5 of Britain's best football boozers – and the stories behind them
Andy Hoyle, The Gunners (Arsenal)
Photography: Leon Csernohlavek
We had an oil-on-canvas of Robin van Persie celebrating a goal, but as soon as he left for Manchester United we put it away and his name was never mentioned again
“This pub was one of the places where Tony Adams, Paul Merson and Ray Parlour drank on a Tuesday during the George Graham era. Arsene Wenger put a swift stop to that!
“I’ve been landlord since 2011. This was the closest pub to Highbury – literally 30 seconds’ walk to the old East Stand – so traditionally fans would get their last pint in here before heading to the game. In 2006 when the club moved to the Emirates, slightly further away, it became a bit more difficult to make the pub work on the 330 days of the year when there wasn’t a match on. It needed a re-think.
“We have a lot of memorabilia now, some of which we inherited. We’ve got a lot of stuff in the cellar, so we rotate things. It’s a bit like an old communist regime: when a player falls out of favour, we remove all of their stuff and wipe them from history. We had an oil-on-canvas of Robin van Persie celebrating a goal, but as soon as he left for Manchester United we put it away and his name was never mentioned again.
“I’ve lived in the area for about 15 years, but I didn’t really drink in here before I became landlord. It didn’t have the best reputation as it was a bit rough and ready, and not the most welcoming place – very male and very white. When we came here we had a lot of clearing out to do; we had to make it more welcoming to the broader church of Arsenal supporters, and frankly we’ve lost an element of our support that we needed to lose. You don’t want guys handing out EDL leaflets in your pub or the police showing up every night.”