Updated: May 10
I’ve known Jim Duggan for years, from back in the day when his TopSpurs website was flying high, and the accompanying message board was one of the best online Spurs communities. None of that is any reason for me to say I like his book and, if truth be told, I was a bit worried when he told me it was going to be in the list format. I needn’t have been, as there’s plenty of imagination along with the hard facts.
Jim’s always been great for identifying patterns amid the stats, so here you’ll find a table setting out the uncanny similarities between the reigns of Gerry Francis and Martin Jol (apart from the quality of the football) beside the more usual lists of highest scores, worst defeats and most-used substitutes. There’s “11 unmissable terrace moments” which includes the explanation of why the 5-1 win over Chelsea in the League Cup semi is known as the ‘Arfa’ game, a list of the best and worst dates on which to watch Spurs, and a wonderfully partisan “8 FA Cup semi-final injustices”.
All the history, stats and facts is in here if you want to get the basics in one volume. But it’s in the genuine fan perspective and the neat way with words that Jim employs that the real value is added. Take this from a list of Hoddle’s greatest moments: “Arsenal never had a player like him, and if you chose to support anyone else while Hoddle was playing, there’s something wrong with you.” The description of Sugar and Venables as “A double act where the straight man wasn’t funny and the funny man wasn’t straight” elicited a hearty chuckle, and there’s a brilliant section on Spurs nicknames. If you don’t know who was dubbed ‘Omar’ or why Gregorsz Rasiak was called ‘The Pianoman’, you’ll find the answers here.
There’s more serious, but equally imaginative, stuff here, like “17 moments from a parallel Spurs universe” and “The 10 events that killed the old Spurs” particularly guaranteed to cause a few pub debates. And there’s some quality stuff on the classic songs sung on the terraces over the years. In the closing chapter, in which Jim talks us through his personal favourite seasons, shows the real supporters’ spirit, rounding off nicely the conclusion in his introduction which says that “this book is for all those who travel hopefully and don’t take it too seriously”.
The only negative observation is that me and Adam Powley’s book The Boys from White Hart Lane is only listed at no 2 in “6 of the best Spurs books”. FFS!
Seriously, this is a highly-recommended read, a genuine must-have for any proper fan’s collection. In an increasingly bland, corporatised football environment, it’s important to have a reminder of why this is our game.
• The Glory of Spurs is available from the inappropriately-named Crimson Publishing, but will surely not remain never read.