14 December 2005

Hoosier At Highbury Pt III: The Tour

Well, it's certainly taken me long enough to get this post out! But I did want to continue sharing my impressions from my visit to THOF.

Following the Wednesday match against Sparta Prague, I took Thursday off from soccer, to see the London sights. But Friday saw me once again traveling to Islington, to take part in the Arsenal America tour of Highbury. And a fantastic tour it was. We got to see a lot, really spending time with an absolute classic sports stadium.
Of course, once again I got to Highbury well ahead of time. (After all, the 9AM meeting felt like noon, thanks to the five-hour time difference.) So again I walked around the neighborhood. It was a beautiful morning, and there was plenty to see.
Above: North Bank entrance from just outside the Arsenal tube station; view down Highbury Hill towards the tube station.
Above: AFC West Stand and North Bank entrance, on Highbury Hill; East Stand from Avenell Road.
Above: View down Avenell Road towards East Stand; another look at East Stand; the front doors... opening to let us in!

After walking around, I met up with the Arsenal America crew as we waited near the front entrance. We didn't wait long; the Arsenal staff were quick to open and let us in.

The tour was limited due to the next days' league match -- we couldn't visit the locker rooms, unfortunately. Otherwise, though, we were able to see a lot. Notable spaces included the entrance lobby, with the Hugh Chapman bust and the marble cannon; a look at the trophy case, including several commemorative items from various European matches; a view into the board's lounge; and a visit to the media room. I haven't included many photos from this, because I don't think they're that interesting (or good). If anyone is interested I could post them onto Flickr or something.

Above: Hugh and me; the special Prem trophy for the New Invincibles; the marble cannon.

We had a couple opportunities to visit the field. First, we saw the board's seats, at the center of East Upper. Not bad. These seats include the boxes for the visiting club, and would also be shared with any visiting dignitaries (as when Sven visits). Later, we were able to exit through the players' tunnel and see the field at eye level. The staff were incredibly protective of the field itself, and got extremely nervous if anyone even came close to stepping on the grass. We were however able to visit the seats used by the team during matches. (Highbury is too small to have dugouts like most soccer stadiums.)

Above: West Stand as seen from East Upper; a look at the southwest corner, including the police control box and a view of Ashburton Grove (sorry, Emirates Stadium) in the distance.
Above left: preparing the pitch for the Sunderland match. Above right: a closeup of the hallowed turf of The Home Of Football.

Left: an imposter in Arsene's seat!

Right: The North Bank turnstiles.

After all this, we visited the Arsenal museum. There's a lot to see there, but I was most interested in the memorabilia.

Above: kit from various memorable matches, and tropies, including a replica of the Premiership trophy.

Left: Michael Thomas' boots from the last-second goal at Anfield in 1989, that handed Arsenal the league championship.

Afterwards, we of course had to visit the Arsenal store, which offered us a substantial discount. Nice! I didn't go too nuts, contenting myself with a van Persie home jersey, a Farewell to Highbury scarf, and a ski cap. We ended the morning with a trip to the chippy down the road, for the most authentic English meal I can think of.

So it proved to be a fantastic day at Highbury. I'll have two more Hoosier At Highbury posts to come, including the Sunderland match and my final impressions. (Of course, those might not arrive until well into 2006!)

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Hello and thanks for the opportunity to read and post on your blog.

I’ve just posted an article related to travel tips for seniors on my blog and I thought maybe you’d be interested in reading it. Here is short preview of some of the areas I covered:

- Prefer a backpack on wheels instead of a suitcase, you could pull it behind you when your back hurts or you are exhausted.
- Consider checking your bag in with the airlines, because it would become an unnecessary burden to be dragged all over the airport or the city if you are going to have a short visit.
- You could stay outside the city, in a hostel maybe, because it is cheaper, less crowded and the air is much fresher, but you have to walk or use the transport more, to get in the city or to the station.
- Most museums, some concert halls, railways, airlines, bus lines, ferry and shipping lines have a discount policy for seniors.
- Electronic devices are useful but sometimes they can give you a lot of headaches. You could help yourself with a micro-tape recorder to record your notes. It would be easier than to write and you would put them down on paper later, to share your notes with your family.
- If you bring a camera with you to keep the beautiful images alive along the time then make sure you know how to handle it or you might fail to record them not only on that camera but also in your eyes.

For more resources on how to travel to Europe you are welcome to visit my blog, where you can also get acces to some excellent maps of London and London hotels, together with information on restaurants adn rent a car services.

Best regards,

Michael R.
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