Never mind the money, the glory, top of the table or the adulation of several thousand fans rammed into the Centenary Stand. Maybe the women. No, not the women even. That feeling Defoe has when he pulls back his foot and strikes so hard and true. The net billowing on impact, that anti-climatic kiss as the ball runs to the ground, a tiny, gentle noise totally out of keeping with the thrill of the ultimate instant, this cannot match that instant of sublime satisfaction as the meat of the foot connects with ball, just so.
I wonder if such sensuality touches the consciousness of any professional footballer. I doubt it, but I’d like to believe that buried deep in the soul, the quest for a fleeting instant of utter perfection drives them on. As elusive and brief as atomic particles meeting in the Hadron collider, the joy lingers and the search for the next moment is all the motivation that is required.
One such fraction of a second would be sufficient for a mere mortal like me. To get it right, just once. I can vividly recall a school playground breaktime , when I scored a hat-trick and was upset when I missed the fourth. A tennis ball and shed wall, that was as good as it was ever going to get. No one cared about the score, of course, but what happened was magic for an 11 year old and a now a greying adult, because the ball went where I wanted it to go, mind and body in unison, just once.
After that, nothing quite matched it. Years of toiling in hope over muddy fields, everything was too fast somehow. The brain was on fire but the legs didn’t go quite as quickly as they should have. Look up and pick the pass but all of a sudden the ball has been whipped away. The sweet spot on the instep propels it forward, glance up and the ball spins a crazy parabola into touch. I stopped in my early 20s. No point.
Maybe that’s why JD wangs it, when others would opt for a more considered clinical approach. Far be it for me to offer striking advice and right now everything is going just fine and dandy so don’t change a thing, but in the long run those whacks are going to shoosh over the bar or round a post.
Oh fun we had and let’s enjoy being top of the table. In the old days, dear reader, the tables were first produced after three games so at least to me this is a proper league, largely meaningless though it may be in the long run. These days Sky seem to have leagues ready at half time on the opening day of the season. Wolves Crisis! Alphabetical Order Means McCarthy Sacked!!!
It won’t stay this way. We can’t rely on stunning through-balls from the opposition centre forward, or defenders like Jonathan Spector continuing to believe they are good enough to play in the Premier League. Mind you, with a surname like that, I want him to succeed. Perhaps he, Cole and Upson sing Be My Baby in the shower after matches. Or not.
So although I won’t become too comfortable with Spurs at the head of the league, it clearly means we are bang on track to achieve my goals for the season, and those that I suspect Harry has set too. We will challenge for Europe and be a force in the cups. Above all, we will be competitive, and teams will start to fear us. And that is a great feeling, more than enough for me.