“The Prime Minister will be aware that there are two great football clubs in North London, Tottenham Hotspur and Enfield Town.”
Over the years Tottenham Hotspur has been mentioned in Parliament sometimes relating to football but they also popped up in debates on a wealth of subjects including international fishing disputes, river pollution, union strikes and water meters.
These references could fill a book but here I’ve assembled a few that I thought were interesting / amusing comments so if you have a moment before the division bell.
The top comment was made by our own David Lammey in 2010 when he was asking the Prime Minister to join him in saying no to Stratford Hotspur and the move to the Olympic Stadium.
The top picture is 1962 and Bill Nicholson and the team are welcomed to The House by local MP Alan Brown.
Despite Tottenham’s connections with politics dating back to the1890’s when the local MP become the Clubs Patron the first mention I could find in the House comes from Robert Morrison MP (1) in May 1926 during the general strike the House “If the military are coming into my constituency, I want to throw out a challenge straight away on behalf of my constituents. I shall send a letter to the commanding officer challenging him and his men to play the strikers at a football match. That is the best thing to do. I am endeavouring to arrange a football match at the present time between the police and the strikers, and I have no doubt that if the Tottenham Hotspur Club will grant us the use of their ground we shall get from 20,000 to 30,000 people off the streets watching the game. That is the real British sporting spirit.” As far as I’m aware no game took place but one was played in Plymouth.
Tottenham’s reputation was called in to focus when in a 1984 debate on Shrewsbury, car parking and the effects of Sunday markets the MP for Newcastle under Lyne informed the house that Shrewsbury was ‘a medieval city which attracts tourists of the widest sort, not the Tottenham Hotspur supporters.’
When the government turned its attention to the introduction of water meters the House heard ‘I have received letters from groundsmen of football clubs who are worried about the implications of the Bill. They are worried about the price of sprinkling and of watering their pitches. My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Ms.Walley) is a great Port Vale supporter. Unfortunately, I heard someone say that, without a wet pitch, that club would not have beaten Spurs on Saturday.’ Ms.Walley replied ‘I must put it on record that the abilities of Port Vale football club are second to none. With or without the conditions on the pitch, I have no doubt that they would have been the giant-killers and beaten Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.’
Left - In the Commons dining room and Jimmy Greaves displays his skills the ball was then raffled for Charity. The waitress is clearly not a Spurs fan.
Questions in the house gives MP’s the opportunity to ask what is on their minds (and you voted for them) .
1982 and the Secretary of State for the Environment was asked ‘if he was consulted before Tottenham Hotspur decided not to play Ricky Villa during the FA Cup Final.’
Then following crowd trouble at the ‘Tottenham Hotspur v Feyenoord football match; how many British nationals have been arrested; if he has any information as to the ethnic background of those involved; and if he will make a statement.”
The reply on both occasions was ‘no.’
1991 saw a member inquire ‘what action was being taken after the suspension of shares of Tottenham Hotspur plc.’ Only to be told it was a matter for the Stock Exchange.
The Minister of Sport came under fire in 1985 (a bumper year for Spurs in Parliament), He was asked how many football matches he had attended in the last 4 years. The answer was 333 (Spurs played in 5 of them). Another questioner wondered how much London clubs had paid the Police during the previous season 84/85. Spurs paid £114,181.94 (where did the 94p come from?) only Chelsea of the eleven London clubs covered had paid more.
Right - A young Ryan Mason in Downing Street.
Lord Graham came to our defence during the debate in July 85 on banning football clubs from traveling abroad. ‘My lords, does the Minister not agree that when most blanket bans are applied they contain anomalies? Will the noble Lord the Minister bear in mind, for instance, the plight of my own local football club, Tottenham Hotspur,of course I say that with a Tyneside accent. Will the noble Lord the Minister acknowledge that for clubs such as Spurs and many others the income and prestige which accrue to them and their country from their overseas tours can be very seriously affected by such a ban?
For instance, a club such as Spurs, when it has an ordinary home game employs 200 policemen and 300 stewards, and such clubs are therefore eminently respected. Will the noble Lord the Minister further agree that there is a responsibility on the Government, if not directly then certainly indirectly, to try to ensure that clubs with such good reputations are protected? The innocent are entitled to justice as well as justice being meted out to offenders.’
Later Lord Winstanley in same debate ‘that you get only 10 minutes between the first half and the second half in which to get a drink of any kind. That is why most people, if they want a drink, have to go early. But I have never attempted to get a glass of beer at half-time, because there is then a sudden rush. If anybody tells me that someone who has been watching a football match for 45 minutes can run to a bar at Anfield, at Maine Road, or at Tottenham Hotspurs' ground in 10 minutes and partake of enough drink to do any damage, I will say that that is a lot of nonsense.’
Lord Willis was on hand when the subject of fishing and the disputes with Iceland were discussed in 1972, “That is about the size of the population of Southampton, is twice the size of that of Gateshead or, let us put it this way: you could fill Tottenham Hotspur's ground four times with the total population of Iceland. I learned when I was there, and we shall all learn, that a nation is not measured by the size of its population.
Left - PM Gordon Brown at the training ground.
Even Gazza being sold even got a mention during the subject of ID cards for fans in July 1988, when “the Minister is right to say that the clubs should bear part of the brunt of the cost. It was a confused public who last week saw Paul Gascoigne sold to Tottenham Hotspur for £2 million while football clubs plead poverty and say that they cannot afford this type of scheme.”
Another discussion on ID cards produced “My major objection, not only to the hon. Gentleman's interruptions, but to identity cards, is that they show how much the Government and the Minister with responsibility for sport are out of touch with football. Hon. Members should take just one corner of the capital city of London as an example. Three clubs—Spurs, Arsenal and Leyton Orient—lucidly show the reality of football in 1988. After consultation with the police, the Tottenham Hotspur club is actually removing fences, because they are no longer needed. Clearly, the police believe that Spurs' supporters behave themselves.’
Bob Blackman, MP for Harrow during a debate on Anti Smetism (2010) ‘as is probably well known by most of my hon. Friends, I am a Tottenham Hotspur fanatic. I have a season ticket home and away. I did not realise why Tottenham Hotspur had so many attacks from fellow fans until I got my season ticket in the west stand at White Hart lane; the first time I went there was like going to shul on Sabbath.
I have been to football grounds all over the country and combated attacks by opposition fans who routinely say, “Gas the Jews. Kill all the Jews. Hitler was right.” To witness that at first hand is to realise why we must always be eternally vigilant against anti-Semitism. Next week, when we honour and commemorate the 6 million Jews who were killed by the Nazis, we must always remember that those racist, anti-Semitic remarks are the tip of the iceberg. We have to combat them wherever and whenever they are made.’
Tottenham have praised on a number of occasions for their work in the community and access for disabled and partial sighted supporters but I will close with this from Lord Jones of Cheltenham in 2014 ‘Lord Sugar, may remember that Cheltenham Town was drawn against Tottenham Hotspur a few years ago in the FA Cup, and I invited him to the replay, expecting him to say “Thank you very much”. Actually, what he said was, “You’re out”, which I imagine is the footballing equivalent of “You’re fired”.
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Notes -1 – Yes the same man who brought the Indian Princes to watch Spurs play, he later became Club President.
Flying Down to Rio
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The 100 Year War
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By Royal Appointment
School Report: An Insight into the Younger Eric Dier
All Change At Spurs
History Of THFC: Part 1
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Thanks For The Memories
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You The Jury
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Connection - Argentina
Creating a Reputation
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