Skip to main content


  • Alex Fynn on The Great Divide
Subscribe to newsfeed 

Alex Fynn on 'The Great Divide'

Posted on 13 November 2001  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Alex Fynn describes himself as a 'bit of a fraud' when it comes to Spurs and Arsenal but, having spent the last two seasons with a foot in both camps, few are as well placed talk about this intense rivalrly.

Alex is the co-author alongside Olivia Blair of 'The Great Divide: Behind Closed Doors at Arsenal and Tottenham', a book that deals in detail with ourselves and our north London rivals over the last two seasons.

"I suppose, in a way, I'm a bit of a fraud because although I really like Tottenham, I don't dislike Arsenal," says Alex.

"Having worked for both, you can appreciate the good points and be a critic. I call it as I see it, I haven't any vested interests and this is a compare and contrast of the two clubs over the course of the last two seasons."

With the new edition of the book now available in paperback in the Spurs Store and the eagerly-awaited first derby of the meeting just around the corner, who better to talk to as part of our countdown to Saturday?

So we did just that and spoke to Alex about the book, the current state of play between the sides and, of course, what he expects to see on Saturday.

What's the book about?

Alex Fynn: "I've been fortunate to work for both Arsenal and Tottenham and I know a lot of the main people both on and off the field. I'm able to get access, to go into places that other people can't go. The players, coaches and the directors have all been able to say things to me that they wouldn't say to other people because they know me either as a friend or an acquaintance. The book looks at both clubs and I suppose, in a way, I'm a bit of a fraud because although I really like Tottenham, I don't dislike Arsenal. Having worked for both, you can appreciate the good points and be a critic. I call it as I see it, I haven't any vested interests and this is a compare and contrast of the two clubs over the course of the last two seasons. We've added three new chapters that take into account the momentous changes that took place at both clubs - Graham going, Hoddle arriving, Sugar going, ENIC taking over and, of course, Sol Campbell going. Then, on the Arsenal side, it's a continuing frustration at their success but not achieving ultimate success. We've come to the position where the gap had grown over the years but it has now narrowed because at Tottenham you have a new regime whose heart is in the right place, a manager who certainly understands the tradition and heritage of the club and is not simply a slave to what George Graham called 'the false' Tottenham way of playing. Glenn Hoddle would like to play with style but overall he wants a successful team so his teams are based on organisation. On the Arsenal side we have a team that is really turning into the Tottenham of old. In the last couple of years Arsenal were certainly successful and added style through the cosmopolitan purchase of players and through the very unique skills of Arsene Wenger. But now, leaking goals at the back, they are very similar to Spurs of old. They score but they leak goals and they lose more games than they should. You could say Arsenal of today represent Tottenham of yesteryear, which makes the match all the more intriguing."

You've been involved with both clubs over a period of time. Do you see a closing of the gap between the two teams?

AF: "Until this season we could have called the book the 'Even Greater Divide' because Arsenal were playing in a stylish way and winning trophies, qualifying for Europe. Remember the game has changed. It is not sufficient just to win a championship now. If you become runner-up you are straight into the Champions League and that guarantees high profile and much more, enormous funds so that you can replenish your squad. Arsenal were really pulling away. Their record of the double and finishing runners-up four times was something Tottenham could only dream of. But this year the gap has narrowed. It has narrowed because the Tottenham regime, off the field, recognise heritage and tradition, the manager is a favourite son of Tottenham who is a very good coach and he has brought back the sort of players that have been absent for far too long. On the Arsenal side you've got what was always the number one plus in their favour, the strong defence, that is definitely not there at the moment. You have much more closely matched teams in terms of Tottenham playing to their strengths, organisation and a little flair and Arsenal to theirs, flair but less organisation than previously. You could say that the match on November 17 will see the sides more evenly matched in terms of style, tradition and ambition than for many years."

How are derby days for you? You know both clubs so well - do you just sit back an enjoy it?

AF: "It depends. When Arsenal played Tottenham in the FA Cup semi-final in 1991 I really wanted Tottenham to win because I thought, wrongly, if they lost it might take them under. I felt sorry, unlike Tottenham fans, for the Arsenal fans and I remember standing up in the press box and doing the unforgiveable thing of seeing the Arsenal fans leaving and shouting 'don't worry, you'll win the league'. I will be regarded by the fans as a bit of a fraud but to me it's always a special day and I'm fortunate enough to enjoy it as either a member of the press or an honoured guest. Therefore I can talk to the stars of yesteryear beforehand and afterwards."

And what about a prediction for November 17?

AF: "It's at Tottenham and they have a lot to prove. They've been unlucky with recent results, losing points with draws that should have been victories and defeats that should have been draws. I don't think that will happen this time. Arsenal to lose, Tottenham to win. The score, and this is my heart talking rather than my head, Tottenham to win 4-3."

The Great Divide: Behind Closed Doors at Arsenal and Tottenham.
By Alex Fynn and Olivier Blair.
New edition in paperback, priced £7.99, published by Andre Deutsch, is now available at the Spurs Store.