Im writing this not to be self indulgent or to show off simply as a way of remembering the day and for anyone who might be interested , I’m not a writer so please be forgiving .
We arrive at Hotspur way a little after 9.30am Javad (podcast maestro, good friend and gifter of golden ticket) had asked if we might arrive early and use the wifi in the reception area to try and buy our tickets to the Southampton Match, the other guests would be arriving after 10.20 for a 10.45 start.
We were given visitors badges ( FYI don’t try and steal them they count them in and out ) and offered teas and coffee’s, we take our seats and make the obligatory calls to the ticket office ( im sorry but all our lines are busy ..etc)
A very nice man came and introduced himself as Ryan, brand liason and our guide for the morning, because the comp was in association with Aquascutum tailors to Tottenham Hotspur he was there to make sure everyone was well looked after and also to tell us the rules, no cameras or phones no videos and no shouting or hot drinks on the training area, Poch’s orders..
He told us that we were lucky as we had a young lad in our party and that was likely to mean a bit more player interaction etc.
As he wandered off to speak to the young lad and his Dad Christian Eriksen wandered in for a press meet in the auditorium, it was odd seeing him there in the doorway and I did get the urge to yell “ makes OZIL LOOK SHITE “ but I didn’t as it was against Poch’s rules.
Before long we left the warmth of the plush reception and made our way to the first team training area.
The whole place has the air of a very posh academy senior school complete with huge school fields, the fields furthest away are for the younger lower teams .. the better you are the nearer the building you get. Simples.
The final pitch features the biggest most visual divide between academy and first team, a huge green wall separating the two zones, the ones who made it and those who might if they are lucky and work hard.. From the car park to the chill out areas the message could not be clearer..
Work Hard Train Hard and all that over there can be yours, even the restaurant features a window from where the youngsters can gaze in envy at the spacious luxury of the first team quarters, they can see it but they cant touch it .. yet.
The youngsters also have the job of clearing the boots of the first team, it helps to teach respect we are told, although they admit the grounds are so immaculate there if often just a tiny bit of sand on the bottom that can easily be brushed off !
We are shown past the pool which has a lift to lower badly injured players into the water for aerobic running sessions, an ice bath and hot plunge pool, on top is the gym where we see the team working out, and the top floor with its veranda and tables and chairs, this is the first team players area and is a no go for the trainers and coaches.
At this point it all went a bit surreal, Jan Vertonghen my favorite player was sat on a chair looking at us as we took our spot on the pathway, we looked back .. it suddenly had a zoo like feel as we oohed and aahed and pointed as he just sat .. looking cool , eventually my companion Javad did a Dele wave and Jan waved back a little bemused and smiled, and then made his way to join the others.
First out was Michel Vorm and Luke McGee & our Hugo they smiled said good morning then made their way to the far side of the pitches,.
There were lots of pitches for training complete with mannequins and poles which the players have to bring out and pack away, one pitch has been designed to replicate WHL exactly even down to the grass.
Apparently the grass is special and doesn’t move the ball around too much, this helps prevent injuries , its basically magic grass.
Soon Son Bentaleb Ben Davies and a load more come out all saying “good morning “ in the manner of a primary school class being introduced to a visitor.
Its freezing and Ryan tells us that players who haven’t been picked for the last match train furthest away and the chosen ones play right in front of where we are standing nearest the door, but they wont be out until a bit later so we quiz Ryan and it turns out he is a Chelsea supporter, so we go right off him !
He says many people who work there are not spurs fans and I got the impression it was better not to be , he says the players are all nice and very down to earth etc but a few can be grumpy, Jan was NOT one of these he said as Jan and Clinton made there way out smiling and said hello their legs covered in special tape, they are on special rehabilitation training Ryan explained and wouldn’t be taking part in the action.
Just as we were drifting into hyperthermia out they come, big smiles and good morning’s all round led by Harry, much to the delight of the little boy with us who is over the moon and his face is a joy, the team proceed to run up and down in front of us and its nice to see them chatting and laughing .. Dele and Dier are
joined at the hip and Toby looks even more of a unit up close, some of the players calf muscles are unreal and remind me of my brothers he-man action figures ..
The bitter wind is really setting in and Lamela in particular looks as cold as we feel, considering im such a lazy cow im actually wishing right now that someone will drag us on for a warm up run around.
One by one our heroes come over , Ryan hands sharpies to the players and we line up with our objects to be signed in hand..
Harry signs the little lads shirt, his Dad looks proud as punch as Tripper has a mini kick about with him, I tell Harry how proud we all are of the team and he is grateful, and says its fantastic and he is enjoying it too, each player says thank you as they sign .
Dier pushes Dele Alli and tells him to stop copying his writing .. Javad asks Dele for a wave and Dele obliges not in the least embaressed, each player does his duty and then photo time, Moussa is behind me and we can hear Dele & Dier messing .. god knows what the photo will be like but I sneak a look at the back of Ryans camera and Dier is doing a V behind Deles head. Its awesome.
Next up is Hugo, he is slight and very polite he defiantly has an air of authority a captains aura .. he poses for photos with each party and as he puts his hand firmly on my shoulder I mentally click my memories camera, this is one of THOSE moments I must not forget.
He leaves us to the whoops of Son who has just got the ball off Bentaleb and scored, he screams in triumph over and over much to our amusement.
Over they come, each so polite poor Harry Winks can hardly hold the pen as he is so cold and apologises for his pen manship, Luke McGee drops the pen and says “ oops that doesn’t bode well does it ?, “I lie and say we wont tell anyone..
We wave our goodbyes a warm glow of pride, at the team who have been charming head back into change carrying footballs and poles and flags
“Shall we go “ says Ryan our fingers are numb and noses are running, ive never been so cold not even at that NLD the other week but I hear myself say
“ NOT YET ! we haven’t seen everyone ..” Clinton and Jan are still over the other side of the pitch ..
It seems silly to miss those two after all this time.. and Ryan shrugs and agrees .. and after a few minutes they approach,
Flecks of ginger throughout his stubble Jan looks great, in fact they all do .. great hair great skin I guess there is something to be said for a good diet and excersise then !
He isnt at all moody and when I ask when we will see him back he smiles and says “ two weeks, after the international break “ and I am happy.
We head back inside and are shown around, the ethos of no excuses is repeated over and over , the club do everything for the players, from sorting finances paying bills to buying furniture and booking holidays,
If the players have nothing else to concentrate on then there can be no excuses on the pitch,
The club do their best to keep the players on sight under a watchful eye, “they can only use the gym under supervision “ we are told “ in case they decide to have a silly bet over who can run fastest and someone gets hurt ..”
Everything is in house they even have a vegetable patch for salads etc and all food is locally sourced, it’s a slick operation of which they take great pride.
As a fan I am impressed by it all and am reminded that the players whose names we sing have worked and still do work incredibly hard, they have fought to get where they are and fight to keep that place, the very fabric of the building reminds them of it constantly.
To Dare is To Do .
Thank you again Javad it was magical xx