First of all, tell us about your support of Spurs, as we always ask - why Spurs?
Paul: "I grew up less than 10 miles from the Lane and it was pretty much a straight choice between Spurs, West Ham and Arsenal. Just after the '78 World Cup we signed Ardiles and Villa and I made my choice. The first game I remember watching was the 7-0 defeat by Liverpool in that year!"
How did you end up Down Under?
Paul: "I always wanted to visit Australia. I remember watching Skippy when I was a young boy and it seemed like a fantastically exotic place! I met an Australian girl when I was tour guiding in London and it was an easy decision to come over here and make a better life for the kids. That was 14 years ago and I’ve never looked back."
Your story is an incredible one - you fell seriously ill last year, yet pulled through - tell us what happened and most importantly, how are you now?
Paul: "I fell ill on May 18. Initially it seemed like a bout of pancreatitis and I thought I’d still be able to get out and make it to the game to watch my kids run out with the team and get to watch them live for the first time in 14 years. However, it became a lot more complicated. I suffered multiple organ failure and was eventually helicoptered to a hospital in Sydney after an artery in my gut burst and it looked very much like I’d bleed to death. I spent the night of the game in intensive care on life support. My partner, who has no idea about football, was determined that I should have the game on so she sourced a TV, brought it into intensive care and proceeded to set it up for me, unfortunately she unplugged my life support to plug it in! I think she took 'Tottenham 'til I die' a bit too literally! My recovery has been slow, at one stage I was down to 46kg and could only walk 20 metres or so but 12 months on I weigh 65kg and can kick a ball around with my kids. I received a letter from Mauricio Pochettino while I was in hospital and it really helped raise my spirits. I was also told that Ossie Ardiles was due to telephone me but unfortunately I was sedated and on life support!"
Due to that illness, you missed our visit to Sydney last summer, yet you were represented by your children, who were flag bearers - how proud were you of that?
Paul: "I was incredibly proud of my children running out with the flags at the start of the game, although I didn’t actually get to see the footage until September of last year when I eventually left hospital."
You are well enough to attend our matches in Melbourne this time around, how much will that mean to you after the events of the last year?
Paul: "The dream was and is to walk up the steps at White Hart Lane with my kids, to hear that roar and feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and to know that they will experience the magic that hooked me all those years ago. The visit to Sydney was going to be something that I shared with the kids and we were all really looking forward to it, although I was in hospital I was adamant that they would be there and experience the game even though I couldn’t be there with them. This year I’m really happy that I will be able to get to the games."
As a Spurs fan Down Under, what’s it like to have the team visit two years in succession?
Paul: "It was pretty emotional watching the videos of Spurs in Sydney last year. I’ve been involved with Spurs Australia (OzSpurs) since I arrived and to miss out on the game and miss out on the atmosphere that I know would have been electric was very disappointing. Every year, Spurs Australia come together in one city to celebrate our love for Tottenham and perhaps enjoy a Babycham or two, the atmosphere at these nationals is the closest thing I’ve ever found to being at a game and I’m over the moon that Spurs didn’t make me wait too long to have another crack at experiencing a game here in Oz!"
What about this time around? Juventus and Atletico Madrid at the MCG - it doesn't get better than that! How much are you looking forward to it?
Paul: "It’s fantastic that we’re playing such classy opposition and the MCG is a great place to watch sport. The last time I was there was to watch England in the Rugby World Cup. This time it is going to be amazing."
Tell us about Melbourne - it sounds like a sports-mad city!
Paul: "Melbourne is a great place for sport, they really love their AFL (Aussie Rules Football) down there, which is a game that, despite 15 years of trying, I really don’t understand! But they’ve also completely embraced the A League (soccer) and the addition of a second Melbourne team has really created a great cross-city rivalry."
We're all aware of and appreciate the work OzSpurs do for us - what's it like to be part of such an impressive Spurs network across Australia?
Paul: "OzSpurs for me is about the people. I’ve now got great friends in every major city in Australia. We all come together with a common love of Spurs and share the highs and lows through get togethers and interactions on the net. I would never have met people who I now consider amongst my best mates if I hadn’t found OzSpurs."
Looking ahead - how much are you looking forward to us being back in the Champions League next season?
Paul: "There is simply nothing like watching Spurs take on Europe’s finest in an all-white kit under floodlights at White Hart Lane and TV wise, the Champions League is always easier to find than the UEFA Cup - it means I get to watch a whole load more Spurs!"
And finally - something we ask all overseas fans - talk us through a typical Spurs match day for you - say for a 3pm kick-off on a Saturday.
Paul: "By the time you begin your Saturday matchday I’ve already watched three games of football, coached one and spent the best part of a day travelling to far-flung fields with the kids. A 3pm kick-off back home means 2am here for most of the season and in general I choose to watch the game with my boys, they’re not old enough yet to come down to the Triple Ace pub with me to watch with the rest of the Sydney Chapter so they get woken about five minutes before kick-off and we spend the next 90 minutes trying not to wake up the house! On the occasions that I venture into the city I’ll jump on a train at around 10pm and arrive at the bar at around 11.30pm, by then the place will be starting to fill up with Spurs fans and we spend the next couple of hours catching up and chatting about all things football. By 1.30am the anticipation will be building and there will be standing room only as we head towards kick-off, 15 minutes before the singing begins and the entire pub joins in a chorus of 'Oh when the Spurs’ led by the horse and his waving hands. By the time kick-off arrives everyone is totally pumped up and we spend the next 45 minutes singing, shouting and whatever else comes naturally at football. When we score the place goes wild, strangers embrace, beer flies and the bar staff look bewildered! At the end of the game the old guard generally make a bit of time for a post-mortem before heading off our separate ways. For me, it’s two hours back home then as much sleep as I can muster before the next day rears it’s ugly head!"