After several months of frantic preparation Tottenham’s new ground was ready for the new season and it was officially opened on 4th September 1899 when the oldest club in the Football League, Notts County, and then in the First Division, were the visitors on what was described as a warm afternoon with a crowd estimated at 5,000.
After a ceremonial kick-off by club chairman Charles Roberts the crowd enjoyed a home victory. While the press took the opportunity to consider the new surroundings.
The Morning Post described the scene “new ground which adjoins the High Road at Tottenham, yesterday afternoon when Spurs took possession of their new headquarters and played Notts county by the way of an opening fixture. Their new ground possesses many advantages over that which they tenanted for so long and it is estimated that arrangements have now been made for the accommodation of 23,000 spectators. The stands are commodious and well appointed, while from all positions on the ground a good view of the game is to be had, and when the approaches have been improved the football enthusiasts who follow the fortunes of the Spurs will have little left of which they can honestly complain.”
As for the game, “it was a fast and interesting game in the first half and so evenly contested and it was half an hour after the start when McCairns opened the scoring.” Tottenham went behind when Tommy McCairn’s shot that was deflected off Sandy Tait and past the wrong-footed George Clawley. Tottenham pulled level just before half time when John Kirwan, the Irish winger, crossed the ball and Tom Pratt scored the clubs first goal at the ground from the edge of the area.
In the second half Spurs dominated the early play and even in those early days they had built a reputation for close, passing football, took the lead through David Copeland when the goalie Ernie Suter could only palm the ball and Copeland hammered the rebound into the net (1).
Then on the hour Suter was forced to leave the field after an injury when “was injured in stopping a charge by Copeland.” He was replaced in goal by Walter Bull, “who did uncommonly well” Bull however couldn’t prevent Copeland scoring twice more to register the first hat trick on the ground for Tottenham. Tottenham would sign Bull in 1904, as an outfield player.
The Tottenham team that famous day was- Clawley; Erentz, Tait, Jones, McNaught, Morris, Smith, Pratt, Copeland, Cameron and Kirwan.
Tottenham having opened their Southern League campaign the Saturday prior to this game with a 3-1 win at Millwall would win the Southern league that season.
For more on the genesis and development of what would become White Hart Lane refer to previous articles including -
Rowels Park, The High Street Ground, Gilpin Park, The Ring, The Edmonton End,
The Marsh Lane End, The East Side,
Hotspur Towers 58, 33, 16 and 5.
Hotspur Towers 50 - The Cockerel, Hotspur 46 - Ground Sharing,
Talking Tottenham - At The Lane, White Hot Lane,
Come All ye Faithful.
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All quotes from the Morning Post of the 5th. Although several other publications expressed similar opinions.
Another image from this game appears in the Milestones series.
Notes – 1 - The post credits the goal to Pratt,
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