When we moved to the Emirates Stadium back in 2006, everything felt a little bit manufactured, and a little bit too corporate for many fans.
Highbury was home. It was the house we had all grown up in. Then it was as if we had won the lottery and moved to this shiny new mansion down the road. It was bigger and better than the old creaky place, but it was not quite home.
The move to the new ground (13 years later, it is not so new anymore) was the correct decision. It meant 20,000 more Arsenal fans could go each week (how many reading this had spent 10 years on the waiting list for Highbury to the get their 1st season ticket at the new ground?). But it also felt like Arsenal had changed with the move; chasing the commercial revenue.
From the selling of the naming rights, the ring of boxes and the invention of club level allowing people to buy their way into a season ticket ahead of fans who had been waiting for years, it all felt like it was only about the money.
Add in the badge being changed and at the time it felt like our club had completely changed.
Synonymous with these changes was a new song. The Wonder of You.
For years Liverpool had sung “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, Manchester City had “Blue Moon”. West Ham “Bubbles”. The Arsenal board had taken it upon themselves to try and manufacture an anthem for Arsenal fans to sing. And it was horrible.
The Wonder of You was a song made famous by Elvis Presley in the 1970s. It had zero connection to Arsenal, and Arsenal fans failed to connect with it.
It was so bad that the club had to put the words up on the big screen. It simply was not Arsenal.
After a few years the club realised that The Wonder of You was not working and returned to classics such as “Good Ol’ Arsenal” and “Right Here Right Now”.
There is plenty the club can do to improve the atmosphere at the ground – from campaigning for safe standing to telling it’s stewards to be less aggressive with those trying to start a song. I even support the drum that is planned against Burnley.
What the club should not be doing, however, is taking a step backwards. They should not return to The Wonder of You.