Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.

1. Will Osborne dare to be radical when he appoints the next Governor of the Bank of England? (Independent)

The sheer power of modern Governors makes the Chancellor's decision momentous - which is why senior Lib Dems are so determined to have a say in it, writes Steve Richards.

2. On Trident, Miliband needs to be brave and jump ship (Guardian)

With the Tories and Lib Dems at odds over our cold-war nuclear defences, Labour has to forge a political third way, says Polly Toynbee.

3. An insidious threat to the right to know (Daily Mail)

The arrest of a Greek magazine editor for exposing allegations of tax dodging should alarm every democrat, says a Daily Mail editorial.

4. A day of judgment over the EU budget (Daily Telegraph)

The vote on the EU budget gives MPs a chance to follow in the steps of Margaret Thatcher, says Daniel Hannan.

5. Another good idea let down by neglect (Financial Times)

Reform of the police service is falling victim to an all too familiar sloppiness, writes Janan Ganesh.

6. Pilgrims’ Progress (Times) (£)

The Anglican tradition is a rich civic resource; a new Archbishop must not pit the Church against modernity, says a Times leader.

7. Hillsborough shows why we need a permanent truth commission (Guardian)

There's an urgent need for independent oversight of incidents of malpractice – and the Hillsborough panel could provide a model, writes Michael Mansfield.

8. Lebanon can heal divisions to deter Syria (Financial Times)

Assad’s attempt to exploit his neighbour’s divisions might have a unifying effect, writes David Gardner.

9. Dither and delay have put our forests at risk (Daily Telegraph)

The government is finally acting decisively against ash dieback disease, notes a Daily Telegraph editorial. Why not sooner?

10. John Prescott’s political survival is a miracle (Independent)

Despite his affair, incompetent policies and amateur boxing, the career of this former merchant navy seaman sails on, writes Dominic Lawson.

Getty
Show Hide image

Let's face it: supporting Spurs is basically a form of charity

Now, for my biggest donation yet . . .

I gazed in awe at the new stadium, the future home of Spurs, wondering where my treasures will go. It is going to be one of the architectural wonders of the modern world (football stadia division), yet at the same time it seems ancient, archaic, a Roman ruin, very much like an amphitheatre I once saw in Croatia. It’s at the stage in a new construction when you can see all the bones and none of the flesh, with huge tiers soaring up into the sky. You can’t tell if it’s going or coming, a past perfect ruin or a perfect future model.

It has been so annoying at White Hart Lane this past year or so, having to walk round walkways and under awnings and dodge fences and hoardings, losing all sense of direction. Millions of pounds were being poured into what appeared to be a hole in the ground. The new stadium will replace part of one end of the present one, which was built in 1898. It has been hard not to be unaware of what’s going on, continually asking ourselves, as we take our seats: did the earth move for you?

Now, at long last, you can see what will be there, when it emerges from the scaffolding in another year. Awesome, of course. And, har, har, it will hold more people than Arsenal’s new home by 1,000 (61,000, as opposed to the puny Emirates, with only 60,000). At each home game, I am thinking about the future, wondering how my treasures will fare: will they be happy there?

No, I don’t mean Harry Kane, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker – local as well as national treasures. Not many Prem teams these days can boast quite as many English persons in their ranks. I mean my treasures, stuff wot I have been collecting these past 50 years.

About ten years ago, I went to a shareholders’ meeting at White Hart Lane when the embryonic plans for the new stadium were being announced. I stood up when questions were called for and asked the chairman, Daniel Levy, about having a museum in the new stadium. I told him that Man United had made £1m the previous year from their museum. Surely Spurs should make room for one in the brave new mega-stadium – to show off our long and proud history, delight the fans and all those interested in football history and make a few bob.

He mumbled something – fluent enough, as he did go to Cambridge – but gave nothing away, like the PM caught at Prime Minister’s Questions with an unexpected question.

But now it is going to happen. The people who are designing the museum are coming from Manchester to look at my treasures. They asked for a list but I said, “No chance.” I must have 2,000 items of Spurs memorabilia. I could be dead by the time I finish listing them. They’ll have to see them, in the flesh, and then they’ll be free to take away whatever they might consider worth having in the new museum.

I’m awfully kind that way, partly because I have always looked on supporting Spurs as a form of charity. You don’t expect any reward. Nor could you expect a great deal of pleasure, these past few decades, and certainly not the other day at Liverpool when they were shite. But you do want to help them, poor things.

I have been downsizing since my wife died, and since we sold our Loweswater house, and I’m now clearing out some of my treasures. I’ve donated a very rare Wordsworth book to Dove Cottage, five letters from Beatrix Potter to the Armitt Library in Ambleside, and handwritten Beatles lyrics to the British Library. If Beckham and I don’t get a knighthood in the next honours list, I will be spitting.

My Spurs stuff includes programmes going back to 1910, plus recent stuff like the Opus book, that monster publication, about the size of a black cab. Limited editions cost £8,000 a copy in 2007. I got mine free, as I did the introduction and loaned them photographs. I will be glad to get rid of it. It’s blocking the light in my room.

Perhaps, depending on what they want, and they might take nothing, I will ask for a small pourboire in return. Two free tickets in the new stadium. For life. Or longer . . . 

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.

This article first appeared in the 16 February 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The New Times