As Arsenal prepare to give Man United a guard of honour, we ask… what's it all about
22:51 GMT, 25 April 2013
00:20 GMT, 26 April 2013
Manchester United are expected be given a guard of honour by Arsenal when they walk out at the Emirates on Sunday – but why
It is not compulsory for any club to provide a guard of honour if they face the newly crowned League champions but is a ceremony agreed between the two clubs.
It is understandable that Arsenal would put one on for United, who first celebrated the Gunners' 1991 league title win, giving them a guard of honour at Highbury.
Old tradition: United clap Chelsea out in 1955
The Manchester club have a history of
respecting opponents and they also honoured Chelsea lifting the Premier
League trophy in 2005. To reciprocate, Chelsea did the same for United
two years later. Everton also celebrated United's title success on the
last day of the season in 2003 at Goodison Park.
But it is not exclusive to the modern
era, and occurred as far back as 1955 when United provided one for
Chelsea. It is not just used for title winners either – a guard was
formed in 2011 by United and Sunderland to celebrate Sir Alex Ferguson's
25 years in charge. Newcastle players also applauded Arsenal on to St
James' Park in 1994 when they won the European Cup-Winners' Cup.
The exact origin of the Guard of
Honour is not known, but early examples date back centuries ago to
Ancient Greece. The Ancient Greek poet Homer wrote about warriors as
fallen heroes who were given a similar ceremony. There are further
examples throughout Classical and Medieval history.
Guard of Honour: United applaud Chelsea on to the Old Trafford pitch in May 2005
Its roots are firmly in the military.
As military historian John Sadler explains: 'Most established armies
have a guard of honour function and individual members are drawn from
the ranks of the elite, selected for their imposing appearance, bearing
and precision. The prime functions are to (a) provide a guard for
visiting dignitaries, (b) for national civic ceremonials and (c) to
honour the dead/fallen comrades.
'In the UK these functions are
generally provided by the Foot Guards and Household Cavalry, though all
regiments and branches of the service would field a guard of honour,
depending on circumstances. It is easy to see how this could transfer to
It is an act that demonstrates a huge
level of respect, but one that jars with some players. When Roy Keane
and Gary Neville faced each other applauding Chelsea on to the Old
Trafford pitch in May 2005 for Jose Mourinho's first title, neither
player wanted to look their opponents in the eye. Neville said
afterwards nothing had stuck in his craw more during in his career and
Keane said it was a good experience because it taught him that it was
one he never wanted to go through again.
Fergie time: the United boss is clapped on to the pitch in November 2011