I love football, I love seeing different teams, and I love checking out new stadiums. But I’ll level with you: the magical pint glasses were a big part of what lured me to Tottenham’s new stadium so early in its life. And sure, no doubt in years to come people will stumble upon this write-up and laugh at my Dark Ages inexperience of pint glasses that fill up from the bottom. “Oh, look at the simple man from the past, with his glass getting filled up from the top and his penny farthing and his dial-up internet connection and his probable misogyny.” I’ll be considered no better than a defrosted caveman pointing up at a plane and calling it a fat metal bird. But right here, right now, in 2019, I’m going to tell you: those things are witchcraft.
Of course, to get to the magical space-age beer glasses from the future, you first need to queue up, and that in itself is an experience. The queue for the bar here (which in the South Stand is the longest in Europe) is a shoulder-to-shoulder nightmare, and that situation is very probably only exacerbated by the fact that everyone (me included, natch) wants to film their pint magically appearing when they finally reach the front.
Queuing, though, comes with the territory at places like this. You reach the train station near the ground: there’s a massive queue. You get to the ground: there’s a massive queue. You try to buy a programme, or some merch, or a pie: there’s a massive queue. Here, they even had a massive queue snaking along the street just to get in to the club shop, let alone buy anything from it. They truly have thought of everything. I’m starting to think my hatred of queues might be a big part of why I chose as a kid to support St Johnstone (we had a queue there once, but no one liked it so we decided never to do it again).
Cynicism aside, this is every inch the modern super-stadium. From the huge screens and multiple food outlets to the ludicrous bag policy (seriously, you have to read this to believe it), it’s the very embodiment of what the top end of English football has become. Outside, it looks like some inconsiderate aliens have landed a gigantic spaceship in the middle of a sea of chicken shops. Inside, you get generous leg room, pristine toilets and a perfect view of the pitch. They also have areas at the front boasting their own version of rail seating, surely a must-have for all new stadiums in this day and age.
Oh yeah, and in the middle of it all there’s a football match going on. On paper, the meeting of Spurs and Inter is a mouth-watering prospect for any football fan. In practice, these were two teams staying well and truly in first gear. There was a definite air of the players not giving a shit about this one and, given the occasion, you couldn’t really blame them. No one wants to pick up an injury in the bafflingly-titled International Champions Cup (neither of these teams were champions of anything, though I suppose that never stopped the Champions League). However the marketeers chose to dress it up, this was a meaningless pre-season friendly, and was far less about preparation for the new season than it was about mega-clubs growing their mega-brands and the mega-rich getting themselves mega-richer.
With the players half-heartedly trundling their way to 1-1 draw and the fans streaming for the exits (those train station queues no doubt already playing on 58,905 minds), the penalty shoot-out that followed seemed downright inconvenient for everyone. Still, we all went to work or school on the Monday with springs in our steps, able to say that we’d been to Spurs v Inter Milan at the weekend, and guess what: they’ve got pint glasses that fill up from the bottom, and we all filmed it. “Ooh. Nice. How does that work?” It’s witchcraft, I tells ya. Witchcraft.
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Tottenham Hotspur 1 Internazionale 1 (Inter won 4-3 on penalties)
International Champions Cup
Sunday 4 August 2019