Leeds United are masters at acknowledging their history, Tottenham Hotspur should take note with Jimmy Greaves - Stuart Rayner
Not that it is the only way the greats are remembered. The Billy Bremner statue outside can often be a focal point at landmark moments, but there is another one to commemorate his great manager, Revie too.
As a Premier League stadium, the 124-year-old home to a 102-year-old club lags well behind but, as a monument to history, it is hugely important. It is why Leeds have long-term plans to develop rather than abandon it. The likes of Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton have not been so lucky but the owners of Leeds, Liverpool and others recognise the value of remaining at a site which holds so many memories, good and occasionally bad, for so many.
History matters in all football, but perhaps even more so in England, where it seeps out of every pore.
Football supporters got a few history lessons at the weekend with the death of Jimmy Greaves.
There is no Jimmy Greaves statue outside the home of Tottenham Hotspur, the club whose goalscoring record he holds, and no Jimmy Greaves Stand at a ground far too new for him to have played on.
The stands there are called North, South, East and West, and the club’s policy is not to erect statues – a divisive issue as we have seen in wider society recent years. The furthest they go in that direction is a bust of Bill Nicholson, the manager from Scarborough who did so much with Greaves and others to shape what the club is today, and whose ashes were buried beneath the pitch at the old White Hart Lane.
Not that they tried to bury their history on Sunday, lining up a queue of club greats in their Spurs blazers to lead the applause for a man who had died earlier that day. It was a moving image.
Greaves, though, was never honoured as he should have been beyond the pages of the record books.
He missed out on a World Cup winners’ medal because 14 stitches in a shin against France let Geoff Hurst into the 1966 XI and only they were awarded them. It took until 2009 for FIFA to put it right.
Shamefully, it took until January for Greaves and Ron Flowers, the last surviving members of the squad not to have been honoured, to receive an MBE.
When another far less heralded Scarborian is being tipped for a knighthood days after being sacked as education secretary, you might think such honours are as meaningless now as when David Lloyd-George was flogging them a century ago, but the way Greaves was largely ignored like an embarrassing uncle showed a huge lack of respect. It perhaps had something to do with his alcoholism, though he was by no means the only member of that squad not given his dues. If anything, the way Greaves rebuilt his life from that to become a television pundit who made sure everyone realised the game was fun at a time when too many were using it as a vehicle for division made him a more deserving recipient.
When the Government finally got round to it, Greaves’s gong was for services to football, though he had been able to contribute very little in the last five years spent wheelchair-bound struggling to speak after a stroke.
When somebody does something nice for you, you should always say thank you, and Greaves gave wonderful service to England with 44 goals in 57 appearances, even if he was stuck in the stands on its biggest day.
It is such a pity that too often we wait for people to die before we let them know how loved they were. Maybe modesty would have meant he hated it, but how much better would it have been for Greaves to have been at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium or the London Stadium on Sunday to witness the moving applauses?
To just look at the names of those stands at Elland Road gives modern-day Leeds players a sense of what they belong to, what they are playing for.
Leeds are by no means alone. Some clubs, at certain times, are embarrassed of their history, feeling its weight on their shoulders, but most are becoming switched on to its value.
Too often it seems history is used as an excuse to copy a kit of years gone by rather than come up with an original idea, but at least it is a nod to the past, a gateway for curious young supporters and players to ask why that season was worth remembering, just as when they walk past the Bremner statue, Derek Dooley’s, Wilf Mannion’s or many others they will ask the same about them.
They have had great players like Ray Wilson, Frank Worthington and Denis Law, but it is three years in the 1920s that makes Huddersfield Town stand out. Something similar is true of their opponents last Saturday (theirs started in 1977), but it did not make the Nottingham Forest fans ashamed to sing about it.
Without it, Huddersfield and Forest would be just another club, as it is they are much more than that.
History is just one of the things which makes a football club special. It was the present-day work of their charity foundation, rather than their past, Huddersfield trumpeted proudly at the weekend.
But history matters – learning from its mistakes, celebrating its high points, understanding what it means to play for, manage or support a particular club, and the responsibilities that come with it.
And besides, you should always say thank you.