Updated: May 10
Without Steve Perryman this book could never have been written. I’d first got in touch with him in about 2005 after punting an email to an address at his travel business. I’d received a mail back asking me to call a number – it turned out to be Steve and, despite the fact he was on the training ground at Exeter City FC, we had a long conversation.
I was interested in writing Steve’s life story and the germ of The Boys from White Hart Lane was also in my mind. Steve was friendly, but also blunt and forthright. Over the phone he checked out my credentials and motivations. I seemed to pass the test and he asked me if I’d like to help him with the programme for an event he was helping to organise to mark the 25th anniversary of the FA Cup win. I accepted and, with Adam Powley, delivered something Steve and the players committee were pleased with. A working relationship was born.
When Vision Sports Publishing accepted our pitch, Steve’s involvement was key. He seemed to like the way we did business – being ‘proper’ was a key asset in his eyes – and he agreed not only to be interviewed but to introduce us to other players. Steve was still seen as the captain, so his word really did get us in with the men he played alongside. For me, this was especially pleasing as Steve was my hero as a kid. I loved Pat Jennings, I idolised Martin Chivers, I knew Glenn Hoddle was probably the best footballer I would ever see. But Steve was Tottenham Hotspur for me – the loyal captain, the London boy, the one-club player who would always deliver. Meeting this particular hero was no disappointment and while I’d be presumptuous to say we are friends, we have kept in touch and it is always an enormous pleasure to speak to him and meet him.
For the interview that appears in the book, I travelled to his home overlooking the Exe estuary with Adam Polwey and VSP’s editorial director Jim Drewett – another top bloke and football man. We spent a hugely enjoyable afternoon talking football and polishing off the huge plates of sandwiches Steve’s wife had prepared for us.
One of my favourite parts of the interview comes when Steve talks about Glenn Hoddle. The two players have very different images, Steve the journeyman professional and Glenn the misunderstood maestro. But what Steve says about how the players saw Glenn, and how he as captain handled him, says volumes about Steve’s ability as a leader and about the bond these players had.
“I had to cajole Glenn as i didn’t think he would’ve taken too kindly to a bollocking,” Steve told us. “I had total respect for him as a player… I think we all wanted to be liked by Glenn, we wanted this great player to give us his approval… It led to me saying to Keith: ‘Let’s stop taling about what he can’t do, let’s talk about and make hay out of what he can do.’ Because that talent was so special, it was so obvious.”
• The Boys from White Hart Lane is available direct from Vision Sports Publishing in paperback for £6.99 or ebook on Kindle for £5.97.