Book Review: 'Arsenal Stadium History'

Last updated : 29 October 2006 By Brian Dawes
Its belated arrival may be somewhat overdue given that it has only finally appeared some six months after our Final farewell to Highbury but I suspect that this has more to do with the timing of the Christmas market than any other factor. Regardless of its timing it was well worth the wait because it is without doubt one of the best illustrated books on the Club ever produced. Quite amazingly it includes loads of illustrations I've never previously clapped eyes on, including many from the early days of the Club. I especially enjoyed the early photographs of the ground as it was being developed. Also included, apart from the numerous action photos of players are reproductions of plans, letters, programmes, crowd scenes, badges, tickets, managers, directors and no end of other tastefully relevant and irreverent pictures ranging form that of the squirrel to the building of the clock.

Subtitled rather grandly ‘The official illustrated history of Highbury Stadium, 93 years of innovation passion and pride' it lives up to the billing. As you might expect from such an eminent sports writer Brian Glanville has put together a fresh and vibrant text using copious quotes which nail the history of Highbury pretty well spot on in a very compelling manner. And by pleasant way of a change the book does not overdose on recent events at the expense of our earlier history. By way of example I cite the vastly undervalued Henry Norris who has often been rather swept under the carpet in previous official Club histories, like the black sheep of the family some consider him to be. Here though he gets his due accord at last in an official volume having previously only been proclaimed a true Arsenal hero by the likes of such Arsenal aficionados as John Spurling. No man has ever wound Tottenham up as Henry Norris did and if I had my way his picture would loom large on the concrete above the away fans at our new home, if only to frown down once a year upon the Totts. But Henry Norris is only part of the history contained in this volume and there were certainly no obvious omissions to be found in this comprehensive work which has only been limited by its 255 pages.

The book also includes a succinct but well-rounded history to our pre-Highbury days plus a full statistical listing of every competitive first team game played at Highbury. The statistical section provides the full match, team, attendance, goal scorers and date details. I'm guessing we are indebted to Fred Ollier who is mentioned in despatches for these statistics. Whoever it was, he along with Brian Glanville and a number of picture researchers are well worthy of a big thank you for an excellent job well done.

Some might consider this title be a little over priced at £25.00 especially as it has not been produced on the highest quality art paper but it is an absolute gem and I've already seen it available for £15 on the website of a one very well known online bookseller. Which for the price of a couple of Ashburton meal-deals surely makes it a bargain buy…. And it's £15 on Amazon since you ask.

Ideal gift is a trite and vastly over worked phrase in the period leading up to Christmas but it describes this volume to a tee for any discerning Arsenal fans who might be compiling a Christmas wants list for their family or friends. But if I hadn't received a review copy I certainly wouldn't be waiting till Christmas to acquire my copy.

Arsenal Stadium History – Brian Glanville
Published by Hamlyn price £25.00

Published October 2006. Available from all the usual internet booksellers but should you prefer to order it through your local bookstore the ISBN numbers you need to quote are 0 600 61217 1 or 978 0 600 61217 9