REUNITED AT LAST?
(Photo of Hughton by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images) (Photo of Livermore by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
In February, 1989, Chris Hughton was winding down his career with Tottenham Hotspur, the team he'd been with since he was a kid. After a tough game, or maybe a grueling day of training, Hughton may have gone out for drinks to unwind. He may have had several. While he was out, relaxing after a long hard day, he may have met a woman. He may have met several. He may have met one woman in particular, who, nine months later in nearby Enfield, gave birth to another future Tottenham Hotspur youth product.
But only a year after Jake Livermore was born, just a few weeks before his first birthday, Hughton was ripped away from the lad who may or may not have been his son, and he was transferred all the way across town to West Ham. When he left he said:
"In a sense it was like going home. I was born about 10 minutes away from the ground. My mum and dad still live there."
But while one son was reuniting with his parents, another son was losing the man who may or may not have been his father. Was Hughton running from his responsibility? Or was he really just a short-term loan replacement for the injured Julian Dicks? No one knows for sure. But the next year he made his transfer to West Ham permanent, before eventually fleeing even further--this time, all the way to Brentford in West London.
But Hughton couldn't run forever, and in 1993 he returned to North London and Spurs, driven by what was probably guilt and shame.
Before too long Livermore's footballing abilities, abilities that can most likely only be explained by the genetics of having a professional footballer for a parent, drew him to the attention of Tottenham Hotspur and he soon joined their youth ranks.
And as the coach of the U-21 side, Hughton had a responsibility to keep an eye on the young academy players.
"I always paid special attention to Jake," one can imagine him saying. "Even as a teenager he looked a bit like me, and I always wondered. I could never know for sure, but emotions warred within my heart. Did I abandon my son? Can I make up for it now?"
"Hughton? Yeah, the geezer always was staring at me. It was a bit weird," Livermore might have said in response to the strange attention. "But he was a good bloke, always tried to get me in with the first team."
And in 2007, Livermore's dream came true, finally earning a first team debut in preseason. It was then that Hughton probably felt that he had finally accomplished something as a father. What he couldn't give to Jake in his home life he had given him on the pitch.
The next year, accomplishing all that a distant and uncaring father could for a man who may or may not have been his son, Hughton turned away again, voluntarily leaving the club after being sacked along with Martin Jol.
"I tried to look out for the lad. In my own way, I suppose I loved him," Chris Hughton did not say, but might have, if you had been listening closely. "I did what I could for Jake, as much as any man who may or may not be someone's father could. But now it was time for him to spread his wings and fly."
But the next five years likely proved more difficult for Hughton than he imagined. After growing close to a man bearing an uncanny resemblance to him who, despite no other evidence indicating a familial relationship, was in all probability possibly his son, Hughton found he could not cope without the man he almost certainly knew in his heart to be his.
"It's been tough without Jake by my side," Hughton probably thought to himself, one cold and lonely night in Norfolk. "It was great seeing him when he played for Spurs in the Cup at Carrow Road last season. It was then that I knew I had to finally build a relationship with him."
And so, in the most buried of ledes, Chris Hughton has made a double swoop for Jake Livermore, JaknJake Livermore, and, because he spent some time in Sheffield 25 years ago and one can never be too sure about these things, Kyle Naughton.
Upon hearing the rumors, Livermore perhaps would have said:
"Yeah, I've heard the rumors. He does look a bit like me. But I'm pretty sure he's not my da. I looked him up on Wikipedia and it says he's married with four kids, so I don't know why he's obsessing over this. Oh, the Norwich rumors? Yeah, Norwich is a great club and the promise of first team football is really exciting. At my age I've just got to keep playing."
After 23 years, two men who may or may not be father and son, may finally be able to close the gap that's grown between them despite living in the same city and working together at the same club almost their entire lives. Happy endings like this one make all the heartache worthwhile.
(This is a work of satire. Chris Hughton is most likely not Jake Livermore's father, but man they really do look an awful lot alike, don't they?)