NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 193
Submitted by Norman Giller
The only good thing to come out of the sterile match against Swansea is that it gives me the chance to share an amusing anecdote from my dim and distant past. It revolves around a genius of a sportswriter called John Macadam.
The wee, handlebar-moustachioed Scot was a poet and art critic when not reporting football from the press box, and was chief sports columnist for the Daily Express in the 1950s.
It will give you an idea of his class as a scribe when I quote what he wrote about the Push and Run Spurs, Tottenham’s first championship winners: “They play rhythmic, rhyming football that could have been scripted by Byron, while their opponents have to make do with birthday card couplets.”
Sadly, John found much of his inspiration in the bottom of a glass, and by the time I joined the Express staff he was about to be poured into retirement, so intoxicated that he hardly knew his own name.
If you want to know what a genius of a writer he was, try to get your hands on his autobiography, The Macadam Road. It is a masterpiece of writing and observation.
As an impressionable young Saturday football reporter on the Daily Herald before joining him on the Express, I regularly found myself on the same B-class match list as John, and used to help him as he staggered on and off trains.
In his sober moments, the classically educated Macadam, who lived on a Chelsea-moored houseboat with his Bohemian friends, was well worth listening to and gave me advice I have never forgotten: “Report not only what you think you see and hear, laddie, but also what your heart tells you because sometimes the evidence of your eyes and ears can prove deceiving.”
Towards the end of his reporting career the wonderful Macadam was left crying in his beer by a sub-editor not fit to lace his drinks. John was reporting a lifeless and goal-less drawn match involving Millwall at The Den.
A lover of all things Shakespeare, this was the intro he dictated to the copytaker: “This match down at The Den last night was much ado about nothing nothing.”
A Philistine of a sub changed it to: “This match down at The Den last night was much ado about nil nil.”
It was enough to drive the master to drink.
I thought of this hilarious yet haunting story when watching Spurs and Swansea slog their way through their match that was much ado about nothing-nothing.
But I refuse to join the dismal Tottenham disciples who were ready to throw them-selves off the Wembley roof as chance after chance went begging.
Swansea guarded their goal behind what looked a parking lot of red London buses, and got what they came for – a solitary point, earned with blood, sweat and a lot of cheers from their tuneful followers.
I would have been disturbed if Spurs had not created openings. It only needed one of their 24 goals attempts to find the back of the net and all the moaning and groaning that followed the match would have been muted.
My sympathy was with all those Spurs spectators who made the trek to Wembley. At least I didn’t have to leave my sofa, from where I scored a hat-trick. So simple from there.
Our Harry might easily have had another brace of goals … a free-kick that was su-perbly saved, and the effort that rocked the bar, almost mocking the Tottenham at-tempts to score. Our Spurs Odyssey guru Paul H. Smith gives his reading of the match HERE. All it lacks is the description of a goal. In fact, much ado about nil-nil.
I share Professor Pochettino’s calmness. No need for panic or the slitting of wrists. The same people who had been joining in the choruses of praise just last Wednesday were suddenly turning on Poch and the players as if they had intently dropped two precious points.
I hope Tottenham take their frustration out on Barnsley in the League Cup – ok, the Carabao Cup – tomorrow. Expect the Spurs second team to be out in force, shaking off the splinters from the substitutes’ bench.
Then it’s off to West Ham on Saturday, and hopefully a third successive away Prem-ier League victory. My heart tells me it will be much ado about a lot.
WEEK 6 of the Sports Odyssey Quiz League 2017-18. The rules are simple: I ask one Tottenham-related question for which a right answer earns you two points, and then a related teaser that can bring you an extra point.
The questions are always easy, provided you know the answers!
The winner this season will get a framed certificate proclaiming him (or her) the Spurs Odyssey Quiz Champion, plus a no-longer-in-print autographed GOALS book by Spurs idol Jimmy Greaves and another collectors’ item from my Greavsie collection: Football’s Greatest Entertainers, signed by Jimmy and Tottenham’s Mr Loyalty, Steve Perryman.
Now here comes the sixth question of the new SOQL season:
Who has played 95 times for his country, and has had Martin Jol, Frank de Boer and Andre Villas-Boas as his manager? Against which team was he sent off playing for Spurs in a Europa League quarter-final?
Please email your answers by Friday’s midnight deadline to: email@example.com.
Keep a check on your points score, because I can never rely on my server that often loses emails in the ether. Ah for the good old days of: “Answers on a postcard, please.”
I test you with Spurs questions until the last few weeks of the season, when I introduce the dreaded tiebreaker teasers that call for your opinion as much as your knowledge.
That’s when I fall out with good friends. In the final count I am the sole judge, and you just have to accept that I am right. Arrogant, moi?
Seriously, we are all in this just for fun, with the common bond of admiring all things Tottenham.
Answer to last week’s question was Ron Burgess, the man Bill Nicholson described as the greatest player ever to wear the Tottenham shirt (He was the first Spurs player to wear the No 6 shirt after numbers were introduced in 1939).
First name drawn from the correct answers was Mark Nathan, from Stoke Newington, who has followed Spurs since 1970. I will send Mark a screen version of my Spurs ’67 book (you might consider buying a signed hardback copy from me at http://www.normangillerbooks.com … all profits to the Tottenham Tribute Trust to help our old heroes).
Thanks for your company. See you same time, same place next week. COYS!
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