Spurs: New Season, New Challenges

So yeah. It’s July, Spurs are back and Tottenham On My Mind emerges from the darkened, soundless room where it has been recovering from last season, blinking into the light then striding purposefully towards the sun.

Pre-seasons are all about my rituals. Shiny pics of shiny players at the training ground, mucking about around like puppies. Paying little attention to the new kit, less to ITK. Fixtures in the calendar and already I’ve offended someone by declining an invitation because it clashes with a home game. It’s tradition after all. A whinge about ticket prices and lack of action in the transfer market and my pre-season preparation is complete.

But dangnabit Muskie, they’ve only gone and kept the Wembley prices affordable AND got the use of the whole stadium. What in the world is going on? The announcement was clearly too much for several people on social media yesterday, who blasted away at the cost of £70 for the cheapest seat only to be gently reminded that this includes three matches, not one. Frankly I had to re-read it a couple of times too.

Ticket prices are the single biggest problem in modern football, preventing a generation of young fans from coming to matches regularly, ending football as a family entertainment as anything other than an annual treat and excluding older generations who can no longer afford it in these straitened times. They have fundamentally changed the nature of being a supporter. At a time when gold, frankincense and myrrh is easier to get hold of than a ticket for a league match, Spurs have made the elite competition accessible. More than that, it’s going to fun. Fill the Western end, reach up into the top tiers, make some noise and give our grandchildren stories to tell about glory glory nights at Wembley.

Unreserved congratulations to the club. Notorious for being aloof and unresponsive to fans, I fervently hope this move is part of a wider culture change. The constant badgering by supporters and the Trust in particular, not just in the last few months but over the past couple of years, appears to be sinking in. Respecting supporters is in their interests. It makes them money, fine by me if they look after us in the process. Big crowds make Spurs a big club. Bring in the fans, at Wembley and in the new ground, that will secure support for generations to come.

Plus, new players. Wanyama and Janssen, welcome. A DM and striker a year later than should have been the case but they look just right for us now. Motivated, ambitious, keen to play for Spurs and Pochettino.

In symbiosis with the team, Tottenham On My Mind ground to a halt at the end of last season. I was all spursed out. Without dwelling on the past, couple of things to get off my chest. I wrote about my hopes for the run-in. One, give it everything we had, right to the end. I was disappointed because we couldn’t. Finishing third is a magnificent achievement. I had more fun last season than for many a year. Forming a bond with this team who were as committed to the shirt as the supporters, will live in the memory as one of the highlights of 50 years of coming to White Hart Lane. Shame we faded away just a bit.

Remember though that this was only to be expected. It was the rest that was the surprise. Until then, Spurs over-achieved, gloriously. This was a relatively inexperienced side new to the pressures of the title run-in. They had been stretched physically, emotionally and creatively over a log season. The self-destructive actions of two key men, Alli and Dembele, was a body blow. Other sides lifted themselves to play against us, whereas teams playing Leicester and Arsenal rolled over and had their tummies tickled.

Two, I wanted our story to be heard. Sadly, it was drowned out by Leicester’s underdog derring-do. Sincerely, well played to them. I study part-time at Leicester University so know at first-hand how success in football takes over a whole town. I envy that.

However, every good plot needs a villain. Never mind the pure white of our shirts, in the eyes of football we took to the field shrouded in black, hissing and spitting, kicking sticks from under old ladies’ feet and snatching sweets from the mouths of children for good measure. Spurs fell away and the nation rejoiced.

Yet this wasn’t the story of my season. I saw a young team sprinkled with young players getting a chance denied their peers at other top clubs, English players who carried themselves well on and off the pitch, who wanted not celebrity but to play. My story was one of surprise at this unexpected progress, one of attacking fluent football, of taking the game to opponents, all from a club living within its means.

I’m disappointed this story was not the best-seller it deserved to be. Spurs represented the best of the current game. I thought this was what people wanted, apparently not. There are other narratives. How about two teams fighting against the odds for the league, different styles but with both having much to admire. Those players deserved more respect in the end.

It was all a bit too much at the end. I burnt up all my energies thinking about Spurs, the fans, the delight, the hatred from fans of other sides and perhaps worst of all, Spurs fans slaughtering the team for finishing third. This is the way I am. Gets worse as I get older. Tottenham always on my mind, no point in fighting back so I just roll with it.

There is another reason why I was all spursed out. Martin Cloake and I have completed A People’s History of Tottenham Hotspur, the first book-length history of Spurs support and supporters. This story has the fans at its heart, from the marshes to Europe, how N17 is the focus for loyalty and passion that extends across Britain and the world. It’s published by Pitch Publishing, due out (we think) in the next few months. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, Tottenham On My Mind will carry on as per. Same simple format, once or twice a week, just me. And you, in the superb comment section. Apologies for not getting back to you but as you can see, I have been busy. Sincere thanks for your contributions, I’ve read them all.

 

33 thoughts on “Spurs: New Season, New Challenges

  1. Good to see you back again, Alan. Agree with just about everything you’ve said. Let’s be optimistic and trust that our club can build on 2015-16’s achievements to greater heights in the coming months.

    All the very best to you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The finishing 3rd in 2 horse race rubbish is symptomatic of the culture really. We should have had far more plaudits! It’s hard not to feel envious/bitter about Leicester being a fairy tale when they played a fairly uninspired system that relied upon CB’s that should have been sent to jail and a hood up field,. Hey ho, we win on moral grounds! Haha,. Roll on next season and keep up the good work Poch!! And you Alan! 👍🏻

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    • Ta! I am trying not to be bitter. Leicester and their style I’m fine with, I do resent the fact that we became the villains when in fact we had a great story to tell, and also – stop me if this is rampant paranoia – upped their game against us and worked on tactics to beat us whereas no one really had a go at working Leicester out.

      Regards, Al

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  3. Welcome back Alan

    Great read as usual !!

    Can’t wait to be going to Wembley and will be interesting to see if we can fill the Stadium.

    Just passed the lane the other day and purposely went into me sisters road to see the corner of the stadium being pulled apart and must admit I was sad to see it in that state .
    Also rudulphs and the red house not being there is sad and strange as well 😦

    Keep up the good work Alan

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Glad to see you are back Alan,Im glad tobbe back two andnlooking forward to your articles and writing here.
    Good to See the man from the Risk board back too
    Hope the family is well.
    Looking forward to the season…Janssen top notch and Wanyama great to add to our mettle.One more would be good, an attackingnmid with some flair..I like Wijunrumdum and Boufal as the more direct than…ok no names…and also hope Pritchard comes through…
    To a good season..Cheers!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good to hear from you Ron, yes look forward to your comments for the coming season and all the best to you and yours too.

      Cheers, Alan

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  5. Glad to see you back. Mind you, had you written a piece on the last league game I’d not have read it until about half way through the Euros – only then did I get back on speaking terms with football. I can’t remember being as wrung out with stress as the end of a season.
    Here’s hoping last season was a dry run for this young team to win the title this season. I can’t wait to find out 🙂

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  6. Happy pre-season Alan and TOMM regulars. I’m (more or less) over the disappointment of the end of last season and can view the campaign very positively as a whole. Thus, we are coming off the back off a super season on the pitch and in the stands and the new signings and club’s pricing policy give us a more than fair chance of continuing in the same vein.

    July and pre-season often sends me scurrying to the first chapter of The Glory Game, which whets the appetite for a new season while allowing me to reminisce over the wonder of Spurs of yore.

    Great news on the book Alan, I’m very much looking forward to it. That two fine Spurs men and writers are behind the project ensures its authenticity and I’ll keep an eager eye on Pitch Publshing.

    Up the Spurs

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks my friend, good to hear from you. I’ll be cracking on about the book endlessly so no fears of missing it. I might ask the publishers nicely if they can offer something to TOMM readers, you never know.

      Take care, Al

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  7. As to the end of the season…at the end of the season I,like nearly everyone else, was upset at the crash but in the end it was about the plan. I personally didnt think we played great all season.I thought we had briliant patches and a few good or great games. The good thing is I could see what the outline of the plan was. I couldnt understand the system originally but as I saw more I started thinking this is the way to go.
    Watching Chile at the Copa made me really think this was great exciting new football as Chile plays Bielsas style and won the Copa with it

    Liked by 3 people

  8. welcome back alan. my own preseason ritual includes waiting for your sage words. thanks as always, onwards and upwards.

    ps. your comments about the fans savaging the team for finishing third reminds me of an ols csn song:

    “She has seen me changing
    It ain’t easy rearranging
    And it gets harder as you get older
    Farther away as you get closer”

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  9. What are you studying at Leicester, it can’t be the writing course, as you are without doubt the best ‘wordsmith’ I have had the pleasure of reading. I have to read your latest missive as soon as it comes onto the input screen and the wife asks me why I do that and I answer it always expresses my emotions just so much more eloquently than I can myself. Hopefully this 65 year old (watched Spurs mainly from a distance in the past thirty years) but a fully paid up fan before I got married will be able to get to Wembley, soon. Regards, Stephen

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    • That’s so kind Stephen, we are about the same vintage. Wembley is a real boost for fans at the start of the season. I was there on Saturday for a Supporters Direct event and it was amazing to gaze out onto the pitch and imagine it full of Spurs…hope you can get some tickets. I’m studying sociology, my thesis is on – Spurs fans…

      Regards, Alan

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      • Thanks Alan, did not expect a reply so soon. I have been trying to join the North-West spurs supporters club for the past six months and have not had any success. In fact they don’t even answer my e-mails. Do you have any information on how I could join a local club (I live in Fleetwood, Lancashire). Sorry if this question is not relevant to your excellent ‘blog’ but thought you might have some connections. Regards Stephen

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        • Spurs blog

          This screenshot is from the NW Spurs twitter page. Think I contacted them a while back, they said facebook is the best way to get in touch, but I’m not a member. Hope that helps.

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  10. Great to have you back Alan
    Have just returned from a fortnights holiday in Kefalonia and had to put up with some Manc telling the whole beach how great Mourmoaniho is (bet poor deluded fool didn’t say that at the start of last season) and how manure were definitely gonna win the league, so its nice to return to your voice of sanity. It’s a shame the voice is not a real indication of the man I know on the terracing though
    With regard to Wembley pricing, I hope this is an indication of the prices we may be asked to pay for our season tickets next year. At an average price of about £30 per match we’ll be quids in
    Happy days !!!

    Up the Spurs

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    • Writing helps me calm down Steve, you should know that by now 🙂

      Look forward to seeing you and the family next month. Don’t hold your breath about next season’s prices but you never know. Have a look at the supporters’ trust website for an update on that. Link to the right.

      Regards, Alan

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  11. Alan,
    Great to see you back, and in great “voice” per usual. You may not know it but reading your weekly blog is really a bright spot, regardless of the result on the field, such an absolute pleasure. Hopefully we can build on last year, minus the last month, praying there is no hangover , especially with a not so great Euros for most of the lads.
    Also looking to make another trip to North London this fall, I will work harder to meet up and share a pint.
    Thanks for your great work, looking forward to the collaboration with Martin, it will surely be a special read.
    Ed

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  12. I think Alan is the best writer on Tottenham out there and I enjoy his pieces enormously. However, I ended the season and await the new season in a far more negative frame of mind. Yes, we performed well, very well at times and for a period we were the best team in the league. That said, I fear we blew the best chance of winning the league in more than 50 years. The teams that have dominated the champions league places in the last few years were the weakest we have known but it was Leicester who took advantage of the opportunity and 2 points from the last twelve is, in any language, poor. Yes we beat United once and City twice but we couldn’t beat Liverpool, Chelsea or Arsenal. And of course we lost at home in the “League Cup” to Arsenal following one of the manager’s stranger selection decisions when he changed four of the back five. Overall, I am a fan of Poch but it still stings that he thought it was appropriate in the last week of the season ahead of a massively important game to have lunch with Ferguson. The latter is not only the director of one of our biggest rivals but it is hardly a secret that United were more than interested in his services. To then follow up the lunch by eulogising a man who has been injurious to Tottenham over many years and then saying coming above Arsenal was not important suggest he is not as close to the aspirations of the fans as we would like to believe. I hope that last season was a further step in the rise of the club but events at the end of last season make me nervous. I look forward to eating humble pie this time next year and admitting I was wrong to be negative!

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    • You’re right in pointing up the opportunities left open by the weakness of several other potential rivals and as I’ll say in my next piece, that won’t be the case this season. However, that came a season too early for our side. We weren’t quite ready to take advantage. Falling away was a real disappointment. Alli’s and Dembele’s suspensions really hurt us, both avoidable. But just as important were the draws not wins in the first third of the season. At the time those results showed our promise – shows how far and how quickly we progressed but making up that big gap at the death was too much of strain. If we had been level with Leicester with five games left, might have been a different story.

      Thanks for your thoughts Mark.

      Like

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