Nick Hornby: Author and Arsenal fan describes Highbury

Nick Hornby describes Highbury and the first match that he went for with his dad. An excerpt from Fever Pitch his autobiographical novel of growing up in a dysfunctional, Arsenal loving family.
The Arsenal pitch was to be our lawn (and, being an
English lawn, we would usually peer at it mournfully
through driving rain); the Gunners’ Fish Bar on
Blackstock Road our kitchen; and the West Stand
our home. It was a wonderful set-up, and changed
our lives just when they needed changing most, but
it was also exclusive”

On his first match
“I don’t recall much about the football that first
afternoon. One of those tricks of memory enables me
160 to see the only goal clearly: the referee awards a
penalty (he runs into the area, points a dramatic
finger, there’s a roar); a hush as Terry Neill takes it,
and a groan as Gordon Banks dives and pushes the
ball out; it falls conveniently at Neill’s feet and this
time he scores. But I am sure this picture has been
built up from what I have long known about similar
incidents, and actually I was aware of none of this. All
I really saw on the day was a bewildering chain of
incomprehensible incidents, at the end of which
everyone around me stood and shouted. If I did the
same, it must have been an embarrassing ten
seconds after the rest of the crowd.

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