THE NEW LANE OF DREAMS

So here we are in Tomorrow’s World. It was sixty years ago last Boxing Day that I first reported from the White Hart Lane press box. Now I am privileged to be sitting in “the Media Centre” and ready to watch the first Premier League match at a stately, state-of-the-art stadium that just takes the breath away.

I hope you will join me during the next couple of hours as I share my observations of what – for anybody from my silver-top generation of Tottenham supporters – is a hugely emotional trip back to the future.

Tonight’s match against Crystal Palace ushers in a new golden age for Tottenham Hotspur, the biggest leap forward since that late summer’s night in 1862 when a group of local schoolboy cricketers met under a gaslit lamppost in Tottenham High Road and elected to launch a football club to take them through the winter months. The well-educated pupils chose to name their team after 14th Century nobleman and warrior Harry Hotspur, whose descendants owned huge swathes of land in the Tottenham area. This included the marshes on which the first matches was played, with home-made goalposts carried to and from the pitch by the Hotspur boys.

Now that same land is overwhelmingly dominated by the billion-pounds stadium in which I am now sitting, in awe of the grandeur and towering splendour of what Spurs can boast is one of the finest football grounds in the world. It truly is magnificent. Take a bow, Daniel Levy.

When I reported from the old, Victorian-built Lane for the first time back in 1958 the press box was tucked away at the back of the main stand behind the directors’ seats. There were no telephone points and copy boys had to race downstairs to dictate running match reports back to newspaper telephonists sitting at typewriters in their Fleet Street offices. These were the now defunct copy takers.

I wrote on an Olivetti portable typewriter, with carbon paper for back-up. Now I am sitting with my ageing fingers dancing on my Apple MacBook keyboard, connected directly to the internet and in a seat as comfortable as in a plush cinema. We are on another planet.

A hour to kick-off and already there are thousands of excited spectators in their seats and exploring the impressive new surroundings as we await the kick-off. And it’s snowing … now switching to Twitter and Facebook posts … excuse the tears splashing on my keyboard …

 

 

THE NEW LANE OF DREAMS

GORDON BANKS, Superman, Super guy

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The football family gathered to say a final fond farewell to the goalkeeping genius Gordon Banks. Everywhere you looked in the vast Stoke Minster church there was a football face, with goalkeepers galore. Look there, Pat Jennings and Peter Shilton, over there Ray Clemence and David Seaman, just behind them old Manchester rivals Joe Corrigan and Alex Stepney, and here come – carrying the great man’s coffin in an achingly poignant procession – current ‘keepers Joe Hart. Kasper Schmeichel , Jack Butland,  and Joe Anyon of Chesterfield, where Gordon started his League career more than 60 years ago.

People outside the game do not realise that the football world is really just a large village, where everybody knows – and mostly respects – everybody else. Over there the Charlton brothers, both frail now but determined to be present at the farewell of their old team-mate, with whom they tasted the ultimate of all glories, winning of the World Cup in 1966.

The Golden Boys of ’66 are also represented by RogerHunt – carrying his 80 years with upright dignity – and squad members Norman Hunter, Ian Callaghan and, flying in from his South African home, the ‘nimble as a thimble’ George Eastham, who shared with Gordon the Man of the Match honours when Stoke won the League Cup 47 years to the day in 1972.

Footballing master Alan Hudson was there along with a host of former and present Stoke City players, including Garth Crooks who later decorated White Hart Lane with his energy and expertise.

Speaking for us all, Sir Geoff Hurst talked of Gordon being a Superman on the pitch – “There is photographic proof that he could actually fly” –and a super guy off the pitch, without airs and graces, and always looking to share a joke. A wonderful human being, and his personality reflected in the quiet, warm dignity shown by his widow Ursula, son Robert and daughters Julia and Wendy, and a myriad of grandchildren and great grandchildren. A full life, well lived.

We sang our hearts out for Banksie on Abide with Me and Jerusalem, and the disembodied voice of Frank Sinatra sang the coffin out of the church with one of Gordon’s anthems, My Way.

Gordon’s popularity went far beyond the touchlines and the terraces, and this was reflected by the number of survivors from the 1966 Wembley Press Box who made it to Stoke Minster to pay their respects. I was thrilled to be reunited with old buddies like David Miller, Jeff Powell, Steve Curry, James Mossop, Colin Malam, Brian Scovell, Bob Harris, Paddy Barclay, and many more who were there as proud members of the football family chroniclers. The PFA was represented by Gordon Taylor. I used to write about him in his wing-along days with the Bs of the game, Bolton, Birmingham City, Blackburn and Bury. He summed it all up by saying on behalf of the football family: “What a great ambassador Gordon was, not only for our game but the human race.”

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Gordon was one of my favourite people, and we collaborated together on two books: his autobiography Banks of England and, in harness with his agent Terry Baker, Banks v Pele, which told the tale of THAT save in the 1970 World Cup finals. One of his best friends was  the king of goal scorers Jimmy Greaves, who often put the ball past his mate into the net and would then jokingly apologise!

Jimmy was represented at the funeral by his spitting-image son, Andy, who told me: “Dad is too unwell to be here but he is with Gordon in spirit. They loved each other, y’know. It was laughter all the time when they were together.”

My cherished Gordon/Greavsie story  was the one he told when he, Jimmy and I were lunching together to flesh out a chapter on Jimmy that we included in the Banks of England book. This is a snatch of their conversation:

Greavsie: “How about that penalty I scored against you at White Hart Lane …”

Banksie: “ It was the craziest penalty goal ever allowed. There was hardly any grass around and I had gone to the back of the net to wipe all the mud off my gloves ready to face the penalty …”

Greavsie: “For a laugh, I side footed the ball from the spot into the other side of the net while you were bending down with your back to me …”

Banksie: “And the twit of a referee went and gave a goal. What made it worse was that instead of telling the ref he was wrong, even my Leicester team-mates were falling about laughing.”

Greavsie: “You chased the referee all the way back to the centre circle and all you got for your trouble was a booking in the days before yellow and red cards.”

Banksie: “He wrote my name down in his little black book, and I told him where to stick it. I don’t think I’ve ever been so angry on a football pitch, but I’ve done nothing but laugh about it since. It was hilarious … but not at the time.”

That’s how we should remember Gordon, with a smile on his face. It was a smile he put on the face of football. And he certainly did it HIS way.

Thank you, Gordon. Life’s race well run, life’s duty well done, life’s victory won, now cometh rest.

RIP Gordon Banks OBE 1937-2019

GORDON BANKS, Superman, Super guy

SPURS ’67

 

SPURS ’67 takes us back to one of the most eventful seasons for Tottenham as they set out to complete the hat-trick of FA Cup Final victories in the Swinging Sixties. Waiting for them at Wembley are Tommy Docherty’s elegant but unpredicatable Chelsea team. It is the first ever ‘Cockney Cup Final’. This is my personal memory of the season, mixed and shaken with the recollections of the players and managers, and stirred with the eyewitness reports of spectators who were there. The result, an exciting cocktail of a book for any football fan who enjoys stories about the Golden Age of the English game.

In my then role as chief football writer for the Daily Express I was in the privileged position of having a foot in both the Tottenham and Chelsea camps, and many of my close-up stories are being published for the first time. The book is introduced by legends of the game, Tottenham goalkeeper Pat Jennings and Chelsea’s famously fearsome Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris, who at 22 was then the youngest FA Cup captain.

Spurs ’67 is a replay of footballing times that now seem from another planet, with physical challenges allowed and encouraged, and players earning less than today’s ‘superstars’ pay their chauffeurs. It is nostalgic reading for supporters of a certain age, and must-reading for those too young to have been there but wish to have full knowledge of Tottenham’s glorious history.

This paperback version of the book is, in particular, a tribute to two Tottenham legends: manager ‘Sir’ Bill Nicholson and ‘Miracle Man’ captain Dave Mackay.

Author/publisher Norman Giller is making a donation from each copy sold   to the Tottenham Tribute Trust, which helps the old Tottenham heroes who have hit difficult times. The RRP for the fully illustrated, 224-page book is £9.99 + £2P&P. Thank you for your support on behalf of Norman Giller and the Trust. You can order a SIGNED copy right now via the PayPal button.

 

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BORIS AND REX

“Boris, Rex Tillerson.”

“Good to hear from you Tillers.”

“Sorry I had to bump you off the Moscow jaunt with Putin. It was big boys’ stuff.”

“Might have been worse. Golly, could have been bumped off a United airliner.”

“Vlad sends his regards. Says he’ll agree to see you when he gets his invite to ride in the Queen’s gold coach.”

“Saving that for the Donald. Her Majesty can’t wait.”

“Now that House Speaker Paul Ryan has announced we’re ready to do a bilateral trade deal once you’ve tunnelled your way out of Europe, I just want to lay down a few post-Brexit ground rules.”

“Can’t wait. We’re geared up to sell you the best of British, starting with thousands of motor cars that we manufacture. We can supply a full range of Nissans, BMWs, Toyotas, Honda …”

“Woah … they need to be solely British … How about Jag-u-ars … I could drive one around for you as a sort of showpiece.”

“Uh, they’re owned by the Indians. Guess we could revive the popular Robin Reliant three-wheeler that was made in Tamworth.”

“Well, I’m sure we could do a great deal with your coal.”

“Bit difficult. Mrs T shut down the pits.”

“Ok, how about your North Sea oil. We’ll take as many barrels as you can produce.”

“Awkward. We’re running low and, anyway, they’re in Scottish waters and Scotland may stay in Europe.”

“The President will be outraged. He wants to do a deal for Turnberry sweaters. We’ve got a ready market for them here in the States. Just one proviso, they must have the Trump logo.”

“But all our woollen goods are produced in India and beautifully made by 12-year-old schoolchildren. They are enormously talented.”

“Well I’m sure you’ll come up with something that is British made and passes the President’s test, which is they must not have any Muslim connection.”

“How about British bricks for the great Mexican wall?”

“Great idea, provided you get the Mexicans to pay for them.”

“We’ve got the best technical wizards in the world. We can supply you with computers galore.”

“You’ve not heard of Silicon Valley? That’s already over-run with Brits, and the President thinks Americans should have their jobs.”

“Who will we need to negotiate with to get our Trade Deal up and running?”

“Oh, haven’t you heard? The President has appointed as his UK-trade spokesman Lord Farage …”

“But … but … but he’s not a lord …”

“That’s the President’s price for a Trade Deal. And Farage must also travel in the gold coach …”

“Cripes. Is there a zip wire where I can hang myself?”

BORIS AND REX

HELPING OUR SPURS HEROES

PLEASE read below and if you are a true Tottenham fan I am sure you will want to help our old heroes. Soon I am going to post a Wall of Thanks to all who have supported the Tottenham Tribute Trust by buying my Spurs 67 book from http://www.normangillerbooks.com/spurs-67/4554925859 … Not a penny going into my pocket. Hurry if you want to be included on the Wall! I have had the blessing on the project from Pat Jennings, Cliff Jones and Ossie Ardiles, who congratulate everybody who is supporting the Trust. Please share this with Spurs friends. Thank youDEMENTIA 67

 

HELPING OUR SPURS HEROES