Manchester City and Liverpool are battling it out for the Premier League title and the Blues have a difficult April
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Tottenhams on-pitch announcer and talkSPORT 2 host, Paul Coyte, reflects on a memorable day at the new White Hart Lane
Not presenting Sportsday on talkSPORT 2 (Monday to Friday, 6am-10am, if youre wondering) but as the on-pitch announcer at Tottenham.
I was there in the mix with the players, staff and fans for the first match on Sunday, and it was easily one of the best days of my life.
I made the last announcement at the old White Hart Lane, just before they tore the old place down – as the last rendition of Glory, Glory Tottenham Hotspur was playing, I had tears in my eyes.
But the sadness of seeing the stands and pitch which has graced the likes of Jimmy Greaves, Danny Blanchflower, Glenn Hoddle and Paul Gascoigne torn up, has gone.
The detail is striking. The re-imagined Park Lane is a headline feature, of course, but this is a stadium with a clear and personal identity. A bigger ground used to mean just that: packing up and moving to an out-of-town site which could literally accommodate more people. Often, the price of that new home was the total reduction of any sense of belonging. A relocated statue here or there, offered in recompense, but – generally – many of the new-builds are startlingly bland and distinguishable only by seat colour.
The last thing I did before leaving old White Hart Lane was take a selfie with Mauricio Pochettino in the centre of the pitch.
We took selfie no.2 after I interviewed him at half-time of Spurs Under-18s’ clash against Southampton.
He doesnt want to be recorded and he doesnt want me to use his real name, but hes originally from Africa and hes been cutting hair on Tottenham High Road for 16 years now. Outside, Spurs fans are beginning to flow down from Seven Sisters, eyes fixed way ahead. Their new stadium now dominates the local horizon in a way that its predecessor never did. Floodlight glare used to give it away at night, but during the day it refused to reveal itself until the last few hundred yards.
The gaffer absolutely loves the new ground. He is seriously excited – he loves it! His face had a look of sheer pride.
Daniel Levy is redefining the way you watch football. Instead of arriving at five to three and leaving at ten to five, Spurs want people to be around early and stay late.
These issues arent for everyone. Fine. No shaming, no judgement. Every supporter wants something different from their club and many of those ambitions exist entirely on the pitch itself. But what a chance Tottenham have here. Theyve spent the last decade straightening their own backs and what a legacy of this project it would be if, over the coming decades, they could stand tall over this part of the world figuratively, as well as literally.
There was a DJ playing and the place was rammed and unbelievably packed. Spurs legend Micky Hazard even started singing at one point!
I’ve never seen anything like it and this was just a test event for 30,000 people. The next one will be 48,000 people and the Crystal Palace match will just be amazing.
The noise on the inside of the bowl was something else – it was only half-full and it was deafening.
First ever goal at Tottenham's new stadium! 👏⚽️Scored by J'Neil Bennett. 1-0 Spurs.#COYS #THFC #JNeilBennett pic.twitter.com/Qlm1x12xqE
Traditionalists will also recoil from the band of executive seating which runs around the middle tier. Theres no cheese room, nobodys quite sure what happened to that, but Spurs luxury areas are very decadent indeed and entry comes at the cost of selling a few non-essential organs. So, yes, this is the modern game with a capital M and, as of Sunday, English footballs most evolved location.
There was something very special about the old White Hart lane and the all-white kits under the lights – so I’m very happy the first match is being played on a Wednesday evening
My favourite part of the new stadium? The toilets are palatial compared with the troughs you used to get, and the bottoms-up beer too.
I could just stand there watching the beer fill from the bottom of the cups, it’s mind-boggling!
Amazing, this. Huge bar at the new Spurs stadium rapidly pours beers from the *bottom* of the glass, minimising head. 🍺⚽ #science #football pic.twitter.com/4MgQoJeY49
I also walked down the players’ tunnel and had a look around the pitch and it took my breath away.
Well, thats what people like me think. Outsiders, day-trippers, people who only come here for one reason. Its a ridiculous, antiquated perception, really, but one most people share: the football club as the industrial heartbeat, the arterial pipeline which pumps outside money into local business.
We have at least six home games left before the end of the season and the biggest one by far is when we take on Manchester City in the Champions League.
But having walked out on the pitch you just know there’s going to be some atmosphere so we stand a damn better chance of beating them than we would at Wembley.
It’s easy to get on a high and get carried away but there’s something special in this place but I think there’s a belief among the fans that were there yesterday.
And what do I make of Spurs’ chances in the long-term? Well I still believe we can win the Premier League. I absolutely do.
Spurs are overachieving given they’ve basically played away games for the last one-and-three-quarter seasons and to still be where we are is remarkable.
Playing at home will make a huge difference and I’m ever the optimist so why not? We can’t wait to get back in.