Vass didn't think he'd make it to the game, but fate had other ideas for him and granted him one last visit. This is his story about his and our last game under those lights.
I had resigned myself to missing the last ever game at the old stadium. There was no way I was going to get a ticket. The ongoing loyalty point cull would see to that. I had managed to get to the Everton game and I had accepted that would have been my last ever game there. But an opportunity presented itself to me to secure a ticket and I am so glad I was there and able to close off part of my own history and to be a part of what binds so many of us.
The feeling was somewhat irrational of course. The club would still exist. This wasn’t a goodbye forever like it almost was in 1991. It was more of a “see you later”. Except we’d be back in a spanking new whistle to pick up where we left off. And yet I couldn’t help getting emotional.
I found myself fighting back tears at random moments before, during and after the game. The deafening “come on you spurs” as the players entered the field (yes there was a game being played too); When Wanyama scored; when the flags waved; when the fans sang “oh when the spurs” and when the final whistle blew and the pitch turned into a sea of white.
I found myself fighting back tears at random moments before, during and after the game
I had a single ticket in the Paxton upper tier. I had in some ways returned home. Finding a ticket two rows up and a few seats further along from where I last had a season ticket. I sat with people I didn’t know. I barely spoke to any of them. I was fighting back tears at times and occasionally I failed. I must have been spotted removing my glasses and wiping my eyes. No one said anything though. Perhaps they felt the same and they understood. Perhaps they just let me be with some silent respect. Or maybe they didn’t see me after all.
Once the legends entered the field then it got me again. I know none of these ex-players personally but every one of them represented a stage in my life. And by remote association brought back memories that had been confined to deep recesses in my mind. In particular Chivers, Gilzean, England and Jennings. Players that I just about remember. These guys made me want to cry the most and I realised it was because these were the players that symbolised those few moments I had with my dad at the football. When he used to take me by the hand and lead me into The Lane.
Then Hoddle, Archibald, Crooks, Galvin, Roberts, Hazard, Falco, Miller, Mabbutt. My team. The team of my late teens. Thoughts of standing on the shelf with my friends. Moving into adulthood as I was. To Anderton, King, Sheringham, Ginola and I am now with my two sons. A father with a new generation of Spurs fans. Keane and Berbatov too. Then to Crouch as I recall the carnage with my now teenage sons as we made it to Champions League for the first time.
White Hart Lane and this amazing club is synonymous with me. As it is for all of us
My life entwined with that of a football club as it is for many of us. And that old stadium. The one that rocked at the 84 UEFA Cup final; that roared when taxis were being called for Maicon. Kane’s goal(s) against Woolwich; 5-1 against them and against Chelsea and Man Utd in the 60’s when Greaves left them for dead. For Hoddle’s volleys at the Park Lane against Forest and United. For his last ever goal as he baffled an Oxford rear-guard. For “one Danny Thomas”. For Gazza in his sock and for Klinsmann’s diving celebration. For the worldies from Bale and Ginola. And how about Kanoute and Nayim too. So many memories that a hundred montages could not do it justice.
But I cried at the end. Unashamedly. And I well up writing this now. Because White Hart Lane and this amazing club is synonymous with me. As it is for all of us. For all those that passed before us and flocked the Tottenham High Road to see something magical and until today.
One Hundred and Eighteen years of heritage and rituals. And for those of us lucky enough to have been inside when so many even without tickets still flocked to be near the place at the end. Everyone knew what the finale meant. The end of an age and the dawn of a new one. The heavens cried too and then gave us a rainbow to cheer us up. But it is not the end. It is the beginning. A new dawn of a new age. White Hart Lane is dead. Long live White Hart Lane.