So – your first game at White Hart Lane. And we won!
We have been planning this for ages but we could not get a ticket. When I was younger, you could go with your family or friends whenever you wanted. Now we were not supposed to sit together but you sat on my lap for first half. You were very patient. In the second the man next to us did not come back so you sat in his seat. Wonder where he went? The game was not very good but it was not that bad.
Before the match we walked round some of the ground. We wanted to show you what it was like. I expect you thought it was just a busy road like the one where you live. It was noisy and dirty, wasn’t it? To us, it is special though. Our place, our ground. People have gone to see the Spurs for over 140 years in exactly the same place. Now you are doing the same. You are part of all that history. Imagine all the millions of people, wearing blue and white, looking forward to the football. You are really part of something, just like us. But you were really interested in walking on the lines between the paving stones.
Bobby Soldado scored the goal. At last! You have been practising his song, haven’t you. He is Spanish – we looked up where he came from on the map, remember? He hasn’t scored a goal for months and months, he waited for you to come to see him. I think you are a lucky charm for Spurs.
He cost a lot of money but he hasn’t scored many goals. This one was scored from close to the goal but it was very good. Townsend made a good run and passed to Adebayor. He was clever – he did not pass the ball very far but it is hard when you are close to goal, so many defenders trying to tackle you but he gave Soldado the ball. Did you see how he touched it once and the ball was right in front of him? It was just a shame that he did not do that more often. Him and the others really – they could not keep the ball close when they touched it.
Did you notice how quickly he touched it past the goalkeeper? The keeper went one way, Soldado put the ball the other side. Soldado made him do that. That’s clever, I liked that.
We are lucky where we sit, we can see the players close up. Did you notice, when the ball is not near him, he sometimes mutters to himself. I think he worries about not scoring and not doing his best for Spurs. Some players, they don’t seem to worry. Perhaps it is because they get paid so much money, they don’t really care what happens but he does. I was pleased he scored, he will feel better now and score more, I reckon. We need his goals because no one else looked like scoring. Adebayor is a good player but he was working so hard for the team, he was not in the penalty area as much as he should be. I think he should have stayed there more often.
That was a good run from Townsend and Lennon did some good runs too. When they started, they were our two wingers, one wide on the left, one on the right. That was exciting but, trouble is, they did not pass it to the right Spurs player. Over and over, they did the same thing and the ball was blocked or they were tackled. You would think they would learn after a while and change, but they didn’t.
That meant we had Paulinho and Dembele in the middle but they did not play very well. It was too easy for Cardiff to get the ball because they had more players in the middle. Paulinho comes from Brazil. The way he has been playing lately, I think he wants to get the next plane home. Luckily for us, Cardiff weren’t very good. Did you notice how often they gave the ball straight back to us or passed it into touch? Did you cheer? They were blaming each other and Bellamy was rude to the referee. He was booked but we thought he might be sent off. I reckon that’s because they are unhappy because they are not playing well with their new manager. He has not organised them well. It is bad for them, at the bottom of the league.
You enjoyed it when the players kicked the ball really high. It shines in the floodlights as it slowly spins. One time, we thought the goalkeeper was going to kick it out of the ground! When it hit one of their players on the head, we could hear it, it sounded really loud. We laughed! Those big kicks look good but let me tell you, Spurs should not have been doing that. We should be passing it along the ground, not doing a big boot up the field.
We could hear the Spurs manager shouting sometimes too. It was very quiet sometimes. When I was your age, well a bit older than you because my mum and dad would not let me go on my own and they worked on Saturdays so they could not take me, back then the crowd used to sing a lot more. You could not hear the managers shouting then. We sang some songs though.
We both wished Spurs had more shots. We should have scored more goals because we were the best team. At the end we were worried that although we were on top, Cardiff might equalise because we only scored one goal but in the end we were OK. It would be much better if we did not have to worry but with Spurs, it always seems to be like that. I wish I knew why. I wish they would change but they never do.
Dawson was our best player. He won all the headers and made some great tackles. We learned that defending is as important as scoring goals.
You really enjoyed the match but it was a shame that all the Spurs players often passed the ball to Cardiff or got tackled. The crowd were getting a bit angry towards the end. Why are they giving them the ball?! Why are they giving away corners and free-kicks when they know Cardiff are good at those? They hit the bar just after we scored. Phew! I was shouting at them too, towards the end. Sorry.
Afterwards we walked back with the Cardiff fans. They were singing some very rude songs about their chairman. Aunty Kirsty explained them to you. He changed the colour of their shirt from blue to red. You thought that was terrible. You noticed all the fans wore a blue shirt, not red. The Spurs fans sung that they should play in blue and the Cardiff fans clapped us.
It’s funny – you are only 9 but you know how stupid and wrong it is to change the shirt colour. You know more than the chairman. These things are very important because supporters understand the history of the club.
We have told you how much supporting Spurs means to us and now you are part of that too. It runs in the family. Jackie who took our photo, her dad and sisters and brothers sit next to us. They were late because they come all the way from Oxford. Arthur has been coming longer than me, since 1964. All his family are Spurs fans too. It was nice of him to have a chat at half-time.
Glad you enjoyed it but shall I tell you a secret? Spurs did not play very well. If we play like that next Saturday, Chelsea will score loads. But we won and you had a great time.
We told you our stories, all the things we have loved over the years from watching the game. How exciting it is, how it makes you feel special wearing the navy blue and white. I have been going for nearly 50 years and there is no feeling as good as when Spurs play well and win. About how good it feels when you celebrate with your family. You felt it too.
And in the end that’s what football is all about. I usually write about tactics and formations, or where we are in the league but that does not seem to matter today. We sat together in the ground and supported our team. We told you our stories and showed you round but actually, the best thing was that you taught us what really matters.
40 thoughts on “Dear Ellie”
Thank-you Alan, isn’t great taking grandchildren to their first game. Although sometimes I worry aboout all the angst we are inviting them to suffer.
I was back in UK for December, tried to get tickets but could not, asked my son to look out for some but he explained that he would be very busy with work during that time. Anyway spent Xmas day with a daughter and her family when I arrived she got me and her son to sit down and said my son Arthur had sent us a card each, we opened them at the same time and both found our tickets to the WBA game on boxing day, we had tears in our eyes and everyone was touched by our joint reaction. We travelled up to town the next day, from Devon, and yes we did the circular tour of WHL before kick- off then into Jacks Cafe for a cuppa then after to the B &H for a drink! A tradition started by my father, we met Jimmy Greaves in there after one game a highlight.
My Grandson is 15 and would love to go more regular to WHL however Devon is a long journey on his own + plus the costs, however he is planning to go to university in either London or Bristol, so maybe he will take me one day.
That’s right I am a sentimental old boy but Spurs do run family close in the affections of many! COYS TTID.
Ps Never thought of you as a grandad. Well done mate Worth havin children for! Hahaha
Oh yeah, old man me. or my kids had their children young 😉
This piece has been very well received and the reason is, it is has helped people tell their own stories. Nice to see you are carrying on the traditions of your own. Greavsy in the B&H eh? th eplayers all used to drink in there after the game. It nearly closed in the summer. Nothing like a warm can of lager standing in the cold before the match!
Superb, thank you. I took my son for his first game a good few years ago (Tottenham 0 Norwich 0). He’s lost interest now (music has taken over, though we do have family outings to see his Mum’s team Charlton occasionally, which is a good deal more affordable), and now his younger sister is starting to sound keen. All of the above, and also this – on the walk back to the train station, people were chatting to him (‘is this your first game?’ ‘are you upset they didn’t win?’ ‘sorry, they’re not very good sometimes’ and so on) and I saw then the sense of community and even tolerance the fans have (after all, if one important lesson is coping with disappointment, who more likely to have learned this than a Spurs fan?) and why I’m glad to be one, even if I hardly ever get to go. Not sure what I’m trying to say, just that I understand.
Saying you get it is the most important thing of all. I think some modern fans consume the game, I’m with those who feel it and that’s what Sunday meant to us, even if Ellie never goes again. Or she goes to Millwall, who her dad supports. Or to Charlton, my son in law’s family are season ticket holders. Feel the game. Football does this like nothing else. So much rubbish around in the media, on TV but your story, my story, that’s the real football.
Always like your comments about the game, but, this one, this was special. Thank you.
A Spurs fan living in Denmark, but dreaming of WHL. COYS!
Good man, we Spurs fans are always dreaming. Thanks for coming by, Alan
Haha, brilliant read Granddad Alan.
Good to see your grand daughter Ellie enjoyed her experience and seeing her 1st game was a win.
I remember taking my daughter Sophia when she was about 8 years old. We played Coventry with Jurgen in the team.
That day was a Wednesday I think, and a school day. We had a new Spurs top, hat, scarf and THFC pink coat waiting for her when she finished school.
I took that day off and picked her up from school, went home and showed her her new Spurs wear.
We told her to try out her new clothes, and she came down giggling with delight, and then said to her we are off to see the Spurs.. Well that was like a Christmas rolled into one for her, the kid could not stop that wide smile of hers.
We lost that day, but Sophia was not that upset as she was in awe of the atmosphere and the whole experience of being at Spurs with her mum and dad. The little mite even had the audacity to shout at Jurgen and tell him he was rubbish because he gave the ball away.. This while we were singing for him to stay.
We have Sophia’s wedding this year in July, and her fiancé Mikey is also a Spurs fan from Jersey.
I can’t wait to hopefully be a grandad and we take the grandchild to their 1st game with all the family, that will be bliss.
Totally enjoy your writing Alan, as always keep up the good work.
Terrific story – I love these stories of taking your kids, fmaily and Spurs. Means so much, doesn’t it?
Lovely piece Alan. Hope you’ve got Ellie hooked now.
Thanks Barry. Hope she feels it like we do. Not clear from the piece but my adult children sit either side of me on the Shelf, not far from where I stood man and boy for so many years. Means a lot and only football can do this. Remarkable capacity of the game to express and communicate love and family.
Superb story, very touching, drenched in Lilywhite…I remember as a nipper my dad (an inveterate ManU fan) taking me to Cardiff’s Ninian Park to see Wales vs England…dad and I met Greavsie outside the ground, got his autograph and photo with him, what a highlight. Inside, when 30,000 Welshmen sang Land of My Fathers, I got shivers up my spine, hair-raising. Can’t remember who won, probably England. Like your story, Alan, the stuff of dreams! — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kUnCwV3AYE
And those dreams are still mine, Ashley, as well as Ellie’s.
Gald you liked this one. Imagine getting photos outside Wembley or in Cardiff now!
Alan, we may not want photos with our so called Spurs mercenaries these days, even more so given the display today, another capitulation, the number and likes of which I’ve never seen (have you) in my years as a Spurs fan. Oh, for those days when Greavsie and then Ossie/Mabbs (later) gave me their autographs at Wembley. Benfica next! 😉
You’ve reminded me of the first game I took my younger son to – he would have been about seven. Everton at the Lane, and we were 3 up at half-time. It finished 3-3; he looked shell-shocked. That’s how it is, I told him – as Alan Hansen will say in years to come, “Tottenham always let you down.” It didn’t put him off football though; I saw the same look on his face when Germany beat us on penalties at Euro ’96, and a tear was shed.
Teaches you stuff, dunnit, being a Spurs supporter. Like, life’s one long transitional season…
Anyway, good stuff Alan, though back with the grown-ups next week, I hope.
Losing is so tough for kids these days, especially when a lot of their schoolmates will support Arsenal, Chelsea and Man U. Hard to keep them on the straight and narrow. School of hard knocks, Spurs.
I went to that game with my dad, I think it’s the same one. It was Lineker’s last game,1992? We were standing behind the goal (just before they phased out terraces) and not only did we lose a three goal lead, all six goals were down the other end.
A lovely article. Beautifully written. And a great picture too.
Ellie is very lucky to have you inducting her into the way of Spurs.
Lots if ups and downs ahead but we love this club and so will she.
Appreciate that Russell, thank you
Very poignant article. Coincidentally I had my own family story at the game on Sunday.
My dad used to go to White Hart Lane as a kid in the late 50s and 60s. He was spoilt as a kid with a double winning team. He says if you’d told him in 1961 that Spurs would still not have won another title by 2014, he wouldn’t have believed it. He didn’t realise how lucky he was. His heroes were Blanchflower, White, Greaves and Mackay. That’s why I support Spurs.
He’s not so mobile these days and hasn’t been to a game for a few years, but I managed to get tickets for him to come with me to the Cardiff game. It probably didn’t live up to his memories but at least we won.
Great story – so many Spurs families out there, whereas my parents were not interested in football in the slightest.
Look foward to reading that one on your blog. Cheers, Alan
Many thanks for a lovely story, Alan, and I hope Ellie enjoys being a Spurs fan (although I’m not sure that the terms “enjoyment” and “Spurs fan” are natural bedfellows!)
There’s something amazing about our club that attracts you and then holds you tightly for the rest of your life. I was an under-10 fan of Falkirk in the late 1950s and I was privileged to see John White play for Falkirk on several occasions. Even at my early age, I could see that he was a tremendously talented player and I was devastated to learn that he was being transferred to Tottenham Hotspur. Being determined to follow John’s footballing career, I took a keen interest in his new club. And what a time to start following Tottenham! Glory, Glory Days, with John playing a large part in the team’s triumphs. But it wasn’t just the success that enthralled me, it was the way that Tottenham Hotspur played football, a skilful, flowing type of football that no other team could emulate, football played the Tottenham way.
John White, a wonderful player in a wonderful team, was tragically killed by lightning only a few years later, but even today his name is still spoken with reverence by Spurs fans. And he was just one of many great footballers who have played for this distinctive and special club. Distinctive because no other club even comes close to having our identity and style, and special because being a Spurs fan is being part of a massive family: you may not know them all, but you know that both you and they are sharing the same feelings of the depths of despair and the heights of elation that Spurs fans, and only Spurs fans, can experience. It’s not easy following Spurs but, whether complaining or celebrating, we love our club. I’ve long since stopped supporting Falkirk, but I’ll ALWAYS support Tottenham Hotspur.
Come on you Spurs!!!
Tottenham till I die!!!
This is why writing is such a pleasure. You get to hear stories like this. Talent-spotting the great John White! I never had the luck to see John play but his son is a good friend of Tottenham On My Mind, he will be delighted that John is remembered by you with such affection. I hope you have read his book the Ghost of White Hart Lane, search for a review on here if not.
As of late I have been asking myself why I bother to follow spurs…..
This article and all of the replies has reminded me what I love about the club. At the end of the day it isn’t the board or the players, it is the fans and although not many like us, I like us and that is plenty for me to stop questioning myself.
The ultimate compliment, thank you.
That has been one of my recent themes, how distant we can become. Many are disillusioned. I have banged on about it at length but this piece says the same thing, just in a different way. We are Tottenham.
Glad it meant something to you.
Lovely experience, Alan. I only wish mine, with my 10 year old daughter (she’s 20 now), had been as nice. Her one and only time at the Lane. Paid £80 for the tickets and went to see Spurs play bottom of the table Sunderland, and we won 3-2 (Mido and Keane scored, I recall). The nastiest sort of lowlife was sitting directly behind us ..ear-ringed, 40ish, ‘dyed?’ black hair and ruddy snarling features. Every opportunity to use the c word loudly (as well as other choice profanities) was taken ..aimed at either the opponents or the referee. Other parents/grandparents with children were in the same vicinity as me. They often looked down in shame that a human being could display such completely unnecessary vitriol in front of children at a sporting occasion, but they never looked around. I often did tho’, and my daughter (bless her heart) embarrassingly kept saying ‘it doesn’t matter daddy’. But it did matter! The thug never looked at me once, although he knew I was staring at him. I’m no hero or fighter, and wouldn’t have provoked a scene anyway, especially with my daughter sitting next to me. But she was the reason why I also had the feeling of wanting to kill this piece of garbage! Other hardened types behind me looked at me with embarrassment and even sympathy, as though to say ‘we hear you, and even WE wouldn’t let kids hear language like that from us’ but this guy just carried on his filthy tirade throughout as though he were some teenage boy standing in the Park Lane End with his mates in the 1960s and 70s, with Arsenal or Chelsea as our opponents ..and their fans separated from ours by only a police barrier! Where were the stewards to eject this amoral piece of scum? Nowhere. We eliminated violence from grounds, and we correctly concentrate now on eliminating racism and homophobia, but why can’t we eliminate disgusting language from mindless middle aged thugs in places where families are seated? No wonder small school kids (of course we swore too, but hardly ever in front of adults, and especially parents with small children) now no longer care who they swear in front of anymore.
Sorry if I still sound very bitter about it. I just wanted my young daughter’s first trip to the Lane to be like mine ..when, at Easter 1964, age 11, and because I couldn’t see much, I was parted from my dad and lifted above the heads of the friendly crowd to the front. We lost to Liverpool 3-1 that day, but the magic overrode the result, and my love affair with Tottenham had begun.
I guess I just wanted that bit of uninterrupted magic for her too.
I’m sorry to hear of your story Chris, I hope you get to take any grandchildren that come your wayand have a better time!
So sorry Chris. Sounds awful. Such a shame you had to sit there. Wonder what your daughter remembers most – him, the result or maybe that dad was caring about her?
What a great post ! im hoping to take my 13 year old daughter soon .. we had the pleasure of visiting the NYC Spurs for the Arsenal game, we lost but she has been hooked ever since, I went to the Dnioro game last week and loved every second, its a special place and your so right, the history the passion just grabs you .. we should all remember the good things more !
and lets all hope this is the start of great things for Soldaldo COYS
Dnipro was so Spursy – chuck it away then the comeback, then nearly throw it away all over again!
Pleased you enjoyed this and that Spurs is now in the blood.
Excellent post. Shared via Twitter & Facebook
Appreciate that Paul, you’re a good man! Alan
I have 2 year old triplet grandsons and this has reminded me how much I am looking forward to going with them and their dad to their first game at WHL. My wife, son and I were season ticket holders up until 2009, but a combination of cost, distance and ill-health drove us away from regular attendance. I miss it like mad still. Can anyone explain that feeling as you walk up the steps (we were in Block 27 on the Shelf – what’s left of it) and see the pitch? Always seems especially poignant at the start of a season or at midweek games with the floodlights on.
Better start saving my pennies.
We’re in block 28 and I know just what you mean. Every time you trot up those stairs and see the green, just like the first time all over again.
Hope the ill-health is not doing too much harm to you and your family. Triplets eh? Start saving…
All the best, Alan
Lovely stuff, Alan. Reading your thoughts is always a pleasure especially when describing a new member of the family making her first appearance. Have you by any chance taken the precaution of introducing her to the phrase ‘false dawn’?
Think she will find out about that all on her own in the not too distant future…good to hear from you my man, hope all good with you.
All the best, Alan
Beautifully written, thank you for reminding us what be a supporter really means, it is a legacy isn’t it. The ability to share something sacred with someone you love, religious in a way. I think the entire day, the process, walking to the Lane, the smells, the vendors .. it all matters and to share that is priceless, passing it on like a last name, there is nothing better. We can only hope a little bit rubs off, and hope they don’t take the hook completely, as a Spurs fan we know what that can mean, running to the edge and mostly falling off, but the dash and excitement make it so worthwhile. I think we could all benefit to look at it as a child again, it would be so much easier, so much simpler and so much happier.
Thanks again for your work, it is a pleasure to read.
COYS lets do something wonderful at the Bridge.
Thanks for this, sounds like it meant exactly the same to yo as it does to me. It’s is about everything – the sights, smells, being part of an adult world when you are a kid. I don’t think my attitude in that respect has changed very much since I was a child, whihc helps sustain the passion and committment. And some things that aren’t so good, I know they are there but they are outweighed by all the years of being there.
Hello Alan, This is such a great article. Really striking too, as I have recently published an article of my own on my blog which is about my nephew and I, Spurs and football, and your writing here resonates with so many of the things I was talking about… I’m so pleased that I have discovered this site, as your articles really cut to the core of what being a Spurs fan feels like.
I’ll definitely be back for more quality Spurs related writing. Thank you.
Very generous of you, Anthony. I’m pleased I did justice to our feelings on the day and glad it resonated.
Look forward to seeing you here again and I’ll check your blog soon.
Thanks Alan. I definitely will return, especially as you captured the Chelsea game so well. I also keep thinking back to your analysis of the Norwich game. Theatre of the Absurd indeed…. Right on the money.