Updated: May 10, 2020
In 1986 the club produced a book called The Glory Glory Nights. It was the brainchild of then club chairman Irving Scholar, and it is probably the best thing he ever did. In the foreword, he tells how a book called Spurs Supreme, given to him by an uncle and detailing the progress of the famous Double-winning team match by match, had made a real impression on him as a youngster.
“I must have read it at least 50 times over,” he wrote, “never tiring of its content”. Inspired by this, Scholar asked journalists Harry Harris and Colin Gibson to help chart the club’s history through European competition, and enlisted the help of legendary Fleet Street sports photographer Monte Fresco.
The result was a book detailing every game the club had played in Europe, using reproductions of the original match reports and tear sheets of those articles alongside some striking photography and original interviews with the players. As someone who has been somewhat obsessed by both Spurs and newspapers for years, I must have read that book 50 times over too – just as Irving Scholar did with the book his uncle gave him.
For years, I’ve wanted to do an updated version, and it’s something Adam Powley and I suggested to Vision Sports Publishing when we began working with them some years ago. But this was a big project, one made even more difficult to achieve by the fact that obtaining copyright permission to use all the original material we needed from the press reports would be both expensive and time-consuming. The idea was shelved for a while.
Then, about two years ago, Spurs and VSP concluded a deal which saw Vision given the status of official publisher to Spurs. This enabled us to deliver the 61 book. Official backing from the club not only helped as far as marketing went, it also opened doors to players, officials and material that would otherwise not have been reachable. Drawing on experience and contacts we’d made while working on the epic Spurs Opus, Adam, Doug and I put together a beautiful coffee table book to mark the 50th anniversary of that groundbreaking Double.
We were delighted when that book won the National Sporting Club’s Illustrated Sports Book of the Year award, and once the euphoria of that had died down, we began to think of the next project.
The next major 50-year anniversary would be to mark Spurs winning the European Cup-Winners Cup in 1963, a victory which meant Spurs were the first British team to win a major European trophy – another achievement by the club which can never be equalled. The plans for updating The Glory Glory Nights were dusted off and the club agreed to back a new edition.
We wanted to keep the contemporaneous feel of the press reports in, so we drew not only on the original reports but on others too. Instead of reproducing them in full, we drew out key quotes and wove them into a match-by-match commentary that we wrote ourselves. This enabled us to do something I always felt the original book lacked, which was to provide context to the games. We expanded on the context by planning in new, original features, so in this new edition you’ll read of the extraordinary airlift that took thousands of Spurs fans to Rotterdam in 1963, in so doing establishing the rich tradition of travelling support in Europe, and of the role played by the fans themselves. There are also some great picture features showing the players visiting some exotic locations, and the mementoes the club has gathered on its travels – if you like a vase, you’ll love that section.
The fans themselves play a key part in the story, and we include the full story of how a group of fans sparked the famous anthem that defines European nights at Spurs and from which the book takes its name. You can find and enjoy that story if you buy the book, and buying the book is the only way to fully appreciate the stunning photography selected by designer Doug Cheeseman. The book is packed with superb images, not just great action shots but evocative, atmospheric shots such as the one on the front cover and plenty of quirky detail shots that help define distant times and places. Doug has a fantastic eye for a picture and is a true artist in the way he decides when and how to deploy those images.
One of my favourites in the whole book is a picture of Johan Cruyff on the night Glenn Hoddle eclipsed him in 1984. It’s a wonderful moment that sums up the passing of the crown from one giant to another, marvellously captured by the photographer and selected and used just right by a designer prepared to put in the hours looking for just such a moment, and with the ability to recognise a gem when he sees it.
Working with Doug, as I have on and off for years since we first ran into each other in the the early days of the Tottenham Independent Supporters’ Association and The Spur fanzine, has always proved to be a pleasure. As has working with my long-time co-author Adam Powley. Ever since we met, we’ve clicked and we constantly surprise ourselves by how much we’re on each other’s wavelength, and how we can get the most out of each other. Adam and I worked closely on the match reports and special features, while he did the lion’s share of the work in providing the many new interviews we’ve been able to include, among them Cliff Jones, Martin Chivers, Alan Mullery, Michael Dawson and Gareth Bale. Gareth has also been kind enough to provide the foreword to the book.
The club has been extremely helpful in assisting in the production of The Glory Glory Nights. Long-time press officer John Fenelly has been a Spurs insider longer than anyone and he, together with club historian Andy Porter and statistician Bob Goodwin, have been generous with their time and advice. The book would not have been possible to produce without the backing of the club, and we are extremely grateful for its backing, but that official status has sometimes thrown up some tricky problems. We approached the project as journalists and supporters and that can often cause problems on official projects when – let’s say – a more PR-orientated approach is sometimes preferred by the powers that be.
But we’ve ended up with a book that we are very proud of, and that we hear the club is very pleased with too. What’s most important is that those of you who buy the book like it. We’ve worked very hard on the quality of the visuals and editorial, and to provide as full as possible a story of Spurs in Europe. In both 61 and Glory Glory, we’ve tried also to give a flavour of the pioneering spirit of Spurs at a time when the world was perhaps more optimistic, when striving for success had a tinge of excitement along with the ambition and when the achievement of that success meant more than simply a business opportunity.
We’ve been very lucky to work on a series of books chronicling the history and character of the club we’ve supported all our lives. The Spurs Opus told the full history of the club in detail never attempted before, 61 and Glory Glory tell the tale of the club’s two greatest achievements, and The Boys from White Hart Lane enabled us to get inside the character of the great early 80s team we grew up watching. It’s been an absolute pleasure to work on those projects, and we hope – without being too high faultin – that we’ve managed to create a body of work worthy of the club and its achievements. Most of all, Adam, Doug and I hope you enjoy reading one, some or all of these books as much as we’ve enjoyed working on them.
• The Glory Glory Nights is available to pre-order from Vision Sports Publishing. 61 and The Boys from White Hart Lane can also be purchased form the same site, along with the latest, updated official version of the best-selling Spurs Miscellany.