1992 and all that…

by Henry Hotspur

It's taken us a while to get here, and there have been a couple of false-dawns on the way, but 'Henry Hotspur' thinks we've finally arrived.

Second place secured; 80+ points; an unbeaten home record; Arsenal out of sight and St Totteringham’s Day cancelled. I’d love to be writing ‘League Champions and FA Cup final to look forward to’ but it – only just – wasn’t to be. I don’t know about you but I don’t feel overawed by our lofty position. It’s ours and we deserve it. Back where we belong. Things haven’t gone all ‘Spursy’. This club deserves it but it’s taken us footballing eons to regain our rightful position.

Despite being one of only a handful of sides not to have been relegated from the Premier League the quarter of a century since the re-branding by Sky have at times been tough, ugly and fairly forgettable. Yes, there were ups but there were also plenty of downs. Since 1992 Tottenham Hotspur have won two League Cups – a woeful return for a club as steeped in glory as ours. In the quarter of a century prior to 1992 we won 4 FA Cups; 2 League Cups; and 2 UEFA cups.

Beyond mere silverware, this club was known for its swashbuckling style, for dashing entertainment, for push and run and for the first forays into Europe. It’s hard sometimes to recall the days prior to Sky’s Year Zero re-branding but the name Tottenham Hotspur was synonymous with flair and panache. Even our name is unique. There are lots of City’s and United’s but only one Hotspur – conjuring up images of Shakespearean pluck and daring do…

I don’t know about you but I don’t feel overawed by our lofty position. It’s ours and we deserve it.

I have no doubt that our lack of PL/Sky Sports era success is due to the fact that Spurs were caught napping. While some clubs hit the ground running in the 1990’s, others took longer to gain momentum. Ours was left behind completely. Stuck in neutral and reeling from internal feuds, near bankruptcy and half-cocked short term-ism. The damage caused first by the Scholar/Maxwell/Venables/Sugar bids, buy-outs and wrangling, then by the Lord Sugar’s ‘buy low-sell high grubby Thatcherite principles’ would have us suffering the repercussions deep into the next century.

Sky Sports own darlings – Manchester United – were in prime position to take advantage of the changed conditions of top flight football. Newcastle and Blackburn both enjoyed injections of cash from wealthy fan/patrons which would be dwarfed in the 2000’s by the billions ploughed into Chelski and Citeh. Arsenal and Liverpool eventually caught up too. Old grounds grew into much larger stadia. Where clubs couldn’t expand, they moved. We filled in the Shelf and stuck in some seats over existing terraces. Our capacity throughout has never topped 36000.

There were times when I was convinced we were on the cusp of regaining our rightful place – Ossie’s gung-ho famous five madness; Jol’s Berba-inspired XI; Bale’s coming of age era-Spurs – but alas these were false dawns. So often the leadership at the club resembled the weather-vane of wrong. If the successful clubs of the era pointed one way, we would look the other. “Oh, you’ve got Bergkamp have you? Well, we’ve just bought Chris Armstrong”. If we needed to stump up that little bit more cash for a quality signing, we’d refuse and take the moral high ground, only to panic later on and hurl cash at clubs for mediocre players, as if pitchforking hay into a furnace.

There were times when I was convinced we were on the cusp of regaining our rightful place

They say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I believe that the success we are all enjoying now, not to mention the trophies which will soon start to arrive, tastes all the sweeter for having lived through the Raincoat/Gross years; 3-point-lane; lasagna-gate; the letter from Rivaldo etc etc. Meanwhile it seems that another proverb, that of learning from one’s mistakes, might prove to be the making of Daniel Levy. For having kissed innumerable frogs, we have surely found our Prince in Poch.

It’s taken a quarter of a century to finally catch-up but Spurs – with a new stadium rising from the ashes of the old; state of the art training facilities; world class coaching; and a squad of young motivated and talented players – have finally arrived.

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Henry Hotspur


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