as it was quite unique and stood out as one of the better Arsenal blogs, it really is a shame to see you calling it a day. I guess the positive thing is that it will give my knuckles a chance to heal from continually knocking on the pub door only to hear you knocking in the back room.

    I, for one, hope you have a change of heart.

    Take good care of yourself.

  3. A pilgrimage that I have yet to make but surrely plan to take. I envy you my friend, a place where dreams are made and beautiful futbol is played.

    I know I haven’t commented as much as I shoukd have but I have read weekly and what a joy it has been.

    I was there in the beginning and now I am here at the end.

  4. Great stuff NB, thanks for sharing.

    C&B had a great workshop, I went there to get some work bound once. They were really nice too. It’s hard not to miss such quality places (as opposed to another fast food joint?), but I suppose that they do deserve their retirement haha!

  5. Bless you NB, you’ve made me cry and I go there every game!!!

    Sorry we didn’t get to meet up when you were in London, I hope we get a chance to on your next visit.

    Keep coming to chat to us on Arsenal Arsenal and you’re always welcome to write for us too – but you knew that anyway 🙂

    Your blog has been great fun even though I didn’t always tell you I was here 😉

  6. Well done Chris.

    I would love to have met you but circumstances prevented that happening.

    I will always look back at the sixty odd years since I first saw our boys playing in the flesh, that we never got relegated 🙂

  7. NorthBankicus,

    It was a great achievement to keep Gunnersorearse running on your tod for a year – so well done sir! 🙂

    The Post today is excellent and although I do not have the memories you can look back on, it was fascinating to read them and your contrasting vision on the modern manifestation of your old haunts.

    I could commiserate with you on having to bring the Blog adventure to a halt, but I will remember the hilarious kookie humour, and the surprisingly good football Posts that you wrote – but commiseration does not cut it, and instead I will restrict myself to saying – well done to you for having the get up and go to create a unique blogsite which attracted many different type of peeps to it, and made it a fascinating Arsenal hang-about.

    Kudos, NB. 🙂

  8. Very sorry to hear your news Northbank. All i can say is i am glad you will still be blogging. I started reading your blog when you were describing your younger life, I liked the way you put your words and how you say them, I had an impression of you as an East end Gangster type, round about the same age as myself and a bit of a Ducker and Diver, a bit of a tough nut who liked a shilling or two.

    Reading your stuff, and then learning of the Artist in you i naturally thought you meant piss artist, but when i read on you actually do paint, the feeling i got then is the guy has done a bit of time, and he probably painted to while away the time.

    I have probably got all my information wrong and you are probably an upmarket entrepreneur with a few quid, tucked away and now i see you with a beret, sitting al fresco with a necklace of Onions. Who ever you are NB you have entertained and your blogs have been blinding son, i certainly will miss them, but still hope to catch your comments elsewhere..

    Glad you enjoyed your trip Northbank, give us nod when you next come over i would like to meet you personally and have a sherbut or two. Dont be a stranger mate and thank you for the twelve months look after yourself you old Froggy.

  9. Fuck me !, 69er !.
    Any normal abled bodied person should be able to walk from King`s X to THOF without having visit every pub on the way !……..fucking metho !. hahaha.
    I thought you might have written a little bit about the transformation of the former home of football….Highbury !…..that must have been a surprise !.
    Thanks for some great banter on here and thanks too as you`re the only one who ever put a post up of mine !………..(thought )……” I wonder what Peaches made of my photo link of the Totnumb fan taking the piss from the Gooners ! ” ( laughing to self in head hahaha )……….and for being brave to let me put up some shocking ( but funny imo ) photos !.

    Catch you on other sites buddy !. 😀

  10. Cheers, NB69.
    Really enjoyed reading about your trip back to the old stomping ground. It sounded as though your old neck of the woods has changed beyond all recognition.
    Such a shame we didn’t all get a chance to meet up.

    I’ve enjoyed reading your posts one here, especially the early stuff when you were a gangsta. 🙂
    Ta.

  11. An inimitable blog–so glad you had a year of posts to tell your Emirates stories and reflect on those interesting memories of Highbury along with your thoughts on recent games. Keep blogging at ACLF so we can hear more of both!

  12. NB

    My God, was there ever a man more in need of an assistant than you. Nothing complicated, just very high heels and a note pad, and she’d keep you internetted up, get to England for the first time in decades when there was actually a game on, and then help you out with other things.

    Thanks for some excellent posts and wonderful graphics!

    Get painting and see you for a game

  13. Sorry i couldnt meet up when you came over 69. Serious family matters meant it was beyond my control. I was also worried you would get drunk and ask for the combination to my safe.

    Catch you on AA.

  14. I finally find the site, read a superb post only to find out at the end that this was the last one, shame, great read.

    Northbank I have a question: I need a place to rent for me the Mrs and our two grown up children in France for one week this August do you know of anything?

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