This evening's Highbury Memory comes from Nigel Chapman of Newbury, Berkshire.
By rights, I shouldn't be an Arsenal supporter. My Dad followed Spurs, but in 1953, at the age of seven, I got hooked. Arsenal won a dramatic Championship, there was a lot of talk about it at home, and they wore red and white shirts.
What more could I want? It did take four years to persuade Dad to take me to Highbury, in August 1957 for a match against West Bromwich Albion and I remember the occasion vividly. Parking in Romilly Road, paying some old boy sixpence to look after the car, walking along between the terraced housing and then turning into Avenell Road. Wow! I couldn't believe that mammoth building in the distance that was the East Stand. The game was an exciting 2-2 draw and I recall Joe Haverty jinking up the left wing and my first hero, Jack Kelsey, so cool in goal.
Visits were infrequent as, frustratingly, Spurs were quite good then and we were much in their shadow, as I was often reminded at home. It took a long while for the tide to turn, but with the arrival of Bertie Mee and Frank McLintock, my next hero, it did. We survived the frustration of Leeds at Wembley and the humiliation from Swindon the year after and then, that unforgettable night against Anderlecht when we all celebrated on the pitch so joyfully. Seventeen years without a trophy, something unimaginable now. The 'double' followed with those tense games at the climax won by a solitary goal like Charlie George's cheeky one-two off a Newcastle defender.
Over the years, I've been a regular all over the ground watching from the North Bank, Clock End, East Lower and West Upper. My favourite, I think, is level with the penalty area at the North Bank end. I was once invited by Sir Chips Keswick, now a Director, to watch from the Directors' Box. He gave us lunch first and then the Chairman said we could sit in those seats reserved for distinguished guests as no-one was using them that day. We felt like royalty! And we won 2-0 v Leicester.
Things have changed now and thanks to Arsène, we're on a different planet. The football we've been privileged to watch these last ten years defies belief. It all started when Dennis Bergkamp signed, and he has to be my all-time hero. It was one of those earth shattering moments that you couldn't believe. Dennis Bergkamp signing for Arsenal! What? THE Dennis Bergkamp?
That Dutch superstar? That world class footballer who made mincemeat of Des Walker at Wembley? You must be joking! Signing for us!? We can watch HIM at Highbury week in, week out!? And what pleasure he has given us. Nowadays, we take it all a bit for granted with the likes of Thierry Henry and others clearly in the making. What joy!
My best ever game at Highbury? It is impossible to say with so many great memories, but that 2-0 win over Juventus last month would run it close. Mind you, that 2-2 against West Brom in 1957 was pretty special.
Would you like your 'Highbury Memories' recorded in the programme this historic season? We'd love to hear of your experiences at Highbury, no matter how long you've supported the team. If you have a story you think is worth telling then write into the Club, keeping your accounts to less than 600 words, at the usual address. You can also e-mail your correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please mark your letters 'Highbury Memories'. All those who have letters printed will receive an exclusive A4 Highbury print.19 Apr 2006