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The Olympic Stadium Fiasco – A Tiny Tott Perspective

The Christmas gift for the Arsenal fan with (almost) everything

By Tony Attwood

I recently stumbled across The Olympic Stadium Fiasco – A Spurs Fan’s Perspective by Gigwise.  It popped up on my radar because it contained the hallowed words “Woolwich Arsenal”, with the phrase “This is the original North London side, the only North London side, until Woolwich Arsenal invaded their territory in 1913.”

A little confusion there between London (to which Woolwich Arsenal moved from Kent in 1913) and Middlesex, which Tottenham H inhabited at the time – but we’ve thrashed all that out with maps and historic documents etc on the History site years ago, so no need to go back over the old ground.

But any way, having got past that bit, I looked with interest into what one Tiny Tott was saying about the interesting concept of Tottenham H either taking Mayor Boris’ bribe to rebuild a bit of Tottenham (and as an ex-inhabitant of the area I would agree it does need quite a spot of work doing) or alternatively trotting off to the East End.  (I could of course at this point say Tiny Totts go Trippety Trott, but that would be childish).

But to return to the main ploy: Gigwise’s commentary about Woolwich Arsenal moving to London from Kent sits interestingly with the notion of the Tiny Totts travelling out east to jostle alongside those awfully nice chaps who live two stops from Barking.

And he says…

“What a mess. Farce. Joke. Embarrassment. If this is the victory sought by Daniel Levy and Barry Hearn when Tottenham Hotspur and Leyton Orient challenged the OPLC’s decision to award the Olympic Stadium to West Ham United, it doesn’t feel much like one. West Ham won’t be able to get their grubby hands on the stadium in terms of owning it – or, more pertinently, Newham council owning it – but they’re still going to move there, pay £2 million a year in rent, and probably leave us mug tax payers to cough up the remaining £3 million it will cost to fund a venue that already smacks of being the whitest of elephants.”

Well, yes, I think Gigwise and I are at one on this, and he goes on to make the valid point that no one really wanted the move.  How different from Woolwich Arsenal’s move out of Kent, wherein the local population had given up on the team – with only 3,000 turning out to see the last ever game at the Manor Ground while 20,000 plus came along four months later to see the first match at Highbury.

He also makes a very good point about the problem with multi-purpose stadia.   That’s where we did ok with the Ems – it is an Arsenal venue, it is a football venue, it is right by a wide range of underground stations, and it works.

So he makes the point about the spiritual home of his club…  “White Hart Lane ground sits directly across the road from the old gaslight on the corner of the High Road and Church Road where the Hotspur Cricket Club, as the legend states, in 1882 decided to keep fit in the winter months by forming a football club.”   All fair enough, until we then get the bit about “This is the original North London side, the only North London side, until Woolwich Arsenal invaded their territory in 1913.”

But I can ignore this because so much of the article is valid.  “Tottenham, it is true, is not the best situated of London locations. Badly served by local transport, with parking restrictions in place to try and prevent fans from driving in on matchdays, Tottenham on a Saturday afternoon is an absolute nightmare to get to, and even worse to get away from. The area, as Levy is more than keen to point out, is in serious need of regeneration. Yes, it’s a dump, but it’s OUR dump.

“Financially, the new White Hart Lane stadium will cost upwards of £400 million to build, before factoring in the money the club will have to invest in the surrounding area. The biggest cost of moving to the Olympic Stadium would have been removing the track, saving them hundreds of millions of pounds. Which, it is clear, will not happen, as the track must remain.”

So, a valid recognition of the issue – an issue we looked at recently here when noting the problems that Chelsea, Liverpool, Everton and Tottenham all have with their stadia.

The writer, quite clearly doesn’t want Tottenham to move, but even staying put is now a bigger problem.   As he says, “Spurs, thankfully, will remain in Tottenham, but with their bargaining position to get as much money out of Boris Johnson for regeneration now weakened. But our identity, for what it’s worth, will remain. We’ll still be Super Tottenham From The Lane. And for that, I, along with tens of thousands of others, will breathe a sigh of relief.”

Of course there is another problem for Tottenham, and that is that each time they meet we will sing “North London is Ours”, and I suspect that might be a trifle annoying.  But then that’s just par for the course.

Unless, that Mr Leavey fellow, comes up with another ruse.  Like the old Arsenal idea of moving out onto those green fields just past Cockfosters.  Thanks to the hard work of Arsenal fans who actually realised the possibility of developing the Ashburton site we didn’t go to the M25 but the old fields are still there, and there’s no reason why Tottenham couldn’t toddle off north instead of east.  And maybe that’s the difference between the Tinies and the Gooners.   Some Gooners got involved in a positive way instead of just protesting, found the site, and persuaded the club to look at it more fully.   Not quite seen that in Tottenham, nor come to that in Liverpool or around Chelsea.

Anyway, its a good piece – just a shame about not knowing that Tottenham, when the club was formed, was in the county of Middlesex.   But still, can’t have it all.

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4 comments to The Olympic Stadium Fiasco – A Tiny Tott Perspective

  • Moses owuor

    Great one

  • nicky

    With all the rivalry between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur fans, it is worth recording that during WW2, the two Clubs were happy to share White Hart Lane for home matches. No real emnity in those days.

  • Adam

    Just to confirm Tony`s position (not that you need my help) on Spurs in London.
    Im Hampstead born and consider myself a north london boy, But in Hampstead a stones throw from the Ems you will see old mile markers that state 5 miles to London. So at some, not so distant time in the past Islington and Camden where outside of London Also(mostly farmland i think).

  • insideright

    If WHL is such a nightmare to get to and away from when there’s only 36000 trying to do it, how come they’ve been given permission to expand capacity to nearly 60000? Surely some mistake? Or is the whole thing just a con trick to get someone with more money than sense to come along and take the whole mess off Joe Lewis’s hands?