Fast-forward to Fall, here’s something fun. This season (2022-23) Tottenham Hotspur are playing in the Champions League. You wouldn’t know it the way we have been playing, but it’s true. For those unfamiliar, I’m a massive Spurs fan, ever since I was a little kid obsessed with Ossie Ardiles and Glenn Hoddle. It came from my big brother, who used to go to every game in the early 1980s, and still has his collection of programmes, especially the 1980-81 and 1981-82 ones all bound in the official binder, every single game. We were great back then. I didn’t start going until 1983 I think it was (might have been ’85; it was a game against Everton and we lost 2-1, I think it was the 83/84 season because I have a memory of Marc Falco scoring while my brother was in the toilet, but it might have been the 84/85 season, and Graham Roberts scored in that one) (the internet’s great isn’t it, you can look up any old football score, but you can’t tell if you were there, and I don’t have the programme any more). By the way, Americans would say ‘program’ instead of ‘programme’ – “there’s no ‘me’ in ‘program’!” – but to us quaint British folk from Jollie Olde EngerLandde we still use the traditional ‘programme’, same as we use ‘colour’, doughnut’ and ‘aluminium’. We just like extra letters, while in America they are removed to make more room for advertising space. Anyway, I used to have all the programmes for games I went to in my old bedroom at home, and then I remember that a bunch of them got wet because (it was assumed) the cat did a wee on them. I think the radiator leaked on them. Whatever the culprit was, some of my own programmes got a bit damaged. That said I still have a bunch of them in the loft of my mum’s house, and they are mixed in with a bunch that were given to me by my brother-in-law at the time, also a Spurs fanatic who went to a lot of games. Last summer when I was back in London I went into the loft to find these old programmes and bring them back to the US with me, including a copy of the 1981 FA Cup Final, which I treasured when I was a kid. This is another one he left me, when Spurs played Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1981-82 European Cup-Winner’s Cup. That competition doesn’t exist any more, but it was always my favourite one of the three, which in those days were the European Cup – now the Champions League – which only the league champions could play in, your Liverpools, Aston Villas, Nottingham Forests; the Cup-Winners Cups, for the winners of a country’s main domestic cup, so in England the FA Cup winners would play in it, your Tottenhams, Arsenals, Man Uniteds – Spurs won in 1981 so we were in it for the 81-82 season, eventually going out to Barcelona in the semi-final; and the UEFA Cup – previously the Fair’s Cup, now called the Europa League – which was for those teams who came second, third and fourth in the league, your Ipswiches, Watfords, Evertons. I remember the French magazine France Football would always just call them ‘C1’, ‘C2’ and ‘C3’ respectively, indicating the order of their importance. When the Cup-Winner’s Cup was finally given the boot at the end of the 1990s, it became one of those things we old people who go on about the 80s and 90s love to reminisce about. For Spurs it had historical importance – we were the first English club to win a European trophy, that being the 1963 European Cup-Winners Cup, beating Atletico Madrid 5-1 (get in there Greavsie!). We would wear all-white in our early European adventures, so that the kit would appear glow under the floodlights, these mostly being evening games – the ‘Glory Glory Nights’, as they became known. It’s still our tradition to wear all-white in Europe as a home kit, instead of the usual navy shorts. Nowadays if I tell people about Spurs winning the 1963 Cup-Winners Cup, I may as well be saying we won the Anglo-Italian Cup or the Makita Tournament or the Wembley Arena Indoor 5-a-side or something. Hey, I still count Le Tournoi as an England trophy.
I thought I’d draw this though in honour of Spurs playing Eintracht Frankfurt once again (twice actually, two legs), this time in the Champions League, or ‘C1’ as France Football calls it. I believe they still call the Europa League ‘C3’; there is no ‘C2’. I wonder if the new Conference League, in which Spurs played last season in the inaugural competition, is called ‘C4’? I know you don’t really care. So I found this old programme, which I think was one of the earliest exposures I had to German football, indeed the German language, as we used to always have a section in the language of our guests, welcoming them to White Hart Lane (in this case, Wilkommen to Weiss Harz Strasse) (actually I think it would be “Weißer Hirsch” but as with all translation it’s much funnier when it’s wrong). I used to look at all the players they had, not really knowing who any of them were, although one of their subs in the programme was a young Joachim Löw, future excellently-dressed World Cup-winning boss of Germany. They also had a player I remember called Bum Kun Cha, who was the most famous South Korean player I knew until my favourite guy Sonny years later, and I remember seeing him again in the Mexico 86 sticker album (and yes, child me giggled that he had the word ‘Bum’ in his name, which middle-aged me would of course not do). Frankfurt’s assistant manager was called ‘Dieter Stinka’ though, which middle-aged me still finds very funny. Their coach was Lothar Buchmann, which makes me think of the library cop from Seinfeld, Bookman – “well I gotta flash for ya, joy-boy!” – and he looks a bit like your secondary school’s deputy headmaster in 1985. Their main player was Bruno Pezzey, who I don’t know much about but German friends I know who were watching football at the time are very familiar with him. I looked him up, Bruno Pezzey, it turns out he was Austrian, and born in the very small town of Lauterach, in Vorarlberg. Lauterach is where I spent two weeks in 1991 on a school exchange trip to Austria, staying with a family there, riding a bike around in the rain, hanging out with students from the Lauterach high school, doing a work experience in a small advertising agency up a mountain next to the nearby town of Dornbirn. Pezzey tragically died in 1994 aged only 39, and his youth club FC Lauterach have a sports center named in his honour. The things you learn. The other people on the cover are our great boss, General Burkinshaw, under whom we signed Argentinian World-Cup winners Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa, and won three trophies (the FA Cup in 1981 and 1982, the the UEFA Cup in 1984). These days of course we don’t need to win ‘trophies’, just being good sometimes is a trophy in itself, just participating in the Champions League occasionally is definitely something we hang in our trophy cabinet, or the half-and-half scarves with teams like Monaco and Dortmund at least. The other guy is our long-time captain and club legend, Steve Perryman. When I think of the phrase Club Captain, I think of Steve Perryman. A tough little fellow, I never actually met him, but I did get a nod from him as he walked past me when he was player-manager of Brentford back in the like 1989 or something. Maybe he was nodding at someone else. On that same day I did get to actually meet Geoffrey from Rainbow though, which was a massive deal, and he drew a little picture of Zippy for me. Not a very good picture of Zippy admittedly, but I don’t think Geoffrey did the artwork in Rainbow, that was probably done by Bungle or someone. I do have Perryman’s autograph though – on my 40th birthday, as a special present my older brother got me an official programme from the game Spurs played on the day I was born, a home game vs West Ham, and had it signed by Steve Perryman himself. I have it framed on my wall, and Steve wishes me a Happy Birthday “Pete”, with my name in inverted commas like it’s some kind of nickname or alias. Still, it’s something I treasure.
Incidentally, Tottenham won this game 2-0. We also won the game in 2022, 3-2.