NLD Comedown: Spurs Keep High Hopes

I won’t waste your time. Please don’t continue if you are after a match report on the north London derby. I was there. It was enthralling, compelling, utterly absorbing. Every neutral I have spoken to tells me it was a fabulous match and I’m sure it was. Just don’t ask me to tell you what happened.

Don’t expect reasoned or indeed reasonable analysis. It was a classic derby, raw and fullblooded, so chronicled not by a minute-by-minute report but by the circadian rhythm of body and emotion over 90 minutes. Individual moments become clear like isolated tops of skyscrapers poking through the mist. How they fit in relation to each other I’m really not certain. Alli’s volley in the second half after an insignificant match where he failed to make much of an impression but he can change things in an instant and I thought, hoped this was that instant, before it hit a defender and bounced over. Alli was still shaking his head when play restarted.

Dier flying in, the product of total commitment, frustration that we had let a lead slip and tiredness – hard game, long season. Bound to be sent off, two bookable offences, just as Couquelin had, refs always even it up. Except this time.

Wimmer’s heroic late block when suddenly we found defending hard again, saved us against the ten men. And Kane’s goal, when legs that have been wasted and soggy over the past few weeks suddenly for a second rediscovered their spring and the ball curled improbably, ridiculously into the top far corner. A goal deserving of victory in any match, anywhere, but as ever it’s the celebration in the stands that will stay with us as long as the exquisite memory of the goal.

Except it wasn’t enough in the end. At the end, disappointed didn’t cover it. Odd certainly, numb almost. I needed time to settle down and come to terms with the comedown after the biggest north London derby in my era, probably the match with the most significance that I have ever been to in person.

I’ve been lucky. I’ve embraced the joys of cup finals at home and in the UEFA Cup, which of course was also at home but you get my meaning. Perhaps when we had to beat Leeds in the last home game of 1974-5 to stay in the top division, but in those days the disparity between the divisions was not as great as it now appears. Less money in those days. Maybe a couple of desperate matches towards the end of Pleat’s caretaker reign in the wretched spring of 2003 when we could easily have dropped out of the PL. But the title has always been too far away even to dream about. So remote that it’s not even locked away in my deep subconscious. Beat Arsenal. The title. Beat Arsenal to the title. With a goal that good. From a player that good. With a team that good.

Logic, you want logic? Really? After what we have been through. Rationality, I still have a few traces left that have not been shredded along with my nerves. Look, Spurs played well. We took the game to our opponents without making the impact in the final third we deserved. In the first half especially, Rose ever-willing and alert on the left, put four or five balls hard and low into the near post. Intended or miss-hit we won’t ever know but what we do know is that no one was attacking them.

I saw Arsenal get strong in the middle where in their last three games they have been as softcentred as a Newberry Fruit (one for the kids there). Paying us the respect we deserved, that we have earned this season. Everyone raises their game now. ‘Lads, it’s Tottenham’ has a very different meaning these days.

I saw us dominate possession but let goals slip, the first and last, by giving the ball away carelessly. The second was especially galling as we had moments before defended superbly before letting it go.

I saw us rampage forward once the equaliser went in, 5, 10 minutes, I honestly don’t know, glorious stuff, off the line by a centimetre, two goals. Unstoppable. Or so I thought.

The rational explanation: nothing much has changed for Spurs. We play at our very best if we have a full team who are all fit and playing well. Against the top sides there’s little margin. Alli not quite on it. Needs a rest, a little knock I hear. Eriksen everywhere but his passing accuracy failed to come up to scratch. Lamela, again busy and pressing like billy-oh, except we needed also one moment of calm and precision with the ball at his feet, not to be on Saturday.

So that feeling. I wanted my moment. NLD, top of the table, Kane’s goal. I had it and it had gone. That’s what it was all about. I don’t think for you but I wonder if some of you, the ones who felt low rather than angry or disappointed, I wonder if you felt the same.

Maybe I’m being greedy, because last season in this fixture I had my moment, when I was right in line behind Kane’s unexpected header as it spun over and over and time stood still. But this felt different and I know why now. That moment was for me. For you too, and my son and my granddaughter in one of her very first games, but that was about feeling good, a great goal beats the old rivals.

This time, it wasn’t for me. I wanted this moment for the team. This wonderful surprising over-achieving team. This lot who are as committed and determined as any supporter. Who may be on the threshold of something special not so much in the next few weeks but in seasons to come. I wanted people, I wanted football, to see how good they are. To talk about Tottenham. Praise them, to marvel at how we got right up there. To see what Pochettino and his squad have created.

To take on the Arsenal and beat them with a goal like that. My Spurs can do that. Youngest side in the PL, outstanding, this is what they can do. I feel for them, not for me but for them. I wanted them to have that moment and for you and me to be part of that.

We saw enough, have seen enough, to know there may be other opportunities. Flat out now after a tough week, foot down, don’t think of tiredness, only of the rest week coming up. It’s mental tiredness not so much the relentless pressure on the pitch. That’s what gets the young and inexperienced so just go with it. Dortmund will inspire them, save enough for 6 points in the next two games, then let’s draw breath.

26 thoughts on “NLD Comedown: Spurs Keep High Hopes

  1. Not the result from last year but something else. Disappointed perhaps but excited too knowing that this team isn’t at its full potential yet, still a few more edges to be knocked off, a bit more experience in closing out the big games. A feeling from start to finish that we were the better team and that they had to raise their game to stay in it. I felt completely drained after that match knowing that the crowd had put so much in as well as the players. Amazing season.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was exhausting, a few days on and I have recovered. We played very well, next two games must be won so this can turn out to be a decent point.

      Regards, Al


  2. Yes Alan, Yes, Yes, Yes and Yes again. Right out of the top drawer, one of your very best pieces.
    Two long, drab days later, I am still as flat as a pancake. As Toby has said, it feels like a loss.
    But all of a sudden, as I read your cathartic words and listen to Bowie’s timeless “Life on Mars” I feel ready to haul myself up out of the gutter and look up at the stars again. Our boys will keep on keeping on and so must we.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Spurs looking up at the stars – as Dortmund approaches that’s how I want to start the game! Glad you liked it, thanks my friend.


  3. I enjoyed that article, I felt watching in Saturday very emotional. U have always felt like Tottenham is MY club and that there has always been a disconnect between us and the team, and therefore the club. On Saturday it was the fans the team and the club as one. I’ve never felt that before. I cried when Kane smashed it in and it was because I was proud of the boys and so pleased for THEM (not just for the fans) still proud, this young team will learn from this and developed a ruthless streak. T

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, and that is exactly it. I just wanted so much for Kane’s goal to be the winner but as you say, the feeling of fans and players being together will last.

      Cheers, Alan


  4. Frustrated perhaps more than disappointed, but also in all honesty a hint of relief too, especially after Wimmer had to make that excellent last ditch block in injury time. Following the West Ham defeat with a loss to arsenal may have impacted upon the team’s admirably strong sense of belief and the confidence could have been hit badly. But what a game, I was up and down , down and up, and exhausted afterwards. Goodness knows how the players must have felt.

    It’s hardly original for me to suggest six points from the next two games is absolutely vital, but with Dortmund to play first before Villa I do wonder if the legs will be strong enough and we’ll need the team to find the strength from somewhere. I think we will win both but it’ll not be without a scare or two.

    Leicester may march on but we’re still hanging in there, and they’ll have a few splutters along the way too, so we may have taken a punch or two but we’re still on our feet.

    Cheers for the read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re very welcome. Writing this as Dortmund teams just announced so think we can see now that the PL is Poch’s priority. Must take those 6 points.

      Regards, Alan


  5. Great stuff. Whatever happens this season, just being there and taking it all in at WHL, the fans, the noise. Magical. I was down and out after the game. Slept for a couple of during the Liecester game on tv but I still have a smile on my face. Glenn Hoddle called the game ‘an event’, it was. Your blog sums it up perfectly for me. Cheers. Great comments too.


    • Thank you – many have said the blog sums it up for them, I wasn’t sure when I wrote this very personal piece, so other clearly feel the same.

      Regards, Alan


    • Thanks. Didn’t have time to comment on your bravery being at W Ham so well played and a really emotional week for you! It’s been a strain but on we go, looking forward to Sunday now.

      Take care, Alan


  6. Great stuff, Alan. Your report is almost as good as the match, it’s that good. I was guilty of premature celebration after Harry’s goal and the twists and turns until the final whistle were like stinging backhanders to bring us back to Earth. I’m not exactly a fan of Lamela but he delivered his best showing yet when it really mattered. Thanks also to Wimmer for the late saving tackle. Just time for a deep breath, reset, and here we go again. This is fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Really appreicate that David. ‘Fun’ not the word on my lips as I trudged home but that’s what this run-in should be. What re we doing up there!?!

      Regards, Alan


  7. I won’t repeat the full Henry V rallying cry (which, erm, obviously inspired the win at City) except to say that once more I look at this squad, and I see ‘we few, we happy few, we band of brothers!’
    Never has the feeling of Tottenham or Spurs (those very names themselves always evoking emotion and providing goosebumps), the owners, the team, the squad, the manager and the fans all merged into one, so intensely! How right you are, Alan, and I have loved this club, and many of its players, for over 50 years, in the eternal search for Glory.
    Whatever happens this season (and the sleazy Real Madrids, Man Utds/Cities/Chelseas etc will all be sniffing around our manager and certain players this summer ..not to mention more unsettling from the press and pundits before this season is out) it will prove a glorious memory …predominantly because it was so unexpectedly early.
    This is a young and potentially great squad who are doing their utmost to achieve greatness before their time, God bless them. But let’s just hope they don’t have the impatience of youth. My hope is that Poch and the best of these players commit long term, and let us (with just a few still very necessary additions who can fit into Poch’s plans) see where the journey leads us. To Glory I hope …as I’ve always hoped ..for our great club.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Thanks Alan,

    Another dramatic NLD! Should have won, could even have lost at the end. Those 10-15 mins around our goals will live long in memory. We’re having a fine season with a team to relate to and be proud of.


  9. Circadian rhythms? This is a football blog, Alan!

    With you all the way. I’m just about starting to feel normal having been shattered since Saturday afternoon. Completely wrung out.

    Met some friends for breakfast on Saturday morning then we cycled to the game together. Non-stop conversation about how important the game was, all the possible outcomes etc etc etc.

    Met another group of friends at the ground – all of us nervous as heck. The general agreement was that we all love/hate the NLD.

    After that first 30 minute spell where we totally dominated one mate said it would matter that we hadn’t scored. Then one of their lot did to prove him right.

    Harry’s goal was stunning. The kind of goal that deserves to win any game. But it wasn’t to be. The result belies some important stats – such as their goalie making more saves in a game than they’d had to make in any game this season.

    The atmosphere was crackling from start to finish. It’s why we go isn’t it?

    Was privileged to watch Dele Alli walk over to east lower at the end of the game and throw his shirt into the crowd.

    Whatever the result, I love this team.

    We go again.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. ‘Nervously optimistic’, that’s how I would describe how I felt on Saturday morning.

    But, if I am mortal enough to feel ‘nervously optimistic’, if others amongst us felt ‘nervous as heck’ or had our nerves ‘shredded’, then you can’t blame the boys for feeling nervous too, on some of these already historic days.

    Okay, West Ham outplayed us. It can happen, and well done to them. Then the Gunners raised their game, to match ours. Our boys played well but this was a historic NLD and in the end we didn’t rise collectively quite high enough to the occasion.

    Five points dropped, just when the summit was within reach, does feel gut wrenching. But the youngest team in the league is still second, we are still outrunning virtually all the opposition*, Kane is scoring again, we have our own Champions League final coming up on Thursday (if we can knock out BD, we can beat anyone else still in the running!) and I don’t see us finishing lower than second, in this amazing season.

    Not to mention that people around me, (in Harare, Zimbabwe), recognise my shirt, call me ‘Mr Tottenham’ and compliment me on my team’s performances. For the first time EVER!

    I would have happily taken all that at the start of the season.

    Thank you Alan, and everybody else, for being there for the rest of us, and even giving voice to those amongst us who can’t be there in person. Plus sharing it all with us, on this blog.

    Forward ever!



    • Great story John – Zimbabwe knows the one and only Hotspur thanks to you! I always thought the WHam game would be the toughest – their cup final is not just a twitter sneer, it’s real. ^ points now and we’ll see take it from there.

      Regards, Alan


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