Royce Franklin takes a nostalgic look back at how football has changed in the 67 years since he watched his first live match.
SOUTHAMPTON ARE the only one of the 20 present Premier League clubs to have recorded their highest home attendance at their present ground. On April 28, 2012, 32,363 were at their game against Coventry in the Championship. It was towards the end of that 2011/12 season and they were on their way to promotion.
Nearer to home Manchester United’s record is 83,260. That was not at Old Trafford, but at Maine Road while United’s own ground was being re-built after World War Two bomb damage. Their opponents at that then First Division game on January 17, 1948 were Arsenal. The current capacity for United’s ground is 75,635.
On November 25, 1998, Arsenal were ‘between grounds’ from Highbury to their present Emirates Stadium when they played their Champions League game against RC Lens at Wembley. On that date 73,707 attended. This is well above their present Emirates’ capacity of 60,272 or their previous ground Highbury where it stood as low as 38,500 after the Taylor report, which required all-seater stadia in the top flights.
Altogether 19 clubs have registered gates at over 60,000. Of them, eight currently are outside the Premier League – Birmingham, Blackburn, Bolton, Charlton, Huddersfield, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday and Wolverhampton.
Sheffield United are the lowest placed in the football pyramid with 68,287 against Leeds in the FA Cup fifth-round on February 15, 1936. Charlton had an amazing 75,031 at The Valley when they played Aston Villa in the FA Cup, fifth round on February 12, 1938.
Latics stand 33rd in the list of record attendances with 47,671 against Sheffield Wednesday on January 25, 1930 for a fifth-round FA Cup game. Even with their new stand, Latics can now accommodate just over 13,000.