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Claim to Fame - Nice on Cyril

Posted on 22 January 2003  - 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).

I'm going a long way back with this one.

In 1968, we moved from Downhills Park Road, Tottenham, to North Devon. Devon is a beautiful county, the scenery can be spectacular, but it's a long way from WHL.

Every Christmas we would either go up to Hoddesdon to my Aunt & Uncle's place, or they would come and stay with us. I preferred us going up to Hoddesdon, that way we'd get in a Spurs game or two.

My Uncle knew where Pat Jennings lived as well as Cyril Knowles. He'd often point out the houses as we drove past.

Well one year, my brother suggested that he and I go around to the respective houses, and get some autographs. Ian, my brother, is two years older than me, and back then, when I was not even a teenager, he could be quite persuasive. So off we went to Pat Jennings house. Ian rings the doorbell.....It opens......Oh my God, it's Pat!

I'd love to know what he thought upon opening his door. The big one thrusts an autograph book in his face, the little one just stands there, mouth hanging open and looking completely dazed.

Pat signs the book, exchanges a few words with Ian, says goodnight to us and is gone. I never said a word.

"Okay" says our intrepid leader, "let's go to Cyril Knowles' house".

On the way over, Ian berates me for not talking at the last place, and says I'd better talk at the next. We arrive.

We knock on the door. My Uncle was right, he does know where they both live. It was a repeat performance for me, totally stunned. Everything was going great and then it happened. Mr Knowles asked me a question.

Ian sensing a breakdown was imminent, did what all BIG brothers would do, and swatted me
in the back of my head and told me to answer Mr Knowles.

All I could muster was a "pardon". He repeated his question. " Would you lads like to come and watch the team, and maybe meet some of the players?"

"Yes please", we both reply. He says he'll set it up and see us tomorrow. We walked back to my uncle's house and tell them what happened.

"YOU DID WHAT?!" our dad exclaimed. "You can't go round annoying people when they're at home". We told him about the training session. He thought about it for a little while, then said we could go.

The next morning, Dad drove us up to the training ground. It was deserted except for a grounds keeper who came over and said that the team was practising at the Lane today. Back in the car and off to the Lane.

At the gate, a security guard stops us and says we're not allowed in. We explain about Cyril Knowles' invite. He says that he's been expecting us and leads Ian and I in. Poor Dad, a lifetime Tottenham fan, had to wait in the car park.

It's hard to explain the next couple of hours. We met all the players - Peters, Chivers, Gilzean, all of them. It was THE perfect day. The only days that have topped that one are the day I got married, and the day my daughter was born.

I can't remember if I ever did thank Cyril Knowles or not, but I thank him now... Sorry it's 30-plus years in coming.

Nice One Cyril!!

Andrew Brown