Why is The Angel by Louis Dunford an Arsenal Anthem?

Anthems in football are nothing new, although they are rarer than you might think. Arsenal, though, have joined the ranks of club’s who blast one out before a home game.

It’s hard to imagine Liverpool without You’ll never Walk Alone, or West Ham without Forever Blowing Bubbles, or Sunderland without Wise Men Say. They are just part of those clubs’ identity. Other clubs can say the same of their anthems.

Arsenal, though, have never really had one. They did briefly flirt with Elvis Pressley’s The Wonder of You just after they moved to The Emirates, but that fizzled out.

Now, though, the Gunners have a fresh identity as an exciting young team and genuine Premier League title contender, and they have a new anthem to go with it.

So, what is the story behind The Angel by Louis Dunford and how, and why, did it become an Arsenal anthem?

Louis Dunford is a life-long Arsenal fan, as are his whole family, and he said he wrote the song as a “love letter to where I was born.” However, the song is not about Arsenal by his own admission.

“To be honest, I didn’t write it thinking of the Arsenal at all,” he explained

“There’s a mention of Highbury and there’s a ‘stadium’ in the first verse because it’s part of my landscape. The Arsenal is such a big part of our culture growing up around here.

“But people have been thanking me for writing this for the Arsenal, but it’s genuinely an accident.

“If I’d sat down to write a song that I think Arsenal fans would have liked, I don’t think I would have been able to come up with anything.”

Like most of the best stories in modern times, it’s basically all because of a drunken tweet in a pub.

Dunford has a video of him performing the song at  sold-out gig in Islington, and his friend put down his pint and came up with the idea of making it an Arsenal anthem.

“We were sat in the pub and my mate was going to me, ‘They’ve got to play it at The Emirates’,” Dunford said.

“So, as a genuine joke, I tagged the Arsenal on Twitter and said ‘Play The Angel. The people want it.’

“I was just thinking that my small following of Twitter fans would think it was funny.

“And then, the next day, I woke up and it had exploded overnight. I had over 1,000 retweets. I couldn’t understand what had happened.

“Over the next couple of days I went from having 2,000 followers, to 10,000, then 15,000 and now I’ve got over 30,000. It just hasn’t stopped.

“I was like ‘F*cking hell, all this over a drunk joke!’”

Before long, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta was admitting he had received “thousands” of messages from fans and threw his weight behind making it an anthem at The Emirates, and it has been embraced by supporters since.

As I walk these streets alone, through this borough I call home
Upon the baron fields of Highbury ‘neath the stadiums of stone
Through the turnstiles at The Angel, see the homeless on the green
From The Cally to The Cross, and every shithole in between

Pass the church, the mosque, a crack den, and the offie on the corner
See the brasses from the brothel that pretends to be a sauna
Watch the bedlam in the bookies, see the winners and the losers
Seeking solace from their sorrow in the local battle cruisers
Through the madness in the market, weathered faces turn to greet ya
“Hello guvnor, how’s your mother?”
“You alright son, be lucky, geeza”

Double pie and mash and liquor, a Cuppa Rosie Lee up chap
Or watch retired gangsters bicker, every day in Arthur’s café
The little fuckers causing trouble, for the cozzers make you smile
You meet ya muckers for a couple, forget your troubles for a while
From The Thornhill to The Hemmy, all the faces are the same
‘Cause the manor might be changing, but the people still remain

North London forever
Whatever the weather these streets are our own
And my heart will leave you never
My blood will forever run through the stone

As I walk these streets alone, through a kingdom made of chrome
I see them ripping up the cobbles, and tearing down our childhood homes
I see the architecture changing, watch the history disappear
And the skyline rearranging into towers of veneer
But I see the remnants of the London that they thought they could erase
Every time I hear the old school talk about the good old days
Or every time I watch the football and have a ruby with the lads
See an hoister selling clobber or a dealer shooting bags

It’s in the single mothers juggling a baby and a job
In every single brother struggling that wound up in the dock
It’s in the roots and the foundations still clinging to the land
It’s in the bricks that built the Morland and Popham that still stand
It’s in my family and my friends, in every gram and every Benz
It’s in the roots that we inherit when a generation ends
It’s in the ruins of your youth and the faces of your past
‘Cause the manor might be changing, but the people always last

North London forever
Whatever the weather these streets are our own
And my heart will leave you never
My blood will forever run through the stone