The world's greatest ground? A photographic centenary celebration of Highbury

1. Leaving and Leitch

On 6 September 1913, Woolwich Arsenal made the move that made history. They left behind their Manor Ground in Plumstead, South-East London, and moved into a new stadium in Highbury, North London, in what would four years later become the N5 postal district.

The club moved at the insistence of owner Sir Henry Norris, who had become majority shareholder in 1910. Norris was a divisive figure - a longserving board member at Fulham, he had tried to merge the two clubs before turning his attention to moving his new club north - but there is little doubt that Arsenal, relegated after finishing bottom of the First Division, were drifting towards financial oblivion without the move. 

After a friendly FA committee waved away objections to the move, Norris had four months to build a stadium. He raised an impressive £125,000 - around £12.2m at 2013 rates - and spent £20,000 on a 21-year lease of six acres at St John's College of Divinity. Noted stadium architect Archibald Leitch was enlisted and designed a single stand, the East Stand, with the rest being banked terracing made of compacted earth. Highbury was ready for football. 

The image below, from 4 April 1931, clearly shows Leitch's East Stand, its roof made of nine sections. (Arsenal's opponents are Chelsea, with their feared Scottish forward Hughie Gallacher aiming to snaffle a rebound.) 

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Only realise now how lucky I was that my first ever Premier League match was at Highbury, taken by a season ticket holder during my first visit to London. Thank you Barrie! :-)

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