Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Spurs' Cult Heroes by Michael Lacquiere
Michael Da Silva
When the BBC's Football Focus programme were running their 'Cult Heroes' segment in 2005, they announced Paul Gascoigne as Tottenham Hotspur's all-time cult hero, and who, you might think, can argue with that? One of the most naturally talented players England has ever produced, a scorer of memorable goals, and a genius so flawed that he wasn't all that different to the late great George Best.
But it's not until a book like Spurs' Cult Heroes by Michael Lacquiere, a self-confessed long-suffering Tottenham fan, comes along that you can really appreciate the greatness that has graced the White Hart Lane turf over the years.
Although the list could have included twice as many names, Lacquiere has kept it down to 20, deciding to omit the likes of Villa, Thorsvedt, Crooks, Peters, Archibald, Sheringham and Lineker.
It's not surprising, perhaps, that a chapter hasn't been reserved for the rock of the defence, the towering and inspirational captain, Sol Campbell (who left the club under a cloud). And for similar reasons, Dimitar Berbatov is also absent.
Lacquiere uses his introduction to achieve two main goals: to condense the interesting story behind Tottenham's conception and non-league roots into a few paragraphs, and to apologise for Cult Heroes' omissions, accepting that every Spurs fan will have their own list. So, given that disclaimer (and there are a couple of substitutions I would have made), he has it just about right.
Lacquiere taps into the idiosyncrasies of Spurs fans; Gleaming white shirts, years ending in '1', glorious European nights, foreign flair players, questionable musical offerings and magical Wembley moments. All these memories keep Spurs fans going amid the recent decade of domination of Manchester United, Chelsea and, most painfully, Arsenal. But this is a celebration of one of the proudest, most famous clubs in the land. A team who take pride in playing football the way it should be played and whose history is packed with heroes.
The bone-shuddering challenges of Dave Mackay and Graham Roberts are given just as much prominence as the artistry of Glen Hoddle and Chris Waddle. Indeed, (almost) everyone from Sandy Brown to David Ginola are covered in the book.
Lacquiere delves into the cherished flashpoints in Tottenham's history, including the story behind the iconic photo of Dave Mackay grabbing Scottish upstart Billy Bremner by the neck in '66, and the 30-yard pile-driver from Gazza against Arsenal at Wembley in '91, which proved to be the zenith of his Tottenham career.
Today's culture of mollycoddled superstars earning exorbitant salaries makes it difficult to remember what football used to be like, but Lacquiere covers a lot of ground in reminding Spurs fans exactly what made them fall in love with the club in the first place, the personalities that make Tottenham Hotspur the great club that it is and, ultimately, why they put themselves through it.