My hero Gazza, watching Spurs all over the world & knives out for a former player

This week we have a brilliant interview with an NHS Key worker and massive Spurs Fan – Mark Rose – Enjoy!

The Warm Up

I’m a married 40 year old man with a wife and two cats (no kids). I’ve worked in the NHS as an operational manager for 17 years. A lot of the time has been spent lurching from one crisis to another but COVID-19 has without doubt been the biggest, longest and most challenging aspect of my career to date.

I manage cancer services and, although our services are starting to come back on line, it will take many months to get back to where we were pre-COVID if indeed we get to that point at all. My biggest worry is delayed diagnosis meaning that some patients will eventually be diagnosed with cancer at a late clinical stage and therefore their cancer may be treatable but not curable.

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As a youngster – who was your Spurs hero? 

As a 10 year old my dad took me to my first live match in April 1990 – Leyton Orient v Birmingham City in the old old old Division 3. I really enjoyed the live football experience but want got me into football was Italia ’90. I watched most games in that World Cup and was hooked. So it was that that on 8 September 1990 my dad made the fateful decision of taking me to my first Spurs game. I don’t remember attending my 2nd or 3rd or 4th game (all of which would have been that season) but I remember everything about that day. I remember arriving at the ground and the smell of onions from the burger vans. The walk up to the East Upper (near the Park Lane end) and my absolute awe at seeing the pitch. I remember all three goals that Spurs scored in a 3-0 win against Derby County and they were all scored by the same player who recorded his first career hat-trick – Paul Gascoigne. I came out of the ground at the end of the game and said, “Dad I want to be a Spurs fan!” Dad said: “son not all our games are like this you know!” (meaning a comfortable win) but I didn’t listen and there was no going back.

So Gazza was my hero because he made me a fan. That season, our last FA Cup winning season, Gazza was a free flowing footballer with no fear on the ball. A midfield dynamo winning games single handily. A type of player that I feel we’ve sorely missed for many years, even with the very good sides we’ve had in recent seasons. A goal scoring midfielder that can take a game by the scruff of the neck and win games on his own.

It’s also because football was football back then, just before it solely became a business, and I hark back to those days and players from that time.

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Who is your favourite player from the current Squad? 

The one great thing about the squad that Poch built over his first couple of years is that, after getting rid of players who didn’t give there all in matches, what was left was a squad of players that were all likable. I can’t recall that a time like that since the early 90’s. Poch gave a vibe, a positive energy, a bond between the club and it’s fans and for that I’ll be eternally grateful.

Sometimes the obvious answer is also the right one and for me it’s Harry Kane. It’s not only that he’s the best player in the squad and it’s not only that he’s an honorable man on and off the pitch and is therefore a fantastic representation of what the club should stand for, but it’s also because he’s one of our own. For quite a few years I regularly watch reserve and under-18’s matches at home and away (if they didn’t clash with the first team) and so I saw Kane when he stepped up from the under-16’s to the under-18’s. I watched many of those matches with just a couple of hundred people in attendance and often spoke to his mum (Kim) whilst doing so. At that level there was a few players over the years that were head and shoulders above the rest and he was one of them. I was very proud to watch him from that level up to the first team and indeed was at Wembley for his international debut.

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From World football – who would you most like to see in a Spurs shirt?

This is a tough question as I don’t watch club football outside of Spurs. I really enjoyed watching Mbappe in the last World Cup though…young, energetic, great on the ball, a good striker and an all-round team player.

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What is your favourite piece of Spurs memorabilia? 

I don’t collect many Spurs items. I used to get a programme from every game but stopped when they started charging £5 a programme when we got into the Champions’ League. I also give my ticket stubs away to true collectors. However the one item I still have is a Spurs pennant signed by the entire Spurs squad from 10-15 years ago. It came about after I went to a pre-season friendly against Celtic. Due to bad weather my train to Glasgow on the morning of a midweek evening game was delayed by a number of hours. Upon arrival in Glasgow instead of going to my great Uncle’s house as planned where I was going to stay overnight I went straight to the game to ensure I made kick off. Afterwards I went to his place in the absolute pouring rain in the black of night. He ended up writing the club to praise my loyalty without me knowing and then I got sent the signed pennant in the post.

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Where in the world have you watched Spurs live other than UK? 

From 1990 to 1998 I went to quite a few home matches each season with my dad. When I started earning a proper wage in 1998 I started going to more home games and some away which quickly increased until the summer of 2001. For my 21st birthday my parents bought me my first season ticket. I then went to some (but not all) of the pre-season friendlies at the start of 2001/02 and then went to my first home league game as a season ticket holder. I was between jobs at this time and so decided to go to the first few away games as well. All of a sudden it was October/November and I hadn’t missed a game then so I thought about trying to get to Xmas without missing a game and then the whole season. By that time I had become friends with many other regulars who invited me to join them on pre-season friendly tours and I haven’t looked back. I infamously was not allowed into Aston Villa away in September 2005 for being drunk but that’s the only first team game I’ve missed in person, home away or abroad, cup, league or first team friendly since then. Sadly this all comes to an end due to COVID-19 with the 2019/20 season finishing behind closed doors. I haven’t seen a Spurs game on TV since 2001 and I don’t have a Sky Sports subscription so not sure what I’ll do yet for the remaining games of the season.

For the record then I’ve seen Spurs in 51 towns/cities with the UK and, outside of the UK, I’ve seen Spurs play live in 87 towns/cities in 36 countries across 5 continents. These are the countries listed in order of when I first saw Spurs play in the country:

Republic of Ireland, Netherlands, USA, South Africa, Sweden, Spain, Mauritius, South Korea, Germany, Czech Republic

Turkey. Portugal, France, Cyprus, Israel, Belgium, Poland, Italy, Ukraine, China, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Greece, Russia, Slovenia, The Bahamas, Georgia, Moldova, Norway, Canada, Finland, Serbia, Malaysia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Singapore

 

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Which former player would you love to see in the current squad? 

Although I never saw him play live I’d like to see Glenn Hoddle as his peak simply because of the gushing praise from many of my older Spurs friends. He epitomized the skill, flair and panache that our club is all about.

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Most memorable Spurs moment? 

Ajax away will stay in the memory for a long long time although I’m not sure if it’s fair to say it is the most memorable moment simply because we didn’t win the final. There are many great moments of course including the three trophies we’ve won in my time, our unbeaten last season at WHL, Inter Milan (h), Real Madrid, (h), AC Milan (a), in the Champions’ League and many many more. But the question asks for a memorable moment and so, whilst beating Chelsea for the first time in many years at home, and beating West Ham in the last minute away in that famous 4-3 win, my most memorable moment is probably the final whistle at the Emirates when we came from 2-0 down to win 3-2. At that point we had gone 64 consecutive away games at the “big 4” as they were classified at the time without winning and in this game I was right by the barrier that separated our fans from theirs. When the final whistle went I felt what can only be described as a bolt of electricity running through me as I raised my arms, looked up to the sky and just screamed. It was as if years and years of anguish, pain and torment at the hands of our local rivals had all be released at that one moment.

Another memorable moment I would like to share was winning the pre-season Peace Cup in South Korea 2005. This remains my favourite Spurs trip – 10 days, 4 games, 3 cities (plus a 4th we decided to visit). We did not sleep in our hotel for 2 of the nights as we were out all night, the locals bought us a meal on another night and I had a romantic liaison with a young English lass who was also doing the tour. On the last night, after winning the trophy, we went to the hotel where the team were staying and drank with them in the bar. Pedros Mendes chatted up my female companion (amazingly she chose to stay with me) whilst Martin Jol bought us drinks all night. He ended up giving me a spare training top.

 

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Who was your most disappointing Spurs signing? 

Sadly there are so many… Tramezzani, Booth, Rasiak…I don’t want to think about the countless others! For me though the most disappointing signing was Jermaine Jenas. A player with so much potential talent in the midfield position that I alluded to earlier but who was lazy and only turned it on when he wanted to (mainly in the North London Derby). I felt him to be the epitome of everything wrong with the club at the time and the perfect example of what held us back from the next level.

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Which Spurs players (3) would you chose to join you if you were on Come Dine With Me?

Gary Mabbutt – Mr Tottenham for me, a very honorable man. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him a few times and I would like to know more about how he manages diabetes

Bill Nicholson – as a player and manager I’d love to hear the passion of the Mr Tottenham of all time and just want the club meant to him. I love emotion in Spurs and he would be a great dinner guest

Sol Campbell – there’s a new set of kitchen knives I’ve been meaning to use…

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All time Spurs XI (any formation)

Whenever I get this sort of question I tend to go with what first comes into my head. So when you read and think “why on earth hasn’t he said this player?!” the answer is that I’ve forgotten about them and will remember later.

I can only go with players that I’ve seen so…

                          Lloris

Carr    Alderweireld     King     Vertonghen

Lennon    Modric     Bale

Sheringham     Kane    Klinsmann

This would be a dreadful line up by the way (too attacking,  no defensive midfield, Verts in his unfavoured left back position) but that’s why football is not played on paper.

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