Hall of Fame Dinner
Thursday 11th March 2004 - White Hart Lane
Bill Nicholson’s induction into the newly-founded Tottenham Hotspur Hall of Fame was a fitting honour to a great man who seems destined not to be knighted for his unrivalled achievements in English football.
The pre-match reception was held in the impressive West Stand Boxholders Lounge where the walls are adorned with giant images of our past glories. When Spurs were performing the tasks being celebrated on this evening, Arsenal were non-entities in top-flight football. They hadn’t achieved anything for thirty-odd years and nothing ever of this glory and splendour. Ironic it was then that we all gathered to salute the King of White Hart Lane on a night when Arsenal progressed to the Champions League Quarter-finals. Optimists will seek some solace from this - maybe the wheel is turning again?
After pre-dinner drinks we all walked downstairs and up through the tunnel before going pitch side and on to Whites for dinner. It was the first time I’d come up through the tunnel. I must admit it was enjoyable in a schoolboy sort of way.
Having attended similar evenings in the recent past it is becoming a little bit sad to see the same Tottenham Icons (and John Pratt) being paraded again, all a little older, memories less vivid, nobody coming over the horizon to emulate their glory and reclaim our destiny. For people born in the fifties like me during the birth of Super Spurs, the glory European nights, the wonderful players and stylish football it has been unbearable to witness the demolition of that tradition and the club’s recent descent into mediocrity. I therefore attend these evenings suffused with a mixture of sentimentality, hope and sadness. That aside it was great to see Bill still well enough to enjoy the honour.
The great closet yiddo John Motson provided a seamless commentary as MC for the night and was clearly as moved by the achievements of this group of ageing footballers as the rest of us. Daniel Levy spoke graciously enough to suggest that he is at least trying his best to do what’s right for Spurs. Whether or not he’s capable of doing so will be determined by his forthcoming managerial appointment which he again claimed was a done deal. ‘When would it be announced?’ enquired Motty. ‘Definitely before the first game of next season’ quipped Levy.
Clear winner in the Cameo Comedy section was Cliff Jones’ bizarre choice of Partridge-esque green jacket with Welsh Dragon motif. Dave Mackay still exudes hardness which causes one to hesitate before asking for an autograph in case he grabs you a la Bremner. Needless to say all ten of the double winners present were charm and grace personified as you would expect from sportsmen who know the magnitude of what they achieved and the manner in which they did it.
Bill was invited onto the stage and said a few words in his normal self-effacing manner.
"What was achieved at that time was down to the players and staff plus a lot of hard work. This club has been my life and will always remain so.”
Neck hairs bristled. If only we could make him forty years younger. With a man such as Bill in charge the current squad might just be good enough to make us proud again. Instead they are lions led by the donkey Pleat who brayed his normal platitudes and incongruous attempts at humour when interviewed by Motty.
It was nice to see the great man thoroughly enjoying the evening. Bobby Davro rounded off the evening with a fine comedy routine and we departed into the cold March night with rekindled memories of great days and blind optimism for the future of our beloved club.