Thursday, May 11, 2017

"...and the Tottenham Hotspur will be there..."


"There used to be a football club over there."
So (supposedly) muttered a resigned Keith Burkinshaw, walking away towards Tottenham High Road in 1984, presumably looking forward to lighting up a consolatory pipe back home.
And leaving behind him a Uefa Cup trophy newly, thrillingly won under the White Hart Lane lights - but a board too cravenly preoccupied by that new entity, THFC plc.
This Sunday night all the switches will be flicked off at that grand old stadium for the final time, ahead of demolition beginning on Monday morning, leaving behind ... well, what?
Well, still a grand old team to play for and a grand old team to see - albeit one that will, after a year’s unwanted exile in Wembley anyway, be a little further along that High Road.
For all the sweetbitterness of the Burkinshaw goodbye, there is certainly a football club still here in N17.
Why, one flourishing in recent seasons in stark contrast to those drear years of the Nineties and early-Noughties.
It seems to have been a long time coming, this new next-door behemoth of an arena - too long, some may feel, if certainly a necessary and enticing next step.
And yet, and yet - a so-long to the old White Hart Lane we know can’t help but feel like it's come sorrowfully suddenly upon us.
So this final farewell to Tottenham’s official home ground for 42,621 days and 1,993 games this coming Sunday provides a sadly celebratory time to reflect on what’s gone and what’s going.
Cliché as it may be, "second home" feels the perfect wording for what it will have been to Tottenham fans of and throughout all ages.
Somewhere to go to for release from everyday stresses and strains, for a surge of excitement and achievement - or else, of course, simply all the more (alternative) stresses and strains.
A place of such familiarity, and yet one where the only predictable thing is that something different will happen - sometimes exhilirating, sometimes disappointing, yet invariably something to chew (or drink) upon afterwards.
Until the next time.
Surely few better tributes exist than the exemplary words-and-pictures tour de force The Lane by Martin Cloake and Adam Powley, alongside designer Doug Cheeseman and with invaluable archive photo contributors including the legendary John White’s son Rob.
Nor the elegiac video posted this week by MPH1982, one which appears to have cast more tear-inducing dust into the air than any annual "Flying Ants Day" might imminently manage.
But perhaps the finest memorial - this Sunday’s send-off aside, hoping and trusting it proves appropriate - will be our own memories.
And oh-so-many of them, both collective and collectively individual.
Pray (self-)indulgence, perhaps, for a few scattered here...