The next part of our salute to White Hart Lane over the years finds us behind the scenes.
We remember a pitch invasion, a few more non-Spurs games and a quote from a future pillar of Tottenham’s history recalls his first days at the ground. Some more great images from across the years oh and some dustbin lids!
We start this look back at the ground and its part in the clubs glorious history with Bill Nicholson talking about a task he performed as a young lad starting out at the Lane. ‘One of my jobs as a teenager was to help pull the fly roller across the pitch to flatten it after matches. The roller was nearly six feet wide in a wooden frame and it took some heaving to move it across the squelchy mud.’
These two pictures come from 1904 show the players social club which stood on the corner of the High Road and White Hart Lane. Note the 1901 team pic over the fireplace.
White Hart Lane has had many stories told about it over the years, some possibly true, there is the one about the ground staff who use to have to walk around clanging dustbin lids to keep the pigeons from feasting on the grass seed.
That must have disturbed the fox that was said to live in the car park at one time. I never saw him but I have seen foxes on the site of the new build that’s underway.
Above Taffy O'Callaghan, Tommy Evans, Jimmy McCormick, Wally Alsford, Willy Evans and Allan Taylor. 14th Feb 1935.
As for that pitch invasion, many people think the first time Jimmy Greaves trod the hallowed earth was when he played for Chelsea. Not true, as a thirteen year old boy he attended games at The Lane and admits to once climbing over the fence and rushing on to the pitch to ask for a players autograph.
Right - Its the piece of cinder-track but its now 1953 as the players lap the ground.
Below - Pre-season August 1920. At least they got to run on grass and it must of worked that was the start of the Cup winning year.
Another quote from Jimmy, this time remembering those European nights. ‘It was not just electric, it was nuclear!” Also remembering this nights in the press box Norman Giller said ‘On those occasions the crowd stoked up so much heat that your mouth dried and the hairs on the back of your neck stood on end.’
And talking of Bill Nic I was reminded by a reader of another Nicholson story where he would walk round the pitch after the game with the grounds man pointing out the indentations as he sought to ensure the playing surface was fit for the style of play he demanded.
A game from the early days came in December 1899 when Tottenham beat the ‘Players of the South.’ This was a benefit game for John Jones and Bob Stormont. Bob was among our goal scorers in a 4-1 win.
The Lane has hosted a number of other non-Spurs matches over the years and here are a few we haven’t mentioned till now. April 1947 and the British Army played the Belgium Army. Back in February 1921 England played the South at the ground as part of an international trial. 1922 and on March 30th an-inter league game between The London Combination play the London League. While the England youth side played Holland here in 1948, winning 3-2.
Another game that did not come off was when the first visit by a German Schoolboys team came to England in 1950.
The FA had planned they would play a match at White Hart Lane but the club had started relaying the turf so the pitch was unavailable.
Lane Trivia - When the London Monarchs played American football here in 1995 & 96 the pitch was actually too short and the team were given special permission to play on a 93 yard pitch.
Another tale tells us that the old floodlight pylons have been hit by lightening a few times. Then there were boys who use to bring stools with them to stand on at the front of the old Shelf to watch the game, the Health and Safety people would love that.
Left - March 1952
I’ve been told how young boys would be pushed forward (sometimes over heads) to the front of the crowd. At times they were allowed to be put over on to the perimeter track. One reader mentioned that as a lad his dad pointed out a house to him saying that’s where your granddad and his brother left their bicycles after cycling seven miles to watch a game. Another reader said how he would go on the shelf and push his way to the other end at half time to be at the end Spurs were attacking.
I’ll close this time round not with WHL but with words every football fan will relate too from former England manager Bobby Robson talking about his first trip to Newcastle where he grew up. "What is a club in any case? Not the buildings or the directors or the people who are paid to represent it. It’s not the television contracts, get-out clauses, marketing departments or executive boxes. It’s the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your city. It’s a small boy clambering up stadium steps for the very first time, gripping his father’s hand, gawping at that hallowed stretch of turf beneath him and, without being able to do a thing about it, falling in love."
Don’t forget if you have any memories (or pics) of The Lane you want to share do get in contact, see links at end of article.
There is also a series running on Facebook
The title, Percy Park was another of the suggestions for the name of our new ground in 1899, this time referring to the Percy family and Harry Hotspur.
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You can my full archive at - View Full Bio
see also - Champions Park, That Hallowed Turf, Under Fire, The Shelf, The White Harts Ground,
The Rowels Park, The High Street Ground, Gilpin Park, Star Billing, 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,
Thanks also to - Phil Soar, Darren Attwood, Spurs Thailand
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