Colin Grainger

Come On You Spurs

Jimmy Greaves playing for Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane in 1965.

Jimmy Greaves playing for Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane in 1965.

It’s 51 years since I first stepped inside White Hart Lane. And over 1,500 home games later, the magic is still there.

There is still that tingle down the spine. Supporting the team that is close to your heart is a feeling like no other.

Add in a few hundred away games, ranging from friendlies in far off places, to cup semi-finals and finals, and a few reserve games and I suppose I am nearing the 2,000 figure for games attended.

There are many things in life you can change, replace or discard… but no true football fan can ever swap the team he supports.

There have been heartaches and tragedies, but the joys and the feeling of belonging to something special never leaves you.

In truth, at the age of eight I was a Jimmy Greaves fan before I became a Tottenham Hotspur supporter a few weeks later.

Being born and bred in Plaistow, North Woolwich, Silvertown, Manor Park and East Ham in the heart of Hammers territory, and for someone who worked for and edited the local newspaper covering the Irons for 40 years, how did it happen?

I listened to a radio commentary in 1961 on the old BBC Home Service of  the greatest striker in the world doing his bit for England and suddenly I was hooked.

‘Sir’ Billy Nick signed him for £99,999 in 1961 and in 1962, my mother Lily took me to my first game at the Lane to see the club that had won the double the previous year and had now added the master to their ranks. The Lilywhites did not disappoint.

It seems impossible now that it was six old pence, yes, 6d, to get in.

It was at this time, in the heady European nights, that OUR anthem Glory, Glory, Halleluyah was adopted by the Tottenham faithful.

In the same way they buy most things, Man Utd tried to nick it a few years ago and changed the lyrics… but make no mistake, there are plenty of Uniteds in the world, but only one Hotspur, and its our anthem.

Throughout the next six or even years that followed when Spurs were not at home, I would go with my dad Bill to watch Charlton at the Valley, though the main event I cherish there was the 1974 Who concert! Or I would go with my uncle Tom or schoolfriends to also watch West Ham United.

But home, White Hart Lane, has always been where the heart is.

From the sixties and seventies and into the eighties, nineties and the last two decades I’ve been there through thick and thin.

Down the years there have been many many great players, great managers and many great Spurs teams. There have also been many, many dear friends and family that I have travelled to Spurs games with, generations of them. It’s a way of life and governs your existence in so many ways.

Sunshine, rain, wind and snow, you follow your team everywhere.

Away games have a special flavour about them. Probably the wettest I have ever got is when my wife Lesley and I were in the old south bank at Upton Park. A stirring 2-2 battle between two teams. Gilzean and Greaves starring.

When our children Angela and James were born. It was natural they followed the Lilywhites. Ange was the youngest ever baby pictured in the Tottenham matchday programme wearing a Spurs shirt. I forgot to mention that at her wedding two years ago but am remedying that now. Now where’s that picture…

James is currently following his team from his new life in Buenos Aires. Due to the miracles of modern technology, he has not missed a game this season!

Like their dad, they have had season tickets in the Park Lane, East Stand and the Paxton. We never have quite had the dosh for the West stand.

We have watched one game officially in the west stand in 50 years – we lost to Burnley at home, and James and Angela spent most of the time drawing!

I watched some games in the 80s when I was lucky enough to work in security there for a short time and have been also fortunate to have sampled the executive box atmosphere in the west, east and Paxton.

But it’s the special atmosphere in the stands that makes it such a special experience.

Hugging your son, daughter, best mate… or a complete stranger just can’t be bettered.

Spurs have always been associated with an entertaining style of play… the Tottenham way.

This first surfaced in the 50s with the Push and Run team managed by Arthur Rowe, which my late uncle Alf never tired of telling me about.It was followed in the 60s by the Double team managed by the Bill Nicholson. The 80’s team of Keith Burkinshaw also reached great heights.

They captured the type of football that Spurs fans have come to expect.

I hope to share some more memories of Spurs in the near future.

But for now, we hope that we are once again on the brink of achieving great things.

Our legends of Audere Est Facere, (“To dare is to do”) and Come On You Spurs are a magnificent sight around the ground (unless they are shamefully plastered over by UEFA logos for European matches).

For around the last 15 years we have met up in the 703 Club in the High Road before games, and that has many happy memories for us. It’s a gathering of true Spurs fans who know their football.

But the five minute walk takes us to White Hart Lane. And once inside… that is what makes us so passionate about our team.

It’s a special place. COYS. 

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