Roy McFarland, a very talented football man, is now the United manager and we welcome Roy and his staff here tonight. During a wonderful playing career as a classy centre-half, he played football in a magnificent Derby side with Tottenham connections because, as everyone knows, Roy was in the Dave Mackay inspired era when they won the Championship.
He worked solidly at Cambridge and is one of the most genuine people in football. We wish him every success in his new challenge in the knowledge that it can be a daunting task as manager of a club with little or no resources. Third Division clubs receive television rights money totalling £450,000 per year whereas a Premiership club’s average this season could be something like £23million. That is a vast difference which shows that football in its current climate needs close review.
After about 10 days of the season the three west country clubs, Torquay, Exeter and Plymouth, shared the bottom three places of the Football League. I hope that after tonight’s game Torquay’s season this year will be full of good cheer.
This season’s League Cup has a different format as a one-game knock-out. Of course it can be financially quite rewarding for a minnow coming to a big boy and also may give further opportunity for a one-off upset — as in the previous round when several Division One sides went by the board against lower league clubs. Under the old format, when there were two games, the bigger fish invariable came out on top.
Watching a game at Coventry the other night I bumped into ex-Spur Colin Lee who is now doing some scouting for Leeds United, having had a brief spell as caretaker manager at Torquay towards the end of last season. Then a last game win at Barnet which sent our neighbours out of the league. But Colin decided that the job was not for him, and is now living in the Midlands.
Last week our Academy director Peter Suddaby visited the new Rangers Academy in Glasgow. This centre has been much heralded as the ideal building which accommodates both professional and junior players. Our Chairman Daniel Levy is a Director of Rangers and ENIC own approximately 20% of the club. We are continuing to look at and take good ideas from other centres so that we can incorporate these into our own scheme. Under the charter brought in by the FA in England, we now look after boys between the ages of nine to16 and consequently we need several pitches and this will be uppermost in our thoughts when we progress our plans.
We have to believe that the future of the game must still be in producing a supply of young players and the Chairman is fully supportive of the philosophy.
There has been much early season focus on professional referees. I think we will see the benefit of full-time officials within two or three years. Certainly they now have the opportunity to be fitter and more mentally alert to do their jobs. They will still make their decisions as honestly as they see things at the time and, of course, in hindsight, they will often make mistakes — as players do.
What we hope is that the referee doesn’t become, for any reason, a bigger personality than the players. In the first few weeks of the season we saw some quite dramatic officiating. But how many pundits, and indeed managers and coaches, clearly understand the ruling about free-kicks in and around the penalty area? If a player decides in his wisdom to take a quick free-kick, and the referee is happy, he does not have to blow his whistle. If the attacking team gains no advantage then they cannot take the kick again. This has not changed over the years.
We are slowly increasing the numbers in our hospitality suites but there are still places available. This season we have new caterers who have been very highly praised.
Also our newly re-vamped website is thriving with thousands of hits every week. I am still coming to terms with this new technology but any Tottenham information can be found instantly on our website. Indeed many national newspapers now obtain and re-run their stories from these sources, slightly embellished and altered (ask Jaap Stam).
Our site offers up-to-date reviews of the club, news and views, nostalgia, competitions and everything else for the Tottenham supporter.
This evening’s game offers an opportunity to advance in a cup that still has considerable value. The European representatives from England will be coming in for the third round and then there will be everything to play for as a European place is once again at stake.
Enjoy this evening’s game and get behind the team.
Tonight’s game revives memories of season 1987-88 when we also drew Torquay in the League Cup. I remember that we suffered a bit of a shock result at Plainmoor but, fortunately in those days we had the comfort of two legs, so we came back and did the business in the return here.