Stadium funding in place - Gooner Grove is go!

Last updated : 23 February 2004 By Brian Dawes

Or at least if all the i's have not been dotted and the t's haven't quite all been crossed it's certainly not very far away from being nailed down by Daniel Fiszman and Ken Friar who've undertaken the enormous task of seeing this major project through. It's been a long hard haul, and there is a hell of a long way still to go, but the original decision that Arsenal fans should travel to their new home by journeying on the tube to Arsenal and turning right instead of left when exiting the station was for me both a momentous decision and the right one. Once it was quite clear that we had to move I never wanted to go off to some soulless industrial estate in North West London and share a stadium with England, or worse yet ‘the scum'. And although the King's Cross site might offer great potential we'd still have to wait forever and we need to move as soon as possible. So the site chosen at Ashburton Grove was for me the right one, but none of this is strictly relevant to the point of this article.

With the funding locked in place it means that it won't be long before the building work will finally commence in earnest. Our new home will start to rise from the compulsory purchase orders and become a thing of solid substance. As yet it doesn't have a name but pictures will start to appear in the press and on websites of the progress being made at the new ‘Arsenal Stadium'. It will start to take shape and we'll all be following its progress with eager anticipation. Every news item on the progress will be accompanied with captions such as ‘Work starts at Ashburton Grove' or ‘New Arsenal Stadium takes shape'. But it's surely not going to be called ‘Ashburton Grove' which to my mind has merely been a useful street designation to explain exactly where our new home will be. ‘Ashburton Grove' is just too naff a name to retain permanently.

There is no reason not to call our new home exactly the same as our old home, namely the ‘Arsenal Stadium' which is its correct name. But as no one calls it that now it's highly improbable that they will call it that once we've moved. Most people currently refer to going down ‘The Arsenal' or they might go to ‘Highbury' but the never go to the ‘Arsenal Stadium'. THOF is a common abbreviated designation coming as it does from the sign over the North Stand entrance which says ‘Welcome to The Home of Football' so THOF2 has been used by some, myself included, to describe the new stadium. But no one refers to THOF in conversation. So I put it to you that our new home badly needs a name before the inevitable corporate handle is imposed on it in exchange for vast sums of that very necessary stuff called money. The press and the Club are welcome to call it the ‘Named After A Corporation Stadium' but that won't do for me, I don't really want to go to the ‘NAACS', or whatever it might be called.

Sunderland fans are seriously proud of their new stadium named ‘The Stadium of Light'. City fans are dead chuffed to sing ‘blue moon' in ‘The City of Manchester Stadium' or the ‘Blue Camp' as the endearingly refer to it, and so they should. If we go to Bolton we go to the ‘Reebok' and if we go to Middlesborough most of us go to the ‘Riverside' despite the fact that we should have been in the ‘Cellnet' or whatever stadium. The sponsored naming of stands and stadia can be seriously naff and absolutely impersonal ‘The Walker Stadium' might just about be passable but the ‘The Friends Provident St. Mary's Stadium' was either named by a joker or a committee who never settled the argument.

My house is number 53 in the street, but if I were to give my home a name I'd consider names like ‘Gooner Terrace'. There's no way however that I'd call my home ‘Nike Villas', not only because it's a terraced house but also because Nike isn't the sort of name I'd choose to call a home. ‘Gooner Terrace' is personal ‘Nike Villas' is corporate as is the ‘Nike Stadium'. As our new stadium will be my new home from home I don't think I'll be calling that the Nike (or whatever) stadium either. The suits in the executive boxes, and all their mates, can go to ‘The Nike Stadium' for their corporate entertainment if they so choose but I'll be going to my new personal place of worship. I would like to think that most of us are agreed that religious and corporate affairs don't mix so the name of my new place of worship shouldn't be corporate.

It's been nagging away at me for some time now just what to call our new place, and I'm still not quite sure why, but ‘Gooner Grove' has definitely grown on me. ‘Gooner Grove' has that sort of homely ring to it, the sort of place you'd be proud to take your kids and grandkids. Whatever we call it I think we should establish a name before it gets its official paid up sponsored name. Right now the choice is ours ‘The named after a Corporation Stadium' or ‘Gooner Grove'. It's our call and we don't have to call it ‘The Mega Corporation Stadium' if we don't want to. So that's it then, I've decided, this Gooner will be going to ‘Gooner Grove' unless some other Arsenal fans comes up with a better alternative. I'm open to offers but right now I'm already eagerly anticipating our first match in Gooner Grove.