the lure of the sea

This article was written for "Shrimperelo" - The Southend United fanzine in April 2000

If he had to have a theme tune, it would probably be “I do like to be beside the Seaside”.  If he had to have a nickname, it had to be “The Duke”.  If he had to be a player, he would be one who was a loyal player who did his job without being flashy and always gave 100%.  He was Justin Edinburgh.

And really, he still is, except he is now a Portsmouth player.  Having started his career at Roots Hall, the young left back joined Tottenham on three months loan before returning to the Shrimpers to help them to promotion from the old Fourth Division.  Tottenham snapped up Justin for £150,000 after only 47 appearances and one goal in the summer of 1990.  As a defender for Southend United, Terry Venables saw something in him that many of the rest of us didn’t and his right-sided colleague Dean Austin joined him in 1992.  A transfer tribunal priced the deal for Deano and although the cost eventually reached £525,000, it left Vic Jobson fuming and he said he would never let Tottenham sign another player again.  In Austin’s case, he should have been glad he got that much for him.

However, Edinburgh played in the pre-season games when “tough tackling” Pat van den Hauwe was injured and he retained his place through a dram first season that saw him end up with an FA Cup Winners medal after Tottenham had come out on top of Nottingham Forest after extra time.  Winning something so early in your career at a new club must have raised his expectations of a great and illustrious stay at White Hart Lane, but as we all know, the Sugar/Venables spat put an end to that.  It broke up a perfectly good team and the club’s failure to build on any small degree of progression has prevented them becoming one of the top six in the country.

But Justin just kept rolling along. He played to the best of his ability and although a lot of the Spurs crowd didn’t think this was good enough, he was always the one who got stuck in and wasn’t afraid of giving his all, when others were playing only for themselves.  In a North London derby, you could always rely on him to play with the passion you needed.  Those games are not for the faint-hearted, so you need battlers like Just.  His running feud down the years with Lee Dixon has been a source of great comfort to Spurs fans.

Although he was one of the players who never really took the limelight, he did often fall under the spotlight of Spurs fans scrutiny, because of his penchant for conceding penalties. He went through a period where, if Tottenham had a spot-kick awarded against them,  it was invariably he who had transgressed. 

Justin shows off his new hat !!

His disciplinary record was also pretty good for a defender.  I can only recall him being sent off three times – at Arsenal for a tackle on the aforementioned (If) Dixon (plays for England, so can I) and a second bookable offence against Derby in 1999, when the referee was not being even-handed with dealing out the cards.  The third, as the nation probably is aware, came in the Worthington Cup Final. Justin was the only survivor from the 1991 FA Cup winning side and got caught up in a girlie fight with girlie Robbie Savage.  Having knocked a few strands of the Welshman’s flowing locks out of place, Justin looked on in amazement as Savage reeled away as if struck by Ali in his prime, then at the ref as he pulled out his red card straight away.  Edinburgh should have known that to raise your hands would result in a dismissal, but he still ended up with a Winners medal after a last gasp goal from Allan Nielsen. In a way, it rounded off his Spurs career nicely.  A medal to start and one to finish.

He saw off four managers and the only one who didn’t really fancy him was Christian Gross, who almost forced Edinburgh out of the club, but he hung in there and was revitalised under George Graham.  Unfortunately, with age not on his side, he was offered a move to get first team football, as he could not be guaranteed it at Tottenham after the signing of Mauricio Taricco.  His dedication to Tottenham, despite lots of Spurs fans believing the running joke on Sky’s Soccer AM (which perpetrated the myth that all Spurs players really support Arsenal), he is Tottenham through and through.  His son is Spurs mad and Justin had even gone to the lengths of refusing to pose with people who were wearing our rivals’ colours.  But now he has gone.  And not necessarily to a better place.  I am lead to believe that he has turned in some really good performances as Pompey drag themselves away from the relegation zone and has been marauding down the left wing, setting up goals in almost Ginola like style !!  I hope he has a successful spell at Fratton Park, as he is an honest player who deserves a good end to his time as a footballer.  In the end, the lapping of the waves on the shore proved too much for him and he returned to a coastal club to see out his footballing days.

Good luck Justin.

WYART LANE

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