Thursday 22 February 2018

Famous last words: 6 stadium farewells that caught everyone's attention

So long, stadia!

By Max McLean

With Tottenham Hotspur saying goodbye to White Hart Lane against Manchester United this weekend, we thought we’d take a look at some classic final games of stadia gone by.

They’re not all fairytale endings, but they are all intriguing.

Highbury: Arsenal 4-2 Wigan

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Arsenal’s final game at Highbury couldn’t have gone much better for Arsene Wenger’s side, who won 4-2 thanks to a Thierry Henry hat-trick, securing Champions League football in the process by leapfrogging Spurs into fourth.

The Gunners had however experienced some fortune, with Tottenham losing on the final day of the season after a norovirus outbreak the night before their game against West Ham.

With players such as Michael Carrick, Robbie Keane and Edgar Davids affected, Tottenham lost 2-1 having needed to match Arsenal’s result to clinch fourth place.

Wembley: England 0-1 Germany

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Speaking about Germany’s 2002 World Cup qualifier against England in the last game at the old Wembley Stadium, Dietmar Hamann told the BBC: “We did not go there looking to spoil the party, but we had to get a result and look after ourselves and that is what we did.”

They certainly did that, and while they weren’t looking to spoil the party, they did that too. After Hamann’s goal sank England 1-0, Kevin Keegan resigned from his position as manager, and England waved a gloomy goodbye to the ground.

It was England’s first game of qualification, but their only defeat of the group – just short of a year later, the Three Lions travelled to Germany and won 5-1 on their way to winning the group.

Ayresome Park: Middlesbrough 2-1 Luton Town

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Middlesbrough’s final game at Ayresome Park, and the penultimate game of their season, sent the Boro back up to the Premier League while simultaneously securing the first division title.

The game itself proved plenty dramatic as Boro missed a penalty before a John Hendrie brace secured a 2-1 win and ensured Reading could not finish above them on the final day of the season.

The north-east side have experienced an on-and-off relationship with England’s top division since, but they’ll always have that final glorious game at Ayresome Park to look back on.

The Dell: Southampton 3-2 Arsenal

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There could be no more fitting end to The Dell stadium than a Matt Le Tissier volley, and the circumstances in which it occurred would have looked far-fetched in a Roy of the Rovers storyline.

Southampton had to come from behind twice against Arsenal on the final day of the 2000/01 season, keeping pace with Arsene Wenger’s side despite goals from Ashley Cole and Freddie Ljungberg.

And then Matt Le Tissier came on, belted in a volley with one minute of time remaining, and the Saints went marching out of the stadium, heads held high, for one last time.

The Boleyn Ground: West Ham 3-2 Manchester United

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West Ham United’s final game after 112 years at the Boleyn Ground could almost not have been more packed with incident. Initially, Manchester United’s team bus arrived late and was attacked by West Ham fans, delaying kick-off.

Then the east London club came from behind to win 3-2, severely denting United’s hopes of Champions League football, and keeping their own hopes of a top-four finish mathematically alive with one game of the season remaining.

And last but not least, the club put on a very long and intriguing after party, with fireworks, music and former players arriving in taxis. Obviously.

Burnden Park: Bolton Wanderers 4-1 Charlton Athletic

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Much like Middlesbrough’s final game at Ayresome Park, Bolton Wanderers’ last game at Burnden Park could not have been written any better.

Trailing 1-0 at half-time to Charlton Athletic, Bolton managed four goals in the second half thanks in part to a brace from John McGinlay – the result kept the team on course for 100 goals and 100 points that season, although they only managed the former thanks to a draw on the final day of the season.

They did however get to celebrate winning division one after the game, parading the trophy around the ground to the sound of We Are The Champions by Queen. Not a bad way to say farewell to your home, eh?

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