Tribute Trust Trustee Lauren Crader shares her thoughts on the White Hart Lane Finale.
Aug 3 1970 – May 14 2017
My first match at White Hart Lane – My last match at White Hart Lane.
It’s been the best of times, it’s been the worst of times, but it has always been very special times.
I fell in love with the place from that first visit. The sounds, the smells, the excitement – the peanuts! Me and my dad, off together in our bubble. A bubble of secrecy, ‘don’t tell your mother’, and a bubble of celebratory delight when the ball hit the back of the net – but that bubble was much bigger and encompassed thousands and thousands of people all raising their arms and shouting in the same millisecond. Being picked up and hugged so tight I thought I would burst – seeing close up the look of sheer joy etched on my dad’s face. How can you do anything but join in and lose yourself in those moments!? It’s a drug. You want more. And even after the lows, some dreadful lows, you want to go back. You must go back. You need to reinforce your support and taste the highs again. Thankfully and luckily I have had that opportunity spanning many years and have had the privilege of meeting such good people who have become firm and lifelong friends. It has really been a journey.
Over the years, like my dad, I too have proudly introduced my own daughters to the beautiful place. Shielding their eyes as they reached the top of the steps so they got full value when seeing the sea of green for the first time. Watching their eyes widen and their mouthes silently ‘wow!’ It’s a passage of rites. It’s a beautiful moment. It’s the start of the next generation. My granddaughter never witnessed a match, but she got to see the hallowed turf ‘where Chirpy lives’ during the last week before closure. It had to be done. My circle was complete.
And then The Day arrived. That day we had all eyed nervously on the fixture list since the previous June when the season’s matches were announced. A day we had really tried to ignore all season, although we knew it was creeping ever closer with each passing week. Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United. Always a great pairing. Always a match to look forward to. But this was markedly different. Special shirts, special branding, special occasion. The Finale.
I couldn’t even find a place in my head that could comprehend it would be the final time I would hear that turnstile click. That reassuring click of being home. That comforting click that confirmed you were safely in amongst your own, ready for the battle about to commence. That adrenaline releasing click that lead to both the nervous excitement of the as yet unknown and a myriad of emotions about to be unleashed.
Except this time we did know. Emotionally there was nothing unknown about this specific day. With that simple, ratchety sound that had been unchanged for decades allowing us our final entry, regardless of all the forthcoming celebrations and beneath the sensible head acknowledgement that this ‘has to be’, this time we all knew exactly how we would feel. Utterly heartbroken.
In the scheme of things, and to those who just look on, moving your football stadium is probably small fry – but football is a strange beast and your home stadium is a wondrous place. It evokes feelings and emotions, passions and desires that do not easily fit into logic. It’s a place where you experience a spectrum of emotions that can ruin the next few days or lift you to previously unreached heights. It’s a place where you can lose yourself or even transform to a person your nearest and dearest would never recognise. And more specifically, White Hart Lane is a place that held memories that can never be moved to a state of the art ‘new build’.
We’ll all move on. We’ll all create a ‘new home’ even new memories, but, nowhere will ever be our beautiful White Hart Lane, where history was made, friendships nurtured, hearts broken and miracles played out.
Farewell White Hart Lane. I will miss everything about you.