On Sunday 15th May 2017, I attended the game and left the current White Hart Lane Stadium for the last time that it will be known. It was a celebration of all the things that went on at the stadium over it's 118 year history, but will be a sad day for many, who have made the journey to the ground for Spurs matches over the years. A shiny new future awaits, but what has gone before will never be forgotten.
There has been many a Glory, Glory Nights and some not so glorious afternoons. Tottenham have had star players and those who made fleeting appearances or worked for the team without the recognition some of their team-mates have enjoyed. The fact that so many players return to be interviewed at half-time and it means so much to them, as well as the fans, says a lot for the old stadium. Their pride and passion are matched by the supporters, who are the one constant, along with the stadium, in all this. Players and managers come and go, but the ground is the nuts and bolts, with the fans being the stage dressing and the heart and soul that bring the place alive. I was pleased to hear that the design of the new stadium is to retain a lot of the atmosphere of the Lane, as it needs to have the aspects of the old ground that fan and players talk about. Fans being close to the pitch means that there is an essential feeling of being part of the game that many new stadia seem to have ignored when being built or adapted for football.
I will miss the thrill I still get, as much as when I first experienced it, of walking up the steps and seeing the glorious pitch under the flood lights... into the light and seeing the green of the pitch in front of me. The ground opens up and you feel at home straight away. And that's why they call them home games at your home ground. It is the familiar setting that you know every nook and cranny of. You know where to go and how to get there. You may even have a particular turnstile you use. I know I have and it is one I have used for over 20 years. Moving into the new ground, it will take a while to adjust to the new surroundings and develop those habits, but it will be exciting and talk of a new ground has been going on since the 1980s, when we were going to share a "super-stadium" with Arsenal at Alexandra Palace. Well, they have their new ground and we will have ours and never the twain shall meet ... which is the way it should be. Because "We are Tottenham. Super Tottenham. From The Lane" and always will be. The new ground might get naming rights, but it's proximity to the old stadium means it will still be White Hart Lane and until the very, very last of the current fans leave this earth this stadium will ALWAYS be White Hart Lane and the announcer echoing the worlds "Welcome To White Hart Lane. The World Famous Home Of The Spurs"
And how will we refer to the new parts of the ground when we move in. The Park Lane, The Paxton, West Stand or Shelfside. Enclosure, Cage or Lower East Terrace. The light blue and white painted gable end on the old West Stand, the gap when the West Stand wasn't there in the early 1980s while it was being re-built. The gap under the North Stand as Sheringham returned ... but in the red and white of United. Everyone has their own particular favourite part of the stadium and over the 35 years I have been going to see Spurs, I have always sat in the Paxton or Park Lane stands.
I was there when the lights went off against Luton for Gary Mabutt to take his team off the pitch only to return when power was restored to score a quick succession of goals and win the match. I was there to see Anderton and Sheringham’s corner kick routines fool most defences which meant lots of goals for us. There to see the trickery of David Ginola, Glen Hoddle, Chris Waddle and Paul Gazza Gascoigne and what about Gareth Bale taking Maicon to the cleaners all night long?
On the other hand, I was there when we lost to comebacks from Manchester United and City when they were 3-0 behind. I was there when Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the pitch. I was there when there was the weirdest atmosphere against Getafe, when news came through that Martin Jol had been sacked.
Highs and lows we have suffered as Spurs fans and this season, we have had mainly highs at White Hart Lane, so the win against Manchester United of all teams at white hart Lanes final match was a very fitting finale.
So, is White Hart Lane just a football stadium ?
To those who enter it's hallowed portals, is is much more. A place of worship, a second home, a meeting place. For it is a place that brings people together. People whose names you might not know, but people who are there for the same cause. People you might not see from one week/month/year/even decade on end, but you see them at the Lane. Old school friends you haven't met since those days, suddenly come back into your life as you are standing in the queue for the turnstile. The shared experience of a football match is shared with the bricks and steel of the stadium. We are as much of the fabric of the Lane, as the building itself. Fellow supporters who have grown up around me as I visit the ground for football matches, now attend with their children, as I do too. The next generation, who will have their own memories of this fantastic old ground and then the new one to come. They will be able to tell their grandchildren what "the old White Hart Lane" was like and form their own memories of the new stadium.
Like many famous Spurs fans who attend the matches at the Lane, he will be just another one of the family. Nobody pesters them, because they are Spurs. They are there like the rest of us. To cheer the team on and have one more experience to add to the memory banks that will be on overdrive on Sunday evening. The return of many of the players who have trod the turf over many years will add poignancy to proceedings and spark flashbacks to when they wore the lilywhite and blue on the pitch at the Lane.
I hope that the game against Manchester United left us remembering that our excellent band of players gave a display of variety and ability that left the audience thrilled and impressed by their skills.
It might have been the last, but it will be one of the most cherished memories about Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane to add to many already there.