Tribute Trust Chairman Jonathan Adelman reflects on a lifetime of going to White Hart Lane
The universe sometimes just delivers and on Sunday it did. A 17th straight win, an unbeaten home season, a record low number of goals conceded, one of our own scoring the winner and with the glorious timing of a Dele Alli far post run, the raucous and good hearted pitch invasion delayed the closing ceremony for just long enough to ensure that whilst the rain came, it made way for the sun to reveal that picture perfect celestial rainbow arching over the golden cockerel perched atop the East Stand.
You never know as you travel through life which snapshots will become indelibly singed in to your consciousness. What is it about a moment in time, a sight, a smell, a sound that is so fundamental that it remains lodged forever? Whatever the answer I know that my very earliest memory was as a 5 year old holding my Grandpa’s hand and walking up those dimly lit stairs of the old West Stand to see the blinding brightness of the sun and the luminescent green of the White Hart Lane turf. I don’t know what part of Sunday’s emotional farewell to the crucible of so many of my memories will be the one to last the test of time but I’m pretty sure when the grey cells are fading me that something from Sunday 14th May 2017 will still burn bright.
The whole season had been building to this game and inevitably the day itself was an assault on both my emotions and senses. Shared with those family and friends with whom my 38 years of visits to the stadium have been made it was especially fitting to travel to the game not only with my Mum but with my mate Steff (he of the whisky and bomb sniffing spaniel ritual – which by the way was applied, successfully, once again on Sunday!) and to share a pre match drink at the Bell & Hare (I’ll never get used to calling it No. 8) with them and Amir.
Strolling around the area in those pre-match hours, bumping in to friends, seeing hundreds of familiar faces the names of which I’ll never know, all taking photos, videos, just soaking up every detail of the final moments. I filmed my last journey through the “C-J” turnstiles of the East Stand, their clunk and click as they turned to permit my entrance causing one of those catch your breath, never experience again pauses, then up the stairs, through the tightly packed throng of the cramped East Upper concourse, up the final steps and out in to the bright light with the pitch resplendent below. My journey; the same one, to the same seat along the same steps as I’ve made for 23 successive seasons.
As I settled in to my seat for the last time and gazed around the stadium my mind drifted. In my loft I have my collection of old programmes, piled up by season. I’ve long since stopped buying programmes (although on Sunday of course I made an exception) but I remembered one in particular from the early 1990’s depicting what a future White Hart Lane would look like – three tiers, big screens behind the goals – it looked like a cartoon depiction of the Bernabeu.
A decade later the first images of Daniel Levy’s vision for the re-development of The Lane appeared. The stadium was scheduled to be open by 2012/3. In 2018 the revamped and considerably more ambitious £800m obsession to perfection will finally open its doors. I’ve no doubt the new ground will be very special, the coming generations of Spurs fans will lavish their affection on it as they create their memories. For those of us whose very essence is inextricably linked to the rickety stands and peeling paintwork of White Hart Lane, we will learn to love it – it won’t be hard to do that because after all home is where the heart is – but it won’t be the same.
The game itself and the perfect, understated but classy closing ceremony passed too quickly, I wanted time to slow and to live in those moments for ever but in a whirl of deafening noise and Finale flags it was over.
The knowledge that the game itself will serve to help raise much needed funding for the Tottenham Tribute Trust to continue its important work is of great comfort. It was quite something to see our emblem on the shirts and to see so many fellow supporters and the club’s staff and Legends wearing our commemorative pin badge.
As the sun began to set over the West Stand, I was the last to leave my block; one final photo, one final glance and now it’s gone. Immortalised in hundreds of photos but never to be touched and smelt and experienced again. It leaves a void which is impossible to articulate.
There have been millions of words and tens of thousands of reflections written about “The Finale” – every one of them personal, yet every one of them resonating with the rest of us who were proud to call White Hart Lane “home”. The images of the ‘decommissioning’ that started just hours after the game are painful to view but when the literal and metaphorical dust has settled and after the Spurs equivalent of 40 years in the Sinai, we will come back, we will come home, because for us the supporters (and no matter what sponsor name adorns the new ground), we will always be Tottenham from the Lane