Pop Will Eat Itself release their World Cup song “Reclaim The Game (Funk FIFA)” in June, so we caught up with founder member Graham Crabb for a good old natter about his beloved Tottenham Hotspur – and of course Brazil 2014…
“Reclaim The Game (Funk FIFA)” sounds great. It’s like an anti World Cup song.
It is almost. Obviously it’s a protest song about Fifa and the Brazilian government, but it’s also about the fact that, as football fans, we’ll be glued to the telly as well.
We love the World Cup but we feel there are things that have to be addressed.
Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022 should be nice and incident-free…
It’s just one thing after another with Fifa, isn’t it? There’s no end point, as far as we can see. It’s got to the point where we have to address it in lyrics, I think.
So, you’re a Spurs supporter…
I am indeed. My co-vocalist Mary is a Gooner! So that tension’s there.
Did you watch the FA Cup final together?
No, not together. He’d only just arrived in the UK for the gigs – he lives in Brazil now – so he was watching it at home with his mum. We were talking via social networking and he accused me of crying off at the end of the game!
I just wouldn’t go on Facebook. At the final whistle I just had to walk away. (Laughs)
What do you think of the England squad for the World Cup? No Spurs players, which is unusual…
It is, yep. I was reading something today that did a breakdown of who’s had the most players in England World Cup squads, and Spurs were second only to Manchester United.
We’ve had 31 in total I think, and this is apparently the first time we haven’t had a player in the squad.
Do you think this is just a reflection of recent transfer policy more than anything else?
We tried signing home-grown players – there was Huddlestone, Livermore and Caulker last season. Now they’re all gone, and Tom Carroll went on loan to QPR.
They just didn’t develop as we’d hoped. One reason for that might have been the signing of more international players, encouraged by the Gareth Bale money.
Christian Eriksen looked to have settled in nicely. Have any others of last summer’s signings shown signs that they could step up next season?
We need a manager who can implement the right style of play. I’d rather see someone who has the team attacking as a unit than the AVB approach of restricting the play and confining it up the other end of the field.
That ultimately meant we couldn’t attack with any speed, and I think that compromised the creativity of the side.
Look at someone like Paulinho – he’s box-to-box, needs to break at speed, and the way we were playing isn’t conducive to that.
Who would you like to see as the new manager?
Well, there’s talk of De Boer, which could be good. I know the Dutch league isn’t that strong but five titles in a row is nothing to sniff at.
I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be Pochettino, though, and I’m not saying he wouldn’t be a good manager when I say that there isn’t conclusive proof that he’s going to be great – I think Saints were already on the way up under Nigel Adkins when they sacked him.
Whoever it is, I just hope they get enough time – at least three years. This constant chopping and changing is no good, it’s not working.
Have you managed to get to White Hart Lane much over the years?
I had a season ticket back in the day but I don’t go so much anymore because family comes first now. Football becomes less of a priority when it comes to spending money.
I went to the Villa game on the last day of the season – that was good, we won 3-0 – and the Villa fans were great, singing about how crap Spurs must be to only score three!
One of them was dressed as Jesus so they were pointing at him and singing “we need a miracle”!
Would you be able to name the first, best and worst games you ever went to?
Well, I was brought up in Birmingham so my first game was Birmingham City 0-0 Everton. In fact, I think the second game I went to was 0-0 as well. Didn’t do much to convince me to be a football fan but I did stick with it!
The best I think was when Spurs beat Southampton 6-2 in the FA Cup and Ronny Rosenthal scored a hat-trick in extra time. The goals kept coming, bang bang bang, one after the other.
The worst was the 1995 FA Cup semi final against Everton, which we lost 4-1. I went up for it from London and was supposed to meet a mate who had the tickets, but I got caught up in traffic and couldn’t get hold of him.
It was twenty minutes in by the time I got there and I thought, “There’s no way I’m going to get in.” I walked around the ground and someone came out from the Everton players’ lounge, came up and said, “Hear y’are lad, d’you want a ticket for the game?” He didn’t know I was a Spurs fan!
So I took the ticket and sat with the Everton fans. I had to get moved at half time when I told security I was a Tottenham fan and that people were pushing and shoving me.
They weren’t at all, that was just my attempt at getting into the Spurs end! He wouldn’t move me, just said, “I’ll get extra stewards to watch you.”
We just didn’t deliver that day. The long trek back to London from Leeds was depressing.
Finally, if you had to select a five-a-side team out of all the Spurs players you’ve seen in your time as a fan, who would you pick?
Pat Jennings, Gary Mabbutt, Ossie Ardiles, Glenn Hoddle and Gary Lineker. Paul Gascoigne as sub.
PWEI release “Reclaim The Game – Funk FIFA” in June, ahead of the World Cup. Stay posted to Shoot Matchday for release news soon.