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Arsenal pub is boarded up but will it go to extra time?

A sad day, but we hope it will open again,’ say fans who lament loss of favourite watering hole

05 July, 2019 — By Calum Fraser

Arsenal Tavern boarded up on Wednesday 

ARSENAL fans fear the final whistle has been blown on one of their favourite bars after it was boarded up this week.

The Arsenal Tavern, in Blackstock Road, has served Gooners for decades. It was seen as one of the must-do stops for a pint before – or after – home matches at the club’s former Highbury stadium.

Gavin Charlie, who writes the “She Wore” Arsenal blog, said: “I am pretty gutted about it really. That was the first pub I drunk in, going back to the late 80s and early 90s. I drunk there for every home game for about four years.”

He added: “I think the last time I was there was for the Tottenham game last season. It was looking a bit faded. It is always sad when a pub closes.”

Steve Kell, a member of Arsenal Supporters Club committee, said he heard it had closed on Wednesday.

“It’s another pub that is shutting down. It is a sad day,” he said. “It had a good following. Everyone knew it. I don’t know why it has shut down, but I hear it might be opening again later this year.

“The supporters club has a great relationship with all the bars in the area. We hope it will open again.”

The sight of the pub being boarded up came in the same week that another supporters bar, Islington Sports Bar and Grill, in Holloway Road near the Emirates Stadium, was granted a potential life-saving alcohol licence.

Diehard Gooner Mick Doherty, who part-owns the Grill, had been told he needed to apply for a pub licence – the one he held meant food had to be served with alcohol.

Alfie Andrews, who is sound-proofing the pub, with landlord Mick Doherty

“It is sad these pubs closing down,” said Mr Doherty. “It is the hub of the community. It is where you meet people.

“I think it is an indictment of the way kids now don’t seem to leave their house. They’re happier in front of the PlayStation. When we were 18 we couldn’t wait to get down to the local on Friday night.”

He added: “Now they just go on Tinder and meet up in coffee shops for lattes.”

The Islington Sports Bar and Grill is closed while it installs soundproofing to bring it in line with council requirements.

A petition with more than 1,600 signatures was delivered to the licensing committee on Tuesday night. Although the application attracted several objections from residents living nearby, councillors granted the licence.

Mr Doherty said: “It’s a weight off my mind now. Our landlord, Ollie Taggart, says he’s looking forward to the challenge now of opening the bar with a big season for Arsenal ahead.”

As the Tribune has reported, a string of pubs have closed in Islington in the past decade, including the Litten Tree, The Nag’s Head and The George.

The Tribune approach­ed the Ei Group, which owns the Arsenal Tavern, for comment but did not receive a response.

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