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To Dare Is To Do

I remember an advertisement from long ago, in which the winners commiserated as they drank their Champagne, whilst the opposition celebrated their defeat wildly with a certain beer. It was a bit like this for me just before Christmas at the Haringey ‘Awards for All’ ceremony at Alexandra Palace.

For some reason, someone in our community very generously nominated me for the Councillor Egan Achievement Award. Quite rightly I didn’t win, but rather brilliantly, as a consolation prize, I was offered tickets to watch Tottenham Hotspur by Spurs legend, Ledley King.

So yesterday afternoon I headed out with my 83 year-old dad to see the mighty Spurs take on The Toffees at Wembley Stadium. We’ve been going along to Spurs for a few years now. Dad started going to White Hart Lane as a boy, travelling to the ground by trolley bus. He took me to my first game in 1971, on a freezing cold January day, with a box to stand on and a flask of Bovril for half time. There is something ritualistic about attending football; fans making their way to the ground, all sharing the same sense of expectancy and excitement. It gives you a sense of belonging, a shared history – and as you’re there, you can influence the result.

Once we are in the ground (not so straightforward as dad’s replacement knees and hips caused a minor security alert), last week’s New Year’s resolutions went out of the window with a pre match pie, and dad led me astray at half time as we shared hot chocolate and three Crispy Crème doughnuts. But we had a bit of exercise as we got to jump up and down four times during the game to celebrate goals by Kane (2), Son and Erickson. Over the years the names may have changed but the experience is much the same, although Spurs are definitely better now than they were in the 1970s.

I remember taking my mum to Tottenham at the end of the decade for her one and only experience of live football. Tottenham were dreadful, three down at half time to West Brom, but she loved the sense of theatre and insight into a different world with a different language – not all of it pleasant.

Like it or not, football is a part of our culture and you see it at school, particularly on after-school football club days, when children wear their shirts of choice. It’s so nice to see a few more Tottenham shirts appearing these days, new members of an exclusive club, united by the motto ‘To dare is to do’, or in the words of Billy Nic (look him up), ‘It is better to fail aiming high than to succeed aiming low.’ Whoever knew that Tottenham Hotspur and Highgate Primary had so much in common?​

William