Peter Southey, a young Pro and my mate died from Leukaemia a few days earlier. He returned to pre-season training very much struggling to breathe properly and came last in all the running. His attitude was questioned by Management and Physio but those of us who knew Pete knew there was something radically wrong because he was such a professional in everything he did. After loads of tests, he was diagnosed with Leukaemia and after a lengthy battle, he sadly passed away leaving a great future ahead of him, aged just 21. All credit to Keith Burkinshaw who spoke at Pete’s funeral and apologised very emotionally for doubting his commitment for one minute.
We gathered around the centre circle and with my black arm band feeling tight. The minute’s silence was so quiet I could hear the blood running through my veins. A lump grew in my throat but I was a proud man that day and Pete’s great influence to me was that he never crawled nor sucked up to people. He was very much a REAL man. I still think about him all the time.
So the game kicked off with us taking possession and I remember Ossie giving me an early touch. The conditions suited Watford’s style better and I did alright for what I can remember. The second half was clearer and I played well and had a couple of good efforts on goal. With about 5 minutes left I was taken off because I couldn’t run another step due to the emotion of the occasion and was applauded by the fans. We lost 3-2 in an exciting 90mins and most people shook my hand and said I had done really well. Tony Galvin (the socks down Northern Winger) even took the time to come in to the changing room before the end of the game and praise me while I was having a bath.
For the next game, I was in the squad but not in the starting line-up and I was now learning that the youngsters were just filling in for injury and was given a sniff of the big time but you were never going to keep the Superstars out for long. Tottenham seemed to always deal in the market for big time names and never really concentrated on a youth policy the way Manchester United have. Maybe that’s reflective in their success.
After my debut, I was buzzing because you had moved up another level again and when you returned to reserve team football your confidence is in abundance and you feel better than everyone else and the other players view you in a bigger light. Peter Shreeves replaced Keith Burkinshaw after his resignation as Manager and he and I both changed as people. I was becoming a bit cocky and flash but I was a teenager and it was my way of expressing myself. You know that rebellious streak teenagers have where they know it all and think they are just great. Deep down I was very unconfident and insecure and I suppose I was just trying to establish myself and on the surface it came out the wrong way. The real me was quite a nice guy and pretty harmless. I was discovering women and alcohol which I was very partial to and obviously these 2 subjects can have a detrimental effect to ones chosen career. At an early age, when so many distracting niceties are easy to come by and smashing you straight in the face it’s easy to become ill-disciplined and walk the crooked path. But I must admit whenever I saw shapely legs especially when drinking a cold lager the temptation often got the better of me. I make no apologies for the fact that I was a horny geezer and being quite well known around the North London area made it all the worse.
Peter was made Manager and in my younger days he was fantastic and a great Coach. He was always arrogant and hard to fathom out but when he made the step up you really didn’t know how to take him. Some mornings you could walk past him and say ‘Good Morning’ and he would totally blank you; the next day you didn’t know what to say so you didn’t say anything and he would get a yard past you, stop, call you back and question why you hadn’t acknowledged him –what was that all about?
He made you feel quite intimidated and he had his favourites. I was being caught by him doing schoolboy pranks, nothing serious but I knew I was falling from favour. I seemed to always be bumping in to Peter at the wrong time. Once, a couple of us decided to soap the floor of the away changing rooms and slide naked from the doorway through the changing area and in to the showers. Me being me decided to reverse the slide and go from the showers to the door way. It was much quicker and I didn’t stop at the door and carried through in to the tunnel. All of a sudden I took someone’s legs from underneath them and they landed on top of me in their crisp white shirt and newly dry-cleaned lemon trousers. When I finally stopped sliding the Spurs Manager Peter Shreeves was winded and on top of my naked body. It’s absolutely hilarious now but that bad timing got me bang in trouble. On a second occasion, I was upstairs in the main West Stand and clipped my mate Dave ‘Burger’ Leworthy around the ear and legged it down 2 flights of stairs bursting in through a door and got down on my belly to look for him back up the stairs. I was peering through the crack in the door when I heard ‘young Allan, what do you think you are doing?’ and as I turned round lying down on my back there was Irvin Scholar the Chairman and all the Directors with Peter Shreeves around a giant oak table with Chianti on it having a board meeting. I got up, fumbled my apology and cowered out. I suppose these are factors that don’t go down too well.