A brief word on Darren Alexander, joint-chair of the Tottenham Hotspur Supporter’s Trust, whose funeral is today.
Darren was one of those larger-than-life types who didn’t just know so many people, but made such an impression on them all. Reaction across the supporter community to his untimely passing has transcended club tribalism and is an illustration of how much he was liked and by so many.
I was not a close friend of Darren. Those who were have expressed and written moving testimonies to his character, and anyone who did have the privilege of meeting him will recognise in the tributes Darren’s unfailingly generous nature.
Darren had time for everyone, and in his dealings with the wider Tottenham family, strove tirelessly to stick up for his fellow supporters regardless of who they were. You could argue the toss about Spurs, football in general and the way it is run endlessly with him, but always without rancour. There were no grudges, no agendas, just a love for the game and its supporters, warts and all.
My fondest memory of him is in the aftermath of Tottenham’s win at The Emirates in 2010. It was the first victory for Spurs at their place for 17 years – some kind of reward for all those who had so many trips to their place in vain. Darren was one of those who had more than done their time – this win was for them.
I spied him the midst of the joyous throng with a beaming smile on his face, but before I could say hello he gave me a rib-crushing hug. It was like a cross between getting a grapple from Giant Haystacks and a cuddle from a teddy bear.
Darren’s joy was evident. He loved Spurs, loved football. He was a terrible name dropper and responsible for some appalling puns, but always delivered with tongue firmly in cheek.
That approach to life was needed in his role with the trust and other supporter organisations before it. It’s a thankless task getting involved with these things; every fan has got their view and too many are intolerant of others. Balancing those conflicting viewpoints, dealing with club owners, officials and politicians, all the while striving to achieve gains for supporters is difficult and often unrewarding work. The hard graft rarely gets appreciated. You need a thick skin, determination and a positive outlook to keep on doing it, and Darren had all of that in spades.
Arguably Darren’s finest hour was in his actions to help ensure Spurs did not leave Tottenham for the Olympic Stadium in Stratford. This didn’t make him popular with certain people, but the We Are N17 campaign was an example of fans’ passionate commitment to their club and the community that gave birth to it.
Darren recognised that, in the final analysis, football isn’t about £300k a week and pass completion ratios, nor agents, hangers-on and third-quarter revenue forecasts. It’s about place and people. And Darren Alexander was definably a people person. That’s not a bad legacy to leave behind.