For 26 years of my Spurs supporting life I was a fit and mobile, but sometimes inebriated Tottenham fan. Everything changed for me in September 2004 when I stupidly broke my neck on a night out in Plymouth.
This incident would prove to be serious and of life changing magnitude. The vertebrae at the base of my neck had dislocated causing a spinal cord injury that has left me paralysed from the shoulders down.
Adjusting to this new way of life does not happen overnight, but I was determined to maintain two passions that mean so much to me. My love, responsibilities and interaction as a father for my son James (aged 8 at the time) and my adulation for Tottenham Hotspur.
The road to recovery was long and arduous and it would mean spending eight months at Salisbury spinal unit in Wiltshire. Despite this, I still endeavoured to keep in touch with what was happening at the Lane.
The management team of Jacques Santini, Martin Jol and Frank Arnesen were newly installed during the summer of 2004. I can remember hearing of the death of the true Tottenham legend Bill Nicholson in October and listened to live commentary on my digital radio of many Spurs games, including the dramatic 4-5 North London derby at White Hart Lane on November 13.
Along with the fantastic support from my family and friends, this passion for Spurs kept me going and I yearned for a return to some live action at the Lane. This desire was realised for the last game of the season on May 14, 2005. Our opponents would be Blackburn Rovers.
Plymouth Spurs members club knew of my predicament and had purchased a disabled/carer ticket for my first Tottenham match to be viewed from this new perspective.
The 703 Club was our favoured pre-match location before my accident, so it was decided that we would meet up with everyone there before the game. On reaching the entrance to the 703, I came across my first obstacle. The threshold of the doorway prevented the wheels of my heavy chin control wheelchair to roll forward.
I tried numerous times to get inside, but with no success. By this time a few of the regulars who were inside enjoying a pint came over to me, grabbed hold of the bulky mechanical wheelchair and lifted me in. This was just another example of Spurs solidarity that has been expressed many times since.
At 3:30 PM (4pm kick-off), we left the 703 to find our place in the Park Lane disabled section. It was fantastic to be back at the Lane once more, to regain that familiar feeling of excited anticipation, energy and passion that I had experienced so many times before, but had missed during my time in hospital.
That was five years ago and I have been back at N17 (and away) many times since that day in May 2005. Now that I am watching games more often, (Bronze member) I am realising that there are many good points and bad points to being a Spurs supporter in a wheelchair.
In total, there are 92 places for Tottenham wheelchair users and their carers at White Hart Lane. There are 24 low level in the South Stand (underneath the away support), 56 low level in the North Stand and 12 upper tier in the North Stand. The majority of these 92 places belong to season ticket holders.
I have now been fortunate enough to experience all sections, including the North Stand upper tier, which is by far the best place to view Spurs games as a wheelchair supporter. Unfortunately, the Park Lane lower tier (disabled section) is very close in proximity to the away support. For some this might not be a problem, but it can be very annoying if the result is not going our way. Having said this, those moments when Tottenham score at the Park Lane end and the player celebrations are just in front of us can be exhilarating.
What I do appreciate is the friendly and cooperative communication with the disabled ticket office when endeavouring to purchase home match tickets at WHL. However, because of the lack of wheelchair places, this is not always a successful task.
Purchasing disabled away match tickets seems to be an easier option and because of this, I have enjoyed games at Derby County, Bolton Wanderers and Aston Villa.
When I have been successful with home match tickets, I also appreciate the visit from the Disability Liaison Officer, who attends all areas for the disabled on the day of the match, to make sure everyone is happy. This personal contact does make me feel wanted and important to the club, which I certainly did not feel when I was able bodied.
Another perk that I noticed in 2008 and 2009, was the availability of Carling Cup final tickets. While thousands of loyal Tottenham supporters missed out on these momentous occasions, I was successful in getting a ticket at Wembley for both finals.
There are 310 places for wheelchair users and their carers at Wembley Stadium. This of course does not guarantee a ticket, but helps considerably with the disabled demand. The facilities at Wembley and the elevated, panoramic positions for wheelchair users, are the best around and makes the match day experience even more enjoyable.
The prospect of a new Tottenham Stadium has been well documented and the initial designs do indeed look fantastic, but I am sure that it is the disabled Spurs supporters who are the most eager for a change.
I endeavoured to get a wheelchair place for the last home game of the season against Bolton Wanderers, but the crumbs available for Bronze and Lilywhite members meant that I was unsuccessful and once more reliant on a returned ticket.
Even though it will be a sad day when we finally leave White Hart Lane, I for one will welcome the new stadium and the luxury of getting a home ticket with greater ease.