Surreal first day in court for Spurs manager Harry Redknapp
Like the home dugout at White Hart Lane, the dock in Court Six at Southwark Crown Court is located directly in front of the press benches, but it is there that the comparison has to end.
It was in the unfamiliar surroundings of a crown court that Harry Redknapp spent his day yesterday rather than a usual Monday either at home in Poole on the south coast or on the touchline of a windy training ground in Essex watching his Tottenham players practise. His daily ritual of commuting to the training ground from Dorset or his flat in central London broken for one of the highest-profile court cases football has ever known.
The first of us to arrive at 7.15am queued for more than two hours for a ticket and by the time the court's office opened there were already more journalists than there were places available. Officials had to bring in extra chairs. Redknapp sat alongside his co-defendant Milan Mandaric in a dock that was surrounded by bullet-proof glass.
In court he was referred to by his full name, Henry James Redknapp, although as the prosecution counsel John Black QC laid out his case he too slipped back into the more familiar "Harry" at times. Redknapp wore a hitherto unseen pair of tortoiseshell spectacles to scrutinise the folders of evidence.
Just a few yards to the 64-year-old's left was the younger of his two sons, Jamie, the former player and Sky Sports pundit who followed proceedings intently. Also present was the Spurs director Donna Cullen, a close aide of the club's chairman Daniel Levy; Darren Eales, Spurs' football administrator and Simon Felstein, a club press officer. It was warm and airless in court and alongside Redknapp a court security guard pondered his quiz book.
In court, Mr Black QC described Redknapp as "no ordinary manager". Mr Black QC said: "He has gained widespread popularity as a talented and successful manager." Later he said Redknapp was "by the early 2000s ... more than a common or garden manager, in short he was unusually talented."
The prosecution counsel added that Redknapp was also "a hard-headed businessman ... with financial acumen and a clear sense of his pecuniary value to his employers". He said that over the course of his career Redknapp had "entered into a succession of highly lucrative contracts giving him repeated raises in his salary."
The case centres upon two payments of £93,000 and £96,000 made by Milan Mandaric, then Portsmouth chairman, to Redknapp in June 2002 and April 2004 to an account in Monaco. There was laughter when Mr Black QC said the name of the account, "Rosie 47", created by Redknapp in Monaco in April 2002, was an amalgam of the manager's dog's name Rosie and the last two digits of the year of his birth, 1947.
Later, when Redknapp came out of court he told reporters that despite her new-found fame, Rosie, a bulldog whom he would walk on the beach at Poole, had sadly expired some time ago.
Proceedings were delayed yesterday when one member of the jury had to be replaced but Justice Leonard said he hoped the case would not take longer than two weeks. Redknapp will return to court every day although he should be able to get away in time on Friday to take charge of his team in their FA Cup game against Watford at Vicarage Road.
Outside court was an enormous presence of photographers and camera crews on the steps. Redknapp is used to that kind of scrutiny but it is the heated seat at White Hart Lane and the pre-match handshake with his opposite number that usually prefaces the opening of proceedings, rather than rising to his feet for the arrival of the judge.