Wise words, my friend. You’re right, so right, I shouldn’t get worked up.
I paid proper attention to that comment in my last piece, because it was all getting out of hand, what with the tension of the last day of the season. I ate lunch during half-time of the Villa game and as the minutes passed, I felt like I’d be physically sick, such was my frustration at not scoring and fear that we would come away with nothing. Ridiculous. I’m a grown man, with hair- and waist-line settling into middle-age even if my enthusiasm for the good things in life lags two or three decades behind. Enjoy the game, the passion, the excitement and the downside that inevitably comes with it, but don’t allow it to take over.
Never have I needed such wise counsel as this week. I couldn’t shift the Doomsday Scenario from my mind. It had been coming for weeks and now it was almost here. Ar****l were ahead, Chels could just turn up, open up the deckchairs in the centre circle and still come away with a win. Abramovich could persuade fate to his way of thinking. RVP, the semi-final, Barca, all down to this; the gunners take third not on points, not on goal difference but on the odd goal scored. Chels then usurp our Champions League place as well as ram the trophy down our throats for evermore. In the 45 plus years I’ve been an active Spurs fan, this wasn’t just the ultimate indignity, this was the end of days.
These days I just roll with it. Thought it would diminish with age, fade away like the careers of so many fine players I’ve seen come and go at the Lane. Not a question of too late to stop, it’s a force beyond my control. I think it, dream it, talk about it, but it’s the feeling most of all. Visceral, all-encompassing, a physical and emotion reaction in time with the ebb and flow of our fortunes.
I missed half a season in each of several years in the nineties when the kids were young. That’s OK, priorities right and all, but the thing is, I still felt it. Felt guilty that I wasn’t there – hah! As if the club cared. Felt better when I was there. Can’t deny it. Still, on matchdays, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. Trips to the park glued to the radio. Alone in my flat on a bank holiday weekend, kicking every ball as we fought relegation at Wimbledon.
Took my children as soon as they were old enough, whether they wanted to go or not. Oldest on my shoulders when we won the League Cup but he still kept his Liverpool shirt. Other son when he was 5 or 6. He told me later that because of his eye condition, he couldn’t see the game at all. Thought he spent a lot of time playing with the cord on his anorak. Daughter came along just so she wouldn’t be left out. Now my oldest has sadly gone but we three sit together. I apologised at full-time yesterday.
Kick-off was a relief. At least we were nearer to knowing. Sunny day, players with new hairstyles, committed, focussed, up for it. Noise rolling around the grand old ground, back in time to these seething crowds of 56,00o that had me under their spell. Never found the antidote, but then again I haven’t looked very hard.
On the old BBC radio commentaries, Peter Jones used to cut in halfway through the second half to “welcome listeners on the BBC World Service, wherever you may be”. That really made an impression as a child. Football brings people together the world over like nothing else. And so it is with Spurs. Me, I’m grateful and mildly surprised that anyone reads this blog. Tottenham On My Mind because it is. Helps with the obsession. The obsession of a non-obsessive, non-addictive personality? Sounds damaging, that’s just occurred to me. It will always be niche but the new wordpress stats tell me not only how many people read it but where they live. People all round the world check in. People from countries I have never heard of. Wherever in the world they may have been, at 3pm their hearts were in N17. Their hearts were beating fast.
Kaboul ventures forward. Too early, a contender for player of the season but he remains impetuous at times. Or clever tactics maybe – push the spare centre half forward if Fulham only have one up front. No time to think about it. Ade to Rafa and back, perfect side foot, I’m right in line and leap to the skies before it hits the back of net. Beautiful football, the perfect start. If I’m a nervous wreck, the players must be calm. They were overjoyed – it meant something special.
The Lane is rocking, don’t bother knocking. Well on top and a rumour that WBA were 3-1 up kept us bouncing, but downhill from then on. We made and missed a few chances, Bale and Rafa but were performing well enough. Fulham, limited ambitions but we let them back into the game and twice Friedel saved us, the second a fine, fine save low to his right. If the game was a trial for Dembele, as far as I’m concerned he passed and we should bid.
Defoe put us out of our misery, picking up a loose ball to settle if not totally quell the nerves. Before that, a polite version is that we played possession football, same after. Less generous assessment is that it was the dullest game of the season. A couple of beachballs in the Paxton but it felt like Margate on a rainy autumn day.
Plenty of time to ponder on what might have been. The January window, not who we didn’t buy but the lack of cover by letting Pienaar and Corluka leave. Injuries, to Daws and King in particualr unsettling a jittery backline, to Sandro, mighty alongside the excellent Livermore today and how we could have done with his drive and tackling. Stoke, points dropped at home, offside goals away. Chels at Wembley, goals and sendings off that never were, Norwich, rubbish (us not them), Villa rubbish (us and them), even after all the ups and downs just one more win, two draws even. Fourth is a good season, but the might-have-beens are an itch I can’t scratch.
I guess the blog is a form of therapy, Ashley. I can’t believe people take the time and trouble to join in. They read it it and actually bother to comment. I’m touched by it, each and every one, genuinely. Very emotional, see. Wept when we played gorgeous thrilling football earlier in the year, wept as we shouted, screamed for Muamba to live. Guess in reality the blog is all about one thing, why this wretched beloved team holds its grip after all these years. Some of the stories get the closest. Adriana tolerates but doesn’t understand, why it’s always on my mind.
Too late to change, so roll with it. Regards to everyone who reads Tottenham On My Mind and sincere thanks for the many kind comments I’ve received this year. I’m profoundly grateful, it’s kept me going. A busy week for me but a season’s round-up in the next week or so, a few more pieces over the summer, change of design but it’s all about the words so it will be, basically, exactly the same.
Time for a dip in the pool, Ashley, then a stroll on the strip with the models, poseurs and queens. Me, I’ll look forward to my next trip to Tottenham High Road. It’s where I belong. You’re a good man, have a cold one for me.