Thursday, 17 February 2011

Wear sunscreen

A letter from me, aged 43, to me, aged 10. The year is 1977. This is a pivotal moment...

Dear Such Small Portions,

Firstly, yes, I know you want to change your name. I completely understand that. And children can be cruel. But, trust me, one day you will want to write about Tottenham Hotspur (more on them in a minute) on the internet (like a snazzy Ceefax) and when you do, Such Small Portions will be a much better name than Gary.

Right, Tottenham Hotspur, the argument(s) against, let's get stuck in...

Well, no, they're not Liverpool. But, pretty soon, Liverpool won't be Liverpool. The sun will set on the Red Empire, as impossible as that sounds to you now. You're beginning to suspect that the league title belongs to Liverpool and other teams just borrow it now and again. Then give it more or less straight back. That's not the case, I swear. Although things will get worse before they get better.

Plus, if you support Liverpool you have to blub into your hanky and demand a nationwide minute's silence every time someone that played six times for the reserves in the late '50s kicks the bucket. So forget about Liverpool.

Who else is up there this year? Man City? Honestly, just a joke. Ipswich? Enjoying purple patch, will end up in brown stuff. Villa? Boring and bitter. Newcastle United? Another joke, just not a very funny one. Okay, Man Utd in 6th, but let's ignore them. While we still can. Don't ask.

Another argument against: we've just been relegated. Right, yes, tricky one this. But, let's not panic. Next season's going to be far more enjoyable than you think. Make sure you get tickets for the Bristol Rovers game in October, that's all I'm saying.

Enjoy the World Cup next summer. Look out for two players called Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricardo Villa. ITV's theme tune is ace, btw.

And watch out for young Glenda as well. He's going to be quite something, that lad.

Look, I'm not going to go into too much detail, and ultimately it's up to you. What I will say is this: Supporting Spurs will depress, frustrate and annoy you. It will probably make you a tiny bit ill and a not so tiny bit bald. The key word at most times will be 'disappointment'. You will witness humiliations and capitulations. There will be misery. There will be so much misery.

Are you in? Well you should be.

Because somehow it will all be gloriously, spectacularly worth it. The good times won't outweigh the bad times. But who cares about weight? (Actually, you will, in about 23,24 years time, but fuck it). What they will do is outshine the bad times.

They will even make you forget the bad times. Not completely and not forever, but for occasional, joyous moments of wild and perfect abandon. And those moments will be all the more joyous and all the more wild because of what we went through to get there. In those moments you will know that you made the right decision and you would not swap those moments or your Spurs, our Spurs, for anything else.

Why does God let bad things happen, ask confused innocents. Because without the bad things, how would we recognise the good things, answer idiots. Well that's also why God made Jason Dozzell. Do you see, child? There has to be contrast. You have to experience a few bumps in the road to success in order to appreciate it when you arrive. If you just set up camp there, maybe buy a villa, well eventually you get bored by the same old scenery and start calling up phone-in shows when you 'slip' to 5th. Yes I'm looking at you, Chelsea.

(And yes you're right to laugh so hard that milk comes out your nose at the concept of Chelsea fans being spoiled by success. But only if you're drinking milk. If you're not drinking milk, see a doctor, immediately. Or a vet, maybe.)

Like I say, I'm not going to promise cups and players and league positions. We can't work this out on a ledger. Besides, you will have all sorts of fun (and all sorts of other emotions) watching all those issues unfold over the next 33 years. That's sort of the entire point.

If you don't know who Danny Blanchflower is yet, look it up, then read and remember what he said about how the game's about glory. That is what supporting Spurs will be. That is what supporting Spurs means.

Come on, stick with it. Sign up for life. And while you're at it, try one of these lovely, smooth-tasting cigarettes...

Yours hopefully,

Such Small Portions

P.S. The answer to that other question is 1983, Leah, and not too bad.


  1. great piece and the best final line of any spurs blog article I've read.

  2. Thanks Tom, very glad you enjoyed it!