The Beginning of my love affair with Tottenham Hotspur FC
I have decided to start a blog on my times going to Spurs and what surrounds it. Because I am starting now I shall do a quick review of my past Spurs memories over the years to the present (and it is quick).
I first went to White Hart Lane in the season 1960/61. I was only five so a lot of it was a blur (that is in the early days). Seasons seemed to mix into seasons. I did go to all the Cup Finals (including the double season). My dad took me and if he didn’t then a friend or an uncle. I never, alas, went to the 1963 European Cup Winners’ Cup final as my parents couldn’t afford the trip aboard. But I do remember watching it on TV. I also remember going to the world cup final in 1966… and “World cup Willie”. That is the song, not an exposure; I believe it was performed by Lonnie Donegan. I had the toy as well.
I remember walking down the old Wembley way (now our home for a year; but a rebuilt Wembley).
Another interesting point; my mum is Swiss and she told me that her dad played for the Swiss team (I’ll have to check that one out).
I remember the great atmosphere of Spurs home games and being passed down to the front by the crowd, if it was packed (as it usually was). The programmes (which I have every one since 1950/1; started by my dad), which is very important to any Spurs supporter. Then there was- and still are - the songs that resonate around the stadium at every Spurs match. The players that played for our great team (we mustn’t forget them, the most important ingredients of all). I remember Dave Mackay patting me on the head, or Jimmy Greaves picking me up as I fell over in the Spurs car park. That was just a few occasions (of many) when I bumped or collided with one of the players. I met Arthur Rowe and all the managers since, over the years. I have a special memory where Cliff Jones is concerned. I had many chats with him and later on I parked my car next to his. In fact, it was a car park that was used by many ex-players and celebrities.
Talking about my dad; according to his dad (my grandfather), his father (my great-grandfather) was a supporter right from the very beginning. He was at the marshes and told me many stories about their early encounters, including moving locations.
I remember John White nearly knocking me over in his car. Of course, I didn’t know it was John White at the time, but my dad saw it and spoke to him after he stopped and asked me if I was ok. My dad shook his hand and then clouted me around the head for running out and not looking where I was going. He never stopped reminding me of the incident. A good lesson, as I tried to be careful after that. I remember reading the news of his sudden death and the world swallowing me up.
So many great games and players that graced the turf of White Hart Lane in those days. I also remember going to a few away games in those magical sixties. The Sixties that bought us The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Dave Clark Five (the Tottenham sound) and so much more. Models like Twiggy gracing the many papers of the time. Magical programmes on TV, such as Dr Who, Batman, Green Hornet, The Fugitive, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, TOTPs, Blue Peter (I was a kid in those days!) and the list goes on.
Controversial things were happening in the sixties; such as “The Night of the Long Knives (politics),” Christine Keeler (the Profumo scandal), the “Manson murders” and of course the Moonwalk (no, not Michael Jackson’s moonwalk, but the moon itself is finally conquered by the Americans).
I remember the pies, peas and tea’s that Tottenham Hotspur catering served inside the ground, and outside by the sellers.
Oh, mustn’t forget those Glory nights and the great European teams that graced our territory.
Yes, the 1970s… interesting times. We had Bowie, Glitter, Mar Bolan, Slade, Punk and various sorts of music. Oh, and we mustn’t forget Disco and the Bee Gees etc. Films such as Saturday Night Fever, Clockwork Orange and so much more. In politics, we had Edward Heath asking “Who governs” and the people responding, “not you,” then, later on, we had the “Winter of discontent,” the beginning of Thatcher and the demise of Labour. They are closer to me (memory wise) as I was now in my teens. I won’t bore you by listing all the matches in my memory, and even though you might be shouting that you won’t be bored (I say this tongue-in-cheek), it would take forever to go through everyone. But I do remember us going down to the second division and then coming straight back up, UEFA Cup finals and other competitions.
Of course, in those days (the 70s) it wasn’t just about Spurs, University Degree, dates, bananas and pears (don’t ask) and the list goes on. Then there were my driving tests’ (bike & car) and the purchase of a motorbike, followed by a car (years later). I remember the first time I went to Spurs on my motorcycle and nearly coming off (nearly, but not quite… which was good enough for me!). When the motorbike adventure finished, I moved on to a car. Much better for winters.
The late 70s saw us sign two Argentinians called Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa. Who?
Highlights: Cup finals, our big win over Bristol Rovers and the fights (no, I wasn’t involved… just an observer).
Part of that time I lived abroad… well, from the late 1960s. When I was in distant lands, I had to watch my Spurs from a TV screen. At that time I become a fan of American wrestling and saw some of the famous names. My dad took me, as he did in the 60s in England, where I saw many stars, such as Jackie Pallo, Dr Death, Kendo Nagasaki, Mick McManus etc., anyway, we are not here about my other peccadillos, but the Spurs (a pity, we could have had a good laugh together).
The 80s were a decade of marriage, music, children, work (not that I didn’t work in the 70s), homes, critical decisions and a time of growing up. It seemed it all happened in the 80s.
The Cup finals’ stick out for me. Especially 1981 (both matches) and the 1987 final. The 1982-Cup final (both) didn’t compare with the other two. In the 1981 replay, Ricky Villa scored that magnificent goal. Now a cup classic.
The 1980s was the year I become a life member of the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters club (I still have my membership card). It cost £50 for life membership, in fact, it was my ex-wife who bought it for me as a birthday present. That was a lot of money in those days.
Nineteen eighty-six was when Tottenham brought out the Spurs membership, and I became one of the first members. The club said, “If you join you will go to the FA Cup final,” if we should get there. And get there we did. I remember the shirts getting buggered up (only half the shirts showed the Sponsors name on them) and us losing our first FA cup final (Mabbutt own goal contributed to that defeat)… But it was still a good match and an enjoyable day, just not a good result.
Then there was the UEFA Cup final and Parks’ magnificent save. I spoke to him afterwards (no, not on that day) about the match. I also remember taking my kids to WHL and Park's getting a kick in the teeth and my son drawing the incident.
I got to know all the collectable Programme sellers around the stadium (and I still remembered some years later, that is the ones that survived).
The famous game where Glenn Hoddle scored his final home goal against Oxford United has a special memory for me. I went with a programme seller – who was also a Spurs & Oxford fan – and we were in the away end to watch that match. And what a match it was. His goodbye present to the home supporters.
One particular memory I do have was seeing Swansea City at White Hart Lane (I can’t recall the year) but we beat them 1-0. It wasn’t because of that, but the weather. There was snow everywhere and it was bloody freezing. We were standing and it was so cold that when the match was over and I went to move, I couldn’t, and fell down. I was totally frozen. Do I regret missing the standing area? No, as I am a lot older now and with a knee problem (getting older doesn’t get easier for the body). Nevertheless, going to away matches the fans stand and you have no other choice but to join in, or miss what is happening.
Another match that stands out was when we played Stoke City and we won 3-0 and Archibald got a hat-trick. I do remember saying “He (that is Archibald) hasn’t done anything”. But then he pops up and gets a hat-trick.
At the beginning of the 80s, I remember going with my wife, her first match, to see Ipswich Town at White Hart Lane, and we won 1-0. In the next edition of the programme, we could be seen in a photo. With us was her sister and a friend called Tottenham John, who was a Spurs fanatic.
I recall another time I took my kids, but I couldn’t get seats for them - with me - so they sat further down. Every time we scored and the crowd went wild, they looked around for me, confused… but then smiled when they saw me on my feet and joined in (they were very young).
David Pleat’s excellent diamond formation and we were close in three competitions. So near, but so far.
A bomb scare before a cup match, forcing the game to be delayed.
The 70s and 80s were violent times for football. I tried to keep out of it, but if you were wearing a Spurs scarf or any club scarf, then you were targeted. If not with violence, then with abuse.
So many other memories, but we shall leave it there for the time being.
The 90s saw Bill Clinton become President of America and Monica Lewinsky offering him a cigar. Tony Blair and his “New” Labour party took over from John Major’s government and created a new Conservative party, but called “New” Labour. The Internet was in its infancy and we had to use dial-up to get online. Windows 95 came… yes, in 1995 and technology was about to radicalise our lives. The 90s also gave us the Spice Girls (enough, I hear you shout!).
Apart from the above, the 1990s was another special decade for me, the fanzine came out. I wrote for quite a few Fanzine Magazines (The Spur, Spur of the Moment, My eyes have seen the Glory and many more). I remember helping Stuart Mutler on his stall selling the Spur. Great times!
I remember supporting Alan Sugar over Terry Venables and writing about it and criticising TISA for their blind loyalty in Venables. I remember one of my articles being featured on Sky Sports. Actually, I didn’t see it, but I was told about it by the editors of “Spur of the Moment”. There was a lot happening for Fanzine writers in the 90s. Sadly that occupation came to an end with the demise of fanzines (now internet/ Facebook has taken over).
The first ever semi-final at Wembley I witnessed Gazza’s brilliant goal, which took us to the final. That final was special as I thought we blew it. First Gazza went off, then we (or I should say Linker) missed a penalty, but we still won. The joyous scenes of us beating Forest.
In the 90s, I became a season ticket holder for the first time; things were starting to change and I thought it was safer to have one. I was proven right. Made so many friends around where I sat. On the subject of season tickets; when you applied for one you were then asked, “Where do you want to sit?” and could even go down to the ground and pick your seat. Compare that to nowadays where there is a waiting list, or was, of about 50,000.
Something I just thought of; being on TV – World in Action – with Gazza (no, nothing special), I was in the spurs car park, getting his autograph while he was being filmed. Talking about being filmed, I was interviewed on MOTD with the editors of “The Spur of the Moment” about Ozzie Ardiles’ sacking as manager.
Again, so much to remember.
Now we go into the noughties.
2000 to 2012
In the new century we got a new modern Tate Gallery opening at the Bankside power station (London), Wikipedia is launched and people took to the Internet as ducks took to water and of course we had the financial crash and Blair giving way to Brown, who gave way to a coalition of Tories and Lib-Dems and austerity. But that didn’t stop Premier league clubs becoming richer and buying the best players in the world.
Unfortunately, I had to give up my season ticket, because of circumstances beyond my control, nevertheless, that didn’t stop me still going and I hardly missed a match. I did get a Bronze membership card at a later date.
In the 90s the Premier league started and Spurs were regarded as one of the top five. Then things changed for us and Sugar & Venables took over from Scholar and debt. That was followed by Levy and Enic buying out Sugar’s shares. We started to slide and the early part of the 2000s we were moving up and down the league. Many managers coming and going, while Levy and Co were trying to get it right. But with the arrival of Harry Redknapp, things started to change and we pushed our way into the top four (briefly).
We went to a cup final and got ourselves a trophy.
2012 to 2016
We saw the Rise of a little known left-wing Labour MP called Jeremy Corbyn taking over the Labour party by storm and the Lib-Dem/ Tory pack being dissolved after an election and the Tory party governing on their own. Brexit took us out of the European Union and an uncertain future. But the future was brighter for Tottenham Hotspur football club.
From season 2012/13 to the present, I haven’t missed a single home game. Two managers, after Redknapp, left, then we got Pochettino and the sun came out for us.
2016/ 2017 (and the Finale)
This was an exceptional season for all Spurs fans. White Hart Lane was a home away from home. We had known for a couple of seasons that we were going to move and the building of a great new stadium was in the process. The Final season saw a corner of the stadium knocked down and the capacity reduced. We were brilliant at home and it was only some of our away results that stopped us from winning the league. Our European matches were played at Wembley as UEFA wouldn’t allow that competition to be played on home turf.
I went around the old stadium videoing it for memories. I took tons of photos. Over the years I got to know the staff, in and outside the stadium, and those in the Spurs shop, where I spent a fortune.
A special mention to the Spurs shop for the items/ clothing I bought over the years. I also got my photo taken with many Spurs idols when visiting the shop to promote their books.
The programme sellers; in the 80s I remember there were a lot of them, but over the years their numbers dwindled until there was just two. One of them I got to know very well: Martin. I purchased a lot from him over the years.
I also recall crossing the road – of Bill Nicholson way – and a car's horn going off behind me, I was in somebody’s way, so I turned and was about to give him (or her) the finger, but before I did, luckily, I noticed it was Bale. Taken back I just smiled and mouthed, “on your way my old son” and left it at that. But I did chuckle to myself.
A year or so before the final season Spurs erected a tent/ or cabin for Members/ season ticket holders so we could have a drink and meet players. I thought that was a good idea and enjoyed going.
I always used to (and still do now) get to the stadium three hours before kick-off. I had to leave home even earlier (as it took me an hour and a half to reach the ground from my home in Berkshire).
I parked my car at the school opposite the ground and have been doing it for many years, going back to the 80s. John was in charge and I used to love talking to him and those that worked with him. I even got a few of their numbers and some are on my Spurs Facebook page. Before that, I, and others managed to park our cars’ opposite the ground or some other road around the stadium.
In December 2016, I purchased my seat for the new stadium. I also purchased my seat for Wembley at the beginning of 2017.
The last game was a very emotional day. I arrived at the stadium at 9 am and got home at 11 at night.
We ended that special season with no defeats at home and the final saw us beat United 2-1. Then the stars came on (and out), songs laughter, tears, joy, all mixed emotions rolled into one. Souvenirs bought, flags kept (that were on our seat, along with a bag of goodies). New memories made and never will be forgotten.
In that final game, my ticket was for the East Stand, at the very back. Because I was in the last row at the back, I stood on the chairs to get a better view. Then a steward told me to get down. That didn’t last long as the steward disappeared to deal with the pitch invasion and I went back up.
As I left the stadium, some supporters were trying to rip up their seats for souvenirs. The security guards managed to get some back, others did get through.
Spurs have been part of my life since the age of five. I’ve seen some crap being played, relegation, Cup wins, great memorable days, classics, and tears. In the bad times, no matter how bad they were, I never stopped going. Loyalty isn’t just for Christmas and the good days, but for life, otherwise, you are not a real supporter.
My Wembley expeditions will be discussed in another blog chapter – following this one - and from there until my death (well, I can hardly write beyond that, can I... or can I?).