87 years of Arsenal trophy parades at Islington Town Hall
- Credit: PA Archive/PA Images
When Arsenal win a trophy, it’s tradition for thousands of Gooners to have a huge party in the streets of Islington. Back in the day, it would go ahead even if lost an FA Cup final. But after Sunday’s celebration had to be cancelled, the Gazette looks back on 87 years of town hall parades.
Imagine if Arsenal lost Saturday’s FA Cup final. And imagine if the club held an open-top bus parade through Islington on Sunday to celebrate losing the game.
The derision from Chelsea fans would have been unbearable. Not to mention the vitriol from new wave Gooners.
But funnily enough, the traditional Islington Town Hall parade for a losing Arsenal team actually used to be a thing.
“Arsenal would do parades whether they won or lost a cup final,” Gunners historian Paul Matz recalls.
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“I remember going to three between 1978 and 1980 – and we lost two FA Cup finals in that period!
“Even if we lost an FA Cup final, it was still a celebratory occasion.
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“Before the pre-eminence of the Premier League and Champions League, the FA Cup was the most important date in the English football calendar. So getting to the final was still regarded as a success.”
The next time Arsenal lost a final was 2001, meaning 1980 is the last time a “losers parade” was held.
But the town hall has seen plenty of victory receptions over the years, not just for FA Cups but also league championships and European victories.
The first was held in 1930, after Arsenal won their first FA Cup against Huddersfield.
“I think in the old days it was more of an ‘Islington’ occasion,” Paul says. “People wouldn’t travel from as far out as they do now to watch Arsenal.
“The great thing about the parade is that fans who couldn’t get a ticket to the final can take part in the celebrations and see the players on the town hall balcony. And that tradition survives to this day.”
A parade around Highbury was scheduled for Sunday [it excluded the town hall due to roadworks in Essex Road] but was cancelled by the club after last week’s terror attack in Manchester.
Paul says: “It was disappointing for thousands of people, but the vast majority of Gooners understood why it had to be cancelled.
“Police resources were needed elsewhere, not least for the actual game on Saturday. Every supporter I spoke to was grateful to the police for enabling the final to go ahead and making us feel secure.”