REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL (1-2-3)
There are three distinct Spurs era’s in the lifetime of this particular blog contributor. There’s before Glenn Hoddle, during Glenn Hoddle and after Glenn Hoddle…
Before Glenn Hoddle were the days of my Spurs awakening. You see, I learned my football from my Old Man, much the same as many kids. It was all about The General in those early days. (I was too young to understand the word “Maestro” so “The General” was what it was to be). Being taken to games at Craven Cottage clasping a wooden crate to stand on, lifted over the turnstiles for free ground entry, passed overhead from where the Old Man stood, half way up the side-line terraces and down to the front to peer over the fence. From there I could observe in close-up “The General” aka Johnny Haynes playing the game at a stroll, stroking the ball around with precision. This was football the way I learned it. A debrief in the car on the way was all about Haynes, the passing, the way football should be played.
But there was Greaves. The Old Man loved ‘Greavsie.’ I would settle in front of the telly to watch England and the mood was always optimistic when Greaves was playing. I took notice. He scored. Indeed, he scored whenever I watched him on telly. The Old Man reluctantly (supposedly) took me to see Greaves at WHL. He scored. He came with Spurs to Fulham. He scored. I was now Spurs. The Old Man didn’t seem to mind, besides, Spurs played nice football. That was the era of the sixties, when Spurs were the club that would buy the best available and played the kind of football even the Old Man enjoyed (even without the benefit of Johnny Haynes). England won the World Cup ’66. Bill Nicholson. Dave MacKay, FA Cup win ’67. Spurs started to rebuild late 60’s and signed Martin Chivers to partner Greaves up front instead of Gilly. The Old Man got us tickets for the ’71 League Cup Final against Villa. Chivers scored twice. We won! The inaugural UEFA Cup in ’72, we won. In ’73 we again won the League Cup again against Norwich, but duty called and instead, I was stood in the Holte End for Villa v Fulham. (Fulham won!) In ’74 we lost the UEFA Cup Final against Feyenord. Rioting ensued, history was made and a disillusioned and affected Bill Nicholson resigned early in the following season. The end of an era…
Then came Glenn Hoddle. As one genius departs, another arrives! I was a regular at The ‘Lane by now, alternating between attending Spurs and Fulham’s third and second division home games with the Old Man. I was gushing in my praise for Hoddle. What a player! I assured the Old Man that he was a better passer of the ball than Haynes. He scoffed at the suggestion. (Even Greaves said Haynes was the finest passer of the ball ever. This sentiment was echoed by Pele and several others, so I was clearly on a loser! My defence has always been based on the fact that these footballing greats never got to play with Hoddle.) I encourage the next generation, including my son; go to YouTube and watch Hoddle highlight reels. Note the other players making runs as soon as they see the ball going to Hoddle. Look at the balance, the touch, the passing. Watch some of the goals!
Commencement of the Hoddle era saw us relegated in ’77, straight back up in ’78 then win the FA Cup in ’81 and ’82, lose in the League Cup Final of ’82 and win the UEFA Cup in ’84 all of which coincided with Keith Burkinshaw’s tenure as manager between ’76 and ’84. Hoddle also led us to an FA Cup Final loss in ’87. The England national side during this era only used him 44 times. He was not used effectively nor consistently, much to my chagrin, and was forced to watch the ball sail over his head after being punted forward from the back. A complete waste of a player who should have had the team built around him, in my view. My interest in following England has never fully recovered from this period.
Following our Cup Final loss in ’87, a certain foreign coach with an eye for a decent player coaxed Hoddle to Monaco with the lure of European football, which was denied all English clubs following the Heysel Stadium disaster. The end of the Hoddle era was upon us…
After Glenn Hoddle, many failed attempts have been made to lead us to the Promised Land. Gasgcoigne arrived. In came Alan Sugar, Venables, Lineker, FA Cup win in ‘91, the introduction of the Premier League. Ginola, Klinnsman, Redknapp. Winning a League Cup in ’99 followed by losses in two other League Cup Finals in ’02 and ’09 interspersed with a win in ’08 are all we have to show for it. ENIC took over from Alan Sugar in ’01 and we got Levy. Spurs have developed an amazing training facility and youth academy and the club are about to complete the construction and opening of a new stadium. Disregarding any architectural brochure sketches depicting folk dressed in best bib and tucker at home games or advertised back of house facilities not entirely in keeping with what we are used to at a football stadium; this new home of Tottenham Hotspur FC is going to be simply magnificent! When full, the atmosphere within the stadium bowl will most likely be incredible.
We have qualified for European competitions every year since 2001, missing out only once in the 2009/10 season. We have a coach that statistically may be compared to Nicholson and Burkinshaw. I get the feeling that the after Hoddle era is about to end.
A new era is going to begin. The Pochettino era? The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium era? Maybe even the Grealish era?
All I can say is; I believe we have reasons to be cheerful 1-2-3 and now coming up….4!