The Glory Game

Hunter Davies Transworld 1972
March 26, 2018
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Read today, The Glory Game is quite extraordinary. Somehow, Hunter Davies managed to embed himself at Tottenham for the 1971-72 season and the result a book of unrivalled access and insight. There were no restrictions: Davies went to the after-game parties with the players, sat in the bath with them after training, and was even allowed inside the Spurs dressing-room.

And what a dressing-room: this was the Tottenham of Bill Nicholson, Martin Chivers, Alan Mullery, and Steve Perryman. Not quite Nicholson’s double-winning team, but still a side who won the UEFA Cup and belong in the pantheon of the club’s immortals.

It’s important to note, though, that this is not a blow-by-blow account of the season. Davies doesn’t really dwell too much on the individual games, but rather the happenings around them. Mullery’s struggle with his own playing mortality is given plenty of pages, so too is Chivers’ uneasy relationship with Nicholson. The Glory Game also strays beyond White Hart Lane, too, and includes conversations with the players’ wives, interviews with the club’s directors, and even a ride-a-long with the supporters on a Football Special.

Non Tottenham fans needn’t be put off. Yes, it’s of particular interest to them, but it’s a fascinating insight into what football life was like in the 1970s. Years later, writing in his autobiography, Nicholson confessed to regretting the access he’d granted to Davies. A couple of players were also unhappy with the way they were portrayed and some of that spills over into the post-script.

Their discomfort is the audience’s privilege, though, because this is an absolute gem of a football book. Original copies are rare, quite valuable too, but hunting down a later edition should be considered mandatory.

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