Arsenal Football Club and The Emirates:
Arsenal Football Club was founded in 1886 as Dial Square by a group of workers, led by David Danskin and Jack Humble, from the Dial Square workshop at the Royal Arsenal armaments factory in Woolwich. Another member of the group was Fred Beardsley, the former Nottingham Forest goalkeeper. It was Beardsley who obtained a kit from his former club, giving the Gunners their now traditional colour of red. Dial Square’s first match was played on December 11th 1886 against Eastern Wanderers on a field on the Isle of Dogs and the new team won 6–0. A few weeks later, Dial Square became Royal Arsenal.
They turned professional in 1891 and joined The Football League in 1893, becoming the first Southern club to do so.
Financial problems and disagreements led to several name changes and relocations before Henry Norris took over at Woolwich Arsenal, while still chairman at Fulham, in 1910. His idea was to merge Fulham and Woolwich Arsenal, although his proposal was dismissed by The Football League.
Norris then decided to move the club from The Manor Ground in Plumstead to a site he had acquired in Highbury, North London, in an attempt to revive the team’s fortunes and increase its fan base. The deeds to the Highbury site were signed early in 1913 and the club dropped the place name Woolwich before moving north of the river to the stadium that would be its home for the next ninety-three years.
The first plans for the construction of a new stadium were devised in the late 1990s, after a move to the new Wembley Stadium was considered.
Evenually, a site just a few hundred yards away from Highbury was selected and construction of the stadium started in 2004. The total cost was £390 million.
The Emirates Stadium, the third largest football ground in England, officially opened on the July 23rd 2006 and the first match held there was Dennis Bergkamp’s testimonial. The first competitive game there was the Premier League meeting of Arsenal and Aston Villa on August 19th 2006, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
The Emirates is a cut above most football grounds in England and away fans at the Emirates Stadium are housed in the lower tier of the South East corner, where 3,000 fans can be accommodated. The padded seats are welcome and there is plenty of leg room. Due to the shallow nature of the lower tier, views are adequate but not always spectacular.
Facilities are decent, with a range of food and drink available in the concourse areas.
How to get there:
A journey to The Emirates from Birmingham by car takes in the region of two hours and fifteen minutes, although this is very much dependent on traffic.
Use postcode N7 7AJ for sat navs.
For full directions, click here.
Be aware that parking is severely restricted around the ground, with match day restrictions in place, and fans are advised not to travel to The Emirates by car.
Regular services run from Birmingham New Street, Snow Hill and Moor Street stations to either Euston or London Marylebone. The journey takes between one hour and twenty-five minutes to two hours and fifteen minutes, depending on the service and operator you select.
Arsenal, serviced by the Piccadilly Line, is the nearest tube station to The Emirates, approximately three minutes from the ground.
Those arriving into London Marylebone should take the Bakerloo Line to Oxford Circus, changing there for the Victoria Line to Finsbury Park. From Finsbury Park, fans can either walk to The Emirates or change again to the Piccadilly Line to Arsenal. This journey will take around twenty-five minutes.
Those arriving into Euston have a shorter journey – of approximately ten minutes – to The Emirates, taking the Victoria Line to Finsbury Park, where it is possible to change to the Piccadilly Line and travel to Arsenal.
Finsbury Park (Victoria, Piccadilly Lines and Great Northern rail) and Highbury & Islington (Victoria Line, North London Line and Great Northern rail) stations are ten minutes on foot from the ground and supporters will find these stations should be slightly less crowded.
Where to drink:
‘The Drayton Arms’ is the traditional pub for away supporters. It is located near Arsenal tube station. As you would expect, it can become very crowded and it is not always easy to get served there as kick-off approaches.
Close to Finsbury Park tube station, ‘The Twelve Pins’ welcomes away fans as well as home ones.
Opposite ‘The Twelve Pins’, you will find ‘The Blackstock’, where away fans are also welcomed.
On Stroud Green Road, five minutes’ walk from Finsbury Park tube station, there is the option of ‘The White Lion Of Mortimer’. It is a Wetherspoon’s pub and will be open from 9a.m. tomorrow, serving food as well as alcohol.
Alcohol will be served in the stadium.