Flood Damage

Christmas is the season of goodwill and I for one got to know my neighbours better this year. Popping into their houses, the presents round the tree, excited bright-eyed children, deciding whether or not to evacuate. Tis the season to be jolly and in our case, you had to laugh or else you’d cry. Come to think of it, just the crying bit really.

I spent Christmas Eve and early Christmas morning alternating between taking as many of our possessions as possible upstairs and watching the floodwater creep towards the house. Late afternoon, as my neighbour and I paddled in our flowerbeds, we confidently reassured ourselves that it could not possibly rise another two feet and come into our houses. Could it? It’s not as if we live especially close to the river.

By 2am as it lapped over the top step, I was less sure. There’s nothing you can do to stop the water getting in. People rush to get sandbags but unless you are the Royal Engineers, all you get are wet sandbags to move out the way later as you bail out your front room.

In the end, the top step is where it stayed. No damage to the house. We were luckier than many others and Spurs blog 106grateful for that. The garden and the summerhouse were completely submerged under a few of feet of water – see below TOMM Exclusive Pictures! Unfortunately most of my Spurs books were submerged too and need replacing, a blow but they are insured and easily replaceable these days via ebay and Abebooks.

Boxing Day morning I went to clean it up, took one look and did what any self-respecting householder would do: closed the door immediately and went to the Lane. It was only the following day that I realised what else had been ruined – my entire collection of Spurs programmes. Snug and warm for many years in the loft, just a few weeks ago in a sudden and uncharacteristic burst of organisation, I shifted them into the summerhouse so all the football stuff was in one place. I hope my nearest and dearest recognise that my future untidiness isn’t a sign of lazy neglect but has a clear and distinct purpose to avoid all possibility of future disasters.

It’s hit me hard. Sure, I can retain perspective on all this. To repeat, we were lucky not to lose anything else or experience the months of disruption and misery that is the drying out period following a flood. My wife’s cousin lives in Boscastle and it took them over a year to get back to normal, having made a frantic dash up the hill to save themselves as the deluge swamped a town never mind a glorified garden shed.

I am simply being honest in saying I am very sad. I’ve lost my collection but I’m not a collector. Apart from a few exceptions, I went to every one of those games and brought back a programme. They are not in pristine condition although I’ve looked after them carefully, lovingly even. They are creased and tattered from being shoved in a pocket or down my trousers, the safest place because in the crush on the Shelf or at Wembley they could easily fall out and be lost. These are my memories and I wanted to keep them safe.

With time and effort I can probably buy replacements but it won’t be the same. I didn’t pay for them at the ground, usually outside the Red Lion pub on the corner of the High Road and Lansdowne Avenue, for many years the first place on the route from Seven Sisters to the ground where programmes were on sale. As a kid I wanted to get hold of one as soon as I could, feel the smoothness of the glossy paper, anticipate the pictures of my heroes inside, the secret, special information you got only from being there to get a programme. Nearly there, five minutes more and I would see the stands, inside in 10 or 15, longer if it was a big game, and onto the Shelf. I held my programme and I was a Spurs fan.

Spurs blog 10866-67, Sheffield United. The score is written in childish ballpoint, it reduces the value for the collector but it’s my first game, so priceless. Late 60s, a photo of Jimmy Greaves (they always had photos of the goals in those days) sliding the ball past the Newcastle keeper, as nonchalantly as if playing with his kids in the park yet he’d weaved from the halfway line through half their team. My favourite player scoring my favourite goal, signed many years later by the man himself when I was lucky enough to interview him for ten precious minutes.

November 1970, away to Chelsea, the programme already ruined because it was soaked despite being deep inside my dad’s pocket. He’d taken me to my first away game. He always worked on Saturdays, not the slightest bit interested in football yet for some reason he took this afternoon off and my mum worked an extra day in our little sweet shop, just to take his football-mad only son to a game. It rained torrentially for three hours (of course I had to get there early) and we stood unprotected on the open terrace at the away end. Soaked like the programme, which I carefully dried out and kept even though the pages were stuck together and unreadable, but who cares – two nil, Mullery late volley and dad. It won’t dry out a second time.

UEFA Cups, the Ardiles testimonial and Diego Maradona in a Spurs shirt, Feyenoord with Guillit and Cryuff taken apart in the best 45 minutes I’ve ever seen from us. Under water. The 81 replay, a few quid on ebay but not with my ticket stub, not in my section behind the goal, leaning over screaming at Ricky to shoot, but he didn’t, he didn’t. I saw it clip Corrigan’s body as it rolled towards me but not Villa’s celebratory dash into the arms of grateful astonished team-mates, because I was in heaven.

91 and the semifinal, on the halfway line at Wembley, for one crazy day the authorities saw sense and made the best seats in the house the family enclosure, that will NEVER happen again, on tiptoe with my late son as the bloke behind me screamed at Gazza not to shoot because he’ll never score from there. Andy and I will never be able to reminisce about that moment together but I have something to remind me. Had something.

And most of all, the midtable, the mediocre, the mundane and the meaningless. The seventies, eighties and Spurs blog 107nineties, Division 2, all kept with the same care as the glory glory nights, organised by season, flat in cardboard boxes that have followed me through relationships, marriages and housemoves. They all meant the same to me, because I was there, I was watching the Spurs.

I can’t remember exactly when I stopped, some time in the late nineties when ticket prices were going up and up, the programme was £2.50 or £3 and told you nothing of any value whatsoever. The programme used to be a valuable source of information – by being there, you knew things lost to the stay-at-homes and the MOTD watchers. The tone was parochial and patrician, like a old-fashioned headteacher talking down to his pupils, but it felt like there was a connection between club and supporter.

Now the programme is glossy, well-produced and meaningless, another over-priced symbol of the distance between us. It’s slick PR for all the ways they can take our money. I’ve written several times about how the contemporary Premier League increasingly alienates clubs’ core support. Extortionate ticket prices, no involvement or influence, supporters treated as background extras by television companies intent on making their cash from those who stay at home, changing kick-off times, owners changing strips and names on a whim.

As we enter another year, the alienation hangs over the game like a pall of glutinous smog. We try to resist but it seeps into every fibre of our lungs, through every pore. At Spurs, it’s there waiting to overflow. Like the river that burst its banks, most of the time the currents flow undisturbed but occasionally something happens to force an unstoppable torrent through the most resistant of barriers and flood defences. Once out in the open, it’s impossible to put things back the way they were.

Regardless of the merits of Villas-Boas’s sacking and Sherwood’s appointment, the anger at the way we have been treated, the missed opportunities, the directionless management of the chair, the money we pay, has sliced through the thin veneer of acquiescence. There is booing, abuse, fury sometimes. Tottenham can’t carry on like this.

For me, one Act of God over which I had no control has destroyed one part of a lifetime of supporting Spurs. I still have the memories. For this New Year, more than anything else, I wish that the little boy who sits two rows in front of me, who laughed and sang in his father’s arms when we scored our third on Sunday, who loves every second of being part of the crowd, will look back with pride and fondness on his memories when he reaches my age. Other kids his age won’t because their families are forced away by scandalous prices. There’s a real danger the game itself is hell-bent on permanently ruining the unique, glorious, passion of supporting Tottenham Hotspur or any other club for that matter. Despite everything, they can never take the memories away.

Sincere thanks to everyone who has read Tottenham On My Mind this year, especially those who take the time to make the comments section so fascinating and insightful. You have no idea how much I appreciate it. A happy and peaceful New Year to each and every one of you.

48 thoughts on “Flood Damage

  1. As you said, Alan, you still have the actual memories. The rest is just paper, soggy paper now.
    Hopefully, one day, all the BS that has enveloped top flight football over the SKY era will go away once the cash cows are milked dry or have wisened up and the game can go back to being solely sport/entertainment rather than business. As Spurs fans, we always hope.

    Have a great new year and keep up the good work. Best blog by a mile.

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  2. Really sorry to hear Alan. I made a decision to stop buying programmes and get rid of most of my programmes a few years ago but at least I made that choice. I went through a similar process of thinking about football was and what it now is. I’m missing quite a few Spurs matches for various reasons at the moment and whilst, in some ways, I’m glad to take a break from the constant melodrama that is Spurs, I’ve missed it more than I could have imagined. I think, for me, it’s been the constancy of going when there’s been so little in other areas of my life.
    Thanks for all the wonderful writing in 2013 and it was great to meet you in person earlier in the year.

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    • Good to meet you too, Pete, and thanks for your regular comments this year, look forward to more.

      I feel very much the same way about the club – we know it’s not logical or indeed not quite the same as it used to be, but when we are absent, we feel the loss. And as I have written before, it is my only consistent thread from childhood to now, so precious and I won’t give it up.

      Regards, Alan

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  3. I’m very sorry to hear that your home (and Spurs progs) and your friends’ and neighbours’ homes were damaged Alan. As a hoarder of Spurs scrapbooks compiled as a kid, Spurs programmes, handbooks etc etc I can understand where you are coming from.

    I haven’t been to the Lane for 11 years now (so, before I moved abroad), and for some years before that I had been reduced to a 2-3 Spurs games a season, if lucky. I’m not against all modern football. I’m glad the dilapidated and dangerous trap grounds were spruced up/remodelled and that violence has mostly disappeared from grounds, and I’m pleased we’ve had more teams and players to be proud of in more recent seasons, but all-seater stadia, high ticket prices and Sky (and our too small ground capacity) did for me a long time ago.

    Alan, Alan, Born is the King of Spurs Writers.

    Happy New Year to you and your family Alan and thank you so much for TOMM.

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  4. Have a good new year, Alan. Sorry to hear of the programmes, but you’re right about the memories being far better.
    I occasionally clamber into the loft and look at my 60s progs, and remember the games (incidents/goals) from them to some extent, but it’s rare of me to bother. I’ll more often than not simply remember such things from nowhere.
    And you’re right about the game drifting further and further away from the joyous fan. I saw Spurs on pocket money when I was young. On Sunday (v Stoke) I went with my 23 year old daughter and her boyfriend, and the whole day, including tickets, travel and over-priced drinks and hot dogs in the ground, cost us nearly £200. Absurd.

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    • The cost is prohibitive for so many people. It’s the thing that annoys me most.

      Make sure that loft is properly waterproof…;)

      Happy New Year to you and your family, thanks for your detailed regular comments, the comments make the blog unique.

      Regards,

      Alan

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  5. Happy New Year Alan. Best wishes for 2014 and thanks for another great year of TOMM.
    Commiserations, that really sucks. A year or so ago, I thought I’d lost the photo of me (then a hirsute 21 year old) holding the FA Cup, taken at the Renault Showroom in Hendon, a few weeks after we’d beaten City in the ’81 Final, and I was distraught. Notebooks, letters, photos, family heirlooms, memorabilia etc. These are the things that remain when we are long gone. Fortunately, it turned up recently and I was elated.
    Let’s hope it’s written in the New Year stars that we come away with three points at OT tomorrow.

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  6. Hi Alan Thanks for all you communicate, sorry about the progs. I too rarely get to the Lane living in California, however this xmas imagine my son got tickets for him, me and his nephew for the WBA game.
    the family said that we both looked absolutely amazed as we opened our own envelope at the same time and saw the tickets. I had eyes full of tears, I drove my grand-son up to London from Devon and picked up my son, despite the awful performance by us, it is a memory I will hold till… As for the Programme, yes I have it but your right full of corporate tittle tattle. It will be kept but thats just habit. go to a game get the programme

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  7. Hi Alan, I’m really sorry to hear about your material misfortune. With regard to THFC and the game itself, I long ago gave up the idea or the need to give my view on the subject. You write exactly as I feel. All the best for 2014 to you.

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    • Thanks for dropping by, Gary, pleased to hear from you. Are you going this season? Know you were thinking about a pause. Maybe we can catch up soon, would like that.

      Regards to you and the children, Alan

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  8. Having just joined the 20th century I can now comment (contribute?) On my beloved spurs. As a Tottenham boy born and bred (in park lane where the sky trucks now park) I can also lament the passing of the good old days. Great article. Happy new year to all us yids coys!

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  9. Thanks for your wonderful writings.
    I live in Australia and have been a Spurs fan for many years up in the early hours to watch games.
    Like all of you we have great memories and heaps of frustrations.
    Have a great 2014 everyone and we can start with a win at Man U !!!!!!
    Chin up Alan after your water problems.
    COYS

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  10. Such a sorry tale of woe, you have my sympathy. Yes, the game has become decadent and the death knells for football have been ringing out loud and clear for a long time. I used to stand in the shelf pre-decadence and they were halcyon days, I have though become disillusioned with the game that is driven by greed; but still retain a strong passion for the club and that will never wain. I wish you a very happy new year and complete success in your search for replacements. COYS

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    • The woe is more what’s happening to the relationship between the club and the supporters than my soggy programmes. Shame it alienates so many people but as you say, it never wanes.

      Happy New Year,

      Alan

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  11. Just want to say thanks for a great blog. Yours is the only blog I look forward to reading after a game. It has even made me cry on occasion. Keep up the good work. I am a season ticket holder and always buy a programme but sometimes wonder why but I guess it’s tradition and something to read on the way home. Happy new year to everyone and up the spurs!

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    • Thank you kindly Darren, appreciate your warm feelings for the blog. Hope I don’t make you cry too often but I do try and put a little of the emotion I feel for the club into some of the pieces, unashamedly because that’s how I feel about it and the PL, TV, the board, the money all conspire to suck the feeling out of the game. It’s left to the fans to keep the flame burning.

      You know, when I stopped buying a programme, I had to make a real effort and I felt guilty for at least a season.

      HNY to you. I sit in block 28 so if you are shelfside too, say hallo.

      Alan

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      • Hi Alan

        The blog that made me cry was the one you wrote about at the end of last season regarding avb and bale. The part when avb was walking round the pitch with his daughter.That was brilliant. It seems a world away now and I’m glad avb left.

        I sit in block E and have a gold membership. I reckon it’s probably one of the dearest tickets in world football but it’s a good group of people and I have made many friends even if the football (this season) could make paint dry!

        Yesterday was brilliant and dare we dream for sat!

        Keep up the good work mate and happy new year

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  12. Alan ,Sorry to hear about the damage and loss. Nothing can take away the memories though. We had a flood here at our property in Bowral, NSW last January. Like you the water lapped the threshold but came no further. I’ve been a spurs supporter for nigh on 50 years. Always following from afar except when I lived in London ( Archway I think it was ) in the mid 70’s for six months. Went to every home game , not one win and the most boring football. Yet here I am still an avid fan.
    Thanks Alan for the great blog. I love reading your informed comments and seeing whether your thoughts coincide with mine after watching the games. You miss so much seeing it on tv.
    I can’t help feeling that although we have very good players , none of them are world class. But that should not matter if they can gel as a team. I have my fingers crossed.
    Happy new year to all my new spurs friends.

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    • Cheers Ian – think you have shared your unenviable record of seen x won 0 before and I sympathised but that is the mark of a true fan – 50 years a supporter and never seen them win!

      TV misses some things, it is true, and I would never swap my seat for the armchair if I had the choice, but these days the cameras pick up so much. I doubt my own eyes these days, the game is so fast.

      Delighted you enjoy the blog, a very happy new year to you.

      Regards, Alan

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  13. Must be heartbreaking for you Alan – I guess you could take solace in the fact that you are providing a really superb analysis/technical opinion for so many supporters, who rely on you and patiently wait for each great piece that you send our way.

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    • Phew thanks. Too kind. I try not to be too technical – shoot me if I start talking about heatmaps – and if it’s stats you’re after, look elsewhere. But I do like to understand what’s going on if I can. Would love to sit next to one of the coaches for 90 minutes and hear their analysis.

      Happy new year to you.

      Regards, Alan

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  14. Sorry to hear about your Spurs things. If it happened to me I would definitely replace the Complete Record book, for when my memory fails me. As to programmes, the covers are mainly available on the Spurs Collectables or Tottenham Programmes sites. Spurs Collectables is particularly good. That 1966-67 programme is there.
    Always interested to know people’s first games. Mine was West Ham at home 4-4 in December 1962. Dave Mackay 3 goals !

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      • Alan – Spurs Collectables doesn’t sell programmes – just has all the covers available to view – so you don’t actually need to replace the programmes, unless you really want to read inside them again !!

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  15. Sorry about the flood but most of all thanks for the blog. A regular read for me even though I don’t post. Looking forward to your 2014 blogging. Come on Tim!!!! COYS!!!!!!

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  16. Alan, beating Man U at There home will make you feel great after your water damage.
    Up at 4am in Australia to watch those mighty Spurs. COYS

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  17. Happy New Year Alan. I’m sorry to read about the loss of your programmes. You must be very upset. As others have written, you do still have the memories. As for your son, who you so movingly wrote about, so long as someone exists in your mind then they still exist.

    This is the best Spurs blog by a country mile and the one I always turn to first. Thanks for doing all this work for the Spurs community. This is a stand-out piece. And spot on, as usual. I’ve never known the Spurs fans so divided and angry with each other. It seemed to start around the time of Harry Redknapp’s tenure. At the Liverpool home game I saw Spurs fans in the Park Lane end fighting with each other, being separated by stewards. You have outlined the reasons for the anger very clearly.

    Hopefully the result at Old Trafford will have brought a smile to your face. I’ve just about managed to peel myself off the ceiling. A big-hearted performance from a Spurs team, which is just what we needed. The same again on Sunday, please. We rode our luck a little with the refereeing decisions, but so many have gone against us up there during the Fergie years we are due some payback.

    I’ve no idea whether Tim Sherwood is the man for the job but it feels like fun again so I’ll enjoy it until the next crisis envelops us.

    All the best for 2014 and beyond.

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    • Russell, that is so generous. This is an old-fashioned blog from an old fashioned fan. If you and others turn to it regularly, it’s a real tribute and keeps me going.

      Someone else told me about that fight. As I’ve said a few times, the way fans are treated here means patience wears thin and many are waiting for an excuse to let loose. Messagebaords and twitter don’t need any excuse, they just argue.

      Happy new year,

      Alan

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  18. Hi Alan, a Happy New Year to you and your family.

    Sad to hear about your flooding damage, I hope you can replace some of the older programmes that meant the most to you.

    As for our club’s on and off the pitch activities, in 2013 our Spurs continued to surprise, excite and infuriate us in equal measure.

    I’m not expecting 2014 to be any different in that respect!

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    • Simon, good to hear from you. Thanks for your good wishes – chucked them all out yesterday when the insurance people came round, one sodden, dripping lump.

      You have described our Spurs exactly and would we have it any other way? No choice really….!

      Happy New Year!

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  19. Sorry about this Alan.Im sure it was painful.I had a book called Spurs Supreme.It was a book of newspeper reports of the 1960-61 season. I loaned it to the owner of a company I worked for and never got it back.I was walking along Tottenham High Road and saw a seller of old Tottenham items one trip I was back to England and saw he had one and I bought it.I love that book.It wasnt the one I had but thats ok. It really is about the memories and the feelings of the actual experiences.
    You can see so much more onlone these days of years gone by. For me I even look at British Pathe and see wonderful old Pathe clips of the 60’s.
    The best tonic Alan is us doing well this year.
    All the best to you and your family and your eloquent articles!!!!

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    • Happy new year Ron, hope you can continue to join us in 2014 and glad you enjoy the blog.

      I must have another look at that Pathe archive – fabulously nostalgic, isn’t it?

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  20. Pingback: Heartwarming Tales Of The True Meaning Of Being A Spur Lift The Gloom | TOTTENHAM ON MY MIND

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