As the chief football writer of the Daily Express in its heydey, Giller is better placed than many to deliver a fitting tribute, and the first part of the book draws on the wealth of facts and anecdotes he’s built up in a lifetime of sports writing. There are some real gems tucked away in the pages. The second half of the book consists of the memories of Spurs fans, collected through a website Norman set up while writing the book. In this section you’ll find a short contribution from yours truly, and Norman’s been kind enough to include reference to my book The Boys from White Hart Lane.
This post is not just about repaying a favour though. The book should find an audience in anyone interested in Spurs in particular, but also in the history of football and in the traditions of oral history. But it’s Giller himself who provides an inspirational figure. At 69 years old, he is as prolific as ever – The Lane of Dreams is his 82nd book. He’s worked with Jimmy Greaves and Frank Bruno, Pele and Dickie Bird, and once did some PR for Muhammed Ali (remarking afterwards “He needed a PR like Einstein needed a calculator”). He worked on the This is Your Life script team for years, produced a series of comedy novels of the Carry On films, and devised a number of TV series, including Petrolheads. And Norman’s embrace of the internet and the ingenuity of his publishing plans really is something to behold.
Our paths crossed when we found ourselves contributing to a discussion on subbing on the Press Gazette message boards (we live such rock ‘n’ roll lives), and we’ve kept in touch since, swapping stories and arguments along the way. I’ve only known Norman a few months, but his energy and zest for life is an inspiration, and his kindness and generosity are immediately evident. Plus it helps that we like football, Frank Sinatra and classic British comedy. Only recently, Norman has been very kind in helping me out with a project of my own.
It’s a pretty good example of the connections that can be made quickly and deeply via social media, which is one reason I took some time writing this post – just in case it came across as a bit of a love-in! I also feel very lucky to have met and worked with, in various capacities, two journalists (Norman and Julie Welch) who I grew up reading.
Anyone interested in finding out more about the book, and buying it, can click on the cover image above.