white_hart_laneit’s hard to explain what it means to follow Tottenham Hotspur Football Club … but i should start at the beginning.

before 2005, it doesn’t matter how much of a soccer fan you were, because it was pretty hard to follow the English Premier League from the States. media coverage was absolutely non-existent, and the matches themselves relegated to premium channel (Fox Sports World) that practically zero cable systems carried.

but by 2005, i had moved to a more benevolent cable monopoly, was able to start following the Premier League, and set about finding a team to follow.

there were ground-rules in my search:

  • character — good team, but not too good. great players. storied history. good stadium. great fans. (a low bar, i know.)
  • no “big” teams — the are four teams in the league that even the uninitiated have heard of (manchester united, arsenal, chelsea, liverpool) because they win everything that isn’t strapped down. you can’t pick one of them, because everybody hates someone who jumps on to a winner.
  • team that you can watch — following a team means being able to see them, both this season and those to come. if the team is too crappy, they won’t make it onto the telly. Worse yet, each year the bottom three teams get kicked out of the league … so a really crappy team won’t even be around to be followed.

… and said ground-rules led to Tottenham.

at the time, they were good (finish in the top 10 more often than not), but not too good (no major championships since 1991). they have great players (at the time, more members of the England national squad than any other), a storied history (first team to win two championships in one year, and first Brit team to win Europe), great fans (loyal through decades of mediocrity), etc.

fortunately they are still good (won a league championship in 2008 while we were in Australia) but not too good (were in deep, deep danger of relegation as late as February this year) and my healthy interest in Spurs has grown into an obsession.

and, of course, at the center of this obsession is Tottenham Hotspur’s 109 year-old stadium: White Hart Lane.

… and we got tickets.

ever since we found out we were going to Scotland (or more importantly, London) the one place at the top of my list has been White Hart Lane. unfortunately, it’s a bit out of the way … and seats a ridiculously small 36,000 fans each match day.

the weekend we are in London (may 2nd) there is a home match against West Bromich Albion, but it sold out even before tickets made it to general sale. turns out West Brom sucks, and everybody wants to see Tottenham beat up on the sucky team.

as for me, i’d love to see them play a sucky team, but i really needed to see them play in the next year, because they are getting ready to rip beautiful, historic white hart lane and replace it with a new, oval monstrosity that we can only hope will have more character than Fed Ex Field.

so, it took about two weeks and more than a dozen visits to Spurs ticket site, but a couple seats finally came open on their ticket exchange (from people selling tickets they bought but can’t use).

of course, the two seat aren’t together, so i gave the lady sparkler the option to drop out — and spend the day at the spa — but she’s become sufficiently fascinated by Spurs (including steamy Robbie Keane and young/virile Gareth Bale) that she wanted to see what all the fuss was about in person.

such a good wife.

she did mention that she didn’t want to be seated with a bunch of drunk hooligan Brits, so I am giving her the fancy pants ticket, in the new (west) stand with completely unobstructed views, and its cucumber sandwich crowd.

i, however, will be in the east stand … with it’s obstructed views (two large posts hold up the roof over the stand) and it’s (hopefully) drunk, merry and singing Tottenham fans. apparently, it’s the east and south stands that have all the “character” and my wife is married to enough of a character to not seek out more in the English capital.

so, if you happen to subscribe to a channel that carries it, look for us. we will be in section 30, row 1, seat 189 and section 10, row 9, seat 37. i have no idea where they are, but sure am (incredibly) excited to be there.

UPDATE: and here’s what happened.