Arsenal Stadium - Other Roles

Other Roles

As well as being home to Arsenal, it also hosted games as home stadium for England matches; 12 internationals were played at Highbury from 1920 to 1961, most of them being friendlies. These included both England's first full home international against opposition outside of Great Britain and Ireland (Belgium in 1923), and the "Battle of Highbury", England's 3–2 win over World Champions Italy in 1934, where a record seven Arsenal players started the match, the most players from a single club to play in an England fixture. Highbury was also used as a football venue for two matches in the 1948 London Olympics – a first-round match and a quarter-final. It was also provisionally named as one of London's two host stadiums for the 1966 FIFA World Cup (along with Wembley), but was eventually dropped with White City Stadium taking the role instead. By the time of Euro 96, the pitch had been ruled too small for international football and the stadium would have been ineligible.

Highbury was the venue for twelve FA Cup semi-finals as a neutral ground, the first in 1929 and the last in 1997, although between 1984 and 1992 it was off the FA's list of approved venues, after Arsenal's refusal to install perimeter fencing following a pitch invasion by Everton fans during their semi-final against Southampton. It also hosted the London XI's home leg against Lausanne Sports in the 1955-58 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup semi-finals; London won 2-0 on the night and 3-2 on aggregate. Clapton Orient also played a single home game at Highbury in 1930 while their own ground, Lea Bridge Road, underwent development work to meet League standards.

Arsenal did not always play their home matches at Highbury in the 93 years they were based there. During the Second World War the stadium was used as an ARP station and was bombed; Arsenal played their matches at White Hart Lane, home of North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, until Highbury re-opened in 1946. More recently, Arsenal's home UEFA Champions League matches in the 1998–99 and 1999–00 seasons were played at Wembley Stadium, as Highbury's already limited capacity had to be reduced to accommodate advertising hoardings. Arsenal's record at Wembley (P6 W2 D1 L3) was relatively poor, and after two seasons the club switched back to playing at Highbury, not least because since Wembley closed for rebuilding in October 2000, it would not have been able to host their 2000–01 campaign.

Highbury has also hosted several cricket games and also baseball matches involving American servicemen between 1916 and 1919. It was the venue for the 1966 World Heavyweight boxing title bout between Henry Cooper and Muhammad Ali, which Ali won. It has featured on the silver screen as well, having been the backdrop for at least two movies: The Arsenal Stadium Mystery, and Fever Pitch.

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