So how was it for you? The morning after is always worse than the night before, or in this case two mornings after. It’s bad enough watching Spurs self-destruct, but the real impact is when you have to go work on Monday.
My tried and tested method of dealing with football-related grief (hey, that’s sounds good, I’m going to make that a syndrome!), sorry, Football Related Grief is to remain morose and irritable until the body’s natural processes of recovery (and alcohol) enable the pain to dissipate gradually. Time passes, and at some tipping point brooding over the past gives way to optimism about the future in the form of anticipation of the next game. The problem with derby matches is that outside forces prolong the FRG process. My method, also known as the Misery and Self-Loathing Approach, is fine for the first four of the well-known Five Stages of Grief but stops dead at the fifth, acceptance, when you’ve got the mouthy git from accounting synchronising his trips to the kettle with yours, or the I.T. nerd who arrived at the office at 6.30am in order to download a loop of the second goal as your screensaver.
No one at my work is that interested in football – they are Chelsea fans. Although I bemoan the lack of football banter, at times like these it’s frankly a relief. I can bury my head in work, rather like the way I think of our defence on Saturday and bury my head in the sand. Schooldays were bad enough. Everyone joined in, regardless of who they supported, with that special talent for wind-ups and mockery that schoolboys inherit down the generations. However, in those days people supported a variety of teams, including Spurs and the local lower league teams like Brentford and QPR. Now, support is much more polarised around the big four, especially the A and Chelsea in London, with Man U not far behind, so a defeat to any of these must be a real ordeal for a Spurs supporting pupil.
However, I have been visited, or should I say violated, by a large number of fans of our opponents last Saturday. The blog stats show that many have been directed here by a certain site. I’m not using the A word in this piece in case the search engine picks it up, but investigating the source of this sudden and unexpected interest was a depressing exercise. Checking a few of their sites, even just by looking at the headlines, what comes over is not the abuse but the ridicule and derision. Spurs are a total laughing stock, figures of amusement and in some cases pity. We need more than one or two victories in the future to even begin to balance out the twenty or whatever it is games since we beat them in the league.
And what can be said in return? Loyal supporters, supporters of a real team not just gloryhunters, this is our only defence, because the players have not protected us in any way. Saturday was so awful, no possible crumb of comfort can emerge from such an abject capitulation. At moments like these, the gulf between the supporters and the players is never wider. They cannot feel the pain of defeat as we do, or else they would not perform in that way. Isolated by their wealth and celebrity from the outside world, they remain cocooned in a world that encompasses the training ground and their large house. Even Crouchie would not have dared to have been seen out on the town over the weekend. Agents were no doubt massaging their slightly bruised egos.
Robbie Keane, we look to you for leadership as our captain. If anything could have made things worse, it was your pre-match comments about how good we were. Never, ever speak to the media again. Actually, while you about it, just don’t speak. Motivation for their players and cannon fodder for their fans in one fell swoop. And now that it is over, how much do you care? I mean really care. Did you or any of your team-mates have a sleepless night or spend 48 hours in a stupor of depression? No, because in the end it does not matter. We give you everything, our heroes, but this is just a reminder, if one were needed, that you are different from us and some of you are not worthy of our adulation.
Talking of the head in the sand approach, the alleviation of FRG can be assisted by ignoring the media as much as possible in the aftermath of defeat. I’m usually pretty good with this, although I did watch MOTD this weekend. However, from what I can gather, the papers and Talksport are having a field day, having a belly laugh at our expense not only for Saturday’s performance but also for our pretentions in being top four contenders.
But wait a moment, surely it is the media who set us up as top four in waiting. Most fans are, like me, delighted with our progress but have not been fooled into believing we will sweep all before us. Anyone who has seen us play this year will know that we are good but not that good. The same pundits who have been building us up as real contenders with lazy generalisations about our games, even when we defended poorly, are now making fun of our having ideas above our station. They build us up and knock us down. Not our ideas but yours, you pathetic individuals, saying anything to get in a cheap jibe and to cover up their own inadequacies as judges of the game. And once again we the fans have to sit and take it.