wembley way

This article originally appeared in MEHSTG Vol. 2 Issue 17 (November 2000).

Being a Spurs mascot is something a lot of fans (even adult ones !!) dream about.  
Here is the tale of one fan whose dream came true ... and how !!

So Wembley is finally being knocked down, about time as well.  As we all know, the view is appalling, the facilities are awful, the list goes on.  Despite this we all still have our favourite Wembley memory and there are many for us Spurs supporters to choose from.  But I am not sure that many other Spurs fans have a Wembley memory quite like mine.

April 4th 1993 ... yes, you've guessed which game by now and you are probably puzzled.  Isn't this the day when we lost to the scum?  Yes it is.  I'm afraid, but this day will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I was 13 years old and two weeks previously we had just beaten Manchester City 4-2 at Maine Road in the Quarter-finals of the FA Cup.  My Granddad and me had been planning when to go and queue for tickets for the Semi-final and I happened to be off school this day because of teacher's training.  It was mid-afternoon and the phone rang, my Dad answered it.  I took no notice and continued watching TV. After about two minutes on the phone my Dad calmly turned around to me and said, "It's Junior Spurs on the phone, they want to know if you would like to be a mascot.. .for the Arsenal Semi-final!"  It struck me instantly and I did not say a word, all I did was just nod in acknowledgement.  My Dad carried on the phone conversation and I sat there stunned.

Back to school the next day and I was beginning to tell all of my mates.  Some believed me and some didn't, but I did not care as I was going to lead my team out at Wembley.  I had been at the previous Semi two years earlier and I dreamed of it being just as good as that day.  The next few weeks seemed to drag on as I counted down the days but I knew it was nearly match-day when I went to White Hart Lane to pick up my kit to wear.  They had asked me if I already had the current kit, I lied and said no so that I would get a new one.  They had no more socks left so they asked the team's kit man if I could have one of their pairs of socks, he obliged.  The socks I was given were a first-team pair with the cockerel sewn in instead of stuck on.  They also gave me a pennant to exchange with the unfortunate Gooner mascot in the centre-circle.

That Sunday eventually did arrive but the tube journey to Wembley seemed to take ages.  I later learned that this was the norm anyway.  At the ground my Mum, Dad, Granddad and myself went to check out our seats.  I must add that these seats were free as well in case you thought Tottenham never gave anything away.  The seats were just above the tunnel, behind the goal.  I was only allowed to take one other person down to the changing rooms with me, so I took my Granddad as was him who I went to games with.  I was allowed to go into the actual Spurs changing room to put on my lovely new kit while the squad were out warming up on the pitch.  Hanging about in the changing rooms were the players who did not make the team or the bench.  These included Jason Cundy, Andy Gray, Gordon Durie and Andy Turner, they were shouting at Ian Walker who was in the toilets having a dump.  When Walker emerged Cundy started holding his nose and called Walker a smelly bastard.  Nowadays he just stinks in goal.  Terry Venables was also loitering and looked too relaxed for my liking.

I went out into the tunnel area to get the players autographs as they returned from the warm-up. I noticed Anders Limpar with his suit on leaning up against the wall outside the Arsenal changing room, he did not look at all impressed as he had been dropped.  Darren Anderton was my favourite player at the time and I wished him well and told him that I wanted him to score because of his heart-break with Portsmouth the year before. He thanked me.  I managed to get my autographs from the Spurs players (Andy Gray's twice for some reason?!), but none of the Arsenal players except for Ian Wright (again, for unknown reasons).  I was now waiting outside the changing rooms with the Arsenal mascot, who was a lot younger than me, when Paul Allen appeared and invited me inside.  I did not hesitate.  I couldn't believe it, I was in the dressing-room of my beloved Spurs at Wembley 10 minutes before a huge cup match with Arsenal.  It seemed so unreal.  All I remember of this was Erik Thorstvedt going for a piss in the showers, Justin Edinburgh shouting a lot (something to do with murdering them c***s) and Steve Sedgley punching and kicking the wall.  Even though Ray Clemence and Doug Livermore were joint managers Terry Venables was giving the final team talk.

A bell rang, which signals that the teams have to leave the dressing rooms.  The Spurs players did not respond. It rung again a minute later and still no action.  I then realised that this was a ploy to keep Arsenal waiting.  We finally did leave the dressing room and then came a moment that I shall never live down with the people that know me.  Although I do not remember it happening at the time, three months later I bought the end of season video.  It shows the team coming out of the dressing room and I appear to stumble on the step in front of the door.  I did not come at all close to falling over but it was enough to ensure me a life-time of ridicule.  How embarrassing! Luckily, this was not shown on the BBC Match of the Day coverage.




Lee (partially obscured by the linesman's shoulder) makes his
debut at Wembley in the 1993 FA Cup semi-final.


I remember walking up the tunnel and Tony Adams was asking me my name.  All that was going through my mind was "I hate this man, I call him a donkey and he is asking my name."  I may even have done an "Ee-yorr" under my breath.   When you finally reach the end of the tunnel it is so hard to describe.  The whole arena opens out before you and it looks like the crowd are painted on, you can't pick out an individual face.  The noise did not seem as loud as I thought it would be, it was more distant.  As soon as we reached the centre-circle there was only one thing in my mind, I wanted to take some shots at Erik.  I ran to the penalty area and Nicky Barmby passed me a ball.  I hammered it first time into the goal but Erik was looking elsewhere.  I exchanged a few passes with Nayim and I remember doing a few kick-ups to try and impress him, I then had another shot which Erik made no attempt to save.  I was on a hat-trick now, but Gary Mabbutt called me over to the centre-circle for the photographs.  As I was about to go Erik threw me a ball, so I took one last shot which Erik was preparing for.  I blazed it over the bar!  No Geoff Hurst-esque hat-trick for me.

Mabbsy and Donkey exchanged pennants and I gave the Gooner mascot my pennant, however he did not have one to give me.  How tight are Arsenal?  They also didn't allow their mascot into their dressing room, at least Spurs looked after me OK.  By now I had to leave the pitch and walk around the side to get back to my seat.  As I was walking around the edge it was only now that I could really notice the crowd.  The Spurs fans were clapping me and clenching their fists to signal they were ready for the game ahead.

I got back to my seat and watched the whole first half in my kit and boots, I then changed at half-time.  We had played well in the first half and deserved to get a penalty.  I remember my Mum telling me that Spurs were going to do it, cheers Mum!  After the match I was obviously disappointed that we did not win but I did not feel gutted.  It was as if all the other events of the day had taken over and the game itself was secondary to this.

It was back to school the next day and my friends had labelled me a jinx.  I was a celebrity for the next few days, everyone wanted to talk to me...even the teachers.  I was asked some ridiculous questions like was I paid or did I play!?!  The next parents evening the teachers did not want to talk to my Mum about my work, they wanted to talk about my appearance at Wembley.  My fame was also milked that summer when Venables was sacked.  On all the news reports they used a clip of the teams coming out at Wembley, so there I was.  I featured on the Arsenal end of season video and I was also on the front cover of 90 Minutes magazine a few months later when they did a feature on the Spurs and Arsenal rivalry.  I was told I was on the cover of the following issue of The Spur which I still have yet to see.  Unbelievably, they even used the clip of me on A Question of Sport in the name the year round.  There is another picture of me in the updated History of Spurs book which came out in 1997.

Even though April 4th 1993 will go down as a sad day for our club, for me it was one of the best days.  Whenever I am at or I am passing Wembley I think of this day and all the above events.  I won't shed any tears when Wembley has been knocked down, but it will always remain a special place.

Lee Dumont

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