Arsenal Football Club celebrated the 100-year anniversary of the Club’s first ever match in the London Borough of Islington on Friday, September 6, with a special event for the local community held at Emirates Stadium.
In the century since the Gunners moved north of the river, Arsenal has become as much a part of Islington life on the pitch as it has off it.
From its very earliest days, Arsenal supported the Islington War Memorial Fund and made contributions to the Great Northern Hospital – a legacy of giving that has remained to the present day with the work of Arsenal in the Community now engaging more than 2,000 individuals each week across more than 40 different projects and 55 separate venues in the borough.
Friday’s event provided an opportunity for Arsenal to showcase its contribution to areas such as community outreach, job creation, fan engagement and regeneration, while thanking those individuals and groups that have helped to make the Club what it is today.
Hosted by lifelong Arsenal fan, Tom Watt, the event saw 150 invited guests from local businesses, community and supporter groups in attendance, as well as a number of other notable individuals –Arsenal legend Pat Rice, who grew up in the borough before making his name with the Club, MP for Islington North, Jeremy Corbyn, the Mayor of Islington, Councillor Barry Edwards and members of the current Arsenal Ladies squad, who received the Freedom of the Borough of Islington back in 2007.
Young people that have been engaged by the work of Arsenal in the Community in Islington also discussed the projects that they have been involved with and how the Club has helped them to fulfill their potential and go on to bigger and better things in life.
To highlight the Club’s ongoing support for local community initiatives, The Arsenal Foundation announced a donation to Islington Giving of £50,000 per year for the next three years – funding which will be used across a range of different initiatives, including a youth engagement project delivering structured football activities on Friday evenings for young people at suitable venues across the borough.
Speaking about the donation, Director of Islington Giving, Kristina Glenn, said:
"It seems only natural that we should partner with Arsenal and with our shared passion for the borough, we’re excited about what we will be able to achieve together. We’re absolutely thrilled that this generous donation from The Arsenal Foundation means that Islington Giving has now raised over £2million for Islington – a great achievement and we are incredibly grateful to Arsenal for their generosity and commitment to our campaign."
The event was just one of a number of activities that will be taking place over the coming weeks and over the course of the 2013/14 season to celebrate 100 Years in Islington.
Islington Museum has opened a special Arsenal-themed exhibition to the public, showcasing a range of rare and interesting artefacts that commemorate the Club’s presence in the area, while the forthcoming Barclays Premier League fixture against Stoke City on September 22 will also be dedicated to the centenary.
Arsenal Chief Executive Officer, Ivan Gazidis, added: “As a Club, we are immensely proud to be part of the Islington community and we will be forever grateful to the Borough for welcoming us into the area all those many years ago.
"I doubt Henry Norris, the Arsenal chairman who engineered the Club’s relocation to Highbury in 1913, could have believed his actions would lead us to where we are today - in the magnificent Emirates Stadium after so many wonderful years at Highbury, and with a supporter base that extends across the world.
"Despite all that has changed in the last century, the Club’s commitment to the local community here in Islington remains as strong as ever. We look forward to celebrating that throughout 2013/14.”