Spurs finally kick off life in new stadium

Tottenham have opened the doors to their new stadium, hosting an under-18s match.
Tottenham have opened the doors to their new stadium, hosting an under-18s match.

When teenager Rayan Clarke rolled a pass off the centre spot at Tottenham Hotspur's gleaming new stadium on Sunday it kicked off a new chapter for the storied north London club.

It also marked the end of a long exile for Tottenham's fans, 30,000 of whom watched their under-18 side take on Southampton in the first match at the 62,062-seat arena.

The official homecoming after 680 days lodging at Wembley is on April 3 against Crystal Palace in the Premier League.

But Sunday marked a significant day for fans walking down a sunny High Road, which leads to the stadium, for the first of two test events.

Once inside the reaction was a unanimous "wow!" as the majority got a first glimpse of the futuristic ground built at a cost of around a billion pounds on top of the old White Hart Lane ground that had been home since 1899.

"Out of this world," said supporter of 50 years Jim Munroe, sitting alongside his son in the West Stand. "The design is absolutely superb. You've got to compliment the chairman (Daniel Levy) on the attention to detail.

"This makes Arsenal's ground look silly."

With a handy sense of occasion London-born J'Neil Bennett christened the stadium by curling in his side's opener in the 3-1 win. Harry Kane would have been proud of it.

Maurizio Pochettino, son of manager Mauricio, appeared as a second-half substitute while his dad, who has established Tottenham in the top four in England and steered them to the Champions League quarter-finals addressed fans at halftime.

Tottenham's 2,533rd and last competitive match at the old White Hart Lane ground, where the 36,000 capacity limited their ability to compete financially with city rivals Arsenal and Chelsea, was a 2-1 win over Manchester United in May 2017.

The move back home was supposed to be at the start of this season but the vast project, including housing, a school, a hotel, a museum, a micro-brewery and a supermarket-sized club shop, was hit by a series of delays.

First impressions suggest the wait was worthwhile, even if there were gripes about the "self flushing toilets."

Pride of place is the 17,500-seat single-tier Park Lane stand which has the feel of Borussia Dortmund's 'Yellow Wall'.

A replica of the club's famous golden cockerel sits on the top of the South Stand -- complete with a dent apparently caused by former Tottenham favourite Paul Gascoigne.

Australian Associated Press