Thursday 19 October 2017

Former stars return to help Tottenham mark end of White Hart Lane in style

Former Tottenham winger David Ginola was among those who returned to mark the end of White Hart Lane
Former Tottenham winger David Ginola was among those who returned to mark the end of White Hart Lane

Tottenham fans staged a pitch invasion and then cheered their former heroes after the team gave White Hart Lane the perfect send-off with a 2-1 victory over Manchester United.

Goals from Victor Wanyama and Harry Kane ensured a happy farewell to the club's 118-year-old home, before they move to Wembley next season while their new stadium is completed.

Supporters swarmed the field as the final whistle blew but eventually returned to their seats to watch 48 former Spurs players each come out to rapturous applauds.

The farewell ceremony began with a history of White Hart Lane narrated by Tottenham fan Sir Kenneth Branagh and finished with Mauricio Pochettino and his players performing a lap of honour.

By the end there was even a rainbow arching over the top of the East Stand.

In between, the likes of Ledley King, David Ginola, Glenn Hoddle, Graham Roberts and Cliff Jones were presented to the crowd, who also sang Paul Gascoigne's name. Gascoigne chose not to attend for health reasons.

Wayne Rooney will go down as the ground's last ever scorer after his late consolation for United, but nothing could dampen the spirits of the Spurs' fans and their manager.

"I am a very lucky guy because to share the history of such a club in that special moment is so lucky. I am so happy," Pochettino said.

"In the game we played well and got the three points and all the ceremony with the legends, the people, the staff and my family. For me it will always be the most special day, the last day of White Hart Lane."

Earlier, supporters had arrived to white commemorative T-shirts and flags hanging from their seats while the team wore special edition matchday shirts, emblazoned with a one-off White Hart Lane crest.

Outside the ground, the High Road's lampposts were decorated with 'Finale' banners and fans gathered outside the front gates to watch former players and managers arrive.

"This is the day. This is the match," chairman Daniel Levy wrote in a message to supporters.

"This is our last time at the Lane and the day on which we shall bid our grand old home a fond farewell. I have been coming to the Lane for over 50 years and many of you for much longer. It holds memories for us all.

"So we should take a moment to look around and recognise the momentous and poignant occasion of which we are now part. The Lane has been home to some of the most amazing moments in the history of not just our club but in the history of football."

Levy added: "Farewell White Hart Lane - you were the home we all loved coming to. Thanks for the memories. Now is the time to look forward."

United were the opposition for the 2,533rd match at White Hart Lane, long after Tottenham first hosted Notts County here in 1899 and won the game 4-1.

Spurs only confirmed their switch to Wembley at the end of last month and the club have been keen to emphasise they are only taking on a new stadium, rather than moving to a different location.

"We have outgrown our current home and we are building a wonderful new home right here. We are not moving," Levy said.

"The new pitch will overlap the old one. Our new home will slowly embrace and engulf the old one. We are determined that it will be a worthy successor to White Hart Lane and a fitting stage for our current and future great teams."

Tottenham's win means they have gone unbeaten at home for the first time in a league season since 1964-65.

Once the game kicked off, their fans were in full voice. Gascoigne, Aaron Lennon and Martin Jol were just some of those whose names rang around the ground as Wanyama headed the hosts into an early lead.

Some of the biggest cheers, however, were saved for half-time when Chas and Dave - real names Chas Hodges and Dave Peacock - were presented to the crowd.

The pop duo wrote themselves into Spurs' folklore by releasing four FA Cup final singles, including 'Ossie's Dream' in 1981, when the club beat Manchester City at Wembley.

Fittingly, it was Tottenham's local favourite Kane who scored his side's second goal before Rooney stabbed home from close range with 19 minutes remaining.

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