My thoughts go out to those who died or lost loved ones in the Hillsborough tragedy.
In my view though, we were very lucky that it didn’t happen earlier at any number of grounds.
In the 1950s and 1960s, I was in some quite bad crushes at various grounds, like Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal, Everton and Hampden Park and my father told me of similar crushes before the Second World War.
In one match, I saw Spurs play Wolves at White Hart Lane and getting away from the ground was dangerous to say the least. At least the steps to White Hart Lane station seem to be better now, but there was a disaster waiting to happen at Tottenham. Luckily it didn’t!
It may be a cop-out and complacent to say that all-seater stadia mean that we can’t get another Hillsborough. But I hope we don’t.
People in Liverpool, talk of conspiracies and dark underlying frces behind Hillsborough.
It was the reluctance of the football authorities to spend any money on grounds and their surroundings, that really caused the problem at Hillsborough.
This is a better picture of where I used to park my bike to for Spurs in the early 1960s.
Salubrious isn’t it! Obviously, the two shops either side have seen a makeover, but the garage certainly hasn’t. They have removed the sign that said “Slow Down to 50 mph. Through This Gateway” and added a litter bin.
Such is progress!
After Ipswich Town’s fiascos against Southampton and Peterborough, I thought that things couldn’t get worse. Ipswich certainly improved against Leeds, but then today their defence was seriously out underperformed by both Spurs and Arsenal.
I think I’ll wear my Ipswich hat tomorrow.
It would appear that Spurs are on the point of dropping their bid to take over the Olympic stadium according to the BBC.
I have looked at the plans for the new stadium and feel that the way it would be built is innovative and good project management, making the best use of all the resources.
A deal seems to be being working out with the Mayor and the Government about improving public transport in the area. As I said earlier, I believe this should be achieved by giving some or all of the Lea Valley lines to Transport for London and adding them to the Overground. The trains, track and power supplies are not the worst, but improving the stations with their dreadful access and especially the link at Hackney Downs to the North London line and to buses must be done. A point here, is that this access traps the locals in the area, whether they like football or not.
It would also help London and Tottenham Hotspur, if a large Park and Ride was built somewhere to the north of White Hart Lane station on the Cheshunt line by the M25. London and the City lacks a decent Park and Ride and parking at most stations to the north and east of London is inadequate and overpriced.
So in my view a proper modern railway run to the same reliability as the Overground would transform the whole area from Bethnal Green, through Hackney and Tottenham to Enfield and the M25.
Finally, it has always irked Spurs supporters that Arsenal have their own Underground station. So why shouldn’t White Hart Lane be renamed Spurs?
What caused the riots that happened last week is very much a matter for others to decide.
I’ve known the area for years and quite frankly parts of it haven’t changed much since the end of the Second World War. As an example, the scruffy garage where I parked my bike in the 1960s to go to see Spurs is still there and it looks as if it hasn’t been painted in the last fifty years.
Transport is a major problem and it is even worse when Spurs are at home.
In the short term, I’d do three things.
In the first place, bring the area maps and the bus information up to the same standard that Londoners expect and get in other areas like Islington, Hackney and Westminster.
And then I’d put some investment into the railway that runs between Hackney Downs and Silver Street, by trying to improve the dreadful and dangerous steps. Escalators are expensive, but certainly a single escalator with a double width staircase could be used to improve safety at White Hart Lane. Lifts should also be selectively installed, so that step free access for the disabled is available at probably White Hart Lane, Seven Sisters and Hackney Downs.
One of the problems of the railway is that entry and exit at some stations is quite low. Could this be because it’s a difficult climb, whereas the nearby buses are just a step on and off? Also the trains are not Oyster-friendly! That would be the thrd thing!
So perhaps as I said earlier, should this line and the other Lea Valley lines be added to the Overground? Yes, I think it’s a no-brainer.
Incidentally Hackney Central on the Overground has substantially more passengers going through its doors than the nearby Hackney Downs.
Lots of things need to be done, but let’s improve the transport first.
The second thing that must be done is that Tottenham Hotspur decide quickly what they are doing with White Hart Lane stadium and the derelict land north of it. If they moved the stadium further north, it would actually be nearer to an upgraded White Hart Lane station. The station could even be renamed as Tottenham Hotspur.
I returned to central London, by taking the train from White Hart Lane station.
It is another station that has seen better days and it doesn’t seem to have improved much since I used it in the 1960s to go to see Spurs at White Hart Lane.
Note the stairs in the picture. In common with most stations on this line they are rather steep and given the numbers of people on match days at White Hart Lane, surely something better should be done.
The Class 315 trains were built in the early 1980s and despite being thirty years old aren’t that bad. They are certainly better than the slam door stock, that I used to use all those years ago.
The slam door stock did have the great advantage in that as you approached Enfield Town station, you could fold the door back, so that when the train had slowed to your running speed, you could jump and start running to be first in the queue for the old 107 bus for Oakwood. I never had an accident doing that and I won’t now, as sadly slam door trains are no more.
I can just about remember the old compartment stock used with the steam tank engines on that line and others out of King’s Cross. As the compartments on these trains were essentially private, one game played by many, but not me, was seeing if you could have it off between stations.
As the cricket was called off today, I decided to go to IKEA today, as I needed to check out a few ideas.
The 341 bus, that I take goes along the Tottenham High Road, which was badly affected by the riots last week.
It looked to me, that apart from one or two notable exceptions, the damage wasn’t as bad as it had been painted by the media.
One of the pictures shows the entrance to the garage, where I used to bike for half-a-crown to see Spurs in the early 1960s. It doesn’t look to have been done up at all since.
The Tottenham area of Haringey was never the best, and as the pictures show, there are very few quality buildings except for White Hart Lane Stadium and that is too small and parts of it were built in the 1930s.
Spurs say they intend to build a new much larger stadium on the land north of the existing stadium, but whether they will is open to question. The stadium has always suffered from access problems, but then so has Chelsea and West Ham.
But developing the football club and the surrounding area could be a stimulus to the whole area, especially, if the Lea Valley Lines were upgraded.
The Chelsea equaliser I’ve just seen against Tottenham wasn’t a goal. The ball appeared not to cross the line and the referee was unsighted. So Spurs should have been given the benefit of the doubt.
So I may be biased, but then if there was goal line technology we would have known for certain.
This morning the news of the threats against Neil Lennon broke.
This evening, I’ve just watched a marvellous display of football as Tottenham and Arsenal fought out a three all draw.
Now, when I was young and growing up in North London, the rivalry between the two North London teams was fierce and probably on the same level as it was between Rangers and Celtic in Scotland at the time.
The rivalry is still there in North London, but it is still at a fierce but fair level. I would doubt there have been any more than a handful of arrests tonight. How many will we see in Glasgow on Sunday?
What has gone so wrong in Glasgow?
I’ve seen a lot of great footballers play, both on the television and when I’ve gone to the match.
But as someone who saw him perhaps a dozen times in my youth, there are none who can compare with John White, nicknamed The Ghost by Tottenham fans.
The son, who never met him, Rob, has just published a book about his father called The Ghost of White Hart Lane: In Search of My Father the Football Legend.
One thing that seems to be missing in all the stories of John White, is any description of his funeral. I seem to remember reading at the time, that over 100,000 people were on Tottenham High Road as the procession passed, with fans climbing on lamp-posts to get a view. We think that this behaviour didn’t happen until Diana died, but was her funeral just returning to the accepted norm.