I have never written an article or a blog entry about anything I’m passionate about. I thought that my first and last ever visit to White Hart Lane was something I really should try to capture with words and share with fans of our glorious club and podcast listeners.
My name is Mark Walsh, I started listening to ‘Echoes of Glory’ about midway through season five. The first episode I listened to opened with the question “If Tottenham players weren’t footballers; what occupation could you see them in?” and when I laughed aloud to the thoughts of Ryan Mason and Harry Kane selling ties, from that moment I’ve been an avid listener.
In regards to Tottenham Hotspur, we have to go further back than a year. I live in Ireland at the moment but I grew up in Enfield and Palmers Green. I didn’t think much of supporting a team until someone asked me “Who do you support? It better not be Arsenal!” and as Tottenham were the only other team in London I could think of, I went with them, not thinking of the rollercoaster I was about to embark on! I had been to some away games back in the early 90’s, a few visits to Selhurst Park (Crystal Palace and Wimbledon) but I didn’t really take too much notice of our results. I do remember we lost every game I went to. Introduction to Spurs 101! Getting used to being disappointed!
It wasn’t until the World Cup in 1994 when I really started to watch football games; seeing the likes of Romario and Bebeto, Roberto Baggio, Hristo Stoichkov, Maradona and Gabriel Batistuta and finally, our saviour, Jürgen Klinsmann. Shout out to Ireland and their 1-0 victory over Italy with Ray Houghton’s sublime chip and terrible celebration. Surely the catalyst for Robbie Keane’s trademark goal celebration, back when he was still able to do cartwheels!
Such was my surprise to see on the back of ‘The Sun’ newspaper after the World Cup to see Klinsmann shaking hands with Alan Sugar in Monaco. It was from that moment I started to support Tottenham, follow the results on Teletext and watch Match of the Day. With a forward line of Klinsmann and Sheringham, Anderton (when fit!), Barmby with Dumitrescu and Popescu; it was like we were a discount Galacticos! Quality international players playing expansive and attacking football and I was hooked. I remember us scoring so many goals that season, but letting loads in too! It was never a dull moment!
Starting 21 years ago, to right up to last weekend; I had never been to White Hart Lane for a game. I had always said to myself “maybe I’ll go see a game this year” but the thoughts of organising flights, accommodation and trying to get time off work; I kept putting it off. The first time I really regretted not going over for a match was during our maiden voyage in the Champions League. While I watched every game, except the 3-0 away win (in the second half) to Inter Milan, we played some great football and a lot of neutrals were won over by our attacking football. What could have been if Crouch hadn’t have gotten sent off in Madrid and some of our legitimate penalty shouts had been given? Real Madrid favouritism was still strong back in 2011!
When it was announced that the 2016/17 season would (more than likely) be our last in our great stadium; “there was no chance in hell” (a Vince McMahon quote, shout out to Abbas!) that I would miss out. Thankfully the ballot process was kind to me and I was one of the lucky ones selected to watch the mighty Bournemouth!
I hadn’t even been on the High Street on the way to the stadium, but I realised why there is an ‘us against everyone else’ mentality; it certainly isn’t the most glamourous surrounding and that is why the redevelopment of the area is so desperately needed. Passing the war memorial, commemorating those who had died in the World Wars, filled me with pride given our club’s ties to the Jewish community.
After reaching my seat in the West Lower stand, I immediately saw flashes of amazing moments which had happened mere meters from me; Klinsmann’s iconic goal celebration, Mousa Dembélé’s thunderbolt against Anderlecht, Harry Winks running up the side-line to Pochettino after his equalizer against West Ham, Harry Kane rolling Matic and finishing beautifully in the 5-3 Chelsea game and who can forget his curling effort from the edge of the box into the far corner against Arsenal, briefly putting us on top of the table last season.
The game itself was a blur. I remember bits and pieces, mainly Kyle Walker really stretching the Bournemouth back-line with his positioning on the flank, Toby’s effortless defending and a midfield masterclass by Dembélé while ending his scoring drought (not as spectacular as his Anderlecht strike), Harry Kane scoring right in front of me, Wilshere hobbling off injured after having an absolutely wretched game (“Wilshere? What’s the score?”) and being able to say that “I was there” when Vincent Janssen scored his first goal from open play in the Premiership – I even have proof on my phone!
After the final whistle, most of the season ticket holders headed out to the exit while I took a seat and waited for a few minutes; soaking in what I had just seen on a glorious Saturday afternoon. I looked to my left and saw the banner with the perfect quote for what was going through my mind right then:
“It’s been my life, Tottenham Hotspur, and I love the club”
As I headed toward the exit with a sense of relief that I had finally been to White Hart Lane for a match; the substitutes appeared for a warm-down near my seat. A young lad shouted out to Vincent Janssen: “I told my Dad, when you came on, I knew you would score today!” and I said to him “Sure what did you expect? He scores when he wants!”. Janssen gave us a small applause in appreciation, a great way to end my trip to White Hart Lane.
The thing I love most… is being a Yid!
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