In Appreciation Of Milija Aleksic

Former Spurs goalkeeper Milija Aleksic died yesterday aged 61. Most players who appeared only 32 times in three seasons would be a mere footnote in the club’s illustrious history. However, Aleksic played in the side that won the F.A. Cup in 1981, one of the most memorable matches in modern times and a victory that shaped the passion and dedication of two generations of Tottenham fans.

In the late 70s, Spurs were having problems with their keepers. When the incomparable Pat Jennings was allowed to leave in 1977, we looked forward with optimism to a new era as two promising Spurs youngsters, Barry Daines and Mark Kendall, took on his mantle. However, it gradually became clear that Jennings’ departure was severely premature. The man who never wanted to leave played over 200 games for Arsenal while Daines and Kendall failed to fulfil their potential, except perhaps in their ability to put on weight. These days it is the accepted wisdom that goalkeepers mature well into their thirties as the admirable Friedel has demonstrated and in a small way Spurs played a part in this culture change, learning from the Jennings debacle by rejuvenating Ray Clemence’s career after he left Liverpool similarly early.

Despite the pressing need to solve the uncertainly at the back, with all due respect Aleksic’s arrival was greeted with bemusement rather than delight. Coming from Luton for £100,000, he had a low profile and his role wasn’t clear. It felt like we’d signed a back-up keeper when we needed a genuine challenger for the first team. He made his debut against Altrincham in the 3rd round of the Cup, winning a replay 3-0 after we had nearly lost to the non-leaguers in the first game. However, Kendall regained his place and for the next couple of seasons Aleksic was seldom first choice. His rare opportunities for a run in the side were further hampered by two incidents when he had come back into the team only to be carried off, once against Norwich when Roberts went in goal and another against Manchester United when Joe Jordan broke his jaw, Hoddle taking the green jersey.

Then luck turned his way. In March 1981 Daines was injured and Aleksic took his chance. His one decent spell at Spurs helped us win the Cup. Daines was fit again but became the forgotten man of the 81 squad as Aleksic kept his place.

He was better on his line making saves than coming off it but of course with Roberts and Miller in front of him, many of the crosses were dealt with. He will be remembered as part of the team that won the Cup in one of the most famous post-war finals, but also that side’s legacy is still influencing the club to this day. After years in the doldrums, we had won something. In the process, the boys of 81 banished painful memories of failure, including relegation, where midtable mediocrity became something to be grateful for.

That side played the Tottenham way with flair and panache from Ardiles, Villa, Crooks and Archibald laid upon a foundation of dedication and grit in the shape of Perryman and Roberts. Those who grew up with that team will be Spurs for life, as will their children because the tales will be told and the memories handed down through the generations. This is Spurs, this is the way to play the game, and Milija Aleksic will forever be a part of that. My thoughts are with his family.


The Spurs Miscellany by Adam Powley and Martin Cloake

Miscellanies are fun to dip in and out of, especially if like me you have an increasingly short attention span. In the hands of Cloake and Powley, as safe as Pat Jennings on crosses, it becomes something more. Their names are synonymous with quality and passion for all matters Spurs and their insight into what it means to be a Spurs fan comes through in their selection. A mixture of the serious and quirky, this becomes much more than a series of lists and anecdotes that any hack could cut and paste. It’s more a history of the club with the dull bits left out.

You can either read it cover to cover, beginning with the forward from Ossie Ardiles, or turn to any page where something will catch the eye. Being a Spurs fan, it’s appropriate that I opened it at the list of our heaviest defeats. So much to choose from, yet the authors know their Spurs. There’s a story about John Pratt that  I won’t spoil by telling you, but it is not only funny in itself but perfectly sums up the career of this put-upon stalwart.

Be warned – it’s extremely addictive. You just have to turn the page, just one more… I should have finished that report on the train, I know, but I didn’t know that the famous Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman not only used to play for Spurs, he took to the field in yellow boots. There’s nothing new under the sun.

Many of the stories, such as the Gunners’ move to north London, are familiar but they don’t dim in the re-telling. There are stats galore and biographies of our greats but personally I really wanted to know that Spurs have blue and white traffic cones.

This updated version is unreservedly recommended and Christmas is coming…

Those lovely people at publishers Vision Sports have given me a copy to give away. Blogs like this one owe a huge debt to fanzines. What was the name of the first Tottenham Hotspur fanzine? Answers to: Closing date Wednesday 24th October.


Summer Reading For Spurs Fans. A Harry-Free Zone

Two e-books worthy of your consideration. And look, we’re all busy people, credit crunch and all, so what can I say – they’re cheap. Very good, mind. Have a look.

Arthur Rowe – a Neglected Spurs Legend Whose Legacy Lives On

We become Spurs fans via a variety of routes. Local team maybe or, more likely these days, your dad was once a local. Dad’s a fan so you are. Or your dad’s a gunner and you want to do everything possible to not be like him because that’s what kids do. One trip with your mates and you were hooked or one great game on the box. Perhaps you were struck by the name. Whatever the reason, you quickly learn one fundamental thing about the team that becomes an indelible part of your life and soul. Tottenham Hotspur strive to play good football. Sure we want too much, yep, seldom really comes off, although with many notable exceptions in this season past, but that’s Spurs. Get it down on the floor and pass it.

This defining characteristic is the lasting legacy of one man, Arthur Rowe, who was first a player before the war and then afterwards took over as manager, taking Spurs from the second division to the league title in two seasons. Spurs remain the last of only three teams ever to have won the second division and then the first in successive seasons, a feat that is highly unlikely ever to be repeated. [edit: my thanks to a regular commenter – Ipswich were another team to achieve this, my fault for not checking, certainly not the authors].

In an age where everything has to be in the here and now, where players receive giant loyalty bonuses for staying put for a single season and Sky deny that football existed before the Premier League, Rowe has been consigned to the sidings of history. Spurs author Martin Cloake rights this injustice in this succinct and fascinating e-book, the third in a series he and his co-author Adam Powley created with the aim of writing punchy and accessible profiles of Tottenham players.

Rowe was born in Tottenham in 1906 and played for the club straight from school. These days there’s much debate about the pros and cons of reserve sides versus loaning out youngsters to lower league teams but there’s nothing new under the sun. Spurs had a link with Northfleet, a club in north Kent (I pass its modern incarnation, Ebbsfleet, every day on my way to work) so Rowe and others spent time learning their trade. They were taught how to do things right but the young Arthur absorbed his lessons more than most, going on to play for his team and country.

More significantly, he developed ideas about a flowing, passing game that stood in contrast to the then prevalent style of of getting it forward quickly to the big men up front. Beginning to sound familiar? After retiring, unusually for those days he travelled Europe both to learn from others and share his methods, which culminated in the famous Spurs push and run championship winning side in 1951 and whose purpose and techniques we are still trying to master to this very day. That is achievement enough but he became a huge influence on others – Bill Nicholson and Alf Ramsey most notably in this country, and there is a direct link to the mesmerising total football of the Dutch.

A quiet man ill-suited to what passed for celebrity status in those days, Rowe nevertheless was a respected pundit and figure in the game after he left Spurs. We owe him so much yet he’s never had the credit due his status as one of the most influential figures in the club’s history and indeed in English football. Typically Tottenham overlooked him – I remember him as Palace manager, they gave him the testimonial Spurs never did – but with this little gem you have no excuse:

“His story is one of great innovation and ambition, of joy and real, crushing sadness. It is a story that is fading both because of the passage of time and because of the light it subsequently enabled to shine. And it is a story that deserves to be told again so that it can regain its rightful place in history.”

Arthur Rowe (Sports Shots) by Martin Cloake

E-book. Kindle edition from Amazon price: £2.74

Glory Nights:From Wankdorf To Wembley

Dodging the crazies on the all-night bus. Running from the opposition while running a raging fever. Trapped next to the blocked toilet on a coach to Germany, then searched by armed police. Blizzards close British roads, save for a single carload of Spurs fans sliding up and down the M1, risking life and limb to rescue a forgotten passport in time to catch the ferry. The road to glory takes many twists and turns.

From Wankdorf to Wembley is the entertaining story of long time Tottenham fan Mel Gomes’s european tour during Spurs first, and perhaps only, season in the Champions League. It begins with the outburst of unrestrained joy that greeted Peter Crouch’s late winner at Manchester City that took us there and ends at Wembley but sadly not with Spurs as he blags a freebie to share in Barcelona’s delight.

Mel takes us to all the matches home and away, together with a bunch of faithful travellers, and invokes memories of those glory glory nights that raise goosepimples at the thrill of it all. An engaging companion, join him as he recreates not only vivid match reports from a fan’s perspective but also the numbing minutiae that are essential elements of going away. The anxious dashes for connections as he runs dangerously late, how tricky it can be just to get into a football ground, wasted hours in airport lounges and the all-important search for a beer or two.

Mel is good  company but unobtrusive, a welcome change from other fan books where ego dominates. He’s your mate who is the quiet one of the group, in the background but you can’t have a good time without him. This book is not about him, it’s about the experience and wherever he goes, Mel stops to smell the coffee rather than rush to the local equivalent of Wetherspoons to get bladdered. He’s curious about his surroundings and the people he meets along the way.

He discovers glory in some unlikely places. ‘Wankdorf’ is the name of the Young Boys of Berne stadium where it very nearly all ended before it had begun, 3-0 down and not even half-time. But the reader is left under no illusion that the pursuit of glory is the essence not only of this journey but of being a Spurs fan, as this blog’s byline unashamedly declares. The book begins with Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run, where everyday life becomes the setting for a drama of escape and the fulfillment of dreams. It’s about daring, romance and passion, seeking magic and redemption in our everyday surroundings. Despite his (and my) disillusionment with the modern of version of what will always be the European Cup, the competition remains precious and special. The opening chapter sets the scene, with a young over-excited Mel waiting impatiently for dad to get home from work then jumping into his car to watch Spurs play Hadjuk Split in an era when we played magical names from mysterious far-flung places.

Writing this on the day that Redknapp’s firm determination not to resign almost certainly means he’s going to be sacked, ironically this book could form part of his epitaph. A prelude to the true glory days or the best we ever had? What is clear is that From Wankdorf To Wembley is a labour of love that Spurs supporters will enjoy. It’s also testament to the loyalty that blinds us to reality as we pursue our dreams. Wasted days, endless expense, itineraries planned with military precision, the craziness of fans whose compulsion to be there is unfathomable to those who don’t understand this wonderful game.

Glory Nights: From Wankdorf to Wembley by Mel Gomes

Illustrated by Lilly Allen

E book Kindle edition from Amazon price £4.27

Also in other formats including PDF on Smashwords

Glorious – Gazza In His Own Words. Read the Review, Win the Book!!

Last summer I heard rumours that Paul Gascoigne was dead. Unlike the rest of the rubbish that circulates the ether, sadly this had the ring of truth. He had been looking more pale and drawn than ever and the stories more bizarre, if that were possible.

Gazza stopped being daft as a brush years ago but the nation kept on laughing. One of the finest footballers of his generation, he’d become a figure of ridicule, easy meat and easy laughs from comedians getting fat on the proceeds of panel shows. In football, mental health problems are taboo. He’d sunk so low that he was denied even his illness. On the contrary, his suffering was exploited by reporters after a story and chairman offering him work.

Mercifully, he’s survived. It’s impossible to know if the empathy from Spurs fans played the tiniest part in keeping him going, but I can’t ever recall such a wave of goodwill towards an ex-Spur. He’s hidden away in Bournemouth, out of rehab but still being supported well, slow progress but steady.

The book is a lavishly illustrated conversation with Paul about his entire career, just turn on the recorder and out streams an engaging, flowing account of his life from the man himself. After a while, close your eyes and you can imagine him in the room, chatting over a cup of tea. This plus the hundreds of colour photos make it a pleasant, welcoming read that tells you about the man’s football career without stretching the reader too far.

The therapy that has played a part of Gascoigne’s rehabilitation enables to him to reflect on what’s gone wrong in an honest, self-aware manner without becoming maudlin or self-indulgent, as is the fate of many other celebrities who have been through the same process.There’s no evaluation, either from an outside voice or from Gascoigne, and nothing about his mental health or his career, if you can call it that, since retirement. This is purely and simply about football. The reader is left to provide the context and whilst many familiar episodes are covered, like the dentist’s chair, escaping the boredom of international tournaments and high jinks at Rangers, there is a refreshing lack of spin or image. This isn’t Gazza – daft as brush, Gazza – the alcoholic or even Gazza – the idiot. It’s just Gazza. He acknowledges in a matter of fact way that he should not have done certain things but what comes over is the total lack of malice in anything that he did. He never had an agenda, a grudge or sought to exact revenge. Most of the time he got into trouble because just the opposite, he never had a plan or thought anything through, but you sense this is why, despite all the things he has got up to, no one in football seems to have a bad word to say about him.

In fact, he comes over as boyish, getting into the same scrapes as a man as he did as a lad. His mind wandering onto other things, football mostly when he should have been studying, losing Kevin’s Keegan’s boot as an apprentice then forgetting his own boots before a crucial game in Euro ‘96. Same response – he can’t tell anyone so it’s a farcical attempt to cover it up, in the case of England playing the entire first half in Sheringham’s spare boots, which were the wrong size.

He confirms what Spurs fans already know, that he played the best football of his career whilst at White Hart Lane. So it’s a little disappointing that the space given over to Spurs is much less than that devoted to England or Rangers. I guess the publishers understand the market. Also, many anecdotes will have a familiar ring for anyone who has read Hunter Davies’ excellent book on Gazza.

The section on Spurs focuses on his remarkable contribution to the 1991 cup run. At the time it seemed to me that he single-handedly inspired the team to Wembley. In reality, the famous victories in the semi-final against Arsenal and the final were founded upon excellent teamwork, and Gascoigne praises the unsung Paul Stewart in particular for “covering the space for me” as Gazza was knackered, either because he was playing in pain through injury or because he prepares for a vital cup-tie by playing 15 sets of squash with John Moncur the night before as he can’t sleep. But the inspiration and glory are rightfully his. A hat-trick against Oxford, a scintillating winner away to Portsmouth, another versus Notts County, all tricky ties, plus the free-kick that will ensure his legendary status for as long as anyone talks about Tottenham Hotspur. Typically he doesn’t dwell on it – cue anecdotes involving nurses, hospitals and testicles – but the effort he made to play through injuries and then to sweat blood to get fit after surgery is nothing short of heroic. He did that for the good of playing football. He did that for us.

In any walk of life, the very greatest tread a fine line between the bold and the reckless. To be original and different, the individual has to think and do something that is fresh and new. What is to our heroes an act of bravery, to us mere mortals seems like the height of foolishness. Gascoigne treads that fine line throughout his career and this book helps you walk with him. The character traits that made him infuriating and a magnet for trouble are the very same that enabled him also to attempt the most outrageous feats on the pitch, and because he was so, so wonderful, he succeeded where most would fail.

Gazza’s an entertaining companion and this is a engaging read in time for the Christmas market. It’s not a confessional, but if there is a message from a fallen hero to the young players of today, it’s not about the dangers of the booze, the sycophants or the lack of support of family and friends, it’s that players should love and cherish the game. If that’s Gazza’s legacy, then this book is a success, for it is above all else about a man who just wants to play football. Rather than the grey, bewildered figure of fun blinking uncomprehending in the spotlight, running on empty, please remember him as he should be remembered, the breath-taking talent of the one of greatest Tottenham players there has ever been.

A couple of my other pieces on Gazza here, about his career, and here, about mental health, Chris Evans and Danny Baker

Glorious – My World, Football and Me by Paul Gascoigne   Published by  Simon and Schuster


My copy actually, read once, one careful owner, and the biryani stains will come out with a bit of soap and water.

To win answer this question:

To persuade Gazza to sign for Spurs and not Fergie, Irving Scholar sealed the deal with a few extra items that don’t normally feature in transfer negotiations. Name any of them.

If you need a nudge in the right direction, one item Gazza would be delighted to receive these days and would put to good use in his leisure time (and before you start, he’s off the booze)

E-mail your answer to:

Closing date: Tuesday 1st November, 8pm, all correct entries into a hat, first one out wins

And while you’re here, 1 family, 3 generations of Spurs fans are taking part on Saturday in a Family Hike in aid of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering.

You can sponsor us here: Just Giving – Family Hike for BAAF

Just a quid would be great.

Martin Cloake On Danny Blanchflower, Spurs’ Geezers and the Current State of Play

Dead easy, this interviewing malarkey. Turn on the recorder, sit back, arrange the gems in some semblance of order and there you have it. At least you do when you speak to someone with the infectious enthusiasm of Martin Cloake. A leading authority on Spurs in print, many books written alongside co-author Adam Powley, his ardent passion for the club as journalist and fan remains undiminished.

His latest venture is an E-book called ‘Danny Blanchflower’, the first in a series of SportsSpurs Blanchflower Shots, extended essays that permit the analytical depth of a book but are accessible and readable for those of us without the time or cash to invest in the longer form on a regular basis. It’s new, it’s exciting and Martin is an evangelist for the medium

“What we have is a set of ideas about the growth of e-readers. This series of Spurs E-books which we hope will be part of something bigger, is tapping into people. Longer than an article, shorter than a book.”

Powley and Cloake have spotted a gap in the market. Given the amount about the club on Amazon, Kindle has been slow to catch up. “If you look at the Kindle store, put Tottenham Hotspur in, there’s not a lot of stuff there. It’s a market that people are using. We may be arrogant enough to think we are good enough but we have written books that people buy. We’ve had very good feedback, so we thought let’s put it out there and see how it goes.”

“Blanchflower is the first one, one on Hoddle which has just been completed. We’ll see how they sell and at the moment we’re looking at individual player profiles but depending on how this goes we may expand into other areas. What we don’t want to do is do something that we could do with a publisher. Horses for courses.”

Martin is at pains to stress that he is neither neglecting nor in competition with existing publishing methods. During our discussion he repeatedly emphasises his admiration for Dave Bowler’s book about Blanchflower and for those of us who see the name Cloake or Powley as the kitemark of quality when it comes to Spurs’ writing, the news that they have an excellent relationship with their publishers Vision and Mainstream means there’s probably more of the good stuff to come.

The e-book is something different. “What we can do with the e-books is to get something into the public domain relatively quickly. We are doing a lot of the marketing ourselves anyway. We have the technical expertise to put this up. It’s a much more complicated process than you would imagine”

He’s researched this carefully, noting that whilst there’s some evidence that on desktops people read long-form journalism, on mobile devices they won’t sit and read the 50,000 words in a book. My mind wanders to a blogger’s comment on twitter recently about how he rejected an idea for a post because it would have absorbed 1500 words, whereas readers stop after 300.  Which if true means two thirds of anything I’ve written has been a waste of time, including this piece, but Martin’s energy pulls me back from the brink.

“To justify charging, it can’t be a blog post so we’ve gone for about 10 -12,000 words, shorter than a book, longer than an article. We’re still having a debate,” he muses. “Maybe we shouldn’t be obsessed by the length at all. It’s as long as it should be.”

It certainly works for me in terms of price, length and quality of content. It covers both Blanchflower’s career and the character of the man himself, as well as making pertinent links with contemporary football plus an evaluation of his lasting contribution to the game. £2 on my iphone, read on the train, thanks very much. Perfect. This is precisely the author’s intention.

“We will make sure there is plenty of information and some original comment as well. We’re conscious that a lot of content on the web is recycled, it’s easy to stitch stuff together and put it out there. That’s not the way we want to work. Without sounding high-falluting, we seem to have built up a reputation as people who do things that are high quality. It’s hard to build up a reputation and the quality of the content is what we hope is the thing that sells the books. Quick and quality reads that people can hang on to.”

For the first book in the series, Blanchflower was the natural choice because of his  influence not only on Spurs but also on Martin as a fan. “I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with Danny Blanchflower. I never saw him play – my first game was 1978, 1-0 against Bolton, Don McAllister diving header” We pause momentarily to consider the frankly frightening prospect that this journeyman defender could have been a formative influence on the young impressionable schoolboy, even at this, his finest moment in a white shirt. Less diving, more toppling earthwards, but who am I to say because we are both sufficiently obsessive to remember it.

Moving on swiftly. “I was aware of Spurs since the early 70s when I lived in Haringey. When I started looking at the history of the club, the Double and Blanchflower comes up fairly quickly. He’s a fascinating figure for me. Working as journalist, it became not just the player but the man himself. His journalism was very good. He was very much of a different generation. If we ever got the chance to sit down together we may not have seen eye to eye but I think he is a fascinating character for football as well as Spurs. You’d be hard pushed  to find a more significant figure. Just look at what he was about, what he did and represented.”

“I genuinely do believe that the team was part of something which completely changed the way British football operated. It finished the process started by Arthur Rowe’s push and run team in the early 50s. It changed English football for the better, taking it out of its insularity. Blanchflower was a real thinker and was attracted to us because the club was about changing the way English football was played. He’s a man ahead of his time.”

This boyish passion plus the ability to situate Blanchflower in a broader context makes the e-book compulsive reading. Forget the idea that this is a mere potted biography. It says more about its subject and the English game than a hundred best-selling autobiographies of modern players.

“Football can be self-important and we all slip into it, but Blanchflower wasn’t trying to be important, just a professional getting on with this job who thought about things.” Martin warms to his theme of the bigger picture. “I have 2 young boys. There’s a danger that being clever is seen as wrong, at school we took the pee out of swots. but Danny showed that ordinary people can be very intelligent, that it’s right to search out knowledge to improve things, to be good at something and think about how it was done. There’s a danger that people see intelligence as being elitist, a bit posh, so wrong and dangerous.”

Influential figure that he was, Blanchflower was met with considerable suspicion by chairmen and officialdom in general, threatened by his combination of prestige and intellect. He was overlooked for jobs in the game, including perhaps at Tottenham. Any antipathy was not helped by his public platform in journalism: Martin rates him highly in that respect too.

Blanchflower wasn’t averse to using the press for his own ends. There’s nothing new under the sun and Spurs are juggling with these issues at the moment, except it’s the manager rather than a player who is arguably using the media to influence club policy. Martin felt it was less sophisticated in Blanchflower’s day.

“He would never admit he was using the press but used a nudge and a wink as leverage to get what he wanted. He wasn’t afraid of speaking his mind.”

Inevitably when two Spurs fans get together, the discussion turns to Redknapp. Martin’s sense of dynamics of the club’s history once more enables some context for Harry’s proclamations, which I for one have criticised over the last few months, August in particular.

“The press loved Venables – he always had a quote. He defined his position regarding the chairman, and you can’t blame him for that.” Redknapp is doing the same, in other words. Martin goes on, “Redknapp is unfairly criticised sometimes. His relationship with the media protects us sometimes.”

Compare the reaction to a few bad results this season at, say, the Emirates or Everton with the silence that greeted our run of one win in 13-odd games last season. However, as Martin shrewdly concludes, “As the great philosopher Ronan Keating once said, ‘you say it best when you say nothing at all’. It would be fascinating to sit down in a few years time with the present regime, it would be a great interview but I can’t see it happening”.

So how would it turn out if you did a ‘Boys From White Hart Lane’ with the current team? Martin can’t resist the idea but envisages problems that encapsulate the different status of the modern players and their relationship with outsiders.

“ You just wouldn’t be able to do it. You wouldn’t get access to players. They [the BFWHL squad] didn’t earn a lot. We tried to make sure everybody was looked after. These guys don’t need the money and they don’t need to talk to anybody. With the best will in the world they are on a different level. I’d love to sit down with Gareth Bale, watch that guy, you can’t take your eyes off him during a game. He seems fully grounded. Top of my list for BFWHL 2011! Benny is a hugely underrated full back and a fascinating character who understands where he comes from, that football is part of something much bigger. The squad seems to be full of likeable individuals. Luka has blotted his copybook but there are no whinging, unpleasant, offensive characters as in other teams. Van der Vaart seems like a good guy. Gomes, I’d like to sit down with him. No shortage of candidates and if they read your blog and they want to write it, give them my name and address, I would love to do it! I’d really love to get the real story, the inside story.”

Much as I like the idea of Bale or Gomes coming across TOMM and being inspired to unburden themselves, it’s unlikely, but if it does, Martin, you’ll be the first to know. Co-authors, OK?

What’s next? As you would by now expect, there’s no shortage of ideas. “Spurs have a rich history of players and personalities. Read these [i.e the ebooks] and find out a bit about the person, what they were like as a player and what they meant, but also look at the wider influences. I’d like to create a space for a debate, possibly a website for the books, forums maybe. Interactivity – the days when journalists or experts handing down wisdom from on high have gone. It’s about having that conversation with the audience who often know more about particular areas than you do. There’s also the opportunity to stretch the remit to include other teams and their players, other sports too, and perhaps other writers.”

Next up, Glenn Hoddle. “Ask any Spurs fan who was the greatest ever, he’s there but he had a lot more criticism than people care to remember. Spurs fans and football in general used to moan about him because he didn’t tackle back.” Like I say, nothing changes. One of my earliest memories at Spurs was hearing fans pile into Martin Chivers.

“He’s accused of being aloof, but just ask the other players about him. They are a bunch of geezers but they are amazed that there could ever be any animosity. Why would there be? They say he was brilliant and we were there to make sure that he could do the things he did. Good guy, we got on with him.”

I look forward to it.


Danny Blanchflower by Martin Cloake, edited by Adam Crowley, is available on Kindle from Amazon, £2.99