Friday, 7 March 2014

Darren Alexander, 1971-2014

ON DARREN ALEXANDER; SPURS FAN, FRIEND AND ACHIEVER


Myself with Darren Alexander (right) at his 40th birthday party in 2011.

  
Like so many people who knew and had met Darren Alexander, I was incredibly shocked to hear of his untimely passing. And like all of those who were close friends of his, including myself, I am deeply upset at the thought of never again seeing my friend; I’ve barely stopped crying all night.
Condolences obviously go out to his family and girlfriend Katrina, and anyone else who was especially close to him.
It was incredibly hard reading all the messages about Darren on social media on my way home tonight, I’ve never cried so much when reading anything, and I’m even crying as I write this, forgive me if I ramble on too much.
The reach that Darren’s influence has had is incredible and heart warming. So many people who didn’t know but knew of my friend have said so many nice things about him. His family and closest friends would appreciate it so much. It was good, really good, that even Spurs carried it as a news item, he would have loved being mentioned by them so much.
Because Spurs was one of the many things that Darren was about. For many of us, supporting our football club is the one thing to look forward to after a hard week. It’s one of the few constants in life, it’s always there, sometimes changing, but something that at times can give more joy than almost anything you can imagine. Darren knew that just as well as anyone. He cared for Spurs and what it gives us, and the game itself. And perhaps more importantly, he cared for the people who followed it as well. On the day he passed from us, three Spurs fans found out that no further action would be taken against them for use of the Y-word. He would have been so happy about that having done his part to help them and all those who have shared concerns over the direction this case was taking.
I was immensely proud and impressed when my friend became joint chairman of the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust. This is a supporters group that helps liaise between the fans and the club, while also spearheading and supporting various campaigns within the game itself, such as the return of safe standing at games. This allowed Darren’s passion for all things Spurs to extend to fans of other clubs as well, even to that lot down the road (shhh, that’s Arsenal, just in case you were wondering).
And even fans of our beloved Gooner rivals, who knew of Darren because he and the Trust had worked with them on various issues tweeted their respects to him. Truly wonderful the influence he had and the respect they have shown in kind. Darren knew that Arsenal were also part of the game and that if something he and the Trust were working on related to and involved everyone, then it really should include everyone. He didn’t hold a closed court; everyone was welcome.
I attended a Trust meeting that Darren handled, and it was wonderful to see this project that gave Darren a new and very purposeful direction in his life. That, and coupled with the joy that being with Katrina gave him was so good to see. Honestly, I thought it was bloody brilliant that he had found such a nice, charming and intelligent person to be with.
I first met Darren nearly twenty years ago, when another friend of ours, Ivan Cohen, ‘phoned me up at work one day and suggested that I go along to watch the Spurs Reserves play that night. At that time they were playing at St Albans. I’d never been anywhere near the place and I had to look up how to get there. But I thought why not, even though it was nowhere, I really mean nowhere at all(!) near where I lived. I gave no real thought whatsoever to how I would get home that night. Hey, it’s football, you know? So a train ride later, and there I was, watching the Spurs Reserves play. I didn’t realise it at the time, but it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
At the ground Ivan introduced me to a few people, including Darren. As we watched the game we chatted and it became clear we had more in common than just the mighty Spurs. When Darren found out that I had a long and tiresome train journey home, he offered to drive me back, almost insisted if I remember rightly, even though it added at least another five or so miles to his journey home. How kind. I was incredibly grateful, and glad that I did take him up on that offer, because it meant we became good friends. And of course, this also meant I found out how incredibly generous and kind hearted he could be. It’s not often you can remember so clearly how you first meet people, but with Darren, it was crystal.
We not only went to away games together but hooked up in other ways, I remember going to see the movie The Net with Sandra Bullock at the cinema with him. Darren joked that he only went to watch it because he wanted to find out how to configure his internet connection!
An early example of Darren’s sense of humour, this was. He got better, it got quite incredible at times. I’ve never met anyone so funny who wasn’t on stage. He could hold a whole conversation where meaningful point-laden dialogue would at the same time be the funniest thing you’ve ever heard. Darren would maybe not be too bothered by the reaction he got, that’s the point of comedy, get a reaction, and if you love someone enough, who cares what they do? I’d give anything to see any part of what made up Darren’s personality again, good or bad.
I think that sometimes where I often try to joke about things perhaps a bit too much that it comes from Darren. If it does, I think that’s good, it means that I help make some part of him still live on, in a way.
Darren really, really did have a comeback for anyone and anything, he was unbeatable. And he knew more about celebrity and popular culture than anyone else I knew. It was like he not just read every issue of Empire magazine from cover to cover but consumed it as well. I don’t know if he actually did read it, but it was like he did!
Darren had a heart of gold and the fact that he wanted to help all football fans through the Trust proved that. There were a few times when he was just about the only friend to be there for me when I needed one, and likewise there was a time when I was the only one there for him. So this tribute is how, in my own small way, I can help preserve his memory, selfishly perhaps for my own sake, but hopefully for anyone else who takes comfort from this.
After a particularly bad week at work, all I was looking forward to tonight was relaxing in front of the tv. But my week pales compared to that of my friend, and his loved ones. I am so consumed that all I can meaningfully do is sit down and write about how much he meant to me, and others, and how much we will miss him. I guess this is my tribute to Darren.
Thank you for reading, but a bigger thank you to Darren for being my friend, coming into my life, and achieving so much in such a short space of time in the last few years. Your loss will leave a hole in all our lives that will be impossible to fill.
R.I.P. Darren Alexander, 1971–2014
I Can’t Smile Without You.
@BruceEJLewis


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Copyright Bruce Lewis, 2014.



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25 comments:

  1. A fitting tribute to a real Spurs man. RiP Darren

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    1. Thank you Philip, he'd have liked that.

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  2. Lovely piece, Bruce. I only met Darren a few times but you appear to have summed him up perfectly, a big man in every sense and the Spurs supporting community will be so much the poorer for the loss of Darren. May he rest in peace

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    1. Cheers Chris, his loss will be felt by many.

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    1. Thanks Robin, appreciated, by Darren too I'm sure. Hope you and the family are well.

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  4. Thank you Bruce for this wonderful post. I am Darren's aunt & to know how well loved & respected he was & is & always will be is some sort of comfort. As you say he was larger than life & always had a quip for any situation even if his heart was breaking. My biggest regret is that he & hus son will never have the chance to know each other. Thank you for being his friend he often needed one. Bless you xxx

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    1. Hello Barbara, it's lovely to hear from you. I am so glad that members of his family can take comfort from this. Wishing you all long life at this sad time.

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  5. My little brother was definitely one of a kind. I only wish I could put things in words as well as you Bruce. We cant believe all the posts and tweets that are being received from all over the world. We didn't realize how much he meant to so many people. Its good to know Darren had true friends, thank you xxx

    Samantha Kane

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    1. My Heartfelt sympathies to you and yours Samantha.
      Your Brother was an amazing man.
      He will be missed but he has given us very many happy memories to cherish.

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    2. Hello Samantha, I'm glad this and everything else being said by people about Darren helps members of his family see the positive impact he had on so many people's lives. I could have said so much more, he was that immense in so many ways ;-)

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  6. This is a fitting and very well written tribute Bruce.

    Darren and I didn’t really get along but despite this, he was always friendly and he went out of his way to help me several times. I have never forgotten that. That was the sort of guy he was.

    And for some strange reason I always really cared about what he thought.

    A really great loss to the Spurs community and my heart goes out to his family and loved ones.

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    1. Hi Derek, hope you're well. At least you saw beyond that. And he obviously appreciated that if he took the time to help you. Cheers.

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  7. Bruce

    That's a great tribute. Although in recent years I haven't seen Darren so much I think there are hundreds like me who still thought of him as a good friend through his Spurs work and his contributions to the Spurs list (which, with his incredible insights and contacts, also made us all feel like we had special access to the Club). Also I suspect there are hundreds like me who he helped in different ways 'off list' without anybody else knowing about it.

    I actually did not realise Darren was so young because he had the worldly knowledge of somebody much older. This is a terrible loss and I wish his family a good and long life.

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    1. Hi Norman, hope you and the family are well. That's a great point actually that people like Darren made us feel we had some kind of input into the club. With him gone I think we may have lost the momentum he built up. Hopefully the Trust will be able to build on his legacy.

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  8. I don't know Darren, or yourself...but what a wonderful tribute. Thoughts with you and his family.

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    1. Thank you Martin, kind of you to take the time to say so.

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  9. Bruce this is a beautiful tribute to a wonderful guy. I keep getting reminded of funny things - like when we were in a pub up near Molyneux before a game when the barmaid jokingly asked Darren where his Wolverhampton scarf was and, quick as a flash he joked back in his broadest cockney "It's wiv me Wolver'ampton accent!". And agonisingly poignant things, like a photo of him on Facebook today in Portugal for the Braga game a few years back, when only a few days ago on the same medium he'd announced he had booked a nice place to stay for the Benfica game. I have not seen him in person for some years yet am feeling terribly bereft at his loss, so can't even imagine the pain of his close friends and family. My heart goes out to you all.

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    1. Cheers Dave, and yeah, I remember the Wolves story, fantastic! We need to meet up sometime, been a while, hope you're doing fine. Thanks for taking the time to write.

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  10. Wonderful piece Bruce, That truly hit home.
    I used to feel a midget when standing with you and Darren. You 2 were like the Wembley Towers.
    He will truly be missed.

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    1. Hi Dale, that was never the intention and neither of us thought of ourselves that way! But very kind of you to say so. Hope you're well mate.

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  11. Thanks for writing that piece, Bruce - you said it right. I hope all is well. Cheers, Dan

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    1. Cheers Dan, it is thanks, hope you are too.

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  12. Lovely words Bruce.

    RIP Darren, thanks for all that you did.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to say so Paul.

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