Personal Account Of Trip To The Lane For Tottenham Game


A personal account of my trip to the Lane for the first Tottenham home game of the 2014-15 season against Queen’s Park Rangers.

QP Aaaaargh!

Regulars will know that my visits to White Hart Lane with my companion/driver/carer Big Welsh Steve are rarely straightforward and often turn into a bit of an adventure with something of the comic cuts about them. Last Sunday was no exception.

Our attendance was in doubt right up to the last minute because my wife was rushed back into hospital last Thursday for another kidney stone operation. We were able to go after all when the intensive care nurse promised she would be kept in until Tuesday and her sister and niece volunteered to take on visiting duties on Sunday.

The situation reminds me of that old joke

A fan walks up to an empty seat at White Hart Lane, “Excuse me, is anyone sitting here?” Man says “No.” “This is incredible! Who in their right mind would have a seat like this and not use it?!” “Well, actually, the seat belongs to me. I was supposed to come with my wife, but she passed away. This is the first game we haven’t been together at a game since we got married in 1983.” “Well, that’s really sad but still, you couldn’t find anyone to take the seat? A friend or close relative?” “No,” the man replies, “They’re all at the funeral.”

Ta daa! Sorry if I have told that one before, And Sorry Sue. Love you. Fair enough? xx.

We always leave Bournemouth early and get to WHL a few hours before kick-off, so that I can get a disabled space by the front entrance inside the Bill Nicholson gates. We did the same on Sunday but the stewards told us that due to the stadium building works Tottenham had shut down one of the car parks. There were far fewer spaces and the last disabled one out front had been occupied since 9.30 in the morning! At that time we were having a coffee at Winchester services. Incidentally 2 coffees at Costa Coffee there were over 6 quid. Costa Coffee? Costa packet more like. I know a few places where you can get a whole fried breakfast and a coffee for that much but I must say my cappuccino with added chocolate was one of the best tasting coffees I have ever had.

Meanwhile, back at WHL at 11.30 in the morning Steve had to leave me propped up against a wall on my seat stick whilst he went off to find the alternative car park. He got the last remaining disabled space. It was a long way via the one way system but on foot there is a short cut through the Paxton Road gate. Still staggering back to it was going to be a real challenge for me…

Talking of fry-ups we went out the Park Lane gate to get our usual fry up at Jack’s cafe.

Jack’s Cafe, Tottenham [Photo: Alan Hill]Jack’s cafe 2 Park Lane, London N17 0JT 07956 298634

But again, no luck at 11.30 am. The place was packed solid. No free tables at all and a 20 minute wait for a takeaway bacon bap. Aaaargh! – and our own sarnies were in the boot in the remote car park…Unfortunately the available baps inside the ground are not exactly gourmet standard. So that’ll be toffees only until tea time then…

I don’t know whether the place seemed so busy so early was because it was the first home game of the season, or because it was a Bank Holiday or because it was the return of Harry, Glenn and all the ex-Spurs players and staff.

At The Lane

As usual the car park stewards at White Hart Lane were really helpful and friendly. As was the new guy inside the Lane patrolling the touchline down by my seat. He confirmed that despite Man U’s restriction on tablets and videos announced in the press recently, it is still OK to take snaps at WHL so I filled my boots. I even got Chirpy the mascot to pose for me!

Chirpy [Photo: Alan Hill]One of these days I’ll get one of the ball flying in the net instead of the celebrations afterwards. Good to see Anil again in the neighbouring season ticket seat.

The atmosphere was good – like the first day back at school for a new term. Full of anticipation. Lovely warm sunny day, just like so many first days of the season down the years. I remember with affection our return to the first division with Archibald and Crooks starring in the demolition of European Champions Nottingham Forest a generation ago.

Witnessed the arrival of the QPR coach and Harry and the team disembarking. I had grabbed a rucksack out of the boot with some drinks in and a track suit top in case it got cold later just before Steve had to roar off to the reserve car park. When he returned with his StubHub ticket, we went to the stewards’ office where we could hand the bag in to save clogging up the limited space around the seats in the ground. Be warned, even in the best front line season ticket seats here is not room for a person of average height to sit without their legs pressing hard up against the wall. For anyone with a bit of arthritis it is agony after 5 minutes. I hope they are more generous with space in the new stadium. Big Welsh Steve prays for plenty of goals and free kicks just so he can stand up and stretch his legs for a few minutes.

Anyhoo, the stewards took the bag in exchange for a ticket. With usual Norf Lundun humour they said it was a raffle ticket and if I was really lucky and won the raffle, I could have the bag back at the end of the game…

Tottenham v QPR

The game itself was really enjoyable. The usual excellent official reports from LJ were up on Hotspur HQ within hours. There were definitely noticeable differences about Spurs compared to last season’s typical performances. When we lost the ball deep in their half as we attacked, the Tottenham players immediately tackled back and harried the QPR defender. Last season, their shoulders would have sagged in disappointment and they would have watched the opposition defender storming up the pitch to launch a counter attack.

Celebration Time [Photo: Alan Hill]Carrying on from pre-season, there are noticeable improvements in the form of Erik Lamela and Nacer Chadli in particular. Eric Dier has hit the ground running and looks a great prospect. We dominated from start to finish. We played possession football but despite it taking a record 48 passes to get the ball in the net for our second goal, we were generally more incisive and more likely to end a move with a telling final ball than last season. Nevertheless, our defence was at times uncoordinated and QPR should have had at least two goals. A better team would have done but they were totally lacklustre. Now if only Roberto Soldado could start to hit the back of the net on a regular basis…

Of course, being Welsh, Steve couldn’t resist calling out to Steven Caulker in the warm up and asking his to pose doing the Cardiff “Ayatollah” hands-on-head gesture. Caulker obliged – twice but Steve was a bit trigger happy on the shutter and only captured him before and after. D’oh.

At the end of the game, I just managed to avoid being reversed over by the QPR coach with its blacked out windows. Perhaps he had blacked out wing mirrors too. They were leaving soon after the final whistle. It looked like they were embarrassed and wanted to get as far away as quickly as possible.

Luckily, I won the raffle to get my rucksack back. As I expected, I struggled with the slog back to the car park and had to stop in Paxton Road for a rest on my trusty seat stick. Still even that enabled us to meet up with my nephew for a post- match chat.

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For the first time in ages, the drive home was in the daylight and the dry. Makes a change from the usual plough through a deluge in the dark. Tired and light-headed, having missed lunch and dosed up on extra meds it was a bit like being a little drunk. My throat was sore from yelling and singing at the game, so I was reduced to my shredded Rod Stewart voice, which was just as well because Steve played a CD of his greatest hits and we duetted at the top of our voices on a tuneless Maggie May and You Wear it Well on repeat play for miles and miles…

We got back to Bournemouth just in time to see my wife and niece just before end of visiting time. Big Welsh Steve was running me around the hospital in a wheelchair like a scene from Carry on Matron. He ran straight past the lifts ‘cos they were on my blind side, then did the wheelchair equivalent of a handbrake turn when I said, “whoa, you’ve gone too far!” Him saying, “how could you miss the lifts?” Me saying, “’cos I’m blind in one eye and half asleep. How could you miss them, you’re driving the thing”. Him saying, “You said they were half way” Me responding, “yeah half way to the ward, not half way out the back of the hospital – anyway they are as big as two barn doors and they have a f*cking great sign on them saying “lifts”. What more do you need?” I think it’s what the chairman of the league managers association would call banter. That’s if he still has a job by the time Cardiff have finished with him. We were the same on the way out accompanied by my niece who thought we were quite the double act. It didn’t help though when Steve said to her, “So you’re Sue’s sister…” That of course, would be her Mum, who is 20 years older. D’oh. Again.