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In Their Own Words

The Byline: Simon Raymonde On A Love Affair With Spurs
Andrew Fenwick , August 18th, 2014 10:07

The Byline is our new series in which musicians tell us about their relationship with the beautiful game. This week Bella Union boss Simon Raymonde talks to Andrew Fenwick about his love affair with Tottenham Hotspur

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"...And David Seaman will be very disappointed about that

Despite living my own relatively rock & roll existence in the Cocteau Twins, even back in the 80s and 90s I was more interested in catching a passing glance into the blacked-out windows of a car inhabited by Chris Waddle than meeting someone in U2.

When I wasn't on tour, I used to go to every single Spurs game, home and away, with a regular bunch of friends; Dave a mate from school; Judy who worked in the press office at the BBC; Wayne who sold band merch; Simon and Fergus, who drove nicer cars than the rest of us and had proper jobs; and occasionally Adrian Thrills of the NME. For the home games, which were always on Saturdays (remember that?) we'd get to the Hotspur Cafe on the High Road around 12pm for the obligatory ham and cheese omelette, chips and baked beans and a mug of tea, then we'd go to the West Stand entrance and watch the players arrive before heading off to stand in the Paxton end.

On an away day to Port Vale in the 4th Round of the FA Cup in January 1988, Wayne and I decided to drive up to the Potteries in my 1970s Citroen DS 23 - most certainly a car to be seen in, but most certainly not a car to be wholly relied upon on long journeys. Pre-empting the usual erratic 'idling' issues, I took the car down to it's regular 'vet de voiture' in Southend-on-Sea, 50 insane miles from London. A few hundred pounds later, I was confident my beautiful-looking vehicle would see us good to Port Vale and back. It was an important match; we'd been to Wembley the year before and lost to Coventry in the Final and we needed to be there now to cheer the team on for what could be a potential Cup upset to the 3rd Division underdogs. It wasn't to be. On the way there, we had a blow-out, and missed the first half. On the way back, the car broke down completely and we had to get towed from Birmingham all the way back to the capital. Oh, and we lost 2-1.

I'd been a regular at White Hart Lane since the age of seven and as the band began to grow in popularity I was actually lucky enough to become good friends with two chairmen of the PFA; Barry Horne of Everton and Southampton, and diminutive Scottish winger and Chelsea and Everton star Pat Nevin.

Pat was a big Cocteaus fan and we'd met in 1984 when the band played London's Royal Festival Hall. For the next few years while he was king of the wing at Chelsea we used to meet up once a week just off the King's Road, eating at old-school diner The Chelsea Kitchen. Pat would easily consume half of the menu, regularly eating two large plates of spaghetti bolognese and following that with a large apple crumble and custard. I guess being that fit, he could get away with it.

Indeed, after one of our lunchtime meetings, Pat invited me to train with him at Stamford Bridge. As a rabid Spurs supporter, the idea of me donning a Chelsea training top was more than a little uncomfortable but it was hardly an opportunity I could turn down. With no football gear on me, I somewhat embarrassingly had to borrow a spare kit from striker Paul Canonville. Some of the sweat and magic obviously rubbed off as I scored a belter of a free kick at the end of practice. With spiky red hair, a nose piercing and earrings, though, God knows what the rest of the team must have made of me.

Occasionally, I was invited to the PFA dinner and thanks to Pat and Barry's astute seating management, was often placed next to Spurs legends like Ardiles, Mabbutt and Sheringham while also being feet away from some true greats such as Charlton, Jennings, Hoddle, Hazard and McGrath. Pat, knowing my idolisation of Chris Waddle, and a little tipsy one PFA dinner, grabbed me when he saw Waddle coming down the stairs at the Grosvenor House in Park Lane and introduced me. It's the only time I have experienced this, but my top lip got stuck on my gums and I couldn't utter a single word. There is no doubt he must have thought I was mentally unwell.

At various points in my adult life, football has been 'cool' for a moment, and occasionally the two worlds of music and football have collided - or more accurately sat uncomfortably side by side - but for the most part I have kept the two in very different compartments.

In the late 80s and early 90s, however, some of my best friends in music were Russell and K.J. "Moose" McKillop from Moose (a great band signed to Hut Records) and Miki and Chris from Lush (on 4AD along with my own band) and we were all mad Spurs fans. At the time, the fanzine world was enjoying a renaissance, but this time it wasn't punk fanzines like Sniffin' Glue, it was football fanzines such as When Saturday Comes and The Spur edited by fellow Tottenham nut and erstwhile 'indie music' fan Stuart Mutler. Printed on magazine-quality paper with a 23 Envelope design style (all very exciting for the few of us who cared about which font would be used in a story about Nayim), the fanzine would think nothing of referencing Johnny Marr and our Irish right back Stephen Carr in the same article. There was a genuine sense that all of a sudden it was becoming 'cool' to be into football, and although this preceded the supposed Britpop adoption of the beautiful game by some years, it was certainly at the root of it.

During the same period Spurs were doing what they always did, flattering to deceive, with some glorious flair players spread thinly around a team of fairly ordinary journeymen. The club teetered on the brink of bankruptcy, yet, somehow in 1991, we found ourselves at Wembley, dragged there by our talisman and bonefide football genius Paul Gascoigne, to face the old enemy Arsenal in the FA Cup Semi-Final.

In one of the greatest games any of us will ever witness, we managed to beat them comprehensively 3-1, mostly due to a seemingly impossible free-kick from Gazza that powered over the Gooners' world-class keeper David Seaman from what seemed like 35 yards. So monumental was this win, so euphoric was the feeling, that within days of the victory, Stuart from The Spur asked if I'd like to commemorate the occasion in song, to be immortalised on a flexi-disc for the next issue. I called Russell, Moose, Miki and Chris and we decided to form one-off indie supergroup The Lillies and head into my studio to try and create some kind of indie anthem. A few hours and several beers later we'd come up with '…And David Seaman Will Be Very Disappointed About That', inspired by the famous phrase uttered by BBC commentator Barry Davies as Gazza's free-kick sailed over Seaman's trembling moustache right into the top corner. The song, built around a sample of Davies repeating the title over a chorus of us all drunkenly chanting 'THREE-ONE, THREE-ONE, THREE-ONE' clearly wasn't destined for the charts.

Oddly, Spurs had a habit of doing rather well in year's ending in the number '1' and of course as fate predicted, we followed the Arsenal game with a rather anti-climactic yet pleasing Final win of 2-1 over Nottingham Forest when a seemingly demented, almost frothing-at-the-mouth-Gazza - with what appeared to be white powder falling out of his nose - was stretchered off just a few minutes into the game after an utterly pointless and reckless challenge on a young Gary Walker. In hindsight, I wish he'd been sent off in the opening minutes when he high-kicked Garry Parker in the chest because after this moment of madness he never played for us again.

In 1991 I was 29 years old.

At the end of the preceeding year my band released our fourth album, Heaven Or Las Vegas, in May of '91 Spurs won the FA Cup, my first son Stan was born a few months later in September (the same month as The Lillies flexidisc came out in The Spur) and while Spurs' up and down decade mirrored my own musically - with the Cocteau Twins breaking up in '97 - that glory year of 1990-1991 is as deeply engraved in my memory as the club's name was on the 110th FA Cup Trophy.

Heaven Or Las Vegas and Blue Bell Knoll were recently reissued on vinyl by 4AD

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Dr Up
Aug 18, 2014 11:23am

Spurs my arse. Surely a band from Grangemouth should be honour bound to support the Bairns (Falkirk FC).

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Tom
Aug 18, 2014 12:52pm

Gazza's mad tackle was on Gary Charles. Bit of a mad character himself.

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MM
Aug 18, 2014 1:47pm

In reply to Dr Up:

Simon is from Tottenham.

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phil
Aug 18, 2014 2:29pm

COYS!

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Mr Prescription
Aug 18, 2014 2:36pm

"my band released our fourth album, Heaven Or Las Vegas" - really? It's their sixth, if you don't count the Harold Budd collaboration. Or their fifth, if you don't count Victorialand (but though Raymonde wasn't on it, it was still billed as Cocteau Twins).

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behappydadda
Aug 23, 2014 1:19pm

Wonderful Simon, I too was an indie football fan (and musician in Jasmine Minks) and followed Hoddle and Waddle. Nice read...

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