This pulpy, yet efficient remake of the 1980s ITV “classic” features Denzil Washington on decent form as a humble blue-collar worker with both a conscience and mysterious past. It’s a brutal and fun film which runs the gamut of film clichés featuring:
Russian gangsters called Sergei and Vladimir sporting more tattoos than skin.
Young tart-with-a-heart in distress.
The “hero-surveys-the-scene” POV shots before a fight as seen in Downey Jnr’s Sherlock Holmes.
Aerial and time-lapse shots of the city to a brooding guitar soundtrack.
Corrupt cops, politicians and Russian Oligarchs as nemeses.
Hero attempts to overcome the loss of a loved one by turning his back on his violent past.
Hero with insomnia reads Hemingway and drinks tea in the same café every night.
Hero with OCD turns out to be a shit-hot former CIA operative who decides he can’t change and kicks some gangster’s arse!
Despite such bog-standard features genre director Antoine Fuqua and Denzil Washington deliver a bone-crushing and tense thriller. It contains some cracking over-the-top violence notably in the final showdown where Denzil takes down the bad guys at the B & Q where he works.
Special mention though goes to Martin Csokas who gave his Russian villain a breathtaking menace which lit up the screen whenever he appeared. He was a highlight along with some very well-orchestrated action.
Denzil Washington is probably the best movie actor around as he has a knack of turning average scripts into something very watchable and this is no different. I can see why he was attracted to this character: a Robin Hood type who uses his special training to assist those in the neighbourhood and eventually turns his brutal killing abilities to something more global.
This is nowhere near as good as the Fuqua/Washington double-teamed Training Day (2001) for which the actor received the Oscar for Best Actor or the equally brutal Man On Fire (2004) which is something of an underrated classic in my view but while instantly forgettable it’s still unashamedly entertaining and had me gripped throughout the slightly overlong running time.
This year I did a little comedy show at the Brighton Fringe Festival with fellow comedian GWILUM ARGOS. I also thought it would be fun to film the whole process and edit it into a, hopefully, funny documentary. The editing process was long and laborious but I have finally finished the bastard and here it is. It is not intended to reinvent the wheel formally speaking but I hope it will be something amusing to look back on in year’s to come.
PAUL LAIGHT and GWILUM ARGOS star in a humorous documentary filmed and edited in 2014 as they prepare, rehearse and perform their comedy show at the Brighton Fringe Festival (2014).
This is a mixture of sketches, podcast, trailers, interviews, stand-up performance etc. The video is intended for promotional and non-profit making purposes. It is a historical document recorded for a laugh and posterity and possible insight into the creative process.
Comedy material written by Paul Laight and Gwilum Argos. Original songs written by Gwilum Argos.
Other songs/music used by kind permission.
The Rock and Droll Experience was shot and edited by Paul Laight.
I was on holiday with my son playing Top Trumps. Well, we
didn’t take a holiday to play Top Trumps but we were on the plane
playing DC Superheroes and SpongeBob Squarepants Top Trumps and I had the idea of doing a Rock ‘N’ Roll supergroup top trumpy kind of thing. Who’s my favourite drummer, singer/front-person, bassist, keyboardist, lyricist, rhythm guitarist and lead guitarist? And why? Well here are my picks for what could be the greatest rock band that never existed. Of course, it’s highly subjective and on any given day I may go another way on some of these choices. If you agree or disagree let me know. Or don’t.
THE DRUMMER – KEITH MOON
The Who’s wild man of rock and roll was an all or nothing legendary figure that beat living hell out of the drums on some of the great rock tunes of our time. A sweaty, ferocious and fiery figure he lived by the booze and by god he died by it too. It was his attitude as much as his technical ability (not that I’m an expert on this) as he played with the Devil in his eyes and the sticks. Read the book Dear Boy – it’s a great read about a man who didn’t just raise hell but lowered heaven for us mere mortals too.
THE BASSIST – GARY “MANI” MOUNFIELD
Mani wasn’t just in ONE of my favouritest ever bands – he was in TWO: Mancunian baggy geniuses The Stone Roses and Scottish junkie rock ‘n’ rollas Primal Scream. He transformed both bands with a Cheshire Cat grin, Northern wit, all-round charisma and powerful playing. The Roses really took off after Mani joined them and their first album is one of the greatest debuts ever in my opinion. For the Scream he brought a dominant, driving energy to their punky-post-industrial-wasteland-blues. Fookin’ legend man!
RHYTHM GUITAR – JOHNNY MARR
Marr was the musical hurricane behind probably my favouritest band ever The Smiths. While Morrissey got the majority of the publicity with his daffodil-sway-dancing, provocative and poetic lyrics and barbed media-jousting tongue but Marr’s guitar sung like an angel on a series of classic albums notably: The Queen is Dead and Meat is Murder. He would go onto be a guitar-for-hire for bands such as: The The and The Cribs and recently released his debut solo album; which wasn’t that bad actually.
LEAD GUITAR – JIMI HENDRIX
Would anyone argue that Johnny Allen “Jimi” Hendrix was the greatest guitarist that ever lived and breathed? Perhaps fans of Slash? Or Jimmy Page? Or Clapton? Or many more? Anyway, he made the guitar sing like demon, and anyone who saw him live was very lucky as he died at such a young age. Hendrix bridged the gap between blues, psychedelia and rock fusing them in a thunderous mesh. And within a few short years he went from backing the Isley Brothers to headlining Woodstock. As well as creating some of the greatest rock and roll songs ever he was a pioneer, mastering feedback and popularizing the wah-wah pedal. Hendrix would be an incredible influence during his life and after he was gone. That’s why he’s my choice for lead guitar.
KEYBOARDIST – RAY MANZAREK
Maybe he does and maybe he doesn’t but I don’t think Manzarek gets the credit he deserves for his playing in 60s rock superstars The Doors. Of course, Jim Morrison was so charismatic that it’s often impossible to take your eyes off his performances, deep growling vocals and magnetic rock star looks. Indeed, it’s so easy to forget the bookish man sitting behind the organ providing the wall of sound in support of the drug-fuelled hell-raiser at The Door’s front of house. However, his rhythm (he also supplied bass), funky, sprawling, rock, pop, classical keyboard-tinkling spanned many different styles, genres and sounds giving the band their originality for the time. Morrison may have provided the cheekbones but Manzarek provided the backbone.
WORDS – MORRISSEY
I used to listen to The Smiths all the time when I was a teenager. Still do. People used to say to me that Morrissey was miserable, moaning and tuneless. Well, to me it was the complete opposite: uplifting, angry and poetic. He disliked much of life around him and gave short shrift to people who got him down. In my little room he spoke directly to my confused young mind providing a wonderful intelligence, dour Northern humour sprinkled with mordant wit and crafty word play. He wrote from the heart and the gut and most importantly the brain. His words often echo around my mind when I’m in certain situations and in my mind the greatest poet/lyricist ever.
SINGER – RICHARD ASHCROFT
This is the most interchangeable of choices. For a long time the front-of-the-band was held by Lizard King Jim Morrison. Then I considered Morrissey or even Freddie Mercury but the latter’s arguably too theatrical for me. Then I thought hmmm… Blondie would be a cracking choice or even Zak De La Rocha of Rage against the Machine; just to give the band something a bit different. Even Dolly Parton, who has a lot of front and sass was a consideration but I just couldn’t hear her singing Morrissey’s words. Bono, Bobby Gillespie, Johnny Cash, Marvin Gaye, Liam Gallager, Robert Smith, Axel Rose and many more went through my mind and then just at time of writing I decided that Wigan-born-ecstasy-driven-poet-come-wizard Richard Ashcroft would be the man to bring this bastard home.
In The Verve Ashcroft’s angular looks and thousand-yard stare are just magnetic as he just throws every emotion into the ring when belting out a tune. Probably not the most gifted technically, yet, within that voice there is pain and sorrow. Plus a world-weary emotiveness within his visage; like a starving vampire desperate to die in the light. I went for him for emotion, feeling, energy and attitude. On any other day, as I say, it could’ve been another singer. But today it’s him.
Following my tribute to Ryan Gosling a while ago the second in my little paeans to cinematic people I admire is the wonderful Julianne Moore. Here I pick out seven memorable performances which make me fall in love with her over and over again.
SHORT CUTS (1993)
Moore is a versatile actor who, along with appearing in some cinematic classics, has been in some right old tosh over the years. However, SHE is ALWAYS great in EVERYTHING! She can do vulnerable. She can do funny. She can do romance. She can do sexy. She can do sweet. She can do evil. And boy can she do neurosis! My earliest memory of her was from Robert Altman’s fractured ensemble classic Short Cuts where she spends a lot of time naked from the waist down. It certainly took er… balls for Moore to take on such a role and she is a stand-out as an artist on the edge of a nervous breakdown.
BOOGIE NIGHTS (1997)
I still think this is Paul Thomas Anderson’s best film. Well, it’s my favourite of his brilliant oeuvre. I mean it takes some kind of genius to make a film about the porn industry and imbue it with heart, humour, sexuality, Oedipal tragedy and humanity without poking fun and merely relying on smut or underlying sleaziness. Moore portrays “Amber Waves” the tragic mother-figure of the porn “family” who, estranged from her own young son, provides emotional support to the young porn actors such as Rollergirl and Dirk Diggler. She is wonderful as a pained addict trying but failing to achieve a conventional lifestyle, instead finding comfort and solace with Burt Reynolds’ led dysfunctional troupe of sex actors.
THE BIG LEBOWSKI (1998)
Much has been made of Jeff Bridges wonderfully comic and laconic i.e. stoned-off-his-nut performance in the Coen Brothers’ much-adored cult classic The Big Lebowski, but the many idiosyncratic supporting characters deserve praise too. The film is a delightful patchwork of eccentricity and none more so than Moore’s Maud Lebowski – a privileged, upper class artist who seduces The Dude in a strange side-story to already hyper-convoluted kidnapping-gone-wrong-right plot. The Coens’ satirise rich artistic types via Maud as she too as uses The Dude to her own ends. Moore dominates the screen with her witty portrayal and even ends up in one of The Dude’s hallucinogenic dreams as a Viking goddess of some sort.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s does Altman’s Short Cuts up to eleven with a modern mosaic of human dysfunction, loneliness and tragedy. It’s a difficult but compelling watch as Anderson removes the humour palette, so richly used in Boogie Nights, to present a cross-section of characters each struggling with existential and familial estrangement. Moore role is a risky one inasmuch as she is a self-confessed adulterer who married for money and only now — with her elderly husband (Jason Robards) about to die — does she feel any kind of remorse. It’s a complex character who you feel little sympathy for — even when she attempts suicide — but as car-crash humanity and drama go it’s difficult not to be drawn in by her incredible performance.
END OF THE AFFAIR (1999)
An amazing feat of literature from Graham Greene is adapted into a heart-cracking film by Neil Jordan; full of eroticism, stellar cast, lingering looks, exquisite photography and elegant Michael Nyman score. I watch a lot of films and am not often moved emotionally but the doomed love affair between Moore and Ralph Fiennes really gets my tear ducts on the go. Love is very difficult thing to get right on the silver screen but the intensity of the acting really is a thing of beauty. There’s been some amazing love stories set during wartime down the years but this has to be one of the most memorable. Moore was deservedly nominated for an Oscar but lost out to Hilary Swank.
FAR FROM HEAVEN (2002)
Todd Haynes pristine Sirkian melodrama is a honourable pastiche of 1950s films in both form, setting and content. It sees Moore wearing the skin of Cathy, a neglected American rose, who ventures into a forbidden love affair with local gardener Raymond Deagen, (Dennis Haysbert). Once again, Moore is drawn to a character who is pushed to the outside of society, her character becoming a victim of gossip and recrimination within a closely knit bigoted community. American small-town attitudes to race and sexuality are critiqued with director Todd Haynes beautifully designed colour palette and cinematography contrasting the dark subtext at work. Moore was rightly nominated for another Oscar but lost out to Nicole Kidman’s prosthetic nose.
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT (2010)
This was a laidback, fun kind of movie which found Julianne Moore in a relationship with Annette Bening’s obstetrician. It’s a lower-budget independent gem with a fine cast including: Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson. The story finds Moore and Bening’s sperm donee children searching for their father (Ruffalo) and the ensuing first world drama and “chaos” this brings. Moore’s budding landscape gardener plays a relatively sane character as she argues with the children and the more dominant Bening, before falling into bed with the more Bohemianesque character of Ruffalo. Moore ‘s character suffers a minor mid-life crisis compared to other cinematic meltdowns in her oeuvre. Nonetheless, her kind, natural, earth-mother performance is very enjoyable. Fear not though it would appear in her latest film — David Cronenberg’s Map to the Stars (2014) — finds her back on full neurotic alert as an actress flailing in the age-conscious, superficial Hollywood system.
As a balding man I felt it my duty to raise my concerns about the desperately poor wig-work that has occurred down the years in the movies. The wigs, actors chosen suck because they are so appalling and the filmmakers should have let the actor go natural to avoid discriminatory practices against baldies.
Obviously, for sci-fi, historical, and comedy films wigs are used in context and for humorous purposes so I have generally avoided picking on those but for the examples used there is NO EXCUSE! They are a travesty and deeply hurtful to the bald community. As Larry David says: Baldism is a proper thing.
10. IT LOOKS STUPID!
Okay, I understand certain characters require wigs especially if they wore them in real life like Phil Spector as played recently by Al Pacino but generally Movie Wigs look dumb. It’s fine if it’s in the context of the character such as American Hustle (2013) where Bale’s character was shown to be vain but when an actor has what looks like a ferret stapled to his or her head then I’m thinking less of the movie as I’m too busy laughing at it.
9. IT’S DISCRIMINATION!
I started watching the decent-enough movie TransSiberian (2008) on Netflix and Woody Harrelson’s character is wearing an obvious wig. Harrelson has played some fine bald heroes in his time most notably in the brilliant Zombieland (2009) but he’s let us right down in this movie. His character was a nice guy in it so by giving him a syrup and spectacles are they saying that bald people cannot be pleasant and easy-going. Either cast an actor with hair or don’t. It’s baldist! Come on Woody – you SHOULD know better.
8. WHAT HAPPENED TO TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENT?
So I was watching a very disappointing blockbuster film about a massive lizard and I was so disconnected with the lack of characterisation or suspense I got distracted by the usually brilliant Bryan Cranston and his appalling wig! Why not allow let the character have a natural hairstyle of the actor? Are they saying a character with a receding hairline or a bald character is less sympathetic? All that money spent on special effects and incredible looking giant monsters in Godzilla (2014) and his hair-piece was so unconvincing I was embarrassed. Mind you not as unconvincing as the script.
7. KING OF THE WIGS – NICOLAS CAGE
I can’t stand wigs and plastic surgery and Cage seems to have had his fair share of both. It’s vanity gone mad. Unless of course you have a tragic disfigurement or burns I see no reason to alter your body or face in ANY way via artificial means! If you need to lose weight go on a diet don’t use liposuction. If you are bald don’t get a rat transplant on your bonce just deal with it. The worst hair-cut he ever had was arguably in the terrific prison-escape blockbuster Con Air (1997). While the mullet had a certain magnetic quality it, in my opinion, it was laughable and took the piss really.
Anyway, Cage — on his day — is an outstanding actor but he has been in some really sorry old tosh like Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011). Here’s a guy who could be a hero to all baldies everywhere with his receding locks so why not allow his characters have Cage’s natural barnet. His lack of locks worked well in Adaptation (2002) as it added to low-status nature of one of the brothers but this was an exception to the rule. 6. BALD PEOPLE DEHUMANIZED AS THE BAD GUY!
Look all the villains over the years who have been bald: Lex Luthor, Voldemort, Ming The Merciless, John Doe (from Se7en), Bane, Gru, Don Logan, Darth Maul, The Baldies from The Wanderers (1979) and many more. Choosing someone who is follicly-challenged is an easy shorthand and detrimental to the humanization of bald people all over the world. We are not villains. We are humans – just because we don’t have hair it doesn’t make us bad people. We have feelings you know.
5. THE BALD UNTRUTH! – JOHN TRAVOLTA
Why use wigs? Why can’t the character be bald – does it make them any less of a human being?! At the very least why collude in the fact the character has real hair. Try and be inventive with the syrups. John Travolta has worn some horrific fringes in his time but at no stage does he send this part of his being up or make it part of the characterisation. In Wild Hogs (2007) — a film about mid-life crises he spends most of it in a bandana rather than embracing his lack of hair. Fair play in the dreadful From Paris With Love (2010) he is bald but he still has a compensatory goatee to take the bald sheen away from the role.
4. UNINTENTIONAL HUMOUR
I’m just going to say one word: Surrogates (2009). This Bruce Willis sci-fi thriller is a dog of a film and the syrups are hilarious. Humans are essentially lock-ins and rarely go out. Instead they live their lives through virtual reality surrogates. It’s not a bad idea and contains a reasonable social comment on technology displacing actual physical and emotional contact. The problem I have with the film is the human version of Willis is bald whereas the computer version has hair. So basically, Willis’ preferred setting is having hair. Why couldn’t it be the other way round!! Plus the haircut is an absolute joke; much like the film as a whole. Bruce Willis is a flag-bearing hero to all bald men and he has worn some dodgy wigs in his time but this is the most monstrous blot on his career.
3. BAD HAIRPIECES DEVALUE THE PRODUCTION
Films are SO expensive to make you would think they could spend a bit more of an effort to make the hairpieces more realistic. Some films — even historical dramas like Lincoln (2013) — have incredible sets, amazing actors and a cast of thousands but when it comes to the syrups the whole thing falls down. I found Lincoln a tough watch anyway as it was SO boring. Has anyone actually watched this film and enjoyed it? Anyway, despite a ponderous story the incredible production is let down by wigs so ridiculous they act as a Brechtian distanciation device and consistently remind us we are watching a movie. I realise that movie God Spielberg may have been going for authenticity but it backfires in Lincoln and the wigs are an embarrassment.
2. IF THEY HAVE HAIR – WHY ARE THEY WEARING A SYRUP?
The worst thing is when the actor actually has hair and they STILL put a hair-piece on them. It’s a travesty really because they could have cast a bald person in the role and given them a leg up in the vanity-led industry that is Hollywood. Or at the very least use the actors real hair and style it accordingly. If the film covers a number of years then for additional realism they should shoot the film in order as the hair grows. The biggest culprit for this is Oliver Stone. He has made some magnificent films but his career is littered with crimes against bald people. Just have a gander at these monstrosities:
1. HAIL THE BALD HEROES!
We shall fight them in the barbers, the make-up chairs and film & sets. Hail the heroes carrying the fight against the vain, unreal and plastic harbingers of doom! Stand proud the hairless and bald! Fight the good fight to the last strand!
As cockney comedian Micky Flanagan might say I’ve been DOUBLE BUSY this week from a cultural point of view. So rather write a lengthy movie review I thought I’d treat my fan (you know who you are) to a quick rundown of all the fun stuff I’ve been up to, watched, listened to and experienced this week.
As a massive fan of the Scottish actor Peter Capaldi I really want to watch the new series of Doctor Who! However I am bound by my rules of not watching any episodes of long-running dramas or comedies out of linear order. Thus, I have had a massive catch-up in the last month from David Tennant’s Doctor onwards. Some brilliant episodes include The Idiot Lantern, Satan’s Pit, Gridlock, Blink and many more full of fantastical sci-fi ideas with Tennant performing miracles as everyone’s favourite Timelord. Ironically, Capaldi pops up in The Fires of Pompeii and I can’t wait for his tenure in the TARDIS once I’ve got through Matt Smith’s two seasons.
SIN CITY – A DAME TO KILL FOR (2014) – MOVIE REVIEW
Roberto Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s sequel to the mind-blowing violent-noir-comic-book-digital-backlot-splatterfest SIN CITY (2005) was eagerly anticipated by myself. Yeah, I’m a sucker for hard-boiled Chandleresque dialogue, femme fatales, knuckle-headed masculine losers and bone-crunching, bloody violence. Like the previous incarnation A DAME TO KILL FOR has some fantastic imagery and eye-popping brutality amidst the side-alleys, mean streets and smoky bars of Basin City.
Yet, overall I felt a strange sense of disappointment combined with negative deja vu while watching the film. The first film was so memorable any sequel had to be bigger and more explosive but while a fine watch it was not as good as the first one. . The cast are fantastic though notably the gorgeous Eva Green, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Mickey Rourke as Marv – the maniac-with-a-heart. The stories never quite take flight as they did in the first film and I’ll be honest the perpetual voice-over kind of ground me down. Still, if you’re a fan of the original there is enough in there to satisfy Noir addicts everywhere.
On Sunday me and the son and heir Rhys went to Whipsnade Zoo for the day. It’s a lovely place full of animals obviously with a wonderful walk round of about 3 miles. What I love about the place is the animals have loads of room to roam and it’s far more spacious than the claustrophobic London Zoo. It’s not too expensive either so recommended for all the family.
BAND OF BROTHERS (2001 – HBO)
I am deeply ashamed to admit that I only watched the first couple of these when it was first aired many moons ago. However, I have finally caught up again with this sensational WW2 drama this week. The mini-serial covers the harrowing exploits of Easy Company — of the US Airborne — and their various campaigns including: D-Day, Operation Market Garden and The Battle of the Bulge. It is high-end quality television par excellence with a massive cast and budget to boot! The horrors of war that Spielberg and his team presented so viscerally in Saving Private Ryan (1998) are also represented here with savage aplomb as we empathise with these gallant men fighting for freedom against the Germans in grisly and murderous conflict.
TOTTENHAM F.C. v AEL LIMASSOL (3-0 – WHITE HART LANE)
On Thursday evening I was at White Hart Lane to watch the mighty Spurs dominate possession and put three goals past their Cypriot rivals, and in the process, go through to the Europa League group stage. I hadn’t been to the football in a few years and enjoyed the experience very much. The White Hart Lane pitch looked stunning as Kane, Paulinho and Townsend (penalty) scored the goals that put Limassol to the sword.
At times it was like a training game really but I was impressed with Harry Kane upfront – despite his penalty miss – and Brazilian midfielder Paulinho. Plus, the philosophy Mauricio Pochettino seems to be promoting is a passing, possession game involving patience and interchangeability of the three behind the striker. So, despite the lack of quality of the opposition I was pleased with the result and now look forward to watching Spurs on ITV4 as they travel the 10,000 mile journey to Outer Mongolia in the Group Stages.
WITHOUT FAIL (a JACK REACHER NOVEL) by LEE CHILD
I finally finished reading a book that I started on holiday in July. It’s a Jack Reacher novel of which I understand there are many. It was a very well plotted and designed thriller which pits an off-the grid-ex-military-anti-heroic-hard-nut on various missions against bad people. In this case a mysterious assassin who wants to kill the Vice-President for some unknown reason. It’s a very long book of around 550 pages and I felt it could have been pruned here or there and while I didn’t really care too much about the Vice President, I empathised with his team of agents charged with guarding him. Reacher is a military expert and it’s his intelligence, steel and mettle which makes the story interesting. In my opinion the novel gets slightly bogged down in police/FBI/CIA procedure but it’s very well written with some excellent twists and as potboilers go it is worth a read. Reacher’s no Bond though; give me Ian Fleming’s lean, sinewy writing any day of the week.
KASABIAN – 48:13 – ALBUM REVIEW
I don’t listen to too much “new” music these days and have somewhat lost touch with the up and coming rock and roll bands of this millennium. However, one band whose albums I always look forward to are Leicester’s neo-wave-electro-rockers KASABIAN. Their new album is another triumph of rocking beats, hefty basslines, rich synths and nonsense urban-meets-Lewis-Carroll-style lyrics. Covering very similar ground to their last record VELOCIRAPTOR this is a great party album which will no doubt work very well in movie soundtracks and in the big arena’s Kasabian are now playing in. They don’t have much to say politically and could be argued to be style-over-substance but what a style they have! Serge Pizzorno knows how to write a cracking tune and he more than proves that once again with tracks like: Stevie, Eez-Eh, Bow, Bumblebee etc…
A TRIP DOWN WHITE HART LANE: MY FAVOURITE SPURS MEMORIES by PAUL LAIGHT
Audere est Facere: To Dare is to Do!
The new Premier League season is upon us and just to take a break from my usual cinematic blog nonsense I would like to write a bit about my ongoing support for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.
Spurs have a great history being the first Non-League club to win the FA Cup and the first team to do ‘the Double’ in the 20th century. Since those glory days they have successfully won the FA Cup several times, the Cup Winners Cup, the League Cup and UEFA Cup. They have always prided themselves on playing sweet attractive passing football with a history for flamboyant flair players. In the 1976/77 season they suffered relegation but soon bounced back to the top division. Under Keith Burkinshaw they almost won the league title and enjoyed some league success and further FA Cup glory under Terry Venables stewardship in 1990/91.
Since the 1990s they have had mixed fortune in the league and have flirted with relegation as well as having a bit of an open-door policy when it comes to managers. Of late, Spurs could be classed as a ‘nearly’ club pushing the top four but usually cementing a respectable top six or so position. Under Harry Redknapp they reached the dizzy heights of the Champions’ League quarter-finals and were unlucky not to qualify again BUT Chelsea’s jammy Champions’ League win in 2012 prevented this.
I have followed Spurs since the start of the ‘80s and while I have attended several games down the years , if I’m honest, I could be described as a classic “armchair/watch down the pub” supporter. Having said that I am very passionate about the team and while there are ups and downs I consider it a privilege to follow them as they have always been in the top division trying to challenge despite them not winning the league for some time.
What’s great about supporting Spurs is the unpredictability. They are very much an “Icarus” team. They promise much and occasionally fly high only to somehow burn up spectacularly when they get too close to the sun. The “Lasagne Gate” episode of 2006 is a case in point where Martin Jols’ Spurs were so close to finishing 4th in the Premier League; before an alleged batch of dodgy pasta knocked the team sideways. They would be beaten 2-1 by London rivals West Ham and get pipped to 4th by dreaded North London rivals Arsenal.
Anyway, I thought it nice to take a trip down memory lane and pick out my favourite Spurs moments, goals, matches and people. They are in date order and of course very subjective but I hope fellow Spurs’ supporters enjoy these memories.
GLENN HODDLE – (1975-1987 – 377 apps – 88 goals)
Arguably the greatest ever Spurs player in regard to longevity and sheer entertainment value. So much skill, power and vision and I got to meet him recently at a Spurs’ supporter football event. This YouTube tribute says it all really.
1981 – RICKY VILLA – GOAL AGAINST WOLVES – FA SEMI-FINAL
This is my earliest Spurs’ memory. Our mercurial bearded Argentinian midfielder cutting in from the wing and launching a thunderbolt left foot drive. Sweet!
1981 – FA CUP REPLAY SPURS V MAN CITY – 3-2
This is still one of the greatest games of football I have ever seen. Both teams were up for it and the game was a see-saw classic. Steve Mackenzie’s volley for City was spectacular but Villa’s goal that won it was pure genius. And never forget a great tackle by Graham Roberts which helped set-up the winning goal.
THOSE GLORY GLORY DAYS – FILM (1982)
It would be remiss of me to have a blog piece without mentioning a movie and I loved this film when I was a kid. It concerns a group of schoolgirls who are obsessed with Spurs and the legendary Danny Blanchflower. It’s a sweet, touching and funny coming of age football story with a gender twist.
GARY MABBUTT – (1982-1998 – 477 apps – 27 goals)
If you cut Gary Mabbutt in half he would bleed white and blue and also most likely die. But this is a man who literally put his life on the line for Spurs given he overcame diabetes to become a Spurs legend. Mabbutt was an incredibly consistent defender who led by example and was deservedly capped by his country too.
1984 – TONY PARKS SAVES PENALTY TO WIN UEFA CUP
The UEFA Cup was a big deal then and Spurs had won through some tough rounds including beating Bayern Munich. The final against Anderlecht went to the wire and Tony Parks stepped up to save the last penalty and become a Spurs hero!
1986-87 – CLIVE ALLEN SCORES 49 GOALS IN ONE SEASON
Despite scoring so many goals, and with a midfield including Hoddle, Waddle and Ardiles’, Spurs trophy cupboard was empty at the end of the year. They finished 3rd in the league and lost to Coventry in the FA Cup Final. Yet, Clive Allen, playing up front on his own, had the mother of all purple patches under manager David Pleat scoring a shedload of goals in one season.
1991 – PAUL GASGOIGNE V ARSENAL (FA CUP SEMI-FINAL)
Gazza was one helluva player for Spurs. An electric, skilful and powerhouse of a performer on the pitch. Yet, his Spurs career came to an abrupt end when he lunged at Gary Charles in the 1991 Cup Final. He had some stunning games for Spurs but his legendary free kick against Arsenal is ‘Roy of the Rovers’ stuff; a belting exocet missile which smashed the corner of the net and broke Arsenal hearts. Terry Venables’ led Spurs were outstanding on a day to remember at Wembley.
PETER COOK – (1937-1995)
Peter Cook was one of the funniest people that ever walked the Earth. Satirist, comedian, writer, actor, drunk, raconteur and famed Spurs fan he formed a wonderful double act with Dudley Moore after rising to fame as part of the Cambridge Footlights including Moore, Jonathan Miller and Alan Bennett. His very rude and naughty ‘Derek and Clive’ tapes were essential listening while I was growing up as they took filth to a whole new level of piss-up artistry.
1994 – KLINSMANN CELEBRATORY “DIVE”
Oh, Spurs fans were never more optimistic than this season. We saw Klinsmann, Sheringham, Dumitrescu, Barmby and Anderton going forward; however, we also had Calderwood and Nethercott at the back. So, for all our attacking prowess we could not defend for toffee and struggled under Ardiles. Klinsmann’s celebration was wonderful though; sending up his reputation as a diver gained during the World Cup.
DAVID GINOLA (1997-2000 – 100 apps – 13 goals)
The word mercurial was invented for the likes of Ginola. Spurs were a pretty ordinary team from the mid-90s onwards. One of their shining lights was flashy Frenchmen Ginola who played so well in a struggling team 1999 that he was awarded the Writer’s and Player’s Footballer of the Year. Without him Spurs could’ve gone down. He was outstanding and it was such a pleasure to see him twisting and turning on the Gallic flair for the Lilywhites.
2006 – LEDLEY KING tackle against ARJEN ROBBEN
Loved Ledley King. Loved him. The Lane has seen some great defenders and Ledley was definitely one of the best. Pacy, intelligent and a great tackler, he read the game brilliantly. Sadly his career was blighted by injury but Sven Goran Eriksson rated him so highly he took him to the World Cup even though he only had one working knee. Such a lovely guy too. This tackle on speedster Robben just demonstrates how good he was.
2008 – SPURS BEAT ARSENAL 5-1 in the CARLING CUP
Spurs have kind of closed the gap on Arsenal in the last decade and results like this really brightened up every fans existence. We didn’t just beat them we wiped the floor with them. Of course, Arsenal have got their own back on us since but we don’t remember those.
2008 – SPURS CARLING CUP WIN OVER CHELSEA
Our last bit of silverware was won by with manager Juande Ramos in charge. Alas it turned out to be his one and only glory as he was sacked early into the next season with the team floundering at the bottom of the league. It was a battling performance from the team and a Berbatov penalty and Woodgate header late on sealed it following a mistake by the Chelsea goalkeeper. Ramos went to Real Madrid temporarily afterwards but then got banished to Siberia or some other godforsaken place.
2009 – ARSENAL 4-4 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (2008/09)
Aahh… for every great player Spurs have had they’ve had their fair share of those who have ultimately failed to deliver. David Bentley was one of these. I felt he had SO much potential — as seen in his wonder goal against Arsenal. This was Harry Redknapp’s 2nd game in charge and what a game it was! An 8 goal thriller! In Robert DeNiro’s film The Bronx Tale (1989) one character said, “The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.” Sadly Bentley fits into this category but Spurs fans will always have his thunderbolt against the Arse.
To think the Welsh wing wizard played 24 games for Spurs before being on the winning team and he almost got loaned out or even sold to Birmingham or Nottingham Forest. Thankfully Spurs persevered with this incredible talent and he went from left-back to left-wing to all-out attacking phenomenon becoming a force majeure for Spurs and one of the most exciting players we have ever had.
Without him the team may have gone out of the 2010 Champions League early doors. Moreover, under Andres Villas-Boas he almost single-handedly dragged us into the 4th place spot just missing out to Arse again. Spurs would get a massive fee from Real Madrid and last season he at times lit up La Liga the way he lit up the Lane.
LEST WE FORGET…
Since supporting Spurs’ from the 1980s we have had so many great players play for us and I haven’t been able to mention them properly in the piece but much kudos goes to:
Ray Clemence, Steve Perryman, Darren Anderton, Teddy Sheringham, Luka Modric, Dimitar Berbatov, Paul Allen, Rafael Van Der Vaart, Gary Lineker, Robbie Keane, Jermaine Defoe, Chris Waddle, Garth Crooks, Graham Roberts, Ossie Ardiles and many more. Plus some right jokers who I’d prefer not to mention: Paulo Tramezzani anyone?
2014/2015 – ????
Who knows what the new season will bring? But under Mauricio Pottechino I just hope for some consistency of performance and maybe a bit of flair. A good top six finish and decent cup runs at least is required I would say. If we can build a team around Eriksen and perhaps hang onto our star performers rather than sell them off over the next few years who knows – we could get into the Top Four again. However, misguided it may be I always have blind optimism with regard to Tottenham Hotspur F.C. After all, it is better to aim high and burn in the sun than keep your feet on the ground. Or is it? To dare is to do! To dare is to do!
(At time of writing Spurs are 0-0 away to West Ham…)