The original stadium was built in 1913, when Woolwich Arsenal moved from the Manor Ground in Plumstead, South East London to Highbury, leasing the recreation fields of St John's College of Divinity for £20,000. The lease negotiation also agreed that no matches were to be played on "holy days" and that no "intoxicating liquor" would be sold at the stadium, these stipulations were dropped within a year. The stadium was hurriedly built over the summer of that year, and was designed by Archibald Leitch, architect of many other football grounds of that era. It featured a single stand on the eastern side and the other three sides had banked terracing. The new stadium cost £125,000. It opened whilst not fully complete, with Arsenal's first match of the 1913–14 season, a 2–1 Second Division win against Leicester Fosse on 6 September 1913. Leicester's Tommy Benfield scored the first goal at the new ground while George Jobey was the first Arsenal player to do so. Highbury hosted its first England match in 1920.
The Australian rugby league team suffered the first loss of their 1921–22 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain at Highbury to an English side 4 points to 5 before approximately 12,000 spectators.
Arsenal bought the stadium site outright in 1925, for £64,000.
No significant portion of Leitch's original stadium remains today following a series of bold redevelopments during the 1930s. The idea was to create a ground for London that could capture the grandeur of England's finest club stadium, Villa Park, home of The Aston Villa Football Club. The Highbury project was ambitious in its scale and reach, the first stand completed being the West Stand, designed by Claude Waterlow Ferrier and William Binnie in the Art Deco style which opened in 1932. On 5 November the same year the local Tube station was renamed from Gillespie Road to Arsenal. Leitch's main stand was demolished to make way for a new East Stand, matching the West, in 1936. The West Stand cost £45,000 while the East Stand went far over budget and ended up costing £130,000, mainly thanks to the expense of the facade. The North Bank terrace was given a roof and the southern terrace had a clock fitted to its front, giving it the name the Clock End.
During the 1948 Summer Olympics, the stadium hosted the football preliminaries. For the next 50 years, the stadium changed little, although during World War II the North Bank terrace was bombed and had to be rebuilt; the roof was not restored until 1956. Floodlights were fitted in 1951, with the first floodlit match being a friendly against Hapoel Tel Aviv on 19 September of that year. Undersoil heating was added in 1964. Unlike at many other grounds, Arsenal refused to install perimeter fencing, even at the height of hooliganism in the 1980s, a decision that saw it struck off the list of eligible FA Cup semi-final venues.
The Clock End was remodelled in 1988/89 with the addition of a roof and executive boxes, before seating was fitted into the remaining standing area in 1993.
In the early 1990s, the Taylor report on the Hillsborough disaster was published, which recommended that football stadia become all-seater. The North Bank, which had become home of Arsenal's most passionate supporters, was demolished at the end of the 1991-92 season, and a new all-seater stand opened in its place the following year. During the work, a giant mural of fans was placed behind the goal at that end, to give the illusion that the players were kicking towards a crowd rather than a construction site. The mural initially attracted criticism for its absence of black fans, which was quickly rectified.
The old stand had received a fitting send off with a 5–1 defeat of Southampton, though the new stand had a less auspicious start, the first game being a surprise 0–3 defeat to Coventry City with all 3 goals coming from striker Micky Quinn. The first victory came 10 days later against Leeds United.
The Clock End was also redeveloped, with a roof and executive boxes fitted, in 1989 and seating installed four years later.
Read more about this topic: Arsenal Stadium
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