White Hart Lane

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White Hart Lane
"The Lane"
White Hart Lane from South End.JPG
White Hart Lane in 2011
Full name White Hart Lane
Location Tottenham
London, N17
Coordinates 51°36′12″N 0°03′57″W / 51.60333°N 0.06583°W / 51.60333; -0.06583Coordinates: 51°36′12″N 0°03′57″W / 51.60333°N 0.06583°W / 51.60333; -0.06583
Public transit London Overground White Hart Lane
Owner Tottenham Hotspur
Operator Tottenham Hotspur (Handed over to Mace on 15 May 2017 for demolition)[1]
Capacity 36,284
Field size 100 x 67 m
(110 x 73 yd)
Surface Desso GrassMaster
Built 1898
Opened 4 September 1899
Closed 14 May 2017
Demolished 2017 (In Process, Planned)[2]
Construction cost £100,050 (1934)
Architect Archibald Leitch (1909)

White Hart Lane was a Football stadium in North London and was the home of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club from 1899 to 2017 and had a capacity of 36,284.[3] The stadium was located in the Tottenham area of North London, England. Demolition has begun in May 2017[4].

Along with housing Tottenham, the stadium, which was known amongst Spurs fans as the Lane, had also been selected for England national football matches and England under-21 football matches. White Hart Lane held capacity records in the early 1960s with numbers entering the 70,000s but as seating was introduced, the stadium levelled out to a modest number in relation to other Premier League clubs. The record attendance remains an FA Cup tie on 5 March 1938 against Sunderland with the attendance being recorded at 75,038.[5]

Construction work is in progress for Tottenham to move to a new stadium with an estimated capacity of 61,000,[6] with the new stadium being built on the current site instead of moving elsewhere or from the borough of Haringey. The new stadium has been designed by Populous, which also designed derby rival Arsenal's home, the Emirates Stadium. Initial designs were created by KSS Design Group back in 2008, but long delays allowed for major changes to the scheme by a different company.[7]


Spurs moved to White Hart Lane in 1899. The club leased and later bought a disused nursery owned by the brewery chain Charringtons to the east of Tottenham's High Road. A local groundsman, John Over, turned the land into a substantial football pitch. Although normally referred to at the time as the High Road ground, in time it became popularly known as White Hart Lane (which is in fact the name of the street that lies across to the west of the High Road away from the ground).

The first game at the Lane was a friendly against Notts County on 4 September 1899, with around 5,000 supporters attending, generating a gate receipts of £115.[8] It resulted in a 4–1 home win. The first competitive game on the ground was held five days later against Queens Park Rangers, which Spurs won 1–0.[9]

White Hart Lane underwent redevelopment in the early 20th century with stadium developer, Archibald Leitch, designing a mainly square stadium seating 15,300 and incorporating a standing paddock for another 700 fans along with the famous cockerel being placed on the mock-Tudor apex at the end of the 1909–1910 season. Redevelopments continued in the 1910s, with the wooden eastern stand replaced with an enlarged concrete stadium, vastly increasing the stadium capacity to over 50,000. During the First World War, the stadium was taken over by the Ministry of War and the East Stand was turned into a factory for making gas masks, gunnery and protection equipment.[10] The ground continued to be renovated and in 1925, thanks to the FA Cup win in 1921, both the Paxton Road Stand and Park Lane Stand were enlarged and mostly sheltered from the elements.

The pitch was overlooked by a bronze fighting cock (the club mascot) that kept an eye on proceedings from the roof of the touchline stands. The original cockerel on a ball was erected in 1909 and was cast by William James Scott, who had played for the club when it was an amateur club. It was originally located atop the West Stand but moved to the East Stand in 1958.[10] The original cockerel was removed in 1989 to be replaced by fibreglass replicas, and the original cockerel was moved to the executive suites where it stayed for some years, and then to the reception.[11]

In 1934, the club spent £60,000 to rebuild the East Stand, increasing its capacity to nearly 80,000. The redeveloped stadium hosted an international game between Nazi Germany and England in 1935 that England won 3–0.[12] In the 1930s, football had a popular following, and despite Tottenham's lack of success at the time, 75,038 spectators squeezed into White Hart Lane in March 1938 to see Spurs' performance against Sunderland in the FA Cup. The venue hosted some of the football preliminaries for the 1948 Summer Olympics.[13] 1953 saw the introduction of floodlights with their first use being a friendly against Racing Club de Paris in September of that year.[14] These were renovated again in the 1970s and steadily replaced with new technology since. By this stage, Tottenham were firmly established as one of England's best clubs which attracted some of the highest attendances in the country on a regular basis. Between the late 1920s and 1972, White Hart Lane was one of very few British football grounds that featured no advertising hoardings at all.

Perimeter fencing was erected between the stands and the pitch during the 1970s to combat the threat of pitch invasions from hooligans; however, this was removed on 18 April 1989 for safety reasons in reaction to the Hillsborough disaster three days earlier, in which 96 Liverpool fans were fatally injured, most of them crushed to death against the perimeter fencing in an overcrowded standing area.[15][16]

Aerial view looking east over the stadium

The West Stand was replaced in the early 1980s. However the project took over 15 months to complete with cost overruns causing severe financial implications. This West Stand is parallel with Tottenham High Road and is connected to it by Bill Nicholson Way.

In 1989, as a response to the Taylor Report calling for all-seater stadiums after Hillsborough, the large, raised terrace on the East Stand known by fans as The Shelf was redesigned to include a large roof and the installation of executive boxes and seats on the much-loved standing area. The early 1990s saw the completion of the South Stand (on Park Lane) and the introduction of the first Jumbotron video screen, of which there are now two, one above each penalty area. The renovation of the Members' (North) Stand which is reached via Paxton Road was completed in 1998, leaving the ground in its present form.

At the turn of the millennium, after falling behind in stadium capacity, talks began over the future of White Hart Lane and Tottenham Hotspur's home. Over the years, many stadium designs and ideas were rumoured in the media. A move to Wembley Stadium was ruled out by the club, as was talk of moving to the 2012 Olympic Stadium in Stratford after completion of the Games. However, ostensibly as back-up planning to the plans for a new stadium, on 1 October 2010, Tottenham registered interest in making use of the Olympic Stadium in conjunction with AEG, owners and operators of The O2 in London's Greenwich, formerly known as the Millennium Dome. However Spurs bid for the stadium was rejected on 11 February 2011.[17] Spurs pursued legal action over the ruling to give the Stratford stadium to West Ham United,[18] Ultimately the club's owners, ENIC Group, decided to focus solely on the ongoing redevelopment plan for White Hart Lane as part of the Northumberland Development Project after the West Ham deal for the Olympic Stadium collapsed due to 'legal paralysis' and the stadium remaining in public.[19][20]

Sections of the North and East stands at the north-east corner were removed in 2016 to allow construction of the new stadium next to the old stadium in the final season at the Lane.[21] On 14 May 2017, White Hart Lane hosted its final match in a Premier League encounter between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United. It ended in a 2–1 victory for the home side, securing the highest league ranking for Spurs since 1963, with goals from Victor Wanyama and Harry Kane, and the last goal scored at the stadium by Manchester United's striker Wayne Rooney.[22] Demolition work on the stadium began the following day.[23]

Other uses[edit]

During the construction of the new Wembley Stadium, White Hart Lane hosted full England international matches, such as a 2–0 defeat to Holland.[24] Since the opening of the rebuilt Wembley, the Lane has been occasionally used to host England Under-21's international matches years, most notably a 1–1 draw against France Under-21's.[25]

In 1995 and 1996 White Hart Lane also hosted American football, as the home ground of the London Monarchs. Because the pitch could not accommodate a regulation-length American football field, the Monarchs received special permission from the World League to play on a 93-yard field.

The stadium has also been used for boxing, most notably Frank Bruno vs Joe Bugner [26] and the fight on 21 September 1991 where Michael Watson collapsed with a near fatal brain injury after a fight with Chris Eubank.[27]

A panorama of White Hart Lane from the North-West corner

Structure and facilities[edit]

Audio description by David Lammy
White Hart Lane plan

The outer White Hart Lane frame was designed in a rectangular shape, with the inner seating tiers being rounded to maximise the amount of seats possible within the structure. The cockerel was placed upon the West Stand, with the West Stand located on Tottenham High Road, the East Stand being on Worcester Avenue, the North Stand on Paxton Road and the South Stand on Park Lane. The stands were officially named after compass points, but were more colloquially referred to by the road onto which they back.[28]

Stand Capacity
North Stand(Paxton Road) 10,086
South Stand(Park Lane) 8,633
East Stand(Worcester Avenue) 10,691
West Stand(High Road) 6,890
Total capacity 36,300

The pitch at White Hart Lane, at 100 x 67 metres (or 6,700 square meters), was one of the smallest in the Premier League.[29]

Record scorelines[edit]

Tottenham's biggest win at the stadium came in an FA Cup tie against Crewe in February 1960, with a 13–2 final score. This was also the highest aggregate score seen at the stadium.[30] More recently, on 22 November 2009, Tottenham defeated Wigan Athletic 9–1 in the Premier League.[31] The club's biggest defeats at the venue were 0–6 scores in Division One, firstly against Sunderland on 19 December 1914 and later against Arsenal on 6 March 1935.[30]


The area close to the stadium is regularly served by many different bus routes and services.[32] Bus routes 149, 259, 279, and 349 stop outside the ground. White Hart Lane and Northumberland Park National Rail stations are 0.2 miles (0.32 km) and 0.7 miles (1.1 km) away, respectively. Tottenham Hale, a rail and tube station, and Seven Sisters tube station are also nearby. There are controlled parking zones in operation in the area on all match days.

Future with new stadium[edit]

There have been a number of plans in the past for relocation. The first, reported in 2001, was to relocate to a proposed 43,000-seat stadium at Pickett's Lock being proposed for the 2005 World Athletics Championships. However the games were awarded to Helsinki, and so the stadium was never built. Over the next few years various other schemes were suggested, including a relocation to the rebuilt Wembley Stadium (which finally opened in 2007).[33] In 2011 the Olympic Stadium being built for the 2012 Olympics was mooted as a potential site for a rebuilt stadium more suited to football than athletics.[34] This proposal led to fierce competition between Spurs and West Ham. The latter won the bid which Tottenham Hotspur initially challenged and initiated legal action but later withdrew.[35]

Even before Spurs' Olympic Park bid, and instead of relocating elsewhere, the club was pursuing another option via its Northumberland Development Project NDP. This involved a plan to build a new stadium, partly on the site of the existing White Hart Lane ground. The NDP was announced on 30 October 2008, including a scheme to develop on the current site and also to its north where land was purchased to construct a totally new 56,250-seat stadium. It was likely that the (unofficial) White Hart Lane name would be abandoned in favour of a naming rights sponsorship link.[36] The NDP area was projected to include leisure facilities, shops, housing, a club museum, public space which can be used as a temporary ice rink and also a new base for the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation.

On 26 October 2009, the club submitted their planning application, hoping to start work on the new ground in 2010 and to be playing in it come 2012.[37] But in May 2010, following adverse reaction, this was withdrawn in favour of a substantially revised planning application. Haringey Council were requested on 30 September 2010 to grant permission for the new stadium and other associated developments (subject to negotiation of 'Section 106' developer contributions). The new plans were referred to English Heritage, the Mayor of London and the Secretary of State for a final decision.[38] The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, approved the plans on 25 November 2010.[39] On 20 September 2011, planning permission was granted (planning reference HGY/2010/1000).[40]

The North-East corner of White Hart Lane was removed for the duration of the 2016-17 Football season

Since then, the development plans had been revised several times during a lengthy delay because of a compulsory purchase order. A compulsory purchase order was eventually issued in July 2014 giving approval for the new stadium scheme to proceed[41] but was subject to an unsuccessful legal challenge by a business located within the proposed site in February 2015.[42] On 8 July 2015, Tottenham announced brand new revised plans, including a larger 61,000 capacity, making it the biggest club stadium in London. The revised stadium design also includes a 17,000 seat single tier stand, the biggest of its kind in the UK.[43] The new plan also comprises a combination of 579 new homes (increased from the 285 in previous plan), a 180-room hotel, an extreme sports building, a community health centre, enhanced public spaces and 'The Tottenham Experience' - an interactive museum and club shop complex incorporating the listed Warmington House.[43] The anticipated stadium opening date is currently scheduled for the start of the 2018/19 season.[44]

Additionally, on 8 July 2015 it was announced by the club that the new stadium would host two NFL International Series games, every year, for ten years.[43]

On 16 December 2015, the revised plans were approved by Haringey Council (planning reference HGY/2015/3000) that would enable Phase 2 of the NDP to begin, as Phase 1 (Lilywhite House) had already been completed in February 2015.[45] This therefore allowed widening of the High Road pavement leading to the new stadium by demolishing three buildings (Edmonton Dispensary, The Red House, and the former White Hart Public House). Construction work on the stadium began in early 2016.[46]

On 28 April 2017, it was announced that Tottenham would play all its home matches on Wembley Stadium for the 2017–18 season, in order to complete the demolition plans for White Hart Lane and finish the construction of the new stadium.[47] Tottenham's final game at White Hart Lane was played on 14 May 2017, a 2-1 victory for Spurs against Manchester United.[48]


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