Skipp recalls first-ever game in new stadium, one year on
Tue 24 March 2020, 10:53|Tottenham Hotspur
Oliver Skipp was among the very first to set down roots in our new home – and one year on, he still appreciates his place in the history books.
The central midfielder, then 18, started the first-ever football match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium when our Under-18s defeated their Southampton counterparts 3-1 on 24 March, 2019.
He’d been in and around the first team squad at the time, but was still young enough for selection at youth level and completed the full 90 minutes in front of a capped crowd of almost 29,000 as we stepped up the preparations for the opening of our world-class new abode with the first of two Test Event matches. A Legends game against Inter six days later was the last step before the grand opening at the start of April.
Skipp recalls the feeling of disembarking the team coach and walking out into the stadium bowl as if it was yesterday.
“It’s gone quickly – it doesn’t feel like a year,” he said on the game’s one-year anniversary. “I remember everything about arriving there because we took the coach to the game – seeing the stadium as we came up the road, I don’t know how to describe it… it was such a massive change. I remember going to the old stadium but just to see it in the same place but completely modernized and pretty much double the size, it was incredible.
“It was a surreal experience, especially because when we walked out after getting off the coach (north-east corner) we were directly opposite the big South Stand so when we first came in, that was the first thing we noticed, just the size of it and how steep it was. You could imagine what that would be like on a Champions League night – that was the first thing that came into my head.
“A year down the line, it definitely feels like home and it still has the same feel, the atmosphere that’s created. I think back to the City game this year, some of the Champions League games like where we were 2-0 down against Olympiacos and then came back – they were the games where you really felt the benefit of the crowd and even the games last year on the road to the Champions League Final, the City game at home when Hugo saved the penalty… just the roar of the crowd after that will live long in the memory. When we finally moved into that stadium it was everything you’d imagined and more.”
Born in Welwyn Garden City and having come up through our Academy system, Skipp has been part of the squad for a number of high-profile first team encounters over the last two seasons, but still recognises the significance of that initial Test Event outing with the youth team – not least because it provided a glimpse into the future.
Also in the side against Southampton’s youngsters was left-back Dennis Cirkin, who has appeared on the first team bench twice at the new stadium in recent months against Middlesbrough and Southampton in the FA Cup, along with our most recent senior debutant, defender Malachi Fagan-Walcott, who came on in added time in the second leg of the Champions League defeat to RB Leipzig in Germany. Fellow starters, midfielder Harvey White and defender Brooklyn Lyons-Foster, travelled with the first team on tour last pre-season too.
“It’s great for those boys and hopefully there’ll be a few more to come in future,” said Skipp, who is keen to look beyond the present uncertain times and hopes to make more memories in the stadium over the next 12 months. “For all the Academy boys, no matter where your career takes you, you can always say that you were part of that game – the moment when the first ball was kicked and the first goal was scored.”