Not a good day for me. Granted, Tottenham Hotspur won through to fourth place in the league and qualified for the Champions League, but nothing else went well.
An astonishing, remarkable, stratospheric achievement, its magnificence shining across time and the universe like a supernova. And you were alive to see it, maybe you were there, you lucky so and so, let me shake you by the hand. It may not have quite the historical impact of the death of Kennedy or the fascination of Lady’s Di’s car crash, but in the decades to come you will remember exactly where you were when Spurs made it to the CL. Me, I will don a satisfied smile, lift my grandchildren onto my lap and looking into their wide, innocent eyes truthfully be able to answer: “Under the Dr Marten’s stand at Upton Park”.
Yesterday morning I woke early and wrote a short piece for the blog. I couldn’t sleep and had to note it all down – this place is called Tottenham On My Mind because it always is. It was the usual blather, a bit of analysis wrapped in an over-ripe call to arms, the core of blood and sweat with the romantic tinge plus a hint of destiny that is the way I see these big games.
Then in a moment it was gone. I toggled, it deleted. The first time wordpress has let me down. Busy day at work, no time to start again, or inclination for that matter. In the scheme of things it’s nothing, a half-life as long as it takes to drop from the first page of Newsnow, but it knocked me sideways for most of the morning. Mind you, concentration was difficult enough as the hours passed and kick-off approached.
Ah yes, kick-off…. My wife and her family support West Ham. We handle it in a manner befitting our intelligence and maturity. We don’t talk about it. Spurs – West Ham matches do not exist once I walk through the door, and as regular readers will know, I expend enough energy despising Chelsea so the Hammers don’t bother me too much in that sense. They are long-standing, loyal fans and until recently had season tickets, but then life changed, for the worse frankly, so they seldom go these days.
A while ago, they spotted an end-of-season testimonial for their long-serving youth manager and booked the tickets. She is disabled and I’m the only person who could take her, so with her daughter and grandson, off we went. The Wednesday prior to the last weekend of the league seemed a pretty safe bet, at the time…
Another time I’ll tell you about my lifetime of effort to watch Spurs, the promises broken, arrangements altered, relationships harmed, weddings missed. So trust me when I say, this was not the moment to add to that long list. So the 90 minutes passed for me in the disabled section of the main stand, in the front row but as my wife is also quite small, she couldn’t see properly over the advertising hoardings and so enjoyed the bizarre spectacle of seeing a game from the knees up.
My lovely daughter kept me well supplied with news via text and all in all, I think I handled it pretty well. I felt like throwing up with nerves for the entire time but resisted, so well done me. The final score came through as we were walking out and amidst the crowd of beery Hammers, I punched the air in silent delight.
Home late but it was hard to sleep, what with all the excitement. I switched on the TV and – Sky Plus had failed. So no comments or analysis today dear readers. I’m watching the meagre highlights as I write – couldn’t sleep again – but I don’t really care. On a day like this, how can any Spurs fan be down.
One final consequence of obsession. Deprived of the endless stream of drivel that the pundits spout, I was left to my own thoughts. Since the United game, I have fixed in my head the following mantra that I repeated over and over, my comfort blanket – 7 points from 3 games and no one can catch us. It’s in our hands, 7 points from 3 games.
So ingrained has this become that I even repeated it after the game, just one more point I told them, ignoring the exultant texts that I was receiving. Then, late at night in the silence of the dozing car, on a lonely motorway, it suddenly dawned on me that we had actually made it. I’m aware that this sounds bonkers, but genuinely I had not done the math. Perhaps subconsciously I did not believe that we would defeat City. I was so focussed and fixated that at the moment of our glory, I was still wrapped in anxiety about this coming Sunday.
No time to rhapsodise further, in print anyway. Just a reminder that on February 10th we lost 1-0 at Wolves in an appalling performance that signalled, surely, the end of our hopes of success. Since then – remarkable, astonishing, magnificent, glorious, wondrous. To every single one of them, thank you.
If you see a slightly portly bloke walking around central London today, wearing a suit, battered Spurs baseball cap and a navy cashmere scarf, come up to me and say ‘hallo’. To anyone who works with me and is going to my meeting today, well look out because I’ll be on fire. And to all Spurs fans out there, wherever in the world you may be, have a grand day, enjoy every last second and I love you all. If I knew where you lived, I’d come round and give you a hug personally.