Kicking off with the story of the original 'soccer czar', Sir Henry Norris, who bulldozed through opposition on many levels to move Woolwich Arsenal to north London, this history of Arsenal's time at Highbury features testimony from everyone: from the peanut sellers, turnstyle operators, local publicans and fans, and more.
It was Sir Henry Norris, the original, well-connected property-dealing chairman, who bulldozed through a great deal of opposition to relocate Woolwich Arsenal from their muddy riverside home, north to Islington. Having also secured Arsenal's 'promotion' to the First Division as football restarted after the First World War, Norris eventually left under a cloud following match-fixing allegations on the final day of the 1927-28 season (despite a surprising 0-2 home defeat to Portsmouth, Charlie Buchan and his team-mates were delighted to receive 'new fangled refrigerators' from the chairman; Spurs were relegated as a result). The antics of Norris, and previously unpublished fans' recollections of the first game at Highbury (an unconvincing 2-1 victory over Leicester Fosse) and of the emerging championship-winning side of Herbert Chapman - one fit, at last, to perform beneath the art-deco splendour of the East Stand - are some of the earliest memories captured in Highbury: the story of Arsenal in N5. After several years of sitting in Highbury's local pubs and cafes with a Dictaphone, Jon Spurling has pooled hours of interviews with fans, programme sellers, local publicans and even those who dug the foundations of the Laundry End and later cleared rubbish from its terraces, to meticulously construct the biography of the ground and chart the ups and downs of one of England's greatest league clubs. Spurling has also spoken to numerous players: the late greats of yesteryear (Ted Drake, George Male and Reg Lewis); as well as legends of a more recent vintage - from Bob Wilson, Charlie George and Malcolm MacDonald to Anders Limpar and various legends of the Wenger era, including Edu and Patrick Vieira. In the season that Arsenal finally move to Ashburton Grove, Jon Spurling has produced the definitive account of the club's ninety-three years at Highbury.