Pete Sixsmith extends a hearty welcome to Spurs, conceited though he feels they may be, and steps down from his Soapbox to enter the Salut! Sunderland confession box and admit to a boyhood infatuation …
Funny club, Spurs. I’m never quite sure how to take them. I’m pleased that they are at Sunderland on Saturday evening, principally because they are not Stoke City and I know we should get a decent game, but they do annoy me at times, with their rather superior attitude and their “Spurs Way” conceit.
I have a confession to make: Spurs were the first football team that I was attracted to. Being brought up in the mean streets of north Leeds, I was a dyed in the wool Leeds RLFC supporter and attended Headingley regularly with father and grandfather until an enforced move to the non RL playing County Durham.
When moving, one has to fit in with the locals, so I transferred my affections from the 13 a side game to the 11 a side. The top club at the time were Spurs – on their way to the first double for 70 odd years and full of stars like Danny Blanchflower and Cliff Jones.
Those two caught my attention because I liked their names. Blanchflower rolled off the tongue and I liked the way he stormed off This Is Your Life, when Eamonn Andrews attempted to press the Big Red Book into his hand. Jones appealed to me because his name was nearly the same as my all time hero, Lewis Jones, the Leeds and Wales stand off, who weaved his magic on the mudheaps of Featherstone, Widnes and Halifax for The Loiners.
The infatuation with the North Londoners ended when Colin, aka M Salut, convinced me that Sunderland were a far better bet But although there is no residue of affection for Spurs now, I can still vividly remember those European Cup nights at The Lane, with a packed house, cigarette smoke billowing upwards and Alan Weekes or Peter Dimmock commentating on them thrashing the likes of Gornik Zabrze.
They’re a bit of a media club as well. George Dixon used to take son in law Andy Crawford down to watch the Spurs and Hunter Davies attached himself to them in the 70s. His account of that season in The Glory Game is one of the best football books I have ever read, even though the writer is a complete mug – he has season tickets at Spurs and Arsenal. Can you imagine such a thing up here!!
They have had some very good players over the years. Alan Gilzean was one of my favourites. I believe we were close to signing him at one stage, but he opted for the Seven Sisters Road instead of Roker Baths Road, so we signed Neil Martin instead.
They also took Hetton born Ralph Coates at about the same time and they have always had a reputation for big signings and glamorous players
There seems to be a duckin’ and divin’ philosophy about the club at the moment. They were run by Lord Alan Sugar, a prize ducker and diver if ever there was one, and the current owners seem to be of that ilk. Throw in ‘Appy ‘Arry Redknapp and support who seem to spend inordinate amounts of money on Hacket gear and on T-shirts and polo shirts from the myriad of barrows and stalls around the ground and you have a club that Derek Trotter would love to be a part of.
Redknapp is an interesting character. There are times when he annoys the life out of me and there are times when I like and admire him. He’s in the middle of the second batch of emotions at the moment as I feel that he has created a side as good as any in the Premier League on their day – but note those last three words.
In Modric he has a gem and I was a little (but just a little) disappointed to hear that he was injured and will not play on Saturday. I remember seeing him on his home debut in 2008 when he cut a forlorn figure as he was squeezed out by Dean Whitehead. Since then he has learned how to play English football (although I don’t think that Tony Pulis would rate him) and he is a pleasure to watch.
Bale has also done well, despite the hype over him being as excessive as that over Wilshere. Both are good players, with Bale being ahead at the moment, but because they play for London clubs, they are praised beyond reasonableness.
Fortunately, they have a couple of ex Mags in the team in Bassong and Jenas, so we can cheerfully boo them and I have no doubt that ‘Arry Boy will come out with something in the next few days. If rumours are to be believed, he is casting a covetous eye on Cattermole. No doubt he will deny it, but ‘Arry’s denials are about as convincing as David Cameron’s assertions that the NHS is safe in the Government’s hands. Mind you, he was right about Bent – he is a big girl’s blouse.
If we play as well as we did last week, but for 90 minutes, we could win this one. I would fancy Muntari and Sessegnon to do well, but I would hope that Jordan Henderson is cut a bit of slack by some of those who expect him to be Jim Baxter, Kevin Ball and Len Shackleton all rolled into one. He’s 20 years old, full of promise which may or may not blossom at his home town club. He needs support through this tricky period, not people moaning whenever he does something marginally less than perfect.
You wouldn’t get Spurs fans moaning, would you?