Tottenham - 10 years on
Fri 06 August 2021, 09:00|Tottenham Hotspur
Saturday 6 August, 2011. Tottenham Hotspur took on Athletic Bilbao in a pre-season friendly at the Lane, defeating the La Liga side 2-1 thanks to goals from Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe.
During the match, just down the road at Tottenham Police Station, a peaceful protest was taking place in the wake of the shooting of local young person Mark Duggan on Ferry Lane two days earlier.
As our fans, players and staff left the stadium that evening, there was no sign of what was to follow - by the time the 10 O’Clock News hit our TV screens, riots, which subsequently spread across the country, had begun on our doorstep.
Jordan Mattis was 14 at the time and travelling from his mother’s home in Tottenham to spend the evening at his father’s house in nearby Wood Green.
“Initially it was a positive, peaceful protest, just members of the family of Mark Duggan and the community,” he recalls.
“Tottenham’s always been very communal so when I saw the protest initially, I recognised its purpose – answers for the family.
“When things took a massive u-turn, it was a sad eye opener...
“I saw noise, fighting, a lot of police, police horses, smoke and bottles thrown. You had people trying to steal wigs from the hair shop, bags of rice from supermarkets – everyone was going wild.
“Small businesses got affected - my barbers got burnt down. It was sad because it’s my home.
“I knew a few people involved, people in my age group and at my school. A lot of people got charged and sent to prison.
“It all side-tracked the community - afterwards, it was a very eerie two weeks. I’m used to noise, a collective, diversity, music - the fish market playing reggae music - all of that was gone. That was when you saw the lonely effect it caused people.
“Carpet Right on Lansdowne Road was burned down, there were two burnt out police cars on the High Road, the roads were a mess - glass shattered everywhere - a lot of small businesses boarded up.
“It’s something I’ll never forget - it was a pivotal part of my life because I’d never seen a riot. You watch the news and see what goes on in other countries and can’t relate, but when it happens on your own doorstep, it reinforces the trauma.”
The following weekend’s Premier League season opener against Everton at the Lane was subsequently postponed and, as a Club, we swiftly turned our focus to assisting our community in rebuilding.
In the immediate aftermath, we worked with local businesses to help them back on their feet, with promotion across our channels and visits from players and Ambassadors, while further enhancing our community programmes aimed at engaging young local people in positive activities to steer them away from crime and anti-social behaviour.
Most significantly, a Memorandum of Understanding signed by Tottenham Hotspur Football Club and Haringey Council after the riots saw both parties making a commitment to working together for the benefit of the local area, with the Club’s new stadium serving as the centrepiece for the positive transformation of north Tottenham.
The vision is best described by our Chairman, Daniel Levy, who said: “The impact of our new stadium will be felt across the world, which means it can make a huge difference to our local area. Our development has the ability to attract corporations, to create jobs, essentially to drive the local economy and make Tottenham an incredibly exciting, thriving place to live and work.
“We did not just want to build a stadium. We wanted to change the prospects for those that live in this part of London, particularly after the 2011 riots, and for our stadium to be the flagship development that kickstarted its regeneration.”
Fast forward 10 years, the benefits of what the new stadium and its wider development promised to bring are starting to be felt by a community that had been through so much.
Indeed, the opening night of the stadium in April, 2019, saw a poignant performance of Everybody Dreams by the students of Gladesmore Community School - a song first written in August, 2012, as a positive response to the riots of a year before.
During this past decade, we have seen:
• The completion of our new, world-class, multi-use 62,850-seat stadium, bringing a boost of circa £300m to the local economy annually, employing more than 4,000 people during the construction phase
• Major events including NFL, World Championship Boxing and concerts, alongside football, being brought to N17, with Visitor Attractions such as The Dare Skywalk, Stadium Tours and the new OOF art exhibition driving further visitors and spending in Tottenham on a daily basis
• Unprecedented investment in the local public transport infrastructure, with major upgrades to White Hart Lane, Northumberland Park and Tottenham Hale train stations
• The creation of the London Academy of Excellence Tottenham – a state-funded school based on the stadium campus, sponsored by the Club and Highgate School with support from leading independent schools, recently named The Sunday Times Sixth Form College of the Year. Since opening in 2017, it has sent 12 students to Oxbridge and many more to Russell Group Universities
• The redevelopment of the site of the old Cannon Rubber factory on the High Road into a new home for Brook House Primary School
• The delivery of 400 new homes by the Club across Tottenham – 70% of which are affordable homes – with more to come
• Historic buildings in Tottenham being restored to their former glory, including Percy House – now the home of our Foundation, Warmington House – incorporated into the Tottenham Experience, and The Corner Pin – now being brought back to life as a pub by Beavertown
• More than 3,500 jobs delivered for local people across Club and Stadium operations, including hospitality, security, construction and retail. This encompasses the 78,000 square foot Sainsburys and Gym, which sit within the wider stadium campus and employ locally
One of the 3,500 is Mattis, now aged 24. We’ll let him tell his story in his own words: “I was on the cusp of troubles and needed support in the right direction. It was staff at Spurs who helped me realise what I should and shouldn’t be doing. My mentor was Kieran, who I consider a friend now – he got me my first full-time job in Sainsbury’s, right next to the stadium. I then did a small stint as a labourer in the stadium while it was being built from February - May 2018 - then in June, I started working at the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation.
“Three years on and I’m still here as an Employment Advisor. I make sure I get people from the local area into our stadium for work. I have to make sure they’re job-ready - I’ll do employment workshops, either group sessions or one-to-one, to help develop a person’s interpersonal skills and to make sure they don’t just get the job, they retain the job and progress. I have some case studies and I’m privileged to be the person that has impacted their lives and helped with their career.
“There are bad influences everywhere in the world, and we have some here in Tottenham. If you feel hopeless and don’t have the knowledge to do the right thing, you could be steered by gang affiliations that you see in your local neighbourhood.
“But with the stadium being such a grand presence in Tottenham, it showcases the positives that we bring to help people in our home borough access the opportunities. We run projects across the board to assist people from as young as primary school age right up to adult ages, where they’re then able to access employment support and job opportunities in the stadium.
“When people see their neighbour coming home from work in a Tottenham uniform, that word-of-mouth adds a positive influence which impacts the area for the greater good. Jobs bring hope and optimism, and the networks you build once you get through the door of the stadium are limitless. It’s just the start for a person who does secure a job here.
“So, when you fast forward 10 years from the riots and look at the positives, we haven’t had a riot or anything similar since, so we’re moving forward in the right direction which I’m proud about and proud to be a part of it, driving local people in Haringey into employment.
“The stadium is the biggest improvement in Tottenham for me, personally. The fact it’s gone from what it was to a 62,850-seater, the fact we’ve got the leading college - the London Academy of Excellence - helping more underprivileged kids in the area go to Oxford and Cambridge University... it’s reinforcing the positive attitude we’ve created and the stadium has been a massive influence in driving that and keeping that.”
Tottenham has come a long way in 10 years - and as many fans prepare to return to the area for the first time in 17 months over the coming weekends, you are sure to get a sense that this is really just the start.