“I still remember the feeling I had when Ronwol responded to me, via email, that he would be interested taking a trip to London, so that I could witness a Spurs match at White Hart Lane. Oh, The Lane.
My love, for Spurs, from afar had started decades ago but that is another story. This is about White Hart Lane, what it meant to me, what I saw, what I remember, what I will miss.
Most of you know the story. Ronnie and I met on the TBH blog, developed a friendship that evolved into on blog chatting, exchanging emails, real life phone conversations and trip planning. When the dust settled a trip was in the works for the two of us to travel to London on Nov 30, 2016 and hook up with UFP and a number of other bloggers to see Spurs vs. Swansea City on 12-2-16. It was going to happen, I was going to get to see a match at The Lane.
I digress. The reason I am writing this is because as our club gets set to move into our new home I find myself thinking more and more about our old home. I can’t recall exactly when I became aware of WHL because I am obviously not from the UK. As we could get match coverage I was always impressed by what appeared to be a very intimate stadium with rabid fans. Win or lose the place always seemed to be on fire. News accounts that were available that discussed home results always seemed to address the presence of WHL. When more consistent coverage evolved during our first CL years and subsequent campaigns I became intrigued with the impact our home stadium had on results. I knew it was old, that it been upgraded over the years and that the players seemed to love the place and had a close relationship with fans. I also knew that the field was extremely close to the stands.
Prior to the match due to the diligence and thoughtfulness of others Ronnie and I had been able to meet a number of blog regulars who I now call friends. Still Nil Nil, Fofty, DAVID, CaSpurs, SpurAndy, MysteriousStranger, Real Fan, Spurstacus, Bruxie, Spursy, Dillenberg, Poxy, McG, 61SpursNut, Smozzie and of course UFP. Every one of them top notch. Anyway on match day afternoon a bunch of us stumbled out of The Bull Pub and hopped a train at Liverpool Station and headed for White Hart Lane Station.
Upon arrival at White Hart Lane Station we got off and ambled to The Antwerp Arms and it was packed to the rafters. Squeeze room only, too crowded for beer, not crowded enough for some of us too hit the loo however. We retreated from there and started hoofing to The Lane. The rising new stadium dominated the skyline as we approached and then a slight turn to the right and there it was, White Hart Lane. As we approached there was a pause as some had to pick up tickets at Stub Hub. I couldn’t take my eyes off of old girl. Brick and steel, painted blue and white, old, majestic, it smelled of football. Ronnie, UFP and I walked around the south end and started up the east side and got to the entrance where we could find our way to Section J. The entrance was small, we got thru security, handed our tickets and turned left and started climbing stairs. Climbing stairs was old school and I loved it. The stadium was old school but rustic and beautiful. We got to our seats and I was there, sitting in The Lane, looking around, transfixed, taking it all in. Almost breathless. I listened intently as Ronnie and UFP pointed to where they used to sit, growing up, coming to matches with their fathers. I swear I saw the ghosts of players past warming up. The seats were close, the aisles narrow, no leg room and I could have cared less. There was a huge chunk of the stadium gone, in the northwest corner, making room for the New Lane. That did not seem to matter and the place filled rapidly as kick off approached.
The match itself was brilliant, a 5-0 whitewashing of the Swans. Two for Kane, two from Eriksen and a screamer from Sonny. The south stand was amazing as we looked down on them, standing, singing and carrying on. I was stunned at the atmosphere. I have been to many sporting events in my lifetime, in the states, but never ever witnessed an atmosphere like that. All of fans sitting around us were incredibly knowledgeable and I tried to listen as much as possible to all of their ongoing critique of the match. It was simply amazing. At one point, in the second half, the fellow in front of me turned around and said “you Yanks don’t know a lot about football do you? “ I could only nod, smile and laugh at myself for obviously saying something of no consequence. He was a gent, of course. I didn’t want the match to end because it meant we would have to leave. The three of us hung out for a bit as the stadium emptied and just took it all in. Back to stairs, a brief stop to take care of business in a horse trough and out we went. We walked north and got to get a real close look at the new stadium. No question it was going to be a beauty but I couldn’t help but wonder if it would ever be as intimate and charming as the old girl. No it wouldn’t be as that could never be duplicated.
The three of us stopped at the Spurs merchandise store. UFP and I were in and out quickly and Ronnie shopped for what seemed like an eternity. As we waited patiently for Ronwol I couldn’t take my eyes off of The Lane. I tried to etch into my mind what I had seen and commit it to memory. Eventually UFP and I headed for The Antwerp to meet up with the gang, which we did, and a Ronnie eventually showed up. While we walked to the pub I kept looking back in the darkness trying to catch one last glimpse of the coolest place I had ever been to witness any kind of an event. I had done it, I had been able to witness the old girl in full regalia, see our team put on a display of force and enjoy the company of an amazing group of new friends. It just didn’t get any better than that cool December day.
The three of us committed that we would come back and see a match in the new stadium. That will be great. We will plan it and put it in motion. We will hopefully get to see as many of our new friends as possible and with some luck meet more. It will be memorable but, for me, it will never match the magnificence of the first trip. How could it!, after all I checked off a bucket list item. I got to see Spurs play at White Hart Lane.”