77 years and a lifetime of Spurs memories for Martin
Wed 09 October 2019, 17:00|Tottenham Hotspur
The ‘new’ East Stand was just eight years old when Martin Plaskow first walked through the turnstiles at White Hart Lane in 1942. Now 86, he sits proudly in the South Stand at the new stadium, and a lifetime of memories flash before his eyes. He describes the Club as his ‘second family’, and this has been his second home for 77 years.
In fact, Martin’s ‘debut’ was 77 years ago last week, 3 October, 1942. He remembers it as if it was yesterday.
“My first game, we played Aldershot in what was the Football League South then, during the Second World War,” he said. “I stood on the Shelf. We won 4-0. AH Gibbons scored all four goals for us. The amazing part about it was that Aldershot had the England half-back line playing for them – Britton, Cullis, Mercer – because they were all billeted at Aldershot, so they all played that day!”
He’s seen it all since then. Titles, ‘push and run’, Bill Nicholson and the glory, glory days and those famous nights in Europe, relegation, promotion, Keith Burkinshaw bringing back the glory days, the UEFA Cup Final in 1984, the Lane being rebuilt and eventually made all-seater, Gazza, Lineker, Klinsmann, Ginola, King, Bale, Kane and Mauricio Pochettino leading us to the Champions League Final.
He was even there when the deadly German bomb known as the ‘Doodlebug’ came over the stadium during the Second World War. “It was against West Ham,” he recalled. “The Doodlebugs flew quite low and once the engine stopped, you knew it was going to drop. Well, the engine did stop and the players, supporters, we all hit the ground. We heard the explosion – it landed at the Angel Edmonton. It was quite worrying at the time.”
Even more worrying, a diagnosis of cancer of the oesophagus in 2012. “I had the operation in May, 2012. I was in hospital - St Mary’s, Paddington - for 10 weeks, nil by mouth. My son was getting married in the August and I said, ‘I’ve got to be there’. Well, I was out with two weeks to spare and by October, I was back at White Hart Lane, watching the football.”
That puts things into perspective and when Martin is asked what Spurs mean to him, he responded: “Well, I can’t say ‘my life’ because I’ve got a wife and family! To be honest, Spurs are my second family. Without football, I’d be lost. Lots of friends of mine have sadly passed away or aren’t fit to come anymore. I’m fortunate that my son (Jonathan) comes with me and I’m well enough to come along and see as many matches as I can.”
Stepping into our new, world-class area earlier this year was another first, another memory. “I was gobsmacked, amazing. I never visualised how it was going to turn out. The Club has incorporated everything to the minute detail. Even the toilets are fantastic! It’s something to be proud of.”
Martin’s memories – ‘my club’
“I lived in south Tottenham, so Spurs were always my club. My father wasn’t really a football man. My friends were all Spurs fans so there were five of us. We used to go to the away games in London as well and failing that, some matches at Arsenal or the best game in London. It was marvellous.”
West Brom – 1948
“I was here when we beat West Brom 3-1 in the FA Cup in 1948 (24 January) and there was over 71,000 here (71,853), the second-highest crowd after Sunderland in 1938 (75,038 for an FA Cup replay, 5 March), and we were standing on The Shelf. What used to happen, the younger kids were rolled over the crowd to the front. These memories come up every five minutes. I’ve a lifetime of memories here.”
Christmas – 1952
“We used to play the same team home and away, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. One year we played Middlesbrough (1952/53 season). It was a mud bath of a pitch here. Les Bennett was playing inside forward and got injured early on. However, in those days there were no substitutes so they kept the injured players on, even if they could hardly run! They kept him on as centre forward – he ended up scoring four goals and we won 7-1! Things like that…!”
10-1? No! It was 13-2!
“I remember when we beat Crewe 13-2 in the FA Cup (3 February, 1960). I came home and my dad had a sports programme on. He said, ‘you had a good evening, 10-1!’ and I said, ‘that was the score at half-time!’ I’ve seen so many things. Colin Lee, his first game for us against Bristol Rovers, he scored four goals out of nine (22 October, 1977, we won 9-0 on the way to promotion from Division Two). Alfie Stokes once scored five here against Birmingham (18 September, 1957), Jermain Defoe scored five against Wigan (9-1 win on 22 November, 2009), all those memories…”
60/61 and Greavsie
“The team of 60/61 would beat any team nowadays if they played under the same conditions – no substitutes, heavy ball, heavy boots and mud! They were the best, as an 11. Then we signed Jimmy Greaves! I remember his goal against Leicester City in 1968 (controlled Pat Jennings’ clearance, beat three players, slotted home) - what a goal that was!”
Benfica – 1962
“The Benfica second leg in the European Cup semi-final in 1962, we were unlucky. That was disappointing. We lost 3-1 away and should have had a penalty and a goal that was called offside. We won 2-1 here, played brilliantly. That was a great shame.”