Hard-core members of The 92 aim to keep their membership up-to-date. Aside from League 2’s annual intake, they also try to visit the new stadia that clubs continue to build and move into.
I go to Sutton, Hartlepool and the like for the sake of a day out, but I’ve never been too bothered about new grounds. The paperback version of Towns of Two Halves shamelessly records visits to Burnden Park, Highbury and Plough Lane among many other half-forgotten football venues. On this as on so many other subjects, I am (as Gore Vidal said of Thomas Jefferson’s relationship with truth) occasionally prone to it but never fanatical.
On the other hand, it seems negligent to go to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and not write some sort of report. It is, after all, one of the modern wonders of the football world.
Pros and cons, then. Or, in this case, a Con first:
1) As at so many other top-flight football grounds, it is not easy for a casual admirer of good football to get a ticket. One way round this is to fork out for one of Spurs’ many hospitality packages. A related Con, then, is that my visit (on the ‘Broadcast Booth’ ticket) cost a small fortune. But this turned out to be a Pro, too.
Back, then, to the usual order:
1) Watching top-class football from a box in the gods, waited on hand and foot, in comfort and warmth – it’s a treat.
2) Booking online: the club website is clear enough in laying out the options.
3) The people who work in its marketing department are accessible and helpful.
4) On matchday, there are plenty of easily identified staff in attendance.
5) The views from the 9th floor, outward over London and inward over the pitch, are sensational.
6) The catering is lavish.
7) The waiting staff, Spurs Legends, managers and engineers are attentive, efficient and pleasant.
1) Parking is not included in the package.
2) Tickets and itinerary were not provided until four days before the fixture.
3) Tickets are supplied digitally and must be downloaded (in the case of Android phone owners) to Google Pay. Yes, that’s the same Google that was massively hacked in January 2020. An independent YouTube video guide to Google Pay suggests that “if you’re at all concerned about entering your bank details, perhaps Google Pay isn’t for you”.
4) Nobody checked my Covid status at the stadium.
5) This is a winter game: coat hooks in the booths shouldn’t be too much to hope for.
6) Alcohol was not permitted in the booth while the match was in progress.
7) The screen in our booth showed the Aberdeen/Celtic match happily enough but we could coax no action replays of the game in front of us.
Overall, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is a remarkable and beautiful place. The quality of the game you see would almost be irrelevant. In my home town, there is a restored Art Deco cinema that is so gorgeous you could enjoy just sitting in it for the length of a film – Spurs’ new home is in that category.