30. Sep, 2021


It is May 1984 and Keith Burkinshaw should be on top of the World. The Tottenham Hotspur manager has just led his team to UEFA Cup glory.

Instead a sad figure strolls down Seven Sisters road, Burkinshaw has just resigned as Spurs boss, on his walk he bumps into respected journalist Ken Jones. After the normal pleasantries the ex manager outlines his unhappiness to Jones.

The next day Jones piece is headlined "BURKINSHAW:THERE USED TO BE A FOOTBALL CLUB OVER THERE." The actual quote never existed, Jones used it to summarise Burkinshaw's feelings. Maybe Jones was influenced by his own thoughts. Cousin Cliff had stared in The Double winning side of 1961.

Whatever the origins, the quote has passed into Tottenham Hotspur folklore. Burkinshaw felt that the Spurs board had lost its focus, a year earlier the Lillywhites became the first British Football Club to float on the stock exchange. In addition to the White Hart Lane faithful, shareholders also had to be kept on side. In his Yorkshire tones, Burkinshaw felt the later group was having too much influence on club policy.

The Glory Glory mantra of the Sixties was sidelined in favour of the Loadsamoney approach of the Eighties. Spurs were also paying off a large debt incurred by the building of the West Stand in 1981.

Anything was now fair game, the board decided to invest in Hummell, the Danish sportswear company. Hummel supplied kits to other clubs. Hiowever, service was poor. Wimbledon's 1989 Centenary kit arrived in 1990. By the end of the decade Hummel were in dire straits and Spurs weren't far behind them. Chairman Irving Scholar even invested club income into a Leicestershire knitwear company. A long hot Summer saw sales slump, once again North Londoners finest ended up footing a hefty bill.

In his Eight years at the helm Burkinshaw had led Spurs from the depths of The Second Division to European glory. On the way he oversaw successive FA Cup triumphs, Ricky Villa's memorable winner in the 1981 Final is pictured above. All that achieved playing the 'Tottenham Way' The sublime skills of Hoddle, Ardilles and Crooks creating the perfect legacy to Blanchflower, Mackey and Greaves

Since his departure, Tottenham have won 3 major trophies in Thirty Seven years. Typically all were bitter sweet affairs. The 1991 FA Cup win helped rescue the club from financial ruin. Hailed as saviours, Chairman Alan Sugar and Chief Executive Terry Venables fell out spectacularly. Venables was sacked and banned from The Lane. The 1999 League Cup win was masterminded by George Graham, his Arsenal connections meant the manager's name was never sang on The Shelf, hence the "Man In the big coat's army" chant was born."

The 2008 League Cup triumph offered hope. Six months later Tottenham were bottom of The Premier League and manager Juande Ramos was sacked. But have Spurs learnt their lessons? The present side ply their trade in the wonderful Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, having moved from nearby White Hart Lane in 2019. Yet the grand surroundings appear to be inspiring those in the visiting dressing room. Nuno Espirito Santo's side currently lie a modest 11th. Harry Kane is still waiting to lay his hands on silverware. Little wonder Chairman Daniel Levy is facing growing unrest in N17 It is hard not to draw comparison with those at the other end of the Seven Sisters. Arsenal were paying off the banks years after moving to the Emirates.

It seems the North London rivals appear more interested in spreadsheets then scoresheets. But who wants to plough money into a mediocre football team. Potential Sugar Daddies or Joe Bloggs in the stand will hardly be dashing to splash the cash. The very point Keith Burkinshaw was making in 1984.

In hindsight things might have turned our differently if Mauricio Pochettino's bright young side had clinched the Premier League title in 2016. With all the other traditional big hitters beset by problems the coast seemed clear. But along came Leicester City. The greatest fairytale in football history. As legendary crooner Bing Crosby lamented "Frank Sinatra was the singer of a lifetime, but why did he have to come along in my lifetime.