Fans in awe as Levy’s dream comes to life
Back on familiar territory. Back in the old routine. Back in the queue which snaked out through the door of the ever-popular chick- king and down Tottenham High Road, and was longer perhaps than the longest bar in England where the beers were being dispensed at record speed long before kick-off.
Kerbsides were lined with delighted fans, craning their necks, staring skywards in awe, many arching their backs in an attempt to fit the entire stadium into one shot on their cameras and guarding their boxes of ribs-and-wings while keeping an eye out for the London buses which rumbled by.
Inside, the crowds were packed around the Naan and Noodle, stacked up on benches beneath the South Stand, belting out choruses of ‘When thee Spurs go marching in’ and holding holding aloft their smartphones, filming the occasion; while under the West Stand a live band played something by the Eagles, which might have gone down better in the away end.
Everyone found something they liked. Roy Hodgson thought the pitch was ‘ outstanding’ and the architects are proud of its clever gadgets and moving parts akin to Tracy Island, secret base of the Thunderbirds. Daniel Levy liked the toilets. The Spurs chairman, it transpires, is firmly in the habit of judging any building by the quality of its toilets. He wasn’t the only one, because the female fans were delighted to report a considerable increase in the number of toilets available.
The facilities, as we knew from the test events, are impressive. Robbie keane came out at halftime to say he had never seen anything like it. The public concourses are broad and welcoming, the stands are steep and tight to the pitch, the design is stylish and the noise gathers as it rolls around the bowl, full for the first time, and effective when home fans sang Dele alli’s song during the warm-up.
again when crystal Palace chanted through the opening section of the pre-match ceremony which James Tomkins claimed was ‘surreal’ and the away fans taunted their hosts about this being like the Emirates when a hush descended in the first half. There was perhaps the world’s loudest ever recorded groan when Moussa Sissoko’s misplaced pass corrupted a promising counterattack and an explosion of joy when Son Heung-min dispersed the fears, just as odds were tumbling on Sergio aguero scoring the first goal in the stadium.
Transport promises to be a nagging pain. Whether they had travelled by car or public transport most people were faced with a sort of puzzle, with capacity for nearly 30,000 extra tickets and extended car parking restrictions in the area. The station at White Hart Lane creaked under the weight of so many passengers. Spurs have bbeen keen to promote the social nature of the stadium. Like a stone dropped in the centre of the community which will impact on everyone nearby.
Many aspects of tthe project are ongoing as Levy seeks to create hhis destination venue. The Spurs chairman has emerged with great credit. Fans were singing his name at Liverpool on Sunday and there was a flag displayed in his honour last night, courtesy of the Harrogate Spurs, which said: ‘ Your Dream Our Future’.
Maurcio Pochettino said he’d never seen his chairman look as happy as he did before kick- off. There was even a rare visit from the club’s owner Joe Lewis. although no-one told Pochettino. ‘He is here?’ said the manager, when asked about Lewis. ‘I didn’t know.’ Levy said he felt ‘ drained but excited’ at the prospect of throwing open the doors, albeit nearly seven months later than planned, and will take a week off before starting on the next phase.
‘Time to think big’ was the message from Pochettino and the future is bright. after a night which started with a marching band, another rendition of Glory, Glory Hallelujah and fireworks. What better way to help the team get back in the groove with a first win in six.
Back home in N17. Back in the hunt for the champions League.