Swedish Diary: Day 3
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).
Tuesday July 13
IT NEVER ceases to amaze me the amount of Spurs fans you find all over the world and that was the case again as we kicked-off our pre-season friendlies at Falkenbergs FF on Tuesday. It was the usual sea of smiling faces and white, blue and yellow (some purple) shirts to greet us at this relatively small Swedish town. It reminded me of the first thing I saw when we pulled up at the hotel in Durban on our South African tour last season (a purple shirt, that time) when I had exactly the same thought. I was recently in New York for a best mate's Stag Do ('New York?' I hear everyone over the age of 40 say, 'in my day it used to be a few pints down the local and tie the groom to the lampost') and what greeted me as I stepped out on the observatory tower at the Empire State Building? No, not Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, but two Spurs shirts. Amazing. It is one of the examples of why this club is so huge. Of course, the foundations were laid by the great double team and I'm always trying to convince my wife that everyone who loves football over a certain age can reel that team off just like that. She wasn't convinced until a trip to Dublin in June when, within a few minutes of jumping into a taxi, we're talking football with the driver. "Spurs?" he said. "Had one of the best teams ever. Brown, Baker, Henry, Norman, Blanchflower, Mackay..." Smug wasn't the word.
TURN the clock back nine hours and the lads were out for their first session of the day. A tough one this, particularly for the nine senior players who weren't going to be involved in the match against Falkenbergs FF later in the evening. As the main group did some speed work and ball work, these lads took on lap after lap around the 300m of the pitch. They had to complete every lap in a certain time and it was interesting to listen to them as they passed. "We've got five seconds in hand...come on lads, let's step it up slightly...keep up the tempo..." They were never more than a yard apart fromeach other and made sure they completed the task with that team work. But it looked painful.
BUMPED into our Swedish Supporters Club, or 'Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Sweden', to give them their correct name, who attended training again. It's a new club, formed in July, that already boasts 100 members and a website. You can see them pictured, back row, from left - Eva Ekholm, Tomas Stolt, Mikael Nilsson and front, Tommy Wahlqvist and Mikael Thor. The picture would have included Hans Segers as well but I have to report that the deal for Hans to appear was Mikael Nilsson beating him from the penalty spot. He strode up, looked confident, struck the ball well - but it ended somewhere in Gothenburg. Better luck next time!
LUNCH followed at 1pm and then news that Johnnie Jackson had lost his unbeaten tag on the table-tennis table. Michael Brown beat him. He didn't look too happy about it.
APOLOGIES to anyone who has to endure the M25, M11, A1, A10, North Circular, A12, M1 - okay, any road - but there was barely a car on the road as we made the hour's trip from our base to Falkenbergs. We left at 5pm and arrived right on time, approximately 35 miles later, at 6pm for a 7pm kick-off local time. Can you imagine that back home? It must be such a pleasure to live here. Anyway, as you can read elsewhere, we fielded a young side and the lads did well enough against Falkenbergs FF, who are in the Swedish First Division and half-way through their season. There was a relatively satisfied feel as we arrived back at the hotel for dinner at 10.30pm and bed. Two more sessions tomorrow...
From Paul Miles in Sweden...