When I started going to Tottenham – 1960/61 season – I, along with my dad stood at various locations in the ground. Over the years I migrated to the Shelf, where I made my home. Even though I only paid at the gate – as opposed to being a season ticket holder – I still managed to go to Cup Finals in all the competitions (that is in England, Europe was beyond most fans pockets in those days).
Once I left school/ academia, I managed to get a job; this gave me money to burn, which meant I could follow Spurs beyond the Lane. As I climbed up the greasy pole, I could afford something more luxurious. Of course, thinking about it and acting on it was two different things. I had to think of my mates, our camaraderie, songs etc. Standing on the Shelf was that bit special… but I was starting to sniff the sea of change.
The football league made way for the Premier League, football was changing. Rubert Murdoch’s Sky was taking off, and a group of Football chairman (Spurs included) thought they would jump on the bandwagon. The Shelf made way for Executive Boxes, and you could start to smell the money. After a long delay, I decided to become a Season ticket holder in the north stand.
Back then – we are talking 90s – when I phoned up to inquire about a season ticket, they jumped all over you. “Where would you like to sit?” they enquired, not, as they do now, “This is what we’ve got available, take it or leave it.” As I hesitated, they then said, “would you like to come down and pick your seat?” I was taken back, as I thought I would struggle to get a ST, and remember, this was just after we won the FA Cup in 1991 (yes, the year ended in “1”).
For a brief period, my circumstances changed, and I dropped down to Bronze membership, but that didn’t stop me going to home games or even to every game in our Finale season (I had accumulated enough points).
Because I dropped down to Bronze, things changed for me again, I applied to become a season ticket holder once more. No chance! My Bronze membership told me I was about 20,000th in the queue. You can imagine, after being a loyal and evergoing seasonal supporter, that it didn’t make a blind bit of difference, I was just a number on a waiting list. If anything is going to turn you into a deep depression, that would. But low and behold the clouds opened up, and appearing from the skies was… (no, not God), but Bill Nicholson. He winked at me…. Gave me a wave… or was that a dream? Anyway, to cut a long story short and to save this narrative going down Alice In Wonderlands rabbit hole (away from reality)… I read that Spurs were going to build a new stadium. Wow… as a Spurs fan, you can imagine how I took that news.
When we joined the Premier League, there were high hopes for us (we were regarded as one of the top five Premier League clubs; the others were Arsenal, United, Everton and Liverpool). Then we started to flounder and along came near extinction. Up popped Venables, Sugar, and all was saved (we won’t mention the disruption of those two together), this was proceeded by Daniel Levy and co, and after years of struggling in a cesspool of vomit, the road to nowhere became the road to possible salvation, and real possibilities.
After the shock/ excitement came the news that it would be a new 60,000 seater stadium (as it was then). Season tickets’, my thoughts went to. I knew I had high hopes and being a previous season ticket holder, I knew it opened doors (such as Cup final tickets, trips abroad etc.).
Then I started to do the maths. Season tickets will be increased from 21,000 to 42,000. On top of that, there was going to be 8,000 Premium members. Add them together, and you’ve got 50,000. The FA only allocates about 28,000 FA Cup seats to fans. Now, that special relationship no longer existed between the club and season ticket holders, other than for a small number that manages to accumulate the right amount of points. Those that became new season ticket holders’ lost any points they had collected while they were Bronze members. According to my reckoning, it could take me over five years, if I was lucky, to even get a look in at an FA Cup/ League Cup/ Champions League Cup Final.
God, I was starting to feel dizzy, where is that medicine… yes, a nice stiff glass of your favourite made you see things in a different light, but none of those lights still could get me to a cup final.
Maybe some might be happy to be content to just have a season ticket and watch Finals on the box, but for somebody who has been to every final (in England) since I started going to Spurs back in the 60s, I wasn’t.
Was there another alternative? Using underhand no-nos wasn’t really me… and I didn’t fancy a spell as a guest in Her Majesty’s Strangeways hotels’. Anyway, how would I go to Spurs if I was a guest in Strangeways? Are you allowed to check out at any time, do they tuck you in (that is “tuck”).
Then Bill Nicholson popped up again… erm… sorry, that was another dream… I received a phone call from Lily White House: “would I like to purchase Premium seating?”
“Pop along, and we shall have a chat… oh! and bring your chequebook with you (actually, they didn’t add the last bit… I just added that for effect).
To cut a long story short, I went, I saw, and I conquered (or did they conquer me?).
So, how was it? (I hear you shouting, the season hasn’t started yet!). Actually, the ride started with me signing up for Wembley/ Spurs/ Premium. Since then I’ve been to – naturally – all the home games, but more importantly, Real Madrid/ Dortmund/ Juventus, all away). Plus away matches in England. Of course, there were other perks…
Football is changing, Tottenham Hotspur FC is improving, but for the better or worse? That is for you to decide… but a 62,000 seater stadium means there are going to be winners and winners (with some of those winners losing out on somethings).
Don Scully wrote an article on his Blog (and also on SpursWeb) about the changing face of football, and in particular Tottenham Hotspur. We, as a species, don’t like change… some will turn their backs on it (whether they can afford it or not), others will embrace change. But whether we like it or not, change is happening.
Don Scully ended his piece by quoting Walter Disney, I shall conclude by quoting Bill Nicholson. It might explain, at least to some, why I decided to upgrade my season ticket to a Premium one.
“It’s been my life, Tottenham Hotspur, and I love the club.”
What else could I have done?
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