Safety First

Looking back at a Gooner article after the London terror attacks in July 2005

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I was looking as a website that archives web pages, including a sprinkling over the years from onlinegooner.com. Since our website upgrade (to make us more mobile phone friendly) before the turn of the year, our webmaster has to re-instigate our archive facility (he’s promised to do it soon), but it only goes back to 2006, as that’s when he became involved. Anything before that may be on an old computer hard drive somewhere, but the reality is it’s probably been lost, along with the content (although I did have my email on a hard drive in a vintage Mac tower that frankly hasn’t been turned on for years and for which I don’t have a monitor that would plug in – text files for the content should be on there). Technology moves on, right?

Anyway, I stumbled across a brief editorial written in the wake of the July 2005 London terror attacks, when there was still one more season to play at Highbury. With hindsight, things relaxed a bit in the years that followed. That until the tragic incident at the conclusion of the May 2017 Adriana Grande concert in Manchester, after which security checks returned bigger than ever. It now seems unlikely that we will ever attend another football match at the Emirates without bag and body searches. It’s become the norm.

Here’s the original piece from 14 years ago…

 

Online Editorial (published 8th July 2005)

It's difficult to write about football at the moment, as sport still seems pretty trivial with reflections on the terror attacks in London yesterday still dominating both the media and the thoughts of many who live and work in London. There are already bag searches at Arsenal home matches, although these are not always consistently thorough. I have often entered the stadium with a rucksack just before kick off when the queue to my particular set of turnstiles has dissipated and not been stopped. Of course, on such occasions, anxious to see the kick off, I am glad not to have to open my bag for a steward to go through. Frankly, it would have been simple for me be to get a bomb into the stadium, were I of such a mind. I have left said rucksack stuffed under my seat if I've needed a leak whilst play is progressing. But then, I am a season ticket holder, and the people around me have no reason to be suspicious of me or my rucksack.

I am sure searches will be more vigilant during the coming season. It may be frustrating, but fans will have to try and get used to the idea of either getting to the stadium a bit earlier or turning up without bags. I also hope fans are responsible enough to not leave bags unattended, thus creating security scares such as those we're experiencing today at a number of stations around London. 

Life has changed in London after 7th July. The IRA generally issued warnings and I can remember at least one match at Highbury which had a delayed kick off due to what transpired to be a hoax phone call claiming a bomb was in the stadium. Now circumstances have changed. Yesterday's bombs went off without any warning. A packed stadium could make an easy target for a terrorist bomb and with touts selling tickets to allcomers, it is not difficult to gain access to the stadium. We must all be vigilant of unusual activity and tolerant of increased security checks. These measures are in everyone's interest. 

I hope next week, I will be in more of a mindset to write about football. Until then, stay safe.

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