One of my uncles earliest memories was standing in a playground and seeing a group of young (but older than him) Spurs fans, singing their hearts out, as they walked past...bursting with pride. In that single defining moment, he decided to support Tottenham.
His father (my granddad) lived in Camden Town and regularly visited the Lane. When he spoke about the 60s side, it was always with superlatives and long pauses followed by more superlatives. At a young age, I knew who Blanchflower, Mackay and White were without really knowing everything. There was nothing linear about the stories told, it was all very fantastical. Different chapters of the same book told in random order. Raw tales about the atmosphere at the Lane. A particular goal scored. Men dressed as angels. The Shelf bursting with song and energy. Tales wrapped in crisp magic you could taste if you shut your eyes hard enough and imagined the scenes being described.
My uncle's stories concerned the 70s. Peters, Chivers, Gilzean and Greaves. UEFA Cup final against Wolves. The League Cup. And the grief. The 1-0 loss at home to Arsenal in 71. Relegation. But mostly about Gilzean's headers to Greaves feet and the back of the net bursting. Or not, as it was explained in some detail over and over again how Greaves would pass the ball with enough weight to find itself just on the right side of the goal line.
I loved Tottenham Hotspur. It was in my blood. The stories fuelled a romance with the club that will be with me for life. But as a kid, I wanted to know more about our history in-between Saturdays standing in the East Stand Lower.
I knew about Rowe and the 50s and Nicholson and the 60s. The ups and downs of the 70s. As a young lad in the 80s I lusted for more than just a chronological time-line of what we achieved. I wanted more of what my granddad and uncle gave me. The essence of what makes Tottenham, Tottenham.
That happened when I was given a copy of The Glory Glory Nights which chronicled the history of Spurs in Europe. It included the domestic league/cup wins that gave us entry into the continental competitions and match reports with newspaper 'back pages' along with some wonderfully emotive and iconic photos and images from the 60s all the way to the present day (being 1986 at the time).
My journey felt as spectacular as each page turned as I travelled with Spurs through the decades. I was able to associate all the stories I was told by my family and weave a glorious tapestry of our history. I was utterly immersed. Gutted also reading about how we were beaten by Benfica in the semi-final of the European Cup. Buzzing at our 5-1 demolition of Atletico Madrid. Our identity is defined with firsts. We might have missed out on the grandest of prizes, but still we created history with each step we took.
Within these pages (page 64 to be specific) is where I discovered how we came to lose John White. My granddad spoke about his grace as a footballer but never mentioned the tragic circumstances of his death. I asked him why he never told me and he simply replied with, "Because I didn't want to see the look you have on your face right now".
I read every page of the book, twice, three times over. When English clubs were allowed back into Europe I was able to saviour the nights myself attending the second leg of our game against Hajduk Split. Not quite the iconic game I lived and breathed when listening to the stories or reading the book, but it was a good feeling. A sense of belonging. A sense of being part of history.
I've still got my copy of the first edition. Although I've only recently dusted it off and browsed through it. I've done so purely to reminisce because Martin Cloake and Adam Powley (brilliantly designed by Doug Cheesman) have crafted a new version of Tottenham Hotspur in Europe to coincide with the 50th anniversary of our 1963 European Cup Winners Cup victory. The chaps at Vision Sports Publishing sent me a copy and it wouldn't be an exaggeration to admit I felt like that little wide-eyed boy again licking his lips in anticipation of feasting on such a pivotal part of our identity.
This book is Tottenham. This book is why we love our club with such unquestionable passion. Regardless of whether you own or have read the older version - this should be treated as something completely new and unique.
Firstly, the book itself is beautiful. Glossy pages, wonderfully designed from one page the next. It includes a map of Spurs in Europe, an introduction to each decade and it retains the newspaper headline cut-outs which is a great touch in amongst some superb photography from games, dressing rooms, post-game celebrations and so on. There's also a foreword from Gareth Bale (and further words from Bale and Dawson) plus interviews with the likes of Jones, Chivers and Hazard.
There is so much content I've not seen before. Yes, the games (every single European encounter is covered right up to the end of the Champions League season and last seasons Europa League) will never change but the images accompanying them make each moment, the good and the heart-breaking ones, truly glorious.
The most poignant for me is very early in the book; the birth of how Glory Glory Hallelujah came to be our defining song. No angels they said, but this story of Tottenham in Europe is truly angelic.
You've probably worked out by now that The Glory Glory Nights is utterly essential. In a world where modern football rules and memories are devalued this serves as a reminder that no matter the year or century some things will endeavour to live on forever.
The Glory Glory Nights is published by Vision Sports Publishing (out now).
To see inside the book visit: www.visionsp.co.uk/gloryglorynights