AUGUST 12, 2011
Everyone was shocked by the events in Tottenham on Saturday night.
I left White Hart Lane at about 8 o’clock after the friendly against Athletic Bilbao and everything appeared fine. Like most people, I woke up Sunday morning to the headlines and television coverage of what had happened on Saturday night. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
My first thoughts went out to the people in the community who were affected by the trouble. It must be a difficult time for them. I just hope they can rebuild their lives, their homes, their businesses. I’m sure everyone in the community will get together. I know the Club has committed its support and we're all ready to play our part.
The lads all said they were stunned when we came back in for training on Monday. It was scary as well, to think we were in that area just hours before it all happened.
It wasn’t too much of a shock when the Premier League confirmed yesterday that Saturday’s match against Everton was postponed. As players of course we’re disappointed, we’ve had six weeks of hard work building up to the game. But we’ve all seen the pictures of the area around the stadium and safety has to come first, we all know that, and I’m sure the decision wasn’t taken lightly. We have to do what is right.
A lot has been said about footballers as role models and I can assure you it’s something we all take very seriously. The Club works hard in the community and we all want to set the right example. We’ve all been to events at schools or clubs or projects run by the Foundation and we always try to encourage kids to do the right thing, to work hard and to be good people first. I’ve been at Tottenham for over six years now and I’ve been out in the community many times. I’m sure everyone will pull together to help rebuild the area and get things moving forward again.
It’s been a busy week.
A lot of you would have seen me at the launch of the Premier League on Thursday morning, when the league announced it’s Get On With The Game programme.
As a scheme, Get On With The Game first started in 2008 to try to improve respect between players and match officials. Club managers and captains now meet officials before a game and it has improved that relationship. If a player steps over the line and the referee doesn’t want to book them or send them off, he will call over the captain and say ‘he’s on a last warning, have a word with him’. That’s helped. Don’t get me wrong, football is a passionate game and players will still step over the line. I’m not saying that’s right, but a lot of it is heat of the moment. We’re trying to cut that out of the game completely and if you look at the stats from last season, it has improved. The aim this season is to further improve that relationship between players and officials. We had a meeting with the PFA representatives and captains to see what everyone thought and that was very positive.
It’s always a bit strange during international week.
If you looked around Spurs Lodge on Monday, you would have seen only six senior players training, plus the goalkeepers! It was still a hard work-out though! All the lads were back in on Thursday and Friday, but there isn’t the focus of trying to get three points at the weekend this time around.
Instead, we’re all looking forward to Hearts in the Europa League play-off, first leg on Thursday.
Looking at the draw, we could have gone just about anywhere in Europe – Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine – but it’s Scotland and Hearts. I’m sure they will be up for it and we’ll have to be ready. We travelled to Young Boys in the Champions League last season and got off to a bad start. That could have cost us. This time we’ll be all guns blazing. It’s our first competitive game of the season and we’ll all be buzzing to get underway.
We’ll be prepared for Hearts to come at us and we’ll be focused. They’ll also know what happened at Young Boys last season, but we’ll be ready.
It was funny because I walked into the canteen last Friday and the draw was being screened on the televisions. I saw Tom and said ‘who have we got?’ and he said ‘Hearts’. But the next thing, Hearts came out of the hat on the TV in front of me! I said to Tom ‘I thought you said we had Hearts?’ and then we were drawn out! Of course, I was watching a replay of it!
Until next time…