A weekend of two halves

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

What a weekend, what an experience and disappointment all wrapped up in that weekend. It was all so knackering.

My weekend started for me at Goodmayes on Friday night (which was an hour and a half drive).

Saturday was a day for Test match 2 (Spurs Legends v Inter Forever). Before I arrived at White Hart Lane Hanna and I decided to do a quick recce around certain areas – near Tottenham – for parking ideas. We had a look around Edmonton Green station and other spots (which I noted), then Hanna dropped me off at the station, and I got a train straight to White Hart Lane (took about 11 minutes). From there I walked briskly to the stadium and got there 5 minutes before the doors opened (3.30pm).

As we were stood in the queue an official came along and told us to use the other door (at least for some of us), so we moved over (as one does when told); finally, they let us in (hurray!). Got our tickets scanned, ok this time, and then a quick metal detector frisk, through and then my bag checked. Not over yet though, a few more hurdles to jump through before I could enter the golden palace; a wrist band was put on my wrist (probably in case I wandered around in forbidden areas, lost and confused) and the bag (not that it would walk around lost and confused on its own… but then again…), and then… yes, wait for it… up two flights of escalators until I reached the third floor (finally!).

Got my programmes, chatted to Stephanie, Latisha and Kristine (from Premium) and then got something to eat and drink. Jeff arrived, followed by Beverley. Talked for a while and then we all parted and made our way to our seats.

Just before I left to go to my seat, I bumped into the great Mike England, chatted and had my photo taken with him. I had seen him play in the 60s. A really great guy.

I must say, the view from my seat was brilliant (I could have cried). Padded seats as well. But to be honest, wherever one goes in the stadium they will get a magnificent view (maybe not padded seats though). Shook hands with familiar faces (sadly my next door neighbour – seat wise – wasn’t there), but met new people.

Finally, kick off time; all the players got loud cheers. Some seemed to struggle while playing but did their best (bless ‘em!). Gascoigne sadly had a calf strain as he came on, but the crowd loved and appreciate him. Keane did his famous double summersault when he scored. Klinsmann played for us in the first half, and Inter in the second (as he had played for both teams). Even though the Spurs geriatrics lost to the Legend stiffs (4-5), it was a great day of entertainment.

The team was: Thorstvedt, Carr, Tainio, Howells, Perry, Anderton, Gascoigne, Berbatov, Keane, Ginola, Van Der Vaart, Sullivan, Hazard Nielsen, Stalteri, Falco, Chimbonda and Nayim (from the halfway line!).
At half time I got a phone call from Beverley to say that she had a seat free next to her and would I like to join her (she is right behind the home team dugout). So I did, a brilliant view she had. It is nice to see how the other half lives. She, of course, was delighted with her seat (so would I be!). While sitting with her, and after the match I got my photo taken with Cliff Jones & Ray Clemence (not for the first time).

One slight criticism; the bar staff seemed overwhelmed with the number of people that they had to serve (not enough staff to deal with the payload). But then again it was a test trial match to iron out specific difficulties. I, like many others (if not all), went away happy with what we saw and got. All it needs now (for the icing on the cake) is for us to start doing better on the field.

After the match, I chatted with Beverley (how much we enjoyed the day/ event), and then we departed. I went to the WHL station. This time, though, it was different. To go Northbound you went down WHL, to go Southbound you had to go down the street opposite the stadium. Just before I made my way to the station, I glanced back and saw the magnificent stadium lit up beautifully (it was dark by then) with the Spurs cockerel prominently placed (also lit up).

The queue for the train wasn’t that bad and very fast moving (there was a train every 5 minutes to Liverpool Street). From Liverpool Street to Newbury Park, where Hanna picked me up. Had a cup of tea, and then left and got home at 12 midnight (but as the clocks went forward it was actually 1 am). It didn’t help that between junction 12 & 13 on the M4 there was an accident, so I had to get off at Junction 12 to get home (it cost me an extra 15 minutes).

Went straight to bed, got up at 8 am, left just after and then made a three and half hour journey to Walton Leisure centre, near Everton’s ground. Caught a bus to Anfield (on the way chatted to a young lady Liverpool supporter/ Steward).

Soaked in the atmosphere (their fans were very hospitable and friendly), went to the fans area (mostly Liverpool supporters) and got a beer and pork roll. Plenty of entertainment in the fans’ area. Two-thirty came along, and we were allowed in. Saw the two Martin’s and chatted, had a tea and then Martin T parted, and the other Martin and I made our way to his Martin’s seat. Finally, I left to find my seat and for the game to start.

Like Palace away there was no organisation. Because everybody stood the supporters pushed in together,
even though it wasn’t there area or seat (so that they could be with their friends). If there was a mad push forward and everybody is standing then there is the potential for another Hillsborough disaster, and I said this to a Steward, who agreed with me, but was powerless to do anything. You have to wait for another tragedy before they actually do anything. Long before the Hillsborough disaster, there were problems with crushing, and nobody did anything (I know, I’ve been to Hillsborough many times before that event).

As for the match:

I had predicted a 3-1 or 2-1 win, and I believed we could do it. Martin said he would settle for a draw, sadly both were wrong.

Toby Alderweireld’s late own goal gave Liverpool a priceless victory and put them back on top of the Premier League. By then our supporters started leaving the stadium. I stayed to the end, always hoping we could get that equaliser (which never came).

We looked on course to earn a point – and even wasted chances to go in front – after Lucas Moura deservedly equalised Roberto Firmino’s first-half header for the home side. Liverpool were on the brink of losing ground to Manchester City – 2-0 winners at Fulham on Saturday – until the title race took another dramatic twist in the closing moments in front of the Kop’

Hugo Lloris failed to hold Mohamed Salah’s routine far-post header, and the ball ricocheted into the net off Alderweireld knees.

It was sheer elation for Liverpool, who are now two points clear of City having played a game more, but misery for us. We are now in a real dog fight for a top-four place and were left to regret Moussa Sissoko’s glaring miss when through on goal minutes earlier.

As I walked out of the stadium with the Liverpool and Tottenham supporters mingling together, and made my way to Walton Leisure centre (near Everton’s ground), I overheard Liverpool supporters’ discussing the second half, and they thought that we were a better side and should have got a draw (but that is all academic now). It doesn’t matter what people think, we lost, and they didn’t.

Very disappointing day to what started off to a brilliant weekend. Finally got home at 11 pm. Next day I had to get up early.

Our next match will be against Palace at our new stadium (this Wednesday), and it would be unthinkable not to get a win in our first game on our new home turf. This match will be a historical event for us (it will live in our memories forever).

See you all there. Well, I say that, but I haven’t got my Season ticket yet, or even an E-ticket, I believe there are problems with specific Season tickets, and mine was one of them. I am sure it will be sorted out by tomorrow night (I bloody hope so, excuse my French).

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In the 90's, I was a writer for many of the top Spurs Fanzines (The Spurs, Spur of the Moment, MEHSTG and many others). A Spurs loyalist since the 60/61 season and now a season ticket holder (Premium). I run a Spurs Facebook page (“Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ voice” and co-run another one with Don Scully called “Tottenham Hotspur FC: Inside Track”). There is also a Spurs Twitter account (@HotspurVoice). I travel with Spurs to away games (including Europe). I have my a Blog (My blogging travels with Tottenham Hotspur Premium). The articles that appear on the blog also appear on SpursWeb and other applications.

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