Heroes and Villians
Another week, another cracking book. This one from Julie Welch (Those Glory, Glory nights and The Ghost of White Hart Lane) which chronicles our illustrious history in the form of 'The Biography of Tottenham Hotspur' defining what makes Tottenham the club it is and what has shaped our traditions and our identity.
I've always believed we are the perfect club. I would say that being a Spurs fan. What I mean is, we have that right amount of balance between tangible success and upheaval that allows us to appreciate what we had, what we've got and always feel that there is something more to dream for. But regardless of where we are in the league and what our predicament is, the same emotive ingredients are always evident. Like any club, we have our ways. I just tend to believe ours remain far more colourful than most (colours not including the red one).
Modern football has already consumed some of our supporters who are struggling to cope with the pressures of success or the mere promise of it. That can happen if you sustain it for a period of time. It becomes normal, it becomes the expected...so if you lose it you feel like you've lost your soul when the reality is, the club is what it is at any given time and you should really accept it as such. With us, we've not had sustained success...yet look how nervous and disgruntled some of us are so far this season. I almost want to break out and sing 'Do you know your history?' to gentle remind the forgetful amongst us.
In our history, that fine balance I'm referring to, is winning a piece of silverware every so often. In fact, every decade since the 1950s, we've had a day out in a cup final. Our traditions, our style is rewarded with not only flair players and exciting football but also a tin pot or two. We are never spoilt, which probably keeps most of us grounded. And makes us appreciate those days out even more. Aside from a misadventure or two we've retained our top flight status. But all of that would be boring if there wasn't a narrative sitting behind it. This book captures that narrative, the essence of what Tottenham Hotspur is all about in 35 glorious chapters.
Origins, cups, players, the characters, the managers, the ups and the downs. One particular chapter always jumps out of the pages in any books about Spurs history. I find it enthralling. Chapter 6, Heroes and Villains. About us and Arsenal.
Our history, how we were formed and our journey in becoming the club we are today is defined by moments in time. The push and run side. The double winning side and the fact we almost achieved a double double and might have even won the European Cup had it not been for half a dozen disallowed goals in the semi-final. Or winning the Cup Winners Cup to become the first ever British side to taste success in Europe. Or back to back FA Cups. Moments in time that remain iconic. A true testament to what was achieved. Our neighbours most poignant moment in their history is akin to a greedy Hollywood director rebooting a movie franchise by buying its rights and then re-writing the script from scratch. Yes, Henry Norris a bankrupt South London club and a failed merger with Fulham and the rest of it.
My favourite quote?
"...they played their first match on a field with an open sewer running through it"
Some things never change for them lot down the road.
Aside from that, the other chapters are rather good too. Another obvious statement considering the source for the books content. It's also extremely up to date (glossy photos in the middle even include a celebrating Dempsey at Old Trafford). And when you get to the end, the epilogue had the hairs on my neck standing and dancing.
It's the incredible story of the world famous Spurs.
'The biography of Tottenham Hotspur' is published by Vision Sports Publishing and available to buy now from bookshops, online or the more traditional brick variant.