VSP’s 2012 Tottenham Hotspur Books

Ahead of Christmas, the independent sports publisher, Vision Sports Publishing have released a couple of books about Tottenham Hotspur that are tailor made for fans with an interest in immersing themselves in the history of the club.

The Glory Glory Nights by Martin Cloake and Adam Powley is a genuine thing of beauty. An update of a book that had press cuttings, brief match summaries and facts from every European tie up until English clubs were expelled from Europe in the mid-eighties, it now comprehensively covers the first fifty years of the club’s European exploits with stunning photographs, insightful interviews, and most importantly, context across six decades.

From Tottenham’s European debut in 1961, after becoming the first English side to win the Double in the twentieth Century, European Competition has been an essential part of the club’s core; that season Spurs should have been the first English Club to reach the European Cup final, but from the first match at White Hart Lane in that competition ‘Glory, Glory Hallelujah’ became a club hymn and the Glory Nights under the floodlights were born.

The following season Spurs were the first English club to win any European trophy with the famous 5-1 win over Athletic Madrid in Rotterdam, the first of four European Finals in just over twenty years. In that fourth final, Spurs won the UEFA Cup at White Hart Lane in 1984, and the photos and interviews recalling that night in the book still set the heart beating a little faster.

Doug Cheeseman, whose work many will be familiar with through the old copies of When Saturday Comes collected over the years, is responsible for the layout, design and typography which are all wonderful and makes the book, like many of the Club’s Greats, an essential item for every Spurs fan a luxury as well.

Julie Welch’s The Biography of Tottenham Hotspur is very much a book of the present, written in a conversational, almost gossipy, tone at times, with numerous references to the recent crop as a benchmark for many real greats from the past.

It is a fast paced read with relatively short-chapters that touch on the Club’s many glorious landmarks, including the pioneering feats in Europe, the ground-breaking achievements in becoming the first Southern and non-league side to win the FA Cup, the historic double, the swashbuckling team of the early twenties and the awesome push-and-run team.

With such a rich history, there is much to tell as the story spans the foundation of the club and the local history of North London through to the present, with tales of triumphs, the near misses (including 1982, ’85 and ’87) as well as the many soap operas of internal politics and commercially precarious situations the club has experienced. There is little room for much in-depth coverage as events move at a pace and perhaps more critical analysis, such as more detail on the circumstances of Walter Tull’s departure from the club or the link between Vic Buckingham, Spurs and Total Football, would have enhanced the book even further.

There are occasional factual errors, such as the timing of some signings, the opposition of Glenn Hoddle’s farewell goal and the date of the 1991 FA Cup Semi Final, and arguably there is the odd unwelcome conjecture, notably the superficial line that ends an otherwise interesting portrait of Vivian Woodward, a superstar who didn’t conform to formulas, but on the whole it is an interesting and enjoyable read.

At its best it is engrossing when into the nitty-gritty details, such as Peter McWilliam’s spells at the club, the strained relations between Bill Nicolson and Alf Ramsey, the end of Bill Nick’s tenure, the ill-feted reign of Terry Neil and how Gerry Francis’ catastrophic misjudgement about Denis Bergkamp was key in the recent history of both Spurs and the club that came to North London from Woolwich.

Throughout Julie Welch embraces the soul of the club, and we are rightly reminded that being part of Tottenham Hotspur is something wonderful, unique and everlasting. She makes the convincing case that functional, negative managers who don’t understand the essence of the club won’t succeed, and there is more to the job than just results.

With both these VSP books, there is no room for doubt that at Tottenham Hotspur the game is about Glory and doing things in style.

MG

With echoes of Glory from Danny Blanchflower to Bruce Springsteen, and full of the flavour of Escape European Travel brings, The Substantive Football Columnist Mel Gomes’ e-book ‘Glory Nights: From Wankdorf to Wembley’tells the tales of a journey as Spurs returned to the European Cup for the first time in 49 seasons. It is available to preview for free and to download from Amazon and Smashwords. New, independent writing on popular culture, it is being backed by The Substantive. More details here.