The beautiful (and a bit worn) White Hart Lane’s curtain is closing on Sunday, May 14, 2017, when Manchester United play Tottenham Hotspur for the last home game for Spurs in the 16/17 Premier League campaign – and the last match ever at the stadium known as White Hart Lane.
I’ve only been to two matches at White Hart Lane – a Europa League game in November of 2014 (which was how my brother and I celebrated our Thanksgiving that year since the game was on Thursday) and then a Premier League match in April of 2015 (a group of us from Chicago Spurs, when I lived there, went for a visit) – but it’s still special to me.
In addition, I was able to take a tour with my brother of the Lane the day after the Europa League win. From sitting in Mauricio Pochettino’s seat near the pitch to his seat where press conferences take place (after which I joked with the tour guide about me being Spurs’ first female manager, and he responded kindly and rather straightforward that he agreed), it was rather surreal.
The game that my brother and I attended all seems kind of a blur to me by now. The night was magical thanks to the massive amount of adrenaline coursing through my body because I was going to my first Tottenham match at the Lane (plus, we had had a few beers beforehand at the Billy Nick) and, to add to that, which I’ve already mentioned, it was Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday). Going to a first game at the Lane with my brother as well as the man that introduced Tottenham Hotspur Football Club to our family, Dave, was a truly special moment. Spurs won that UEL match with Benji Stambouli (yea, remember him?) grabbing his first (and I think only…) goal for Tottenham.
That trip to London, as well as two other cities in Europe, was not only special because it was over Thanksgiving week or that my brother – who is undoubtedly one of my best friends – and I were able to take the trip together, but it was also in memory of our Grandpa who had passed away the year prior in November. Our grandfather loved traveling and would’ve been thrilled that we took our sibling trip to not only enjoy Europe but also that we had such happy snapshots – like going to a Spurs match. My brother, I distinctly remember, commented after the Spurs game saying, “I’ve never seen you so happy.” So yes, Tottenham may have won their match, but it was the circumstances – Spurs winning, my first visit to White Hart Lane, traveling with my brother in memory of our Grandpa, and being in London – of that occasion that make it so unique to me.
Now, for my second (and final) visit to White Hart Lane, I had the opportunity to be a tourist around London with my second family (aka Chicago Spurs) and watch a match with them. From Borough Market to the Queens’ Walk, we made sure our allegiance to Tottenham Hotspur was known.
There were about 12 of us that traveled across the pond to see Aston Villa (with Tim Sherwood at the helm) defeat Spurs, 0-1, on that sunny Saturday in April. Now, I’m not faulting Christian Benteke for scoring, but I do kind of blame us for having Vlad Chiriches on the team at that moment in time. However poor Spurs were on the day (as my own recollection serves me correctly), at the very least Mauricio Pochettino granted Chicago Spurs the one and only chance to see DeAndre Yedlin receive playing time in a Spurs shirt. So thanks, Poch!
After the 1-nil defeat, the group of us walked over to what was then known as the Bell and Hare where we met other supporters and had some beer. We were in a slight rush, however, as Sweden Spurs (bless their hearts) invited us to a dinner with Spurs legends where I didn’t end up having a bite of food but former goalkeeper and dapper gentleman, Pat Jennings, did give me a kiss on the cheek as we introduced ourselves to each other. What a memory that is…along with chatting with Micky Hazard’s wife – and the man himself, too – as well as talking with Graham Roberts, Mark Falco, and Paul Allen.
Both my first and second trips to White Hart Lane were such fun, but clearly, had different flavors to them. The former was more of an ‘in awe’ experience where the latter was a ‘this is just so cool and very surreal’ moment.
I know that my memories may be more mundane, but they’re moments I will cherish forever of the Lane. So those of you reading this who have been able to attend games at White Hart Lane for years or decades, I’m very envious and I hope you know just how lucky you are. I was blessed enough to go two different times and enjoy two different experiences, but I certainly hope that once the new stadium is built, I am able to gather new memories of my beloved Spurs.
A stadium may just be a building for some. And for others, a stadium is just a place where a football team plays its game. But for me, it’s a home where special moments happen alongside people who become like family, where you experience all that life has to offer – whether it’s pain and sorrow or joy and elation – all the while taking into account the history and character of said home.
This home is White Hart Lane.
(Now that I’ve stopped welling up at my own words (who knew I’d be so emotional over this?), enjoy some of the photos of my trips.)