Updated: May 10
When he told me he was writing a book about his season following Spurs in the Champions League, I had mixed feelings. The season diary format has become hackneyed, and there’s always the fear with a friend’s book that you might not like it, putting you in an embarrassing position. I needn’t have feared. Mel’s ebook Glory Nights: From Wankdorf to Wembley is full of Mel’s personality and an essential read for any Spurs fan who wants to reinforce the memories of that wonderful campaign. Fans of football in general will also find elements to engage them, and for £4.27 it’s well worth a punt.
The book opens with a well-constructed account of why football means so much to people, and why European football has a special draw. Mel moves quickly from the general points to his own experiences, establishing a personal connection early on.
What follows could still have been a workaday match-by-match account of the campaign, but under Mel’s direction we get a bigger picture. One stand out feature of the book provides some insight into just what it takes to follow your team through Europe, something that it’s important to record as football becomes increasingly commoditised. While the fans are paid lip-service as a necessary window-dressing to the corporate circus that is the Champions League, it’s important that the demanding and often farcical requirements they are subjected to are acknowledged.
It’s typical of Mel that he takes the tale to its conclusion even after Tottenham’s quarter final exit. The journey ends at Wembley, enabling Mel to give his thoughts on a Barcelona team that may well go down in history as the greatest footballing side ever, and providing an original twist for those familiar with the rest of the story.
Glory Nights: From Wankdorf to Wembley is a book that would never have been taken up by a publishing industry increasingly retreating from anything but the most mainstream. That doesn’t mean it’s a story not worth telling and it’s the ebook format and independent websites such as Mel’s The Substantive that will be looked to by future cultural historians when they want a real flavour of the times. A recommended read.