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

3. The Laundry End

 
By the mid-1920s Norris had the location, the stadium – they bought the site outright in 1925 for £64,000, around £3.3m at 2013 prices - and the First Division place. What they didn't have was a successful side, but that was about to change.
 
Rotund Yorkshireman Herbert Chapman had won the FA Cup and two successive First Division titles with Huddersfield when Arsenal hired him in 1925 by doubling his salary. Chapman bought Charlie Buchan and made him captain, and the two concocted a new tactical plan. 
 
The W-M formation was prompted by a change in the offside law: now attackers only needed two, rather than three, opponents between them and the goal-line. Dropping the centre half(-back) from the middle of the field into defence, and the two inside forwards into a more withdrawn role, Arsenal developed a highly effective counter-attacking game.
 
They came second in 1926, their highest finish yet, but Chapman had a five-year plan and spent time rebuilding the team to his tactics. Bang on schedule, Arsenal won their first major trophy in 1930 - the FA Cup. 
 
It was the start of a long relationship between club and cup. In this picture from 9 January 1932 - taken looking west along the Laundry End, as the northern terrace was popularly known until the 1960s - a huge crowd had gathered for the Third Round game between Darwen's so-called £20 team and Arsenal's, which had cost roughly £50,000. Arsenal won 11-1.
 

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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! :-)