Nice Stadium... shame about the transport chaos!
Ground number 90 this time round:
Tottenham Hotspur 2 Leeds United 1 (James 44,Højbjerg 58, Reguilón 69)
English Premier League
21st November 2021
Att. 58, 989
I finally got to visit the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the visit of Leeds on 21st Nov 21, having been thwarted several times due to the Covid issues. I was actually at the old White Hart Lane ground about 54 years ago but this was ground number 90 of 92 as I closed in on completing the 92 for a second time. I went by car, my buddy the Stokie driving, and we parked at Cockfosters tube station as we often do for London games - £3 all day at the station car park as it was a Sunday although there were only a few spaces left when we arrived about 12:30 pm. We then took the tube to Kings Cross and then changed the line to head for Liverpool Street Station where many of the Leeds fans were meeting up at the Hamilton Bar - a huge Wetherspoon pub near the station. That was all good, food was being served and plenty of staff were on hand so queues were at a minimum which is always a good thing. The Stokie even managed to get the Grand Prix streaming on his mobile phone so we watched as Hamilton the driver battled with Max Verstappen to win the Qatar Grand Prix. We then walked back to Liverpool Street Station to head to Northumberland Park Sation at about 3:15 pm for the 4:30 pm kick-off, this being a live on Sky Sunday evening game. Northumberland Station is about a fifteen-minute walk to the ground.
My first view of the stadium, therefore, came while walking down Park Lane (No, not that Park Lane!) with the Stadium looming up on my right. It certainly looks like a fabulous building from the outside but whether it looks like a football stadium should look is a moot point for me. To be honest, it resembles dozens of London city centre office blocks or hotels - all glass and shiny silver steel - rather than a football stadium. Unlike the Emirates for example, where there are lots of statues and huge pictures of former and present players adorning the outside of the stadium, the only giveaway at Spurs is the huge golden cockerel on the roofline and several other images of the famous cockerel decorating the outer walls.
For a brand new stadium (well it’s a couple of years old now) some of the systems didn’t appear to be that good either. For example, at the turnstiles, many fans had difficulty in getting the scanning machines to read the tickets. Eventually, in the queue I was in, a steward had to take each ticket and place it in the reader himself – he appeared to be the only one with the knack of getting it to work; very strange that they haven’t managed to get that a bit more streamlined yet! Immediately inside the turnstiles, there was the usual chaos too as thousands of Leeds fans gathered with their beers, blocking the way through to the stairs and the toilet blocks! All pretty standard for a Leeds away game though!
Inside the stadium is a very different story. Inside, this place is a magnificent looking theatre for football. I was in the away section with the Leeds fans - 3,000 of us in the North-East corner - but at the far end was the magnificent South Stand - one continuous wall of fans that fills the entire end of the ground, just like the vast Spion Kops of old albeit seated of course. There are four huge TV-quality screens around the stadium too, so everyone gets a view of at least one of those for those important VAR decisions and of course, there is a perfect view of the action, albeit from the top of that Spurs section opposite the pitch must look no bigger than a postage stamp!
This was Antonio Conte's first home Premier League game in charge of the Lilywhites and I would have expected a better and bigger noise from the home fans but possibly Leeds’ early dominance of the game kept them quiet, at least until the second half when Spurs upped their game considerably and eventually overcame a first-half Leeds goal to win the game 2 - 1.
My main criticism of this stadium is the same one I have with the Emirates - both superb modern stadiums in their own way but both have been allowed to be built with huge capacities but no thought given at all to how folk get away from the grounds after the game. I cannot believe that in any other country so little thought would have been given to the local infrastructure and particularly the transport system. It was horrendous getting away from the ground with the streets crammed with people and the roads jammed solid with cars. We witnessed several road-rage incidents as no one was prepared to give way while police horses in the roads added to the chaos.
I have to confess that we didn't help ourselves by getting our bearings completely wrong too! Initially, since my buddy was on crutches ( which was fine for access to the stadium by the way) we attempted to get away from the ground to call an Uber. That didn't work though as about a zillion others were no doubt doing the same. So we had to then make our way to one of the several local stations. We headed for Northumberland Park which is the recommended one for the away section at the THS but somehow took a wrong turning and ended up walking around the entire stadium until we eventually spotted Bruce Grove Station! That was ok, and, at the second attempt, we squeezed onto a packed train, but then we should have got off at Severn Sisters to get the tube back to Cockfosters.... we didn't though and ended up at Liverpool St Station again and,
by the time we'd got back to Kings Cross and then back out to Cockfosters to collect the car, some two hours had passed since the end of the game! Oh Well, we learn for next time.
In summary, allow plenty of time to get in and out of the ground but it is well worth the trip as it's a mighty fine arena.