I know my way to Wembley, even though I'm a Spurs fan

Spurs are on their way to Wem-blee but, before my knees get all trem-blee, here's a question. When Spurs won their first ever Cup Final in 1901, how many London players were in their team?

It's my hands that are all trem-blee, having paid £48 for one of the cheapo seats. It's turnstile G, block 245, row 12, seat 94, wherever that is. My ticket for the 1966 World Cup Final was turnstile K, entrance 36, row 9, seat 37. That cost £5 and was one of the best seats. I still have the ticket stub, probably worth £20 now, judging by the prices realised by Christie's for football memorabilia.

I love going to Wembley and yes, I do know the way. If another Arsenal fan makes the same joke, I'll thump him. Oh you know, George Graham will have to sit at the front of the Spurs coach as he's the only one who knows the way, ha ha.

It is true that Spurs have not been there for eight years, but I have been twice in the past five years - with Carlisle United. The Auto Windscreen Thing. They won it in '97 and were runners up in '95. I still have my plastic sheep somewhere. I took it first time but got so exhausted blowing it up I couldn't be harished next time.

I always park near Finchley Road Tube station, then get the Tube to Wembley Park. I love walking up Olympic Way, observing the rival supporters in such good humour, so pleased with themselves. I love seeing the twin towers, then climbing all those brutal steps, round and round, in and out, till that first glimpse of the startlingly green grass leaps up, as if I behold a rainbow in the sky. As Wordsworth said. He wasn't a football fan, but he loved ice-skating. He considered himself a dab hand, though behind his back De Quincey said he was "like a cow dancing a cotillion".

I love the history of Wembley stadium. It was built for the 1924-25 Empire Exhibition, a miracle of the age, made of ferroconcrete. A whole battalion of soldiers were marched in and marked time in the stands to test it out.

The stadium was one of dozens of equally impressive buildings put up for the exhibition. All except the stadium were disposed of afterwards. The Palestine Pavilion became a laundry in Glasgow. The East Africa building was turned into a jam factory. Several cafes were taken away and re-erected as Bournemouth and Boscombe FC's grandstand.

The stadium itself will be going soon. I plan to make a bid for the towers, as they don't seem interested in preserving them. Not sure if they'll fit in my back garden.

I became so interested in the history of Wembley that for ten years I collected Wembley stuff, trays, teaspoons, postcards, stamps. As all philatelists know, the 1924-25 stamps were the UK's first commemorative stamps. Now they get issued on the hour. I sold my Wembley collection a year ago. Not quite sure how much I lost. I have this system of putting the prices in code, so my dear wife never knows, then I forget what they mean.

Going to Wembley, breathing in Wembley, thinking of past Wembleys, I love that. What I hate is sitting there. The seats are so uncomfortable, set so far back, you can't see a thing. I'll sob when the towers fall, but a new, modern Wembley is long overdue.

Naturally, I'll also cry if Spurs lose on Sunday. Come on. It's only Leicester. If we can't beat them, it's a poor do. Under George these days, we don't normally look as if we're going to get stuffed, which is the biggest improvement he has made.

Ian Walker is the most improved player, but then he had become so bad I feared Sol Campbell would walk off the pitch in disgust. Stephen Carr has got better, as has Sol himself. The defence as a whole is much more solid.

In the middle, Sherwood and Freund are good additions, though the arrival of Freund seems to have had a bad effect on Nielsen, whom I've always liked. He's got worse, if anything. So far, it's hard to see any improvement in the three strikers, Ferdinand, Armstrong and Iversen. None has hit a run of form. Ginola, kissy kissy, is the loveheart of all Spurs fans, and gloriously hated by all opposing fans. Deep down, I suspect George is not totally, absolutely, altogether convinced by him.

As for Anderton, George has done little there. I can see no improvement, no change or extension to his game. But at least he doesn't spend all week in the sick bay.

One thing to look out for on Sunday is the number of English players on show - Walker, Anderton, Campbell, Ferdinand, Armstrong, Edinburgh, Sherwood, Sinton and Luke Young. Carr is Irish, though he's been at Spurs since he was a boy. The foreigners are Ginola (French), Freund (German), Vega (Swiss), Iversen (Norwegian) and Taricco (Argentinian). Of the starting line-up, I expect at least seven to be English. That's a lot these days, when you think how teams like Chelsea are almost wholly foreign.

So what was the make-up of the team in l90l, before aeroplanes, the Bosman rule and millionaire mercenaries? The answer is - there were no London players in that Spurs team. Today, there are four - Campbell, Ferdinand, Edinburgh and Young, plus Sherwood, born in St Albans, and Walker, born in Watford.

I owe the fascinating fact about the 1901 team to a reader, John Baxendale of Sheffield. He tells me that Spurs that day consisted of five Scots, two Welshman, an Irishman and three Northerners. The final was held at Crystal Palace before a crowd of 110,802. Spurs drew 2-2 with Sheffield United. Spurs won the replay 3-1. Mr Baxendale is a Blades fan. That's why he knows. And that's why he's never forgiven Spurs.

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