Harry begins signing autographs at the south end of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. He does what looks like a TV interview first, then starts at the beginning of the throng of people lined up to take a picture of him or have him sign something. The crowd stretches from the southwest end of the stadium, where Harry is, to the middle of the north end, where Harry will be. Eventually.
Harry’s Tottenham Hotspur teammates are on the north side. This is where most of the action is, including the media and VIP sections. The18 is told immediately upon entering the media area that we are not allowed to leave it. We are therefore forced to dissect Harry’s walk from afar until he gets closer.
The VIPs are given things for the Tottenham players, mainly Harry Kane, to sign.
The Tottenham players who are not Harry Kane go around and sign the things for the VIPs while Harry is still on the other side of the stadium.
The MLS All-Stars’ media availability is being delayed because the area MLS wants to use is occupied by fans patiently waiting for Harry Kane to sign their stuff and take pictures with them. Finally, an MLS PR man comes and asks us which MLS players we absolutely need to talk to. The designated area is still full of Harry Kane fans. They sing, “Happy Birthday.”
— The18 (@the18soccer) July 28, 2015
Today is Harry’s birthday.
Harry gets to the bench areas. The team benches have been removed, so Harry continues his slow half-lap around the stadium. He just has to reach a little higher for this part.
Harry disappears from sight. He’s still in the bench area but we can’t see him and we’re not allowed to leave the media area.
Harry turns the corner to the media area, and continues to sign autographs while being photographed from pretty much every possible angle by pretty much every possible media member (present company included).
Someone yells ”Harry, take a picture with the other birthday boy!”
“Hey, Harry, it’s this guy’s birthday too, take a picture with him!”
The man’s words are lost on Harry, for Harry is too far ahead to turn back now. It takes Harry several minutes to go but a few feet, and Harry can ill-afford to lose valuable ground, lest he be besieged by the screaming mob a second time.
Harry is an autograph-signing, picture-posing robot. He puts one foot ahead of the other slowly, like the rest of his body is on a conveyor belt and can only move one speed. That speed is not very fast.
Another media member and I wonder about Harry’s signature-signing skills. He will sign at least one thousand signatures today, and presumably today is not an aberration in the autograph-signing career of Harry Kane. He must have very strong wrists, we decide. We wonder what happens to players as they age. Do the wrist muscles begin to go? Does signing autographs become more tiresome? Fortunately, as Harry is only 23 today, that moment, if it exists, is a long way off.
I start to worry about Harry. Harry is English and therefore very pale and sensitive to direct sunlight. There is not a cloud in the sky, and the sun's rays are harsher at higher altitudes. Denver is 5,280 feet above sea-level. I hope Harry is wearing sunscreen. I steal a glance over at him and my worries are soothed. There is no way the sun could penetrate the writhing ball of people surrounding Harry. His complexion is safe.
The MLS All-Stars come over to talk to the media, and for a little while the crowd’s attention (but only that of the crowd situated directly behind the media area) is diverted from Harry toward the likes of Clint Dempsey, Nick Rimando and Matt Besler. Harry, meanwhile, continues his march around the field. He passes out of the media area and continues toward the northwest corner.
MLS media availability ends. As far as I saw, the only person to be asked for an autograph from the MLS is Dempsey, who catches a soccer ball, then a pen, signs the soccer ball and throws them both back to the fan without so much as a pause in his interview.
Harry rounds the northwest corner. He’s full on into the VIPs now, who have been patiently waiting for this, this moment — that they presumably paid money for, or called in a favor for — when a 23-year-old will sign a piece of clothing that they will never wear.
Harry finishes his walk around the stadium and is shepherded to a waiting television crew for another interview. He finishes this and heads for the locker room at about 12:45 p.m., about an hour after his teammates. He signed autographs for about an hour and a half in the hot sun. Happy birthday, Harry.
After the MLS media availability ended, I left the media area to get a better vantage point to watch the MLS All-Stars’ practice. I walked to the exit of the field, past the entrance to the locker rooms.
There was a boy at the bottom of the stairs. He looked to be about seven years old, and appeared to be in some sort of delirium, heat stroke maybe. He was rocking back and forth on his heels, mumbling “Harry Kane . . . Harry Kane . . . Harry Kane.”
Contact The18 Staff Writer Sam Klomhaus at klomhaus@The18.com or follow him on Twitter @SamKlomhaus