Writing a biography of a football club is a task that routinely generates the sort of thing that Marks & Spencer slip into their Christmas offer. A hateful generic deservedly destined never to be read.
So when I was told of an impending biography on Spurs I replied, ‘Very good’ with the intonation you’d use at the dentist when you’ve just been told he’s identified two fillings that needed doing. Polite and on the faintly optimistic side of not bothered.
This is a Tottenham treasure trove. I was trying to put my finger on why it worked so well, why I was so engaged and it’s the simple joy and kindness that Welch has managed to imbue the book with. It’s a rare talent to cover such well trodden ground and produce something that feels so fresh.
I’m hard work as a reader I really am. And I admit I’ve developed a horrible way of reading. I’ve deteriorated into a bloke that frequently scours, not reads. It takes a lot to get me to abandon these bad habits and actually read a book properly.
The Biography of Tottenham Hotspur is littered with fascinating quotes, exchanges with players, anecdotes and memories of those who were ‘there’ and people who understand what Tottenham Hotspur means. I would challenge all but a handful of people on the planet to lay claim to have heard or read them all before. In fact, I’d probably challenge more less anyone who isn’t Morris Keston.
The charm and understanding captured here is to be applauded. But then Julie Welch had an unfair advantage on so many who might have written it.
This is the book that love wrote.