A Spurs gem from the Sportsnight archives

There’s a great clip from the BBC’s Sportsnight being passed around the Spurs virtual community at the moment. It’s a special made to mark the club’s centenary in 1982 and it’s provided me with a lovely bit of indulgence during my lunch break. The special, in two parts, is posted below for you to enjoy below the ‘fold’ so that any non-Spurs fans reading this (I like to kid myself there’s a varied readership) can avoid it if they want. But it’s worth a look not just for the Spurs angle, but for the way the reporting is done.

The programme is an unashamed appeal to the heart, celebrating the style and tradition of Spurs over 100 years. It’s a reminder of when football was an escape, so there’s very little reference to business plans or all the commercial malarky of modern football that we are supposed to get excited about these days. I know I open myself up to the charge of being a naive romantic when I say that, but sometimes it’s worth remembering that this game we love is a sport first and foremost. So indulge, just for a minute.

There are some lovely moments throughout, including some clips of my all-time football hero Danny Blanchflower in action. The Double team sequences are a treat and, inevitably, take up much of the tale. There’s also some footage of the famous FA Cup semi-final replay in 1981 against Wolves at Highbury. I didn’t know any footage of that existed and it’s the first I’ve seen of that action since I watched from high on the side of the North Bank 31 years ago. Spurs were thrilling that night, and enemy territory was packed with Spurs fans. It was a night that has stayed seared on my memory, but memory inevitably fades with time – especially when the excitement of teenage years comes between, and it fair brought a lump to my throat.

There’s an emotional moment too right at the end when Arthur Rowe is asked what the club means to him. It’s powerful stuff. The moment has power but it is not milked, and that’s in keeping with a beautifully-made piece of sports journalism. It’s far removed from the frantic, hyperbolic, self-important and knowingly arch stuff we’re used to these days. The story is given room to breathe, the editing simple and skilled, the mix of still image and moving picture expertly done to counter the difficulties of presenting a story for which little footage existed. The production team unearthed some gems and presenter John Motson narrates with a lovely turn of phrase and a light touch – a reminder of how good he used to be.

For those who watch, wallow in the diversion. It’s a little escape, a reminder of times less complicated and, dare I say, more fun? Possibly a touch of rose-tinted there, but there you go. Thanks to my long-time colleague, friend and all-round top man Adam Powley for bringing that to my attention.

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