The bassist and lyricist of the Manic Street Preachers explains how Glenn Hoddle drew his eye away from his more local Welsh clubs and laments the loss of Gareth Bale
As a Welshman, why Tottenham?
NW: To be honest, it's because of one player and that's Glenn Hoddle. Growing up, my dad would take me to the Ninian to see Cardiff and the Welsh side, and I'd be at Newport, even. I got into football at a very young age but, just around '77, '78, '79 with Glenn Hoddle, he epitomised the lazy No.10 with a massive abundance of skill – which I thought I was. That's why I fell for Tottenham, really.
Is it true you could have had trials with Spurs?
NW: Yeah. I was captain of my school and my district, had trials for the Welsh youth, but when I got to about 14 or 15 I didn't like the idea of it. I'd seen The Smiths on 'Top of the Pops', become a fan of Morrissey, and all of a sudden the football thing ... I realised I wasn't dedicated enough or fit enough. And probably not good enough, anyway. But, for a while, I'd heard this story about Bobby Charlton, just practicing kicking a ball against a brush, and I'd run home from school every day and do that.
My first memory of being young, really, is the '73 cup final. Leeds - Sunderland. I remember that vividly. I was just about four and it sticks with me ... Jimmy Montgomery's double save. From that moment, really, I was hooked.
Do you still get a chance to play now and then?
NW: No, my knees are so bad, I've had operations on my knees. That's another thing I realised early on because I loved cricket and tennis, I played loads of sports, but when I got to 15 or 16, I never had any muscles on my body, really. So no, I don't play at all – I watch a lot.
|9/4||Tottenham are 9/4 with BetVictor to finish in the top four|
NW: I think the '84 Uefa Cup final, against Anderlecht. Tony Parks, penalty shootout, Keith Burkinshaw, definitely - that golden period with two FA Cups and a Uefa Cup as well. There's something about that side in particular: Tony Galvin, Micky Hazard, Glenn Hoddle, Ossie Ardiles, Steve Perryman...
It was just one of those magical midweek nights, watching with Brian Moore commentating. There are many others but that'll live with me a lot. I've still got the kit from that year; I'm saving that for my kids.
How are you feeling about how it's going for Spurs at the moment?
NW: I'm not sure, to be honest. We've just got so many good players and so many strong midfielders ... on paper, everything looks brilliant but we kind of struggle for goals; it's slightly worrying. We've lost a few games - to West Ham, as well, not the best of omens - but I think we might win a cup this year, possibly.
I like AVB and the team looks great on paper but I'm not sure any side could stand losing the Welsh genius.
Maybe Gareth Bale wasn't worth the trade-off, then?
NW: When it happened, everyone was like: 'Great, we've got four brilliant players for this' but I think people just forgot - he scored about 10 goals in the last two minutes for us. He wasn't a showboater by any means, Gareth, he really put it in and, at the really important moments, he was the man who turned it around. I don't know if you can buy that – not just the talent but the desire as well.
At least you've got Andros Townsend, who'll have a go with those long shots.
NW: It's such a great story all round, isn't it, being on loan to all those clubs ... nobody was quite sure if he was going to fulfil his potential but he seems like a real, genuine player. Like I said, I think we'll get a top-four finish but I worry about the lack of goals, really. Is it nine goals in the Premier League this season? We're not going to get in the top four with that. We might need another 20.
Could you do with a striker in January, then?
NW: There's not many around, I think that's the trouble. It's not like we're short of strikers, they're just not really scoring. That's the other thing with Bale, he got about 20 goals last season – it's a big chunk to take out of your side.
Would you take a place in the top four if it meant losing to Arsenal in the FA Cup final?
NW: [Thinks hard then laughs] No! The thing is, growing up, cup final day was the greatest day if you were in our generation. It was on from nine o'clock in the morning, to meet the wives and everything. You'd close the curtains and get some shandy and peanuts and spend all day with it. Apart from Christmas, it was probably the best day of the year – and those days were laced with a bit of Tottenham glory, as well. I think I'd rather win the FA Cup than fourth – besides, in the Champions League, it's hard enough to get to the quarter-final then you might meet some really good side and go out anyway. I'm a bit of a romantic, I'm afraid.
Other favourite Tottenham players?
NW: Steve Archibald is one of my favourite Tottenham players of all time. Not many people like him! He was a slightly devious and on-the-edge goal-poacher. We could do with him now! You barely see him in the game but he scores 20 goals.
Jermain Defoe is in the same mould.
NW: I think he's been brilliant for Spurs. I think it's worth him having a go with Soldado up front, definitely, but when the manager doesn't fancy you, it's a hard sell.
In other news, you're in between tours at the moment.
NW: Yes, we're just in the studio at the moment, knocking some B-sides up and a big old tour in April. We did a very small one on the launch of 'Rewind the Film' as it's a more intimate album, in a more delicate, in-your-face venue. Come April, it's the second half, really, which'll be a lot of UK and the rest of the world, really.
It's amazing how far your music travels, that one of the first songs we wrote, you can go to Croatia, Japan, Hong Kong and still get a reaction. It's a pretty decent feeling.
Following the top-five chart position of their 11th studio album, 'Rewind The Film', Manic Street Preachers release a new single, 'Anthem For A Lost Cause', on Columbia Records on November 25, 2013