While it was only viewed by the 30,000 fans in attendance in the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (and by those who found the few shaky Periscope feeds from the grounds), the first test event at Spurs’ new ground had the feeling of a major event. The Tottenham U18s were lucky enough to be the first to play an official football match in the new stadium, and rose to the occasion, defeating Southampton U18s by a score of 3-1.
17-year old Spurs winger J’Neil Bennett became the answer to a future Tottenham trivia question after just 11 minutes, scoring the first ever goal in the new stadium with a curling effort from distance.
Midfielder Harvey White doubled Spurs’ lead in the first half from the penalty spot after Dilan Markanday was brought down by a Saints player in the box.
That was enough for Spurs to take a 2-0 lead into the break. At halftime, Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino was interviewed from the pitch and said that the experience of being in the new stadium after nearly two years at Wembley was emotional for him.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s so difficult to explain with a few words. We all feel the same. It’s so exciting. I got the same feeling on the last day when we left White Hart Lane. We were crying.
”The first day here, at the new stadium, I feel the same emotion. We are nearly crying because our dream became true and we have to say thank you, first of all, to Daniel Levy because in 2001 when he started to believe in that dream. Thanks first of all to everyone today to be here and to Daniel and the board and all the people that make Tottenham because it is a lot of people in the club that work so tough to make this dream a reality and for us because we are going to enjoy. Thank you so much for being patient over last year, year and a half as we moved to Wembley.
“I think we are in a very good place in the Premier League and of course we have a massive challenge in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. I think with all our fans - 63,000 people behind us - it will be fanstastic to play and we can make possible our dream of playing in the semi-finals. Why not?
“White Hart Lane was magic but I feel that this new stadium is the best in the world. We will start to feel that as it starts to feel like home. I hope and I wish because I really believe that the future of the club is going to be fantastic.”
Southampton pegged a goal back midway through the second half from Kornelius Hansen in the 62nd minute. However, it was Markanday, who had by all accounts a stellar outing for Spurs U18s, who got Tottenham’s third goal, plonking home a rebounded effort after Harvey White had his initial shot saved.
That turned out to be the final score — baby Spurs’ put in what was described as a mostly dominant performance and made sure that a Tottenham team won the first ever match in the stadium. The final score was 3-1.
It’s difficult to report on a match that you couldn’t see live, but all indiciations from social media posts and comments online were that Tottenham’s first test event was a smashing success. The tweets and posts coming out from the stadium (and it’s impressively stable new wi-fi) were almost universally glowing — fans commented about the stadium itself which was huge but felt intimate, the sound that it generated even from a half-full stadium, and the impressive amenities. A frequently viewed comment from those who were there on Twitter was on the impressive noise in the new ground — even half full, this new Tottenham stadium could create an impressive atmosphere. This is no Emirates — when Spurs fill this stadium on April 3 against Crystal Palace or in the Champions League against Manchester City, the sound will be impressive.
Were you there? How was the experience? We want to hear from you! Put your remarks — positive, negative, whatever — in the comments.