I've pummelled Stratford to death, but hand me a shovel and I'll oblige some more. I'll dig up its bones just so I can bury them again, only this time deeper.
I don't care for West Ham and I don't care for any argument that tells me we missed out on a pot of gold when none of it was ever truly tangible. On paper, for the benefit of accountancy, sure, a business man would have lusted and approved and rationalised the OS bid as the more cost-effective option. They say our chairman only got involved for leverage for the Northumberland Development Project but we can all agree he'd have gleefully taken the stadium in East London had it became a genuine reality and shifted the club to new territory within a blink of an eye. Probably more Spurs in that neck of the woods than there is in Tottenham itself, he'd have citied in his official letter to the fans.
We've been here several times before, so I'm not going to cover old ground in detail relating to Levy's tactics with the committee and with Haringey, the politics and the skulduggery or even the disgruntled tax-payers in the recent aftermath. None of this resonates. They simply deflect away from the true crux of this damned mess.
What does resonate is this misguided belief, this easily accepted holy sacrifice that the desperate latched onto that would see us give up our Tottenham residency for the sake of a few miles in order to build us a grand future on a more commercially viable plot of land. A belief that would see us maximise the THFC brand and appeal to everyone thanks to the wonders of rail-tracks and day-tripping consumers. Spurs should not be anchored to a postcode because we want to be global and the postcode is holding us back...they said without the necessity for bedsheets and protests. Just a shrug and a hope.
This magical Lilywhite brick-road sees this whimsical belief that the move would have guaranteed a blessed future. This formulates into the argument that it doesn't really matter where we play because our name transcends geographical technicalities. Wizardry! Cue sound-bites about N17 not being desirable in any way. The place is a dump. Transport a nightmare. Nothing to do in the surrounding area after the game. And the cost to revamp and change Mordor into Oz a substantial amount more than the OS would ever be.
Fact is, if it takes longer and costs more then that is still the better option than uprooting out of the community we exist in. That community might be detached to many of us in the present but that doesn't mean it wont change for the better in the future. Tottenham, the area itself, has changed and will continue to do so and a new stadium replacing the current one might spark more than just regeneration for the area. You think the lads that met under the lamppost that fateful night will have envisaged a day where we left the place altogether?
You can harp on about modern times and economic realities but if you find yourself attached to these hardened commodities then you've gone soft in the head. You've turned your back on what really matters. The essence of your identity. If this sounds all too familiar it's because I'm banging the dusted down drum again. We might not live in N17 or spend much time there on any given weekend when Spurs aren't playing but home is where the Hart is. Emotive rhetoric won't pay the bills but it will keep my soul cleansed. Bill Nicholson lived his whole life round the corner from the ground. If it's good enough for him it's good enough for me. Could you really be comfortable with a statue of the great man planted anywhere outside that much maligned postcode?
Stratford was a viable option, on paper, for the investors and shareholders and prospective advertisements and sponsorships and more importantly (for ENIC) a future buyer. It might have offered a short cut for those in the boardroom and the ones fond of the Central Line but here we are, never to set foot into the East end, so is the alternative really that bad? That alternative being the one with no short cut, the one that requires more money to be spent on renovating our home and perhaps a few more seasons in waiting. Because that very same alternative was perceived as the crippling outcome in comparison to that gold at the end of the Olympic rainbow that the pro-Stratford supporters preached about.
This isn't just about respecting the past and our history and identity. It's about using the past to fuel the future rather than sacrifice it altogether because of some foolish day dream that a few quid saved would propel the club to new heights. Too many pro-Stratford supporters were thinking about the immediate future rather than 30/40 years down the line where Spurs would be a completely different type of club to the one it is today. The type of club it is today is the same club its always been. Our club.
There's a recession. The Northumberland Development Project is a
slow brooding monster. Spurs have been around for well over a century
and will still be here in another 100 so how will five or so
years of patience in the middle be a detriment to our progress?
I could take a step back and ask myself would it really matter where Tottenham played when our history would always define us and the love for the club will forever remain unequivocal. Some might suggest I should look to attack the future and that a brave bold move away is simply the next necessary evolution we need to take. I would simply reply with this: The bigger, braver and bolder move would be to stay exactly where we are and to avoid the short cuts and to achieve everything we wish to achieve within our means and not beyond them. Perhaps to some Stratford was the answer but I believe it would have changed more than just location and skyline. The sacrifice would have been a step too far. Change is good but that sacrifice would have felt like identity theft.
None of this matters now as I once more stand with shovel in hand. It mattered at the time. It almost mattered when I first buried it. These bones wont be dug up again.