Saturday 23 September 2017

Publican buys arsenal of Highbury history

HIGHBURY Stadium has been almost completely demolished to make way for luxury apartments but its famous video screens have found a new home . . . in a Dublin pub.

Life-long Arsenal supporter Tony Gibney decided he wanted to preserve part of the legacy left to the London club by its Irish players like Liam Brady, David O'Leary, Frank Stapleton and Niall Quinn.

He spent ?10,300 to buy the two giant video screens for Gibney's in Malahide, quite a bargain considering the fact that they cost ?4m when they were installed in the north and south ends of Highbury 10 years ago.

"A lot of Irish lads played at Arsenal, so I just saw it as an opportunity of bringing some memorabilia back," he said.

He is now planning to now planning to install one of them in the outdoor beer garden in his family's Malahide pub.

"I think it will give our customers a sense of pride in our pub, that this is in it. Certain things like boxing, Premiership matches, GAA matches and music concerts would look very effective on it. But it's a bit of fun as well," he said.

Mr Gibney had a budget of around ?60,000 for the closing down auction at Highbury last August. He had to outbid 20 different parties for the giant screens, including Southend United, the club who knocked Man Utd out of the Carling Cup.

The all-weather Sony screens, which are each assembled from 25 monitors, stood at 5m high and 7m wide in Highbury.

However, Mr Gibney is planning to initially limit the screen to 3m by 4m wide.

"That will make it the biggest screen in any pub in Dublin. If others have a bigger one, we can make ours bigger."

He spent around ?13,000 on other purchases at the Arsenal auction including a mannequin of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, the countdown clocks at the ground and the away managers' seats.

He will officially unveil the screens before Christmas at a benefit night for the Simon Community.

Tom Burke's picture shows Tony (left) and his brother Barry with the Arsene Wenger mannequin and the away managers' seats.

MICHAEL BRENNAN

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