I had the sense I’d stumbled into an old spy film. Here I was sitting outside a nondescript house in a quiet residential area of North London. I had been told to arrive after 10am, (it was ten past )and I knew I was being observed from several windows of the neighboring houses. I was to meet someone who would recognize me but I had not seen since I was in short trousers. I walked up the path and the door opened before I knocked. “Morning I’m’ That’s as far as I got. The woman, somewhere in her eighties who didn’t look like a Russian spy, laughed ’I know who you are, I’m told you want me to show you into Aladdin’s Cave.’
As an overtire to a series launching in a few days, an insight to why its taken two years yo reach you. Let me first say that when I moved to India some years back I had no idea that Tottenham would have such a thriving (and rapidly growing) fan base. The television companies broadcasting the Premier League have opened up the game to a whole new world and those fans pledging allegiance to Spurs were not those glory hunter ‘supporters’ who seem to change clubs more often than they change their socks. They follow Spurs because the club always tried to play the game the right way.
I’m not a historian but I was lucky enough to be born into a family that has followed Tottenham for over a hundred years, (I can only claim to be a halftime substitute in that figure). Having been weaned on tales of Tottenham I now found myself surrounded by fans many of whom had embraced the club quite often in their early twenties or so. So when I’m not gushing about the current team there is the opportunity to lift the veil on the clubs marvelous history to some of those fans, not just in India but these days around the world, who may not be aware of its full rich tapestry, or the ones who just enjoy a look back.
I try and double-check the various stories with reliable sources that I lay before you just in case my memory lets me down and to that end, my thanks to the giants whose shoulders I clamber over and are given credit where it’s due (1). Thanks to them, and any errors are mine, and that was the disclaimer for the season. One of the problems I’ve discovered researching the history is that once its ‘out there’ everyone thinks its true and its repeated and there are a lot of ‘erroneous facts’ sometimes even from the most respected of sources.
I’ve previously highlighted a number of incidences when some sources provide info that differs or quite simply isn’t correct. My favorites, just from the last few months - Spurs won the Amateur Cup (wrong), they were an amateur side when they won the FA Cup in 1901 (wrong), Arsenal knocked us out of the League Cup the year we won the Double (neither side even entered), Gareth Bale was Bill Nicholson’s best signing (totally wrong) and our all-time top scorer is Alan Shearer (what!)
What I have found pleasing (and this isn’t an ego thing) is that several ‘respected’ individuals in the Tottenham world have complemented me on my scribbles, as well as a few club historians whom I’ve contacted both in the UK and Europe when they have seen my end product. One even pointing out I had uncovered something they didn’t have in their own records. I’ve also received some nice comments from the families of my subjects. This is of course is all very flattering but more importantly I think its helped raise the profile of India Spurs both here and worldwide, which of course was part of the plan.
I’ve always believed history should be more than just a reference of dry dates (I try and update articles as required), it is a ‘pulsating drama’ (2) and should where possible remind us of the sweat and tears that’s gone before. If you don’t know your history you cant plot your future. Returning to my theme, when I was in the UK not too long ago armed with a bottle of wine and a notepad I spent several sessions sitting in various gardens reminiscing with, (I do feel the term interrogate is rather harsh) ‘my sources,’ There was one uncle just turned ninety who when asked about Spurs is still capable of making Harry Redknapp sound like a Trappist Monk. As his granddaughter told me, you know he doesn’t actually have an off switch. Another enjoyable afternoon and my two victims that day finished by looking at each other and saying ‘you know who he needs to see next don’t you?’
And that’s how I ended up being shown into the parlour of a house where the owner had laid out for my inspection a number of scrapbooks, personal journals, diaries and various artifacts, some literately priceless and I was frightened to lift. No wonder the ladies son called it Aladdin’s Cave. I also knew I was very privileged and only my heritage had permitted me access to this very private collection which dated back beyond the last war into the 30’s. The day passed (far too) quickly as I tried to absorb as much as possible in my limited time. It did provide me with much ammunition for future articles. With deep gratitude to those wonderful souls, some no longer with us who fanned the flame. I know they are looking forward to the new season as much as I am. The aforementioned Wagtaffe-Simmons introducing his own work describing it as ‘a work of love and unbounding interest.’ I wouldn’t dream of being on the same level but I share the sentiment.
Then - Now - Forever
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Notes - 1 - I’ve included a list in ‘The Double - The Quest,’ due to be published shortly.
2 - From G. Wagstaffe Simmon’s 1947 history of the club.
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