It was a night when the beer taps ran dry and Harry Kane failed to score, but after 693 days on the road, there was always going to be the odd glitch for Tottenham Hotspur at their long-overdue homecoming party.
A 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace in front of 59,215 fans at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium — lucrative naming rights have yet to be secured — ensured that the most important element of the night went without a hitch, with Mauricio Pochettino’s men securing a win which moved them ahead of neighbours Arsenal and back into third place in the Premier League.
But not everything was alright on the night. Prior to the game, one section of the stadium ran out of beer and pies — Spurs had a pie and pint for £5 offer, hence the run on the food stalls — until they were replenished by stocks from other areas of the ground.
And Kane, the Spurs forward who scored the club’s last goal at the old White Hart Lane ground, failed to claim another piece of history by netting the first goal at the new place.
In the grand scheme of things, it really shouldn’t matter that Son Heung-min will forever have that distinction to his name. “To score the first goal at this stadium… I just want to say to thank you to my teammates and the fans,” the South Korean said afterwards.
Kane is no different to any other striker when it comes to wanting to be the man who puts the ball into the net, though. He was shooting at every opportunity, even taking free kicks usually reserved for the likes of Christian Eriksen or Kieran Trippier. Then when he was fouled by Palace midfielder James McArthur late in the second half, the England captain’s first instinct, after Eriksen had scored from the loose ball, was to appeal, arms outstretched, to referee Andre Marriner, for a penalty, which he would obviously have taken.
But alas, this was not to be Harry’s game, or Harry’s night, but it was an impressive start for the club, at their new world-class stadium.
Conservative estimates suggest that the ground cost £800 million to build, but others point to the final figure escalating beyond the £1 billion mark. Construction delays, the cost of steel and even the financial impact of Brexit have all been blamed for the original £400m price tag rocketing skywards.
Those delays, too, which meant that original plans to return “home” from Wembley last September were shelved time and again, also had created a sense of frustration ahead of the long-overdue opener against Palace. But after all the hold-ups and false dawns, it really was well worth the wait to see a ball kicked competitively for the first time.
Spurs have attempted to make their new stadium the best in Europe, if not the world, when it comes to the fine detail.
U2’s acoustic consultants were involved in the stadium design in an effort to make it as noisy and atmospheric as any other, while the 17,500-capacity South Stand is the largest single tier section of its kind in England. It has been designed to replicate Borussia Dortmund’s famous “Yellow Wall” and seats more than 5,000 more fans than the Kop at Anfield.
The pitch, which can be removed and replaced with a synthetic surface when the NFL comes to town, is formed by 99 steel trays which are pieced together like a giant jigsaw, while the Goal Line Bar in the South Stand, at 65 metres, is the longest in Europe.
There were no reports of beer selling out at that bar, so at least Spurs have properly stocked the biggest one of the lot.
But after just one game, there is clearly room for improvement on and off the pitch.
Kane will want to get off the mark in the new ground as quickly as possible, so next Tuesday’s Champions League quarterfinal first-leg against Manchester City would be the perfect place to start.
And the fans can also raise their game, too. During this game, after a raucous start to the evening, the crowd fell largely silent, prompting the Palace fans to goad the home supporters with chants of “Is this Emirates?” — the Arsenal stadium which has a notoriously quiet home crowd.
That atmosphere will come and the huge bank of fans in the South Stand will probably be the ones who make the difference and turn their enclosure into a wall of noise. If it does they can become the 12th man for Pochettino’s team and be as important to the team’s ambitions of success as Kane’s goals or Eriksen’s free kicks.
But even if the team continues to fall short in its pursuit of silverware — Spurs have won just one major trophy this century — the stadium will prove to be a game-changer in making the club strong enough to compete with its rivals.
Their stadium revenue will now be in the same realm as Manchester United and Arsenal, while prospective signings will also be swayed by the prospect of playing their football here. Similarly, it will help them keep the likes of Kane, Dele Alli and even Pochettino.
But the wait to play here seemed endless, with Spurs outstaying their welcome as tenants at Wembley, so the most important thing was simply to get here and play that first game.
“It’s a special moment, a special night,” Pochettino said. “I feel and believe it is the best stadium in the world.
“The emotion was amazing from the beginning, but to win was so important to us.
“Today we touched the glory. Now we need to touch the glory of lifting trophies,” added the Argentine manager. “Now is the start of a chapter.
“We close one chapter and open another chapter and bring victory to our fans.”