Another football related post. Yesterday, in our 1-0 defeat of reigning champions Manchester City, Harry Kane (above, right) scored the winning goal, which turned out to be his 200th goal in the Premier League, becoming only the third player in the Premier League to reach that milestone. More importantly, it was his 267th goal for Tottenham Hotspur, thereby becoming our highest ever goalscorer. The record he broke was that held by the great Jimmy Greaves, whose tally of 266 was, I always thought, impenetrable. Greavsie, above left, passed away last year and that’s when I made this little image of him. I also made one of Ian St. John, who also died, and was his long-term TV partner. As a kid in the 80s, the Greavsie of the telly and the Greavsie of the Spurs record books were two different people, I just would not believe they were the same guy. We loved Greavsie, he was this jolly bloke who made football on TV fun. Saint and Greavsie, the show the pair of them did, was genuinely hilarious, and Jimmy Greaves was this bubbly balding bloke with mischievous eyes and a bushy moustache, a cheeky chirpy Cockney chappie, cheerful and cheesy, while amiable Scot Ian St. John was his perfect foil, I wouldn’t say the Wise to Jimmy’s Morecambe, but Saint was very funny in his own right and they were a great double-act when talking footy, and Saint genuinely seemed to love Greavsie. We all did. (I loved Saint as well, and knew he was a Liverpool legend). When I would be shown pictures of this great star of Tottenham’s history – which in those days was less than twenty years before – I couldn’t believe it. this guy with short dark hair, thin serious face, no jolly ‘tache, and every time he got the ball he would race past people like they were not worthy of his time, before slotting the ball deftly into the goal, over and over again, for both Spurs and England (as well as Chelsea and AC Milan, from whom we bought him in 1961). It was injury that kept him from playing a role in the 66 World Cup Final, losing his place to a guy called Hurst who ended up doing quite well himself. After his time at Spurs ended he played for various clubs, and the drinking happened, and eventually he became the Greavsie I knew. He was a club legend though, one of the all-time greats, and even though he’s now only fifth on the all-time England charts, his goals per game ratio is one of the best, scoring 44 in 57 (current all-time best Wayne Rooney for example got 53 in 120, and long-term holder Bobby Charlton had 49 in 106; Greavsie was legendary). For Tottenham, that tally of 266 in 379 games seemed like something nobody would ever reach again. For one thing, even our legendary strikers tend not to stay for that long, or maybe wane a little. Clive Allen was the big striker when I was ten, eleven years old, scoring 49 in that one season, but even he didn’t keep that up and we ended up selling him to Bordeaux of all places (and bringing in Gary Lineker! Who scored a bunch before going to live in Japan). Great strikers like Keane and Defoe were never reaching Greavsie’s level, and when someone looked really good, a bigger team that was winning trophies would lure them away, your Berbatovs and your Bales. And then along came Harry Kane. Born in Walthamstow into a Spurs-loving family, he was actually on Arsenal’s books as a boy, but ended up coming through Tottenham’s youth teams before turning pro. He struggled at first to make that first team, spending time out on loan, and then being part of our Europa League campaigns, but not getting much of a shot in the Premier League. Until he did, and then he started scoring loads. He was branded a one-season wonder. He kept on scoring. He wasn’t a particularly fashionable name, but he kept on scoring. That Spurs team of around 2016, 2017, they were so bloody good, and he just kept on scoring. There was talk of other big clubs wanting him, but Spurs were not letting go. “He’s one of our own!” was the chant we would sing, being the local lad made good. He kept banging them in for England, but people were still all, “yeah but lots of them are penalties, they are against weak teams, blah blah”. He changed his game, dropped deeper, starting getting almost as many assists as goals, something ignored by people I would speak to who would always be “he just wants the goals for himself”. His price tag was so high that if anyone wanted him, they would probably need to build as a second new stadium to pay for it. He nearly did get to leave, when Man City wanted to snatch him away, but in the end he stayed, and set his sights on that Greavsie record, and maybe finally getting us a trophy. Well, we have no trophy, but Kane has finally reached the magic Greaves line, and whatever happens now, he’s a club legend for all time. Alan Shearer is perhaps Newcastle’s greatest ever name, with zero silverware to show for it (he did win the league with Blackburn, but kids would believe that now about as much as kids in the 80s would believe that Jimmy Greaves off the TV was some sort of amazing goal machine). Maybe now Kane has done this, if we don’t get a trophy this year, and after his world Cup disappointments with England, maybe Kane will be given his leave to go and pick up a free medal at Bayern or PSG or dare I say it Man United, but it wouldn’t mean as much. Or maybe he will stay, and see us to the promised land? As Greavsie would say, football is a funny old game. Either way, Harry Kane, we salute you, the all-new Greatest Of All Time*. You deserve it.
(*though I still love Ossie Ardiles best)