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Saying hello and goodbye: My first and last time at White Hart Lane

One of White Hart Lane’s final matchdays from the perspective of a newcomer

Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

Cartilage Free Captain is collecting and posting stories from our community about their memories and experiences attending White Hart Lane. Tottenham Hotspur will be closing their 118-year old stadium after Sunday’s match against Manchester United.

The Seven Sisters station did not have enough signs pointing to the Overground. Thankfully, there was a little boy with his family screaming “WHITE HART LAAAAANE” at the top of his lungs running ahead of us. Following the sound of the child’s voice, my family and I, five of us in total, got to the platform, only to have to wait ten minutes for the eight minute ride to White Hart Lane. What’s another 18 minutes if you’ve been waiting almost seven years to get there?

I internally celebrated when I reached Tottenham High Road that Easter Saturday for the third to last match at White Hart Lane. As we continued, a timeline of Tottenham Hotspur’s history popped up. After saying “rest in peace” to a picture of Érik Lamela, I realized that I was standing next to White Hart Lane.

From the outside, there’s not really much to see. White Hart Lane was blocked by the big gray building that will eventually replace it. The entrance was also obscured, looking very much like the construction site it is. Further ahead, the entrance to the 118-year-old building is juxtaposed with a partially complete stadium next to it. Cranes were housed in the shell of the new stadium, swallowing its predecessor like it was part of a game of Pac-Man.

The new stadium right next to White Hart Lane, as caught by my sister Navdeep.

The tiny turnstiles just yards from the construction site served the first thing I will look forward at the new stadium, considering it hit the back of my arm on my way into the stadium. The pain barely registered as we made our way to our seats, all separated from each other because we bought them a month before the match, though all in block 19. I sat in the 79th seat of the eighth row, the sun shining on the bright green pitch and on the rich blue seats of my section. I could feel the rays of the sun through the sleeves of my sweatshirt.

The seats all around me remained empty until minutes before kickoff, which gave me an almost perfect view of a Spurs team sitting second in the Premier League warming up for the match against Bournemouth. By 12:30 p.m. local time, the crowd was sharing voice and personal space. I had to learn how to balance my jacket and my bag, both falling off of me, while not hitting my neighbors each time the crowd stood up, excited that Spurs could score. The first half, with Spurs attacking all the way on the other end of the pitch, involved a lot of standing and a lot of singing, most of which is a blur to me including Mousa Dembélé and Son Heung-Min’s first half goals, though I do remember singing “Oh Mousa Dembélé” with a bunch of strangers.

The view from block 19, row 8, seat 79.

The second half was more memorable, partly because I added a pie and a water bottle to my juggling act. I still remember the taste of the pie as it entered my mouth, immediately followed by Harry Kane’s shot finding the back of the net right in front of me. I spilled a little bit of water on myself celebrating. I didn’t care. After finishing my pie and water, we sang “Jack Wilshere, it happened again,” which was stuck in my head for days, after he picked up yet another injury. What I brag about most, though, is seeing Vincent Janssen score a goal from open play in the Premier League in the goal just yards from me. I could hardly believe it, and the same was true for everyone around me.

The match ended, and the strangers I knocked into for the last two hours left, everyone hugging and cheering before saying goodbyes. The rest of my family joined me, first taking pictures with the pitch behind us, then moving to the front row to watch the substitutes cool down. We stood there until the security guards kindly kicked us out, and we again met the new stadium, the inescapable, but appropriate, last glance on the way out of White Hart Lane.

In retrospect, it’s not the result that left the biggest impression, though it’s easy to say after a 4-0 victory. I didn’t realize that until the next time I saw White Hart Lane on television two weeks later back home in New York. The stadium is incredibly photogenic, but each part of the experience, from the match to the supporters, is more intense there. I’ll be jealous of the 30,000 plus at White Hart Lane on Sunday while I watch from home, but I’ll always be glad that I got to see the Lane.