Arsenal want fans to step back in time for the United cup game

The Ancient Culture of Bar Scarves and Getting In Early

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Highbury's North Bank before the final match as a standing area in 1992

The Gooner, along with a few others, received an email from Arsenal's supporters' liaison officer Mark Brindle yesterday. The club are asking supporters to try and get in early for the FA Cup tie against Manchester United, so as to help build the atmosphere a bit, in contrast to the normal scenario with three men and a dog in their seats moments before the teams come out.

There will be a light show before the teams enter, ‘Good Old Arsenal’ will be played on the PA as there is no Premier League anthem tomorrow evening. There are hopes that we may get an airing of ‘She Wore A Yellow Ribbon’ at the end of the game. Fingers crossed for that one.

Fans are also being requested to dig out their bar scarves (everyone was sent one in this season’s membership pack) with the hope that we can get a few hearty renditions of ‘Que Sera Sera’ going.

So here’s an idea for you. Just suspend your disbelief and act like the game is a 7.45 kick off for a Champions League knockout first leg game against glamorous opposition. In reality it will be 7.55, but you will be in your seat to help turn the Emirates into something a little closer to a bearpit and you’ll be entertained by the floodlights doing their thing.

Now one for the younger readers. Before stadiums were all seater, people used to pay on the day at the turnstile to stand behind the goals at either end of the pitch. And to guarantee they had a good spot, fans used to actually get in early – often an hour before the game. So when the players came out to warm up, the PA wasn’t blaring out, and the supporters created their own atmosphere by singing chants for all of the players. The players in turn would acknowledge the crowd. For a very big game, there would be lock-outs, meaning there were already so many who had gone through the turnstiles that those who were at the back of the queue simply didn’t get into the game. So the bigger the match, the more got in early. There was a tiny bar at the back of the North Bank that sold beer, soft drinks, tea, coffee, bovril, pies and crisps. It wasn’t much bigger than a garden shed and it took an age to get served. Well, at least one thing remains consistent to the modern day then!

Arriving more than five minutes before the game starts must seem like a very strange idea to the modern match attendee. Their place is secured, whatever time they wish to turn up (although it can be a pain getting in if you are more than 15 minutes late as most of the turnstiles have been closed by then). So the vast majority turn up in the 10 minutes before kick off, leading to long queues to even get to the turnstile. And if you are in the upper tier, you can add 2-3 minutes to the time it takes to reach your seat. When the players are doing their warm up, there are maybe 5,000 people in their seats. Even when the teams enter for the match proper there are often many thousands of empty places due to people leaving it late. I will be fascinated to see what happens with the 5.55 kick off for the Bate Borisov game in February.

Still, the immediate focus is on the FA Cup and United. So to give the team the best chance of progressing to the last 16, the club are making efforts to entertain everyone in the hope they can be in place before the teams come out. So just pretend the game starts at 7.45 and do your bit.

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  1. Moscowgooner

    Jan 28, 2019, 19:13 #113016

    Radfordkennedy - 62,642 versus Chelsea (and I didn’t have to look that up!) The games against Man City - 1977? - and Aston Villa (1981) both had 57000 plus, and, although I missed Chelsea, I was there at those two games. The Villa match atmosphere was electric - with fans spilling on to the pitch at both ends long before the end (Jimmy Rimmer - then at Villa - was trying singlehandedly to herd us back on to the North Bank to ensure that the game could end, and that Villa could be crowned as Champs) It is really depressing that so few turn up now before kick off time. Of course unreserved seats or standing areas, would solve the problem immediately.... Why do people pay so much more for tickets these days and then miss so much of the game by arriving late and leaving early? Puzzling.

  2. The Man From UNCLE

    Jan 25, 2019, 06:22 #112990

    Step back in time eh? Does this mean the bloke who sold the roasted peanuts will be back outside tonight too - let's hope so.

  3. TonyEvans

    Jan 24, 2019, 15:38 #112988

    RadfordKennedy - I think so; I never did see him drop that mace - Arsenal were a class apart in those days I always thought - old fashioned yes but there was something about the club for me that made it special. Can't say that these days unfortunately - still my team though and always will be. Yes those 5 games against Sheffield Wednesday were something else - I loved that period between 78 and 80, even though we lost 3 major finals!

  4. Radfordkennedy

    Jan 24, 2019, 15:17 #112987 could be right mate, was it the mace carrier who had his tapes you remember the marathon of cup games against Sheffield Wednesday in 78, talk about never giving up!

  5. John F

    Jan 24, 2019, 14:47 #112986

    Are Arsenal going to do a step back in time admission price. They should of allowed the Mancs their full allocation of ten thousand instead of the five for safety reasons they have given them, it would of made for a cracking atmosphere and is what makes the FA cup different. You had to get in early for the London Derbies before the North Bank was occupied in the centre.I remember standing there an hour before kick off and waiting for the first chant to come up so I could work out who was who. Biggest crowd I was in was the Man City League Cup Q/F in the late Seventies 57000 unfortunately I went in the clockend and looked on in envy at the packed North Bank tumbling all over the place.

  6. TonyEvans

    Jan 24, 2019, 14:38 #112985

    RadfordKennedy - great times indeed. Was 1973 the year Sunderland beat that awful Leeds team in the final - yes it must have been, after Leeds beat us in '72. By the way Alex Morgan's promotion from constable to sergeant must have passed me by.

  7. Radfordkennedy

    Jan 24, 2019, 14:24 #112984

    Oh please tell me that the grandson of police Sgt Alex Morgan will get up and sing 'Spanish eyes' before the game, and that very attractive lady will be back selling 'Arsenal ' Arsenal 'gaming tickets around the pitch at half time.But best of all will the Met Police band March on the pitch tossing the ceremonial mace in front of the North bank, and to round it all off bring back draught Whitbread Tankard for a few jars before and during. Great memories.light shows indeed.....Chelsea at home in 73 now that was a cup game, huge crowd I seem to remember

  8. TonyEvans

    Jan 24, 2019, 14:07 #112982

    Times have certainly changed. I used to get in to the ground sometimes as early as 1pm in my much younger days just to enjoy being there and to bag my favourite spot on the North Bank! Used to be bloomin freezing some days but there I was waiting for the players to come out for their warm-up. Different breed of fan by and large these days but there must still be some of the old die-hards, like I used to be, in there too.

  9. Bard

    Jan 24, 2019, 13:50 #112981

    Anything else the club wants us to do ? Maybe a whip round to fund a loan signing might be a good idea, as the club are skint. Need to win this one to keep morale up.