Newer Arsenal fans may only be aware of the Emirates Stadium, and it is difficult to believe that the Gunners have now called it their home for 17 years.
In the course of their long history, Arsenal have occupied several other grounds – the most notable of which was, of course, Highbury.
But even that wasn’t where Arsenal history began. In this piece we’ll also look at the grounds that Arsenal played at before they made the move north to Highbury, and look at the record attendances over the years.
Where did Arsenal play originally?
When Arsenal were formed in 1886, their first home ground came in the form of the Sportsman Ground in Plumstead. Following this, they moved to the Manor Ground, but were unhappy with the facilities on offer.
As such, the Gunners made the jump to the Invicta Ground in 1890, but moved back to the Manor Ground in 1893 after the Invicta Ground’s rent proved to be too high to be financially sustainable.
When did Arsenal move to Highbury?
After spending several years at the Sportsman Ground, the Manor Ground and the Invicta Ground, Arsenal moved to Highbury Stadium in 1913 in an effort to improve their dwindling financial situation.
In their first season at Highbury, Arsenal finished third in the Second Division, missing out on promotion to Bradford Park Avenue by goal difference – they were relegated the year prior to this.
The move to Highbury was a success – not only was it built in a more populous area, it also allowed for much higher attendances. In the first season at Highbury, Arsenal’s average attendance was reported to be in the region of 23,000.
Highbury was Arsenal’s home ground for 93 years, as it underwent a number of refurbishments and redevelopments along the way. In 2006, Arsenal played their last game at the stadium against Wigan Athletic, where they won 4-2. At the game’s conclusion, club legend Thierry Henry kissed the turf in tribute to Arsenal’s long-time home.
Following this, Highbury was redeveloped and turned into flats – it houses 711 properties and is now known as ‘Highbury Square’. The North, West and East stands were repurposed into apartments, while the North Bank and Clock End sections of the ground were demolished. The flats officially went on sale in 2005, before they were even completed.
What was the record attendance?
The reported record attendance at Highbury was 73,295 (despite the ground having a maximum seated capacity of 38,419 upon its closure), when fans crammed into the ground to see Arsenal draw 0-0 with Sunderland in 1935.
The limit of fans who were allowed to attend games was much more lax back then, and rules were significantly tightened in the 1990s following the tragedy of the Hillsborough Stadium disaster in 1989.
In comparison, Arsenal’s record home attendance at the Emirates Stadium stands at 60,383 – the ground itself has a maximum all-seated capacity of 60,704.