Tottenham Hotspur was founded in 1882, won the FA Cup in 1901 as an amateur club, was the first team to do the double in the 20th century, first British team to win a European trophy, won some more FA Cups, League Cups and UEFA Cups. We know all this.
As an adolescent football statistics enthralled me. I was no Angus Loughran, but I could tell you our record win was 13-2 v Crewe Alexandra, our record defeat 7-0 at Anfield, Clive Allen scored 49 goals in 1986-87 and Jimmy Greaves was signed for £99,999.
As an adult, and one with varied interests and few social issues, these things no longer thrill me. Going in to the Spurs Miscellany I feared there’d be little more than the dry facts, an honours list with the mediocre years fleshed out.
Fortunately the book is much, much more than a mere chronology. It is packed with facts and factoids to the point of being comprehensive, but it’s the text in between that makes it so essential.
The club’s 130-year history is presented in bite-size chunks with anecdotes, pen portraits, lists, quotes and even song lyrics. Whatever fits.
Martin Cloake and Adam Powley capture the spirit of the club, the essence of what it means to be a Tottenham Hotspur supporter. The book has an unmistakable personal touch and only very occasionally veers into unbridled fandom.
It is utterly engrossing. From the tale of the club’s formation under a street light on the corner of Park Lane and Tottenham High Road, to a tribute to current cult hero Benoit Assou-Ekotto, it’s a thoroughly entertaining (and light) read.
Anyone familiar with the writing of Cloake and Powley won’t be surprised by the wit, warmth and passion in the writing. The book is thoroughly researched too, some wonderful gems of trivia turned up. Roy Keane and Bruce Foxton were boyhood Spurs fans. In 1977 Spurs, in the second tier, had the best attendance in the division by 8,000. Terry Venables, while a Spurs player, had a bet on Chelsea to win the FA Cup (we beat them in the final).
Fellow Tottenham supporters will feel an immediate kinship with the authors as they recall the hard times and the good.
Bookshops will sell it as a stock filling for football types, but it’s more than that. The club lives and breathes in these pages.