Up close and personal with Jermain Defoe

I leaned forward, my Pilot felt-tip pen at the ready, wondering if I should write "KICK ME" on the shiny, bald pate of Nicolas Anelka. Or I could stretch and perhaps reach Ray Wilkins. His equally glistening bald bonce was crying out to have something rude scribbled on it. Such as "SPURS"
Staring into the right ear-hole of Peter Crouch, I could clearly see how thin and weedy and pathetic the pubic-like hairs on his chin and upper lip were.

On TV, you can't see he is struggling to grow a beard and tash, poor lad, but up close and intimate, there were definite sprouts. If I gave a quick tug, he might think it was one of the young reserves beside him, giving cheek to a senior, but I might well be spotted and that would be it, chucked out.

Sitting in the press box at White Hart Lane provides about the most useless vantage point in the Prem. You are at pitch level, so you have no perspective on the other side. God knows how managers work out what's going on. On the other hand, the press box is right behind the bench, which these days, with such big squads, is enormous.

I was sitting on the front row, within touching distance of the Spurs and Chelsea players. I could hear Corluka and Kranjcar - neither playing last Saturday - talking Croatian to each other. I studied Aaron Lennon's earring, the intricate shaved lines of his haircut, and pondered his red lips. Surely he can't be wearing make-up. Must be the glow of youth. Off the pitch, not in the heat of the battle, you realise just how young and tender so many Prem players are.

I don't often go in the press box these days. It's become such a faff. You have to get accreditation from the Premier League first, send photographs and prove you write about football in a proper publication, not your school magazine. God knows, after 15 years doing this column, one would have thought just breathing the name New Statesman would have instantly opened every door in football. Surprisingly, it doesn't. This season, you also have to prove you have personal insurance of £2m. Not sure why. In case your laptop injures someone or your felt pen ruins their top?

Then you have to get a seat for the game you want to see. That bit was easy, as they are all my friends at Spurs, but even so, the security has doubled, with more checks, passes, barricades. And the food is not what it was. I think Spurs are trying to starve the hacks, compared with Arsenal. In the press box, you get to meet the managers afterwards. Ancelotti had cut a sad figure in his horrible raincoat, unable to inspire, but he was dignified in the press conference, refusing to criticise the referee for Chelsea's defeat.

I still prefer at Spurs to watch the game from up in the stand, but I would never have got such a close-up view of Jermain Defoe, substituted before
the end. He sat in front of me and I could clearly see e's been working on his upper body. He's now a pocket hunk. That was a surprise.

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.