“Tow,” I said, for when faced with a crowd I often put final vowels in words one place earlier than they should be. It’s better than the Emirates.
There was a silence. I went on. Spurs plan to construct a 17,000-seater single-tier stand which will be the biggest in the UK – so the famous White Hart Lane atmosphere won’t disappear into the ether like it did with Arsenal’s new gaff.
“According to the urban dictionary,” said Father Jack who had become extraordinarily coherent on moving to England, and who knew these things, “gaff in this context is the Irish word for ‘house’.”
“Tottenham’s ground can be noisy,” said I, “but it can also be quiet. Same as any ground. You have to be incredibly jurassic to make a noise all the time, no matter what. Do you want to have a chat with your neighbour and hear what is being said, or will grunts suffice? If the latter, build a single tier.”
More nodding took place. I read on…
“With the extra money coming in on the NFL deal, Spurs shouldn’t have to suffer nearly as much financial austerity as Arsenal did when they bought their new stadium. They’ll be able to hit the ground running much more easily.”
“£6m a year for ten years,” said Lisa who knew money things. “That’s £60m”. There was applause for that calculation, for there were still some men from the Northants/Rutland hinterland whose image of women was somewhat backward even for the provinces. “6.6% of the debt before interest, and only to be included in the sums if Tottenham play as many Champions League games as Arsenal. If they stay in the Europa that whole profit and then some is removed and very few clubs if any get 60,000 in the group stages of Europa games.
“Perhaps it was meant to be funny,” I replied. “After all, Bill Nicholson, once said, ‘It’s magnificent to be in Europe, and this club – a club like Tottenham Hotspur – if we’re not in Europe…. we’re nothing, we’re nothing’.”
“Four. The best players won’t keep leaving,” I read aloud, and there was a-laughing a-plenty.
“Surely they sell them, the players don’t leave. In fact Adebayor, won’t ever leave.” We did more a-nodding.
I continued reading. “Five. It will be a nice stable home for the kids to grow up in.”
We pondered who had come through the ranks without first playing for another club’s first team and then being transferred in. Tottenham’s equivalent to our current team of Wilshere, Coquelin, Bellerin, Gibbs. (We can’t count Walcott and the Ox as they played for Southampton first and Ramsey played 16 times or Cardiff). We thought of Ledley King and Jake Livermore.
“Six. The club is going to remain at home in Tottenham, proving loyalty (probably).” There was silence. “It’s a Woolwich Wanderers joke,” I said. “I don’t think he’s read The Club that Changed Football.”
“What does the Telegraph sports social media writer actually say on that point?” asked the even more coherent Father Jack.
I read on. Tottenham have “stayed put through thick and thin, which might not necessarily give them an on-field advantage but, er… let’s move on.”
We collectively shrugged.
“Seven. They might just have found a manager to stick with.”
Enjoying the earlier collective shrug we now took a collective intake of breath. “Blimey,” said Mrs “the dog”. “Have they no sense of their own tradition?”
“Eight. Daniel Levy has always had a masterplan, and the rest of us are only just starting to see it.”
There was silence. I decided to read on.
“Like Shawshank Redemption’s Andy Dufresne, Levy has been quietly preparing the ground for years, waiting patiently for his chance to strike.
“Only now is he able to crawl right through those disgusting sewers (not actually that dissimilar from Tottenham High Road on a bad day) and out into the open air. He’ll pop over to the bank of increased matchday revenue to pick up a cheque before settling up on the beautiful, sandy shores of regular Champions League football.”
Spontaneous outbursts of applause are always nice, and this one seemed one of the best. We raised our glasses and sang the traditional round of “It’s happened again,” and the meeting broke up at around 5am as we all prepared for another busy day in the office.
Or not, as the case may be.
PS: As we left Sir Hardly turned to me and said, “Was that supposed to be a joke.” I considered my response carefully before hitting him.
10 July 2014: Arsenal sign Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona for around £30m. He became an immediate success being the club’s top scorer in his first season and showing an unending drive and passion while on the pitch.
More occasional ramblings: Tony on Facebook.
A twitter @UntoldArsenal