The North London Derby is today (ESPN2 1:55PM), and Arsenal fan and PWT-blog contributor Chris has written a love/hate note about arch-rival Tottenham Hotspurs manager Harry Redknapp (love only because Arsenal has dominated since Harry took over Spurs). Enjoy!
Here it is, April 14, 2010 and time for the North London Derby once again. Arsenal’s relative dominance over Spurs both head-to-head and in the final EPL standings over, well, over the entirety of Arsene Wenger’s reign at Arsenal not withstanding, it’s still as fierce and bitter a rivalry as exists in the world of club football. When Arsenal beat out Spurs for 4th place in the EPL and a lucrative Champions’ League berth four years ago on the last day of the season, amid reports of mysterious stomach ailments among key Spurs players, whatever the rivalry might have lost was renewed. Go ahead, blame the lasagna. Harry Redknapp probably knows the guy who made it. The present match also has much riding on it, namely Spurs hopes for that elusive 4th place finish this year and Arsenal’s slim, but not dead, hopes for the EPL crown.
I write, however, not about the rivalry, but about Spurs’ head man, one Harry Redknapp. Like Larry Brown of American basketball, Harry Redknapp is well traveled, to put it mildly. He began his coaching career in 1976 with the Seattle Sounders of the NASL. Really? I didn’t know that. He looks a picture of health compared to Sigi Schmidt. Following long-term stints at Bournemouth (1983-1992) and West Ham United (1994-2001), Harry’s been increasingly peripatetic, doing managerial duties at Southampton, Portsmouth and Tottenham Hotspur. Oddly enough, part of the lore of the origin of the club’s name involves one “Harry Hotspur.” Ah, the interconnectivity becomes apparent.
Interconnected? Harry Redknapp, father of player Jamie and Uncle of Frank Lampard, is, coincidentally (I mean, is this really irony?), the son of a lifelong Arsenal fan. In fact, when the senior Redknapp passed on a few years back, Arsenal Football Club sent a wreath to the funeral.
What, however, would Harry Redknapp do to make a living were he not a football coach? Yes, that’s what I’ve been trying to get to. The man simply oozes a sort of loveable cheesiness, like a guy in a wife-beater t-shirt, adorned with gold chains, cooking a cheesesteak sandwich in South Philly. If you think I’m ragging on Philly, please note that I did not refer to it as “Philthy.”
So here’s a speculative list. Please feel free to add to it.
1. Philadelphia sandwich maker
2. Used car salesman
3. Used car salesman (it’s just so apt)
4. Aging London gangster in Guy Ritchie films
5. London cabbie
6. Barker at French Quarter strip club
7. Car title loans huckster
8. Ace recruiter for Alabama and Auburn (“Wot, you only sent a shoebox of guineas?”)
9. Dick Van Dyke role in “Mary Poppins”
10. Cockney bootblack (“Shine yer boots, Guv’ner?”)