Another collection of images from around White Hart Lane taken from across the ages and we continue the story of those early days in our new home carries on from where we ended - The Marsh Lane. Although the stars in this case are clearly the images.
This time we concentrate on the northern end of the ground, the Edmonton End as it was commonly referred to for years later becoming known as the Paxton Road, which itself has now disappeared under the work now underway for a new stadium.
Tottenham contracted the Edmonton Cricket Clubs grounds man John Over to supervise preparing the site ready for football. John had previously worked at he Oval in South London and had prepared a pitch for the test match V Australia. This including destroying greenhouses, lead piping and concrete structures. This involved the use of dynamite, much to the surprise of some of the neighbors as he rushed to get the site ready for the new season. Such was the rush that when extensive work was done on the pitch some years later the club discovered pieces of pipe and concrete beneath the surface.
John Over famously protected his pitch and nobody was allowed on the grass, Its said he wasn’t too keen on them playing matches on the Saturday! There was one occasion a player was injured whilst training on the far side of the ground and was assisted to the treatment room across the pitch only to discover later he had been reported to the management for being on the field without permission. When John retired the new grounds man was his son.
Players on terrace - leading the way down the terraces is Willie Hall and followed (R to L) Jack Gibbons, Ralph Ward, Albert Page, Arthur Hitchins, Fred Sergent and Bill Whatley. This goes back to 1937-38 and the last full season before World Ward 2.
The club announced in April 1899 that the pitch would be a full ten yards wider but the same length than the one they had played on at Northumberland Park and that this would encourage the free flowing football the club were already known for. It would run parallel with the High Road and would have a cinder path around the perimeter with railings four yards back from the touchline. There would be another five yards before the stands which it was planned would be developed on all four sides. Seating accommodation in the first instance would be 2,500. It was planned to open the ground on the August Bank Holiday with a Military Tournament.
right - Bury come to the Lane in 1947 with action at the North end.
The Ariel picture from 1923 clearly shows houses running along the East side and twisting around on to the north side of the ground. You can see Worcester Road outside the East side and this turns and runs along the north side into the High Road. Later Worcester Road would be extended north past what is now Sainsbury’s. The section of the road running along the north stand would become Paxton Road, which of course in-turn has now disappeared. You will also see that there were houses opposite the North stand which later became an industrial site,
The club held a public meeting at the start of May and the club announced that the ground would be able to hold (with slight inconvenience) 30,000 and that they had signed a 21 year lease for the site. The stands at Northumberland Park were being taken down prior to moving to the new site.
The estimated cost of the move to the new site (as yet unnamed) could be as high as £800.
I think its only when you walk the area that you realise just how close the two grounds actually were, and the Marshes only a couple of few minutes away. One new stand would run the length of the ground.
Further more the club announced that it planned other events at the site these would include concerts and summer entertainments.
right - 1980's
The Weekly Herald that provider of so much of the detail of the club’s early history reported at the start of June that an official opening would take place on Monday 4th September. A match would be held against either Aston Villa or Sheffield United. At this point the Herald announced that the Directors would welcome suggestions for a suitable name for the new ground. Two weeks later the Herald updated the supporters that a few names had been suggested and at this time the Directors would not be making an announcement over ‘naming rights’ to coin a current expression.
above - View from the Edmonton End in the 70's
right - 1925 and the ground-staff protect the pitch with straw.
At the end of June work was going well and the club announced an entertainment which would consist of horse jumping (that must have done the new pitch a treat) races between the players, a cockade fight to be undertaken on bicycles and fencing. Tickets cost up to three shillings and almost 5,000 turn up to see the event as well as have a good look at the new ground. A certain John Cameron was the star of the day winning both the half mile race and the football dribbling event.
Below by 1960-61 the club had moved to plastic sheeting instead of labour intensive straw.
Tottenham were preparing for the new era and the Club Handbook for the 1899-1900 season carried an article by ‘The Old Crock” under the heading “Progress of the Spurs.”
It included the comment ‘the thousands who visit the new enclosure will never realise the difficulties that had to be overcome before matters were satisfactorily arranged. Anyway here we are now with the finest ground in the South and accommodation for 35,000 spectators and no doubt it will all be needed.”
The new season dawned and at first the club continued to utilize the Northumberland Park site for its preparations. Four trial matches were held at the new ground. The first of these was on 22nd August and the stripes got the better of the whites by the only goal. Tom Pratt scoring the goal. Another trial game was held three days later on the Friday. Then on the Sunday one for the junior players. Then on the 29th the final trial match which it is said drew a crowd of between 2 and 3,000. Clearly the club in its new home was attaching attention. On this occasion the Whites fielded the first team forwards and half back line in front of the reserve defence and won the game 4-1. Pratt having swapped sides scored twice. Copeland and Cameron also scored and Barnard got the Stripes goal. All was set for the team to move into their new home.
In our next look around our famous home we will continue the tale and look at the arrival of both football and success arriving at what would become White Hart Lane as well as some of the other events that have graced the famous stadium.
Images of The Lane feature throughout my various articles but you might like to check out the following in particular the Hotspur Towers series - The Marsh Lane End, The East Side, No 58, 33, 16 and 5. As well as Hotspur Towers 50 - The Cockerel and 46 ( a story of ground sharing). Away from that series White Hot Lane and Talking Tottenham - At The Lane.
t- Keith 16024542
f- peter shearman (old non de plume)
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