We Are Tottenham and history repeating

The first book I wrote, alongside my long-time writing partner Adam Powley, was called We Are Tottenham. Through interviews with fans and the story of the 2003/04 season, it tried to show what supporting a football club was all about through the eyes of the fans, and to show that a football crowd was composed of very different individuals.

Hunter Davies, who wrote the book The Glory Glory Game that played a large part in influencing Adam and I to become writers, liked it and thrilled us by agreeing to write the forward. Tottenham fans liked it too. In fact the book was so popular that it sold out. The workings of the book trade being what they are, our original publishers wouldn’t do a reprint. But we kept getting asked.

So, in 2013, when the copyright reverted to us, we published an updated version of the book – with a new chapter catching up with as many of the original interviewees as we could find – as an ebook. But still people asked if a new, printed version of the book would ever be made available. And now, we are happy to say, thanks to the wonders of print on demand, it is. That 10th anniversary edition of We Are Tottenham can now be obtained as a paperback via Amazon, as well as via your Kindle or handheld device as an ebook. More platforms than a glam rock band’s shoe cupboard, see. 

While compiling the latest version, one passage caught my eye. This was the season, remember, when Glenn Hoddle was sacked after only six games, and the cycle of ENIC and the managers began. It was another of those wasted seasons we’re so familiar with. So in 2004 we wrote:

“With the media searching for new metaphors to evoke the
sheer ineptitude of the team and club, issues began to unravel. As season ticket renewal packages arrived on fans’ doormats, the Supporters’ Trust sent a restrained but charged letter to Levy. It made a salient point: pointing out that the club had refused to budge on extending the deadline for ST renewals, citing the need for ‘long term planning’, something which sat uneasily with the eight-month search for a new boss. It went on, ‘In February David Pleat said the new manager was “done and dusted”; he is now quoted as saying he is “scouring Europe” for the new man. Mr Pleat’s statements are contradictory and we urge you to be open with supporters about whether a firm appointment has been secured and, if not, when it is realistically envisaged.’
It also addressed one of the more persistent and worrying rumours about the management saga. ‘The media continues to speculate that prospective candidates are either reluctant to commit or reluctant to work alongside Mr Pleat. At the AGM in December you said you were “100% behind David Pleat”. Are you therefore only prepared to hire a manager who will work with Mr Pleat as Director of Football?’

The letter, although critical, was still worded constructively, and drew widespread approval even from those Spurs fans who had seen the Trust as too willing to toe the Enic line. But Daniel Levy, always a private man reluctant to step into the limelight, broke cover with a petulant reaction which betrayed the disarray at the most senior levels of the club.

‘I have publicly stated the case on the timing of the announcement of a new manager and I have nothing further to say on this,’ he began curtly, before continuing, ‘The public nature of your letter has led to adverse media comment, the publicity of which is damaging to the Club and counter-productive. I think we should review all matters when we meet.’

The implication was clear – Levy was only prepared to work with the Trust if it sold his line to the fans. Once it spoke for the fans, he would ask for his ball back.”

Ten years later, it’s all too familiar. Some things have changed, not least the Trust firmly asserting its independence after the groundswell of anger over the attempt to move the club to Stratford breathed new life into it. And, to be fair, the club does seem to have made some progress in realising that it cannot dictate the terms upon which the Trust operates. But it’s still a difficult relationship, the club still appears to resent explaining so much of what it does, or doesn’t do, and its approach to media relations so often appears to be counter-productive.

We Are Tottenham, eh?

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