Everyone remembers the big games at the Lane but here Sam Johnson picks out some of the matches that have stayed in his memory over the years.
Having been a season ticket holder now for 11 years, coinciding with Big Martin Jol’s first full season, Tottenham and the Lane still make me feel the same way they always have. But only recently have I started to think back to the days before I had a season ticket, when this grand old theatre wasn’t a place I knew inside and out. When it was an ethereal presence to my childhood wonder. These are the instant memories I have of these games, things that have stayed with me ever since. Things that mean the same to me as Kane’s penalty against the Scum last week, Bale’s ruining of Maicon against Inter, Lennon’s winner against Chelsea…
8 April 1996: Tottenham Hotspur 1 Middlesbrough 1
Driving down the high road for my first game, people in Nayim wigs and shirts, fresh in my Pony kit with Sheringham on the back. Chris Armstrong apparently scores a header that I can’t see from the Park Lane upper as everyone jumps up in front of me. I remember nothing about this game other than that.
26 December 1999: Tottenham Hotspur 4 Watford 0
A Christmas present! Sitting in the east upper, looking down on my boyhood idol David Ginola score an early wonder goal, as he cuts in from the left, across the edge of the box. Watford players turning, running into each other and falling over, trying to keep up. Sublime. Tactics Tim scores a late brace. I thought his second goal was scored by another hero of mine – Mauricio Taricco (always had a soft-spot for our maverick left-backs). It wasn’t. This has underpinned my hatred of Sherwood ever since.
19 May 2001: Tottenham Hotspur 3 Manchester United 1
A 15th birthday present. United’s customary end of season B-team game, but I didn’t care one bit. I witness Willem Korsten have a stormer from the east upper, scoring a brace. What a player I thought he’d be, a staple of my Championship Manager teams around that time, and this only reinforced by belief. Incorrect.
15 October 2001: Tottenham Hostpur 3 Derby County 1
I was selected to be a FIFA Fair Play flag bearer before the game through being a club member. As I stood in the tunnel, waiting to go out, a kid who was previously decked head to foot in Tottenham training gear said to me “I bet Fulham are playing, and Norwich”. FML. I then met Anthony Gardner and Steffen Iversen in a room near the changing rooms, eating Jaffa Cakes. Oyvind Leonhardsen scored a brace. We were then deposited in amazing free seats right by the corner flag between the south and west stand. Darren Anderton had a freekick in front of me, and when the ref turned around he moved the ball closer. He looked back and smiled at us as we all laughed. This is the day when I realised players were humans too.
23 January 2002: Tottenham Hotspur 5 Chelsea 1
Somehow got tickets for this semi-final, sitting in the north upper. Even I knew it was Melchiot who should have been sent off. Rebrov scores, much to my delight. Mikael Forssell scores a very late consolation, which the Lane greets with ironic cheers as the Chelsea fans had – unsurprisingly – pretty much deserted the Lane by that point. This is the day when I realised how Tottenham could make me feel imperious.
18 April 2003: Tottenham Hotspur 0 Manchester City 2
My dad had worked with Shaun Wright-Phillips, providing financial advice. My dad asked for tickets to the game. SWP obliged. We were sitting in the Park Lane, superb… but the away end. It was horrid. Witnessed Toda though. This is the day when I realised Tottenham could make me miserable.
Then, I finally started my adventure as a season ticket holder in the Paxton Lower. A family holiday kept me away for the opening game of the season, a 2-0 win over Boro in which Defoe gets a belter, and my latest hero Mido also scores. My first official game is a big one against Chelsea.
We lose 2-0. Mido gets sent off after 25 minutes. Del Horno scores his only goal for Chelsea.
I loved it.
I’ll miss it.
I hope that the future has more of these magical memories. As we face another season of needing Champions League tickets with the rest of Europe’s elite clubs, I couldn’t be more optimistic about what the next year holds.