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What's The Story? Boring Glory
Mark Jacob (Queen Anne Press 1999, £8.99)
This is a book written by a Spurs fan - it is an account of Spurs last season under Christian Gross, George Graham and Alan Sugar. Whilst it is in no way Watford-related, the author has thrown up a number of issues that impact on how the "average" football fan watches the game we love and, at times, hate. This is a book that you will love and hate in equal measure.

Key issues that Mark touches on are how the direction of the club is influenced by the Chairman's desire for success, the development or abdication of a club's "DNA", football on the altar of commercialism and the role the manager performs for the club and fans. Firstly, let's look at what Mark writes about the Hornets.

There are two references to Watford - one recounts the result of the FA Cup 3rd round game which the Hornets lost 5-2 and the other is a less than flattering reference to Tim Sherwood. The Spurs win in the cup is regarded as a formality - missing out on the fact that Watford gifted the Lillywhites a goal or two and the run-around Gifton Noel Williams gave Sol Campbell. The reference to Tim Sherwood concerns his less than sporting attitude on the pitch - which the author argues may be acceptable at his previous clubs (i.e. Watford, Norwich and Blackburn) but not at Spurs. Had to laugh at that, as Sherwood at Watford was like Bambi on acid, all action, no direction and very little bite. Though from what little I can remember of Tim at the Vic, he was always had the potential to be a petulant primadonna.

Turning to the role of Chairman of the club, Mark discusses at length the negative impact of Alan Sugar - whose emphasis on running a profitable business means that Spurs have missed out on a number of players who could have joined the club. Sugar's short-term focus on not purchasing "Carlos Kickaballs" has impacted on long-term success at White Hart Lane. Sugar can't just live on the legacy of saving the club, he also needs to build it up to become a success.

By not spending to build a competitive team, Spurs are not the mythically glorious and successful team that their fans crave to see as a consequence of Sugar's focus on profit and loss. As Sugar is not keen to purchase expensive players, the attraction of Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea have soared in comparison - to both players and armchair supporters. For a Spurs fan to admit that they are no longer London's glamour club is a bitter pill to swallow. Mark's book deals with this at length and there is no love lost between himself and the Chairman.

What lies at the heart of a club? Mark proposes that each team has its own unique identity, its "DNA", what makes the club and its fans tick. Spurs demand attractive football, with emphasis on skill and ability rather than grinding out results, West Ham on the other hand, focus on bringing kids through their Academy. When a club ignores its history of purchasing stars or developing stars then it is likely that the team will come off the rails. For instance Harry Redknapp's flirtation with a string of temperamental overseas stars was catastrophic for the Hammers, until he rebuilt using Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard junior, Steve Potts and other home grown players as the spine of the team.

I think that the DNA concept is worth considering. Watford have had a great youth team and community tradition - which Graham Taylor developed first he was at the Vic, but subsequent Hornets managers lost their way. It is amazing that the return of GT has breathed new life back into both. For most fans to see homegrown talent come through really is a source of great pride. Moreover, to get a signed football for a friend in hospital or for a retirement party within a couple of days, further adds to the relationship between the club and the fans.

However Mark seems to think that Spurs' DNA is one of success and glory - I don't think so. If that was the case Huddersfield, Wolves, Birmingham, Everton, Liverpool etc. would be challenging for the title year in year out. Why did Newcastle and Sunderland struggle for so many years? Why have Blackburn fallen away in the last couple of seasons? Probably because they haven't taken care of the grass roots. Success and consequently glory must be earnt - it does not happen overnight - or generation to generation, it is not a virtue inherited from previous teams, or for example, Liverpool would still be the English super-team and not Manchester United.

Having enjoyed the two promotions that Watford has had the last couple of seasons and our winning trip to the twin towers, I believe that success is earnt through hard work, talent and inspirational management. The turnaround that GT has engineered at Watford is remarkable and is largely due to his outstanding management skills and powers of motivation. A team of unknown players will by the end of the season contain a number of players the envy of other teams.

The impact of the Premiership on football in England and abroad has been remarkable. Money, glamour and hype have warped directors, players and fans expectations of the game. We have seen this at Watford with the present board shenanigans and the rip-off increase in ticket prices and yet another new kit. Whilst Watford players don't demand 24,000 per week as did David Ginola, we still have to compete in the same league as him. We don't want to see the club in turmoil as it is at Leicester because the Board are split between two factions - those favouring the football team and those the commercial interests of the club.

Sky TV has had a profound influence on when and where football matches are played. Cup semi finals that are staggered, league games rearranged for TV audiences, etc. Watford's game at Leicester was rearranged from a Saturday to a Bank Holiday Monday night - absolutely crazy. However, again let's make it clear, Watford are in the Premier League and will suffer accordingly the whims of TV schedulers.

As for George Graham? Would you swap him for Graham Taylor? No, me neither. Dour football, 1-0 wins and high tempo football versus great motivation, organisation and at times magic, there is no comparison or even contest. Can't wait till Boxing Day when the Horns visit White Hart Lane.

As for "What's The Story?" itself, it is a good and thought-provoking read. It is definitely a book you should read if you are concerned about our great game. It gives an insight into what a fan from another team thinks. At times he's not too far removed from us Hornets. There are other times you might think that he's on another planet, expecting glory and success as a rightful reward for years of loyal supporting. However, I suppose that is a sign of a good book that gets you wound up by his lack of realism.

Peter Wilson