Shirts, Shorts & Spurs
From Gazza to Ginola – My 29 years as Kit Man at The Lane
by Roy Reyland with Jeff Maysh
RRP : – £16.99
Published by John Blake Books
Published : 2010
Spurs die-hard Roy Reyland spent 29 years at the club, working in various roles behind the scenes, before becoming one of the members of the front bench alongside the ever-changing roster of managers that Spurs went through in his time White Hart Lane.
His autobiography is a good read, packed full of interesting and funny (and some death-defying) stories, although the schoolboy error on page one of Spurs beating Real Madrid in the 1963 European Cup-Winners Cup Final almost prevented me getting any further. We all make mistakes, but for a published book, you would expect for errors such as this and others that crop up in the pages to have been eradicated by proof reading.
Roy’s story begins as a hopeful trialist at Spurs and his hopes were shattered when he was released because of his lack of inches. Many before have been rejected for the same reason, while others (such as Steve Perryman) have overcome the perceived problem of being short to get on in the game, but he ended up dealing with shorts … and shirts. Roy went into non-league and Sunday League football before suffering a knee injury that he thought would end his playing days, but on the ground staff at the club, he was examined, operated on and was playing again, which had a very happy ending near the end of the book.
As he moves from a member of the ground staff doing “Everything”, as the job was sold to him, through kit man Johnny Wallis’ assistant to take the role of kit manager himself, Reyland worked his way up through the ranks at the club and although not quite playing the on-field role he once envisaged, the work he did behind the scenes contributed to the success the club achieved. Having been a bit of a player, his assimilation into the Spurs inner sanctum was perhaps easier than for his predecessor and being of a similar age to many of the squad (and the youngsters), he was often a confidant when they needed a sympathetic ear.
There are a couple of games detailed here, where Roy takes the reader into the dressing room to let us into the secret world. I just wished he had chosen two different games, as they are perhaps two of the most painful of the 2000s. However, they do demonstrate the internal workings and rapid responses that are sometimes needed to react to certain circumstances. The author is candid about some of the experiences he had with managers and chairmen, which gives an unexpected glimpse of what they are like among the corridors of the Lane.
When it comes to dealing with the kit, Roy really knows his stuff, but there is a touch of the hand of co-author Jeff Maysh in the text when it comes to references to the Spurs kit. Having penned a book solely about that, his knowledge of dates and styles is probably evident when describing the history of the kit. The passages about how Roy was involved in discussions about choosing a new strip with the management at the club are intriguing and his knowledge about how to get players comfortable with what they are wearing is very detailed.
I first encountered Roy at the old Cheshunt training ground, when I was watching a youth game against Watford on the embankment next to the stand on the top pitch. Neil Ruddock had just been clattered by one of the visiting players. Watching the game prior to dashing off to his other duties at White Hart Lane, Roy was acting as a spotter for Ruddock, tipping him off as to which player fouled him. When we got into conversation, I found him to be a very down-to-earth character and it was clear that he had a passion for the club and understood football, having played it at a few different levels. That is something that comes through very strongly in the book, as well as the relationships he developed with the Spurs players.
Moving away from Tottenham and into the world of Rugby Union with local side Saracens, he has found a similar family unit, although things are done slightly differently, as he discovered with their drinking games. Mostly, it has given Roy a continuation of his career and one that he approached in a professional manner and with a caring attitude, as he exhibited when on tour with the football and rugby clubs he served.
An interesting insight into the world behind the dressing room doors with some hilarious stories making the book very readable.
Marco van Hip