NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 145
Submitted by Norman Giller
I was privileged to join Eric Dier and the Tottenham Band of Brothers during their training preparations for the World Cup qualifiers, and I am happy to report that the future of Spurs could not be at the feet of more dedicated young footballers.
What I discovered is that Eric, Danny Rose, Kyle Walker and Dele Alli are almost shining with super fitness and confidence, and Harry Kane is waiting in the wings for his return after injury.
I spent much of the summertime of my football reporting career in the company of legendary Tottenham players like Danny, Dave, Stevie, Big Pat, Mullers, Big Chiv. Gilly and Greavsie (if I have to give you their full names then what are you doing calling yourself a Tottenham supporter?).
These days – in my autumn years – I am on the periphery watching from the sidelines, and I wondered how the young players of today compare with those heroes I used to write about back in the 60s and 70s.
The Football Association opened a door for the answer when they invited me to the unveiling of Sir Alf Ramsey Way, a road running through England’s impressive St George’s Park training headquarters at Burton in Derbyshire.
My old mates from 1966 Sir Geoff Hurst, Roger Hunt, George Cohen, Norman Hunter and Jimmy Armfield were on hand to do the ceremonial honours, and we got to sit down with ‘interim’ manager Gareth Southgate and skipper Wayne Rooney to chat about ‘now and then’ things.
But I was more interested in tracking down the Tottenham boys, and found them all polite, intelligent, unassuming and unanimous in believing great times are around the corner for Spurs.
I have called them a Band of Brothers, and it really was like talking to family members as they took turns in praising the management of Mauricio Pochettino and their optimism for the club’s future to which they are all fully committed.
What you tend to forget looking on from the outside is that Danny Rose (Doncaster) and Kyle Walker (Sheffield) are as Yorkshire as the Dales. They were born 20 miles and just a few weeks apart in 1990. Milton Keynes boy Dele Alli is like the cheeky little brother, full of mischief and always looking for the next prank.
Then there’s Eric Dier, the one for whom I have a particular soft spot because I knew his granddad Ted Croker in the days when he was Football Association supremo.
Ted was a real man’s man, a war hero who won a gallantry medal after crawling a half mile from a crashed bomber with broken ankles to get help for his injured crew mates. He recovered to continue his football career after the war at Charlton with his brother Peter, and later became a hugely successful businessman when starting an earthmoving equipment company.
He was head-hunted to become the voice of the FA at a difficult time in the 1980s, and almost certainly cost himself a knighthood when he had the guts to tell Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to her face: “Don’t blame hooliganism on football. It’s your society you need to get sorted out.”
Eric – son of former professional tennis player and later high-powered sports agent, Jeremy Dier – was born a year after his Granddad died, and I was able to tell him that Ted would be enormously proud of what he is achieving in the game.
“Thank you,” said Eric, a courteous and extremely bright young man who looks you straight in the eye and talks with a maturity beyond his years. “I hear so many stories about my Granddad and he was obviously a very special man.”
Eric moved to Portugal at the age of seven when his mother landed the job of helping organise the hospitality for the 2004 Euro championships, and as well as becoming bi-lingual he developed as a defender with Sporting CP in Lisbon. He admits the club he supported as a kid was Manchester United.
With every Sporting team from youth through to the seniors he eventually became captain. He is a born leader, and I would not be surprised to find him following Hugo Lloris as Spurs skipper and also one day taking over the England captain’s armband.
“We are all excited about what is happening at Tottenham,” he said. “Mauricio is inspirational and fills each of us with confidence, and there’s an air of optimism about the place. We all play for each other and we want to win something for the supporters, who are incredible the way they get behind us.”
His well publicised ‘Bromance’ with Dele Alli?
“We’re just good friends,” Eric said, with a huge wink.
In the background the hyper-active Dele was taking on the challenge of throwing a half-filled bottle of water and getting it to land upright, and cajoling Eric into trying to beat him.
It really was like being in the company of brothers.
This old hack was delighted to warm himself on the Spurs spirit that was such an important part of the Glory-Glory years.
Tottenham’s Band of Brothers are bringing the good times back. What a good era in which to be a Spurs supporter.
My latest novel, THE BUNG, is as fresh and topical as today’s disturbing football headlines, focusing on the personalities, passions and pressures that drive the modern game. It reveals the exact mechanism of how bungs change hands at the top level. Could YOU resist a sports hold-all stacked with cash? It is an update of the novel I wrote after collaborating with sacked Arsenal manager George Graham on his book after he had been caught taking a £475,000 kick-back. Please order the novel here for your computer: http://www.normangillerbooks.com/the-bung/4591562026 Just bung me £4.99.
Ends commercial. Thank you.
Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, week 9
This week’s mystery player:
“I made 335 first-team appearances in 12 seasons with Spurs, was in the winning 1991 FA Cup team and later joined Southampton. Who am I and what number shirt did I wear in the final at Wembley?”
Email your answers, please, to SOQL9@normangillerbooks.com. Give your name, the district where you live and how long you’ve supported Spurs. I will respond, and will email a screen version of one of my Tottenham-themed books to the sender of the first all-correct answer drawn at random. Deadline is midnight on Friday.
Please keep a check on your points tally, because the contestant topping the SOQL table at the end of the season will receive a framed certificate announcing the winner as the 2016-17 Spurs Odyssey Quiz League champion. And the first three in the final table will win an autographed, hardback copy of my Bill Nicholson Revisited tribute book, PLUS a souvenir card signed by Spurs legends Jimmy Greaves and Steve Perryman.
Last week's teaser was:
“I was born in Watford and followed my Dad as an international, but we played for different countries. Who am I and which club did I join in 2001 after playing 280 League games for Spurs?”
Most of you came up with the right answer: Ian Walker, who moved on Leicester. He won four England caps, while his Dad Mike – later manager of Everton – was a Welsh Under-23 international goalkeeper. Ian is currently in China as right hand man to Sven Goran Eriksson in Shanghai.
First name drawn at random from the correct answers is Alex Gaffarena from Wandsworth, who has been a Spurs supporter since the early 1970s and a season ticket holder for 32 years. I will be emailing Alex a screen version of one of my Tottenham-themed books.
As regular contestants will know, the League table is decided on facts up until the final weeks of the season. Then I introduce tie breaks based on opinions, which is when I lose friends and fail to influence people with my views.
But please remember, it is just for fun and helps us all refresh our knowledge on the history and the heroes of our great club.
Thanks for your company. See you same time, same place next week. COYS!
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