Gunners pub back open for Premier League climax

Fans at The Gunners pub watch Arsenal play Spurs

Fans at The Gunners pub watch Arsenal play Spurs - Credit: Andrew Hoyle

A derby day defeat to Tottenham was not the opening night owners had hoped for, but Islington’s proudest Arsenal supporting pub is back.

The Gunners in Blackstock Road is the oldest dedicated pub to the north London reds in the borough and for years has been a haven for fans to toast success or raise spirits after defeat.

It was the latter for many last Thursday night after Arsenal slumped to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of their bitter rivals. 

“What a travesty,” said pub landlord Andrew Hoyle. “Arsenal seem to have been the victims of many dodgy refereeing decisions this season but what can you do?” 

Mr Hoyle and his wife Una McKernan shut up shop a few days before the infamous ‘stay at home’ announcement in March 2020. They briefly reopened in September last year but due to staffing issues they were forced to close until now.

Mr Hoyle said it has taken time to get the right team in place but he is now confident the pub will reconfirm its place among the Arsenal faithful. 

“We will not become a gastro pub or a block of flats,” he said. “We are going to respect the old format and the new manager is a lifelong Arsenal fan. It is a labour of love.

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“It’s the best outcome [in terms of the new management] we could have wished for. It follows on from a pub that has been dedicated for generations and we hope will continue to be so.”

Fans outside The Gunners take in the action

Fans outside The Gunners take in the action - Credit: Andrew Hoyle

The pub has been redecorated but in keeping with the old style as Arsenal memorabilia is again, naturally, on show. 

Arsenal go into the final day of the season needing a near miracle to pip Tottenham to fourth place and Champions League qualification. They will need to beat Everton and hope Spurs trip up against the already relegated Norwich City. But Mr Hoyle has not written off hope.

Arsenal lost to Spurs in the first match screened.

Arsenal lost to Spurs in the first match screened. It leaves the Reds needing luck on their side in the final round of fixtures if they are to qualify for the Champions League. - Credit: Andrew Hoyle

“It is not looking good now,” he said. “But we have done the impossible before, people didn’t think we would win in 1989.

“Arsenal fans need to get to the pub for this one to show their support.”