Tottenham Hotspur was first formed in 1882. The club originally played its matches on land at the Park Lane end of Tottenham. The ground was on public land, so the club could not charge admission fees, even though spectators grew to the thousands within just a few years. In 1888, the club rented a pitch at Asplins Farm and charged 3 pence a game. However, in 1898, during a match again Woolwich Arsenal, the refreshment stand collapsed when fans climbed up onto its roof. This urged the club to find a new ground. In 1899, the club moved to land behind the White Hart pub.
The Land at the White Hart Pub
The land was well known for its growing conditions and George Beckwith – landlord of the White Hart public house from 1859 to 1898 and also a nurseryman – had set up the Tottenham Nursery on the site behind his pub at 750 High Road.
The land was rented from the Charringtons brewery and a pitch prepared by groundsman John Over. Mobile stands which had been used at the previous ground – situated between numbers 69 and 75 Northumberland Park – were set up on the new site giving cover to 2,500 spectators. The Club offices, previously at 808 High Road, were also housed at the new enclosure.
The first game at the Lane to mark its opening was a friendly against Notts County on 4 September 1899. There were some 5,000 supporters present. The first goal at the Lane came from Tommy McCairns of Notts County, followed by an equaliser from Toms Pratt and a hat-trick from David Copeland ending in a 4–1 home win.