Let Me Sell You Stratford…

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I began yesterday by referring to this whole affair as a fiasco.

And after dwelling on the matter I’ve confirmed it to myself. The whole idea of ‘relocating’ and staying where you are defies sanity. It is (to quote Chief Wiggum, or was it George Bush Jnr – I watch so many cartoons – I forget) unpossible.

N17 is a significant room in my memory palace. And true to life, despite all it’s magical and life affirming content, it’s an absolute pig to get to – through all the kitchens I’ve ever stood in, past every chair I didn’t find comfortable and beyond all the old furniture crammed into my grandparents house I used to visit as a boy.  And then, eventually I am there.

Rather than a room as such, it’s a long high ceilinged corridor. The walls bare vast images. Some in sepia which are animated but playing at half speed.  Others are so loud I’ve had to mute their soundtrack just to prevent myself being aurally fried by the sensory overload – like terrorists being played a medley of Barney and Megadeath at 300 decibels.

The floor is suddenly really hard and my arches ache just two steps in. Everything is so close. I have other rooms that this room could become lost in. But this is almost claustrophobic there is so much packed in. The sensations are expectation and excitement and everything is so bloody close and well, a bit daunting.

I’m outside Seven Sisters. The ceremony of the long walk.

The stadium was miles away and it’s now as if  the back drop to a play has dropped, hurtled down about ten feet away from me.  A crime scene hits me like toothache. Horses, men, horseshit, lager, fags, mobile phones, laughter and a helicopter.  A helicopter!

I am of course in 1983 and as the phrase goes, the very portrait of a younger man.

Curiously the game itself is so big that it’s out of focus. electric green with microscopic fuzzes of white bustling about in to an out of sync grinding wave of crowd noise. This is actually exhausting. Devouring a sensory overload starts off being brilliant, but I’m tiring fast.

It’s over. Back outside and I can zoom in on a fruit and veg stall. I can hear cheers after a win alternate with the grunts and groans peppered by the noise of the seat flaps hitting their backs that follow a loss…

If you’re still here, thank you for indulging me. And if you’re skim reading – welcome back.

My point is that if some reprehensible fiend were to blow up The Lane tomorrow, I have my memories and the rest of my days to revisit them. That room provides not just one event. That room houses perhaps the most sophisticated cinema of Tottingham memories I can imagine.

I often use the phrase, ’emotional investment’. And I don’t use it cheaply or in a disrespectful way. For all of us White Hart Lane has become a part of our lives. We revel in it’s history like a happy dog rolling on grass.

But outside of our minds (which themselves gently fail, little by little) nothing lasts forever.

I’ve stood outside the house I was born in. Is it still there or now just a small corner of an Asda car park? I don’t know. But I’m still here. As noisy and slippery as the day I blessed the world. I haven’t been paved over.

What if I had lived forever in that two up two down? Blimey. All the anecdotes I would not have now is one thought. Compared to the marginally less than dull life I’ve had so far, the idea of having been shackled to a terraced house in the same country for 42 years doesn’t appeal at all.

My parents remember it fondly. But then they had the luxury of memory whilst sitting in rooms big enough to swing cats in – not a continued existence in an ever decreasing terraced reality.

The last blog was one of the best we’ve done. I don’t mean we, as in the Harry Hotspur team like my mate Simon at ENIC did, bless ‘im. I meant you and me. I know the mood. I don’t need a poll to tell me. Hell, I’d vote to stay if it did any good. But what inspired me to blog that piece yesterday wasn’t that there was going to be some chap on the radio or whatever, it was the inertia, the collective dumbfoundedness of everyone as the airbrushed arena we’d all been gawping at for months seemed to have been shelved or near as dammit.

Even the ‘powers that be’ have been questioning THFC’s intent over Stratford. Pah, it’s simply to put the wind up Haringay. No it isn’t. I get the sense that the proposed redevelopment plan in N17 has been met at every turn with self interest and protocol that would make you wanna self harm. No surprise that two immediate consequences of the Stratford bid is the threat of civil disorder from mentally malnourished West Ham hams and the threat of the compulsory purchase orders being revisited.

Calling cards of the grimly stupid and the greedy.

The reality is that Levy & Co are used to making unpopular decisions. I’d speculate that they make ten unpopular ones for every one good one. In fact the ratio is probably worse. Maybe we should lend them our support.

Let’s swerve the whole, ‘it’s a sh*thole’ argument’ for both locations. Neither areas are magnificent and many good decent folk who don’t fritter away any part of their days being witty on the web – using hundreds of pounds worth of computer-  live real lives in both parts of north and east London. Self interest must take a back seat. And the first casualty may just be you, dear reader.

The benefits to the Club would be enormous. The redevelopment of the Lane in N17 would not guarantee the future. Despite the cost. It would be like taking over a derelict pub in Birkenhead and making it a destination gastro-pub run by the next Heston Bloomingwotsit.

And just who is going to flock to buy the Spirit Of Gracious Living that will be the apartments? Who will stroll the magnificent aisles of the supermarket? Come off it, you nipping in for a prepacked sandwich doesn’t count.

Stratford will not have a running track.

The suggestion as things stand is to pretty much rip the Olympic thing down and use the resources that surround it. I made the analogy (woulddathunkit) to herself last night that West Ham’s willingness to take the stadium as it stood was akin to us sleeping in our car. It was the opposite of ideal, but could be done if beggars couldn’t be choosers. Olympic legacy my arse.

Stay where we are and we will become a really, really big Fulham. Spurs fans need to embrace the fact that for all the ranting, raving and negotiating, the Tottenham legacy is the one to safeguard. A legacy is not made of bricks and mortar.

…alternatively of course you can opt to put your underpants over your head, shove pencils up your nose and say, ‘Wibble’.

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  • DAVID says:

    Yesterdays blog was a stunner!
    Some excellent points made on both sides of the debate with reasoned argument rather than abuse for the sake of it.
    Re the OS, bearing in mind it was always likely to be taken over by a football club, would it not have made more sense for the planners to have incorporated some football friendly ideas into the scheme re merchandising and hospitality so that the existing stadium could be adapted ?
    It seems we are talking about bull-dozing the whole building which seems like an even bigger waste than the original plan which was to rip 55,000 seats out.

  • Hawkerdinho says:

    Don’t comment on your blog often although I am a regular reader, this article has definitely made me see things from another point of view and has left me feeling slightly less depressed about a possible move, for this, I thank you!

  • Sam says:

    Really gets to the heart of the issue. It’s a tough idea to stomach but the writing, the wall and all that

  • Nicko says:

    Lovely blog H. You’ve got me with a tear in my eye and looking into the distance of a brave new world like one of those soviet communism era posters.

  • Ossie says:

    Good read (though a little too long). I think what makes us such great passionate fans is rivalry, the fact we have such a hatred for the Arse makes us even more protective of our club, take that away and I think it will take away not only a stadium steeped in history, but a part of our passion for the club. All teams without a derby lack decent fans. THFC belongs in Tottenham, it is our home and we will defend it, no matter how shit it is!

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