The world is awash with the autobiographies of players and managers, but Superfan is the first biography that I can think of, which is based on the life of a fan.
That fan is Morris Keston, a larger than life character who has attended over 3000 Spurs games. As well as being a Tottenham fanatic, Morris became friends with some of the biggest names in football. This is testified by the fact that the two forwards to Superfan are written by Terry Venables and Graeme Souness.
The book is out this Monday, May 1st and is available for pre-order by clicking HERE. To whet your appetite, here’s an interview with Morris, that looks back at his long association with Spurs and his thoughts on the current team.
Morris, welcome to TottenhamBlog. You have travelled all over the world watching Spurs and have only missed two home games since 1951, yet have remained married to the same woman! What’s your secret to juggling family commitments and your love of Tottenham?
I would creep out before my wife woke up in the morning and return at night when she was already fast asleep! In truth, I’ve been exceptionally lucky to have been married to a very understanding woman for the last 54 years.
For our 21st wedding anniversary I bought Sylvia a gold medal with the inscription, “Awarded for bravery above and beyond the call of duty”. I suppose it’s about time I bought her another one!
The first chapter of Superfan details the occasion when Terry Venables and Sir Phillip Green were plotting to buy the club from Irving Scholar on the eve of the 1991 FA Cup final and were ready to name you as chairman. What might you have done differently to Alan Sugar, had you got the job?
Tough question that one. I probably would have gone round the country and found the best youth coach around and signed him up on a long contract. Not since Ron Henry was in charge of the club’s youth set up have Spurs consistently produced top young players.
Ron and his team brought through the likes of Steve Perryman, Graeme Souness, Paul Miller, Mark Falco, Garry Brooke, Glenn Hoddle and loads more besides. Today, West Ham have an excellent Academy Director called Tony Carr. He’s brought through the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Frank Lampard and Glen Johnson. But I can’t think of too many full England internationals that have come through Tottenham’s youth ranks in the last 20 years.
Other clubs such as Fulham and Derby invited you to become a board member. Why do you think that Tottenham’s directors never extended such an invitation, when you clearly did so much for the club?
In the sixties and seventies the Tottenham Board was a closed shop. The chairman Sidney Wale took an instant dislike to me for reasons unknown to me. I think he saw me as some sort of threat to his position, but I can’t understand why. I was only ever interested in supporting the team and enjoying my friendships with the players. I’ve got on well with all the Spurs chairmen since then.
You rubbed shoulders and became friends with many players, during a period in which footballers led pretty normal lives. This just wouldn’t happen these days when players earn so much. Do you think the influx of money has spoiled the game?
In certain areas it has. I think football is the only sport that hasn’t seen massive benefits from extra money coming into the game. By that I mean the players aren’t as good as they were before the big money arrived.
The standard of track and field athletes, rugby players, cricketers and snooker players has all improved since money came into those sports, but you can’t really say that about football and footballers. You won’t find any players from the last 20 years in my Spurs Dream Team.
In The Glory Game you famously feature in the chapter ‘The Hangers On’. Were you offended at being referred to in this way?
Yes. I called Hunter Davies up and took umbrage with him over it. I wasn’t a hanger-on, it was the players that would hang around me! I got a lovely card from Hunter yesterday, thanking me for the copy of ‘Superfan’ that I sent him. He is going to pass his critical eye over it and let me know what he thinks. Hopefully, he’ll change his mind about me being a hanger-on!
One of the chapters of the book sees you picking your Spurs dream team, but who would you name as the best single player that you have ever seen play for Tottenham?
Ron Burgess. He had it all. Bill Nick thought the same. Greavsie was brilliant too, as he won you games. Cliff Jones was also a superb player, as was Dave Mackay.
Which player really stands out for you from our current squad and why?
Bale, Modric and Gomes all stand out. Modric possesses a great football brain. He’s similar to Ardiles, but not as good. He needs to get in the box a bit more. Bale has tremendous pace. I think he’s better at left back than on the left wing, as he really gets flying when he’s got more space to run into. Gomes is the best ‘keeper we’ve had at the Lane for quite some time, although not many would have said that 12 months ago!
Having attended so many matches at White Hart Lane over the years, what are your thoughts on the plans for a new stadium?
I’m traditionalist. I like the current stadium and the atmosphere it generates. When you go to some of these newer, bigger stadiums like Wembley and The Emirates they lack atmosphere. I went to Wembley recently and it was like watching Subbuteo! You could hardly make out who was who!
Final question. As well as loving Tottenham, you are a massive fan of football generally, attending many non-Spurs games and becoming friends with a large number of players who played for other clubs. If you had to choose one player, past or present, that you would have liked to have seen wear the lillywhite of Spurs, who would it be?
Johnny Haynes, closely followed by Bobby Moore. I knew both men well. I tried many times to persuade Mooro to come to Spurs, but West Ham wouldn’t let him leave. Johnny Haynes went to school in Edmonton and somehow Spurs missed out and he signed for Fulham. He was probably the best passer of a football that I’ve ever seen. The called him the Maestro and for good reason. He was a class act.