Spurs Dream the Impossible Dream

Talk to any Spurs fan about reaching the Champions League final, and I’ve spoken to many, or tried to, and the reaction is the same. Make eye contact, pause, look away and a shake of the head. Words just don’t cut it.

I’ve wanted to talk about nothing else since Lucas slid the ball into the corner of the Ajax net, the calm in the hurricane’s eye as all around him was blown away. I’ve rewatched it so often, I shut my eyes and hear the sound of boot-leather on ball, the gasps of despair from each exhausted defender, the ripple of every individual blade of grass touched by the ball. But when it comes to it, I choke. Words become stuck in my throat and I well up. I shake my head and look away.

I thought it was just me, over the top and stupid like only a middle-aged man who has watched and loved a football team all his life can be. Yet, when I met some good Spurs friends after the Everton game, they were the same. Filling up, no words, big hugs, shake of the head.  Football makes fools of us all.

I’m just a little overcome. This piece is that overwhelming surge of emotion, it’s that incoherent noise you made when Moura scored. The gibberish you spouted, the uncoordinated movements of your arms and legs as you danced about like one of those inflatable stick people you see at opening ceremonies. It’s the spluttering as you try to explain how much it means to you. It’s the shrug as you give up because that’s impossible. It’s the hug we all need.

There’s stuff here. Rearrange it if you like. Might make sense, might not. I’ve not been able to write about it before now. This is the Tottenham On My Mind blog with fifty deleted introductions. I’m left with one: Spurs are in the final of the Champions League.

See what I mean. The introduction’s not even at the beginning. And Spurs are in the final of the Champions League. It is unbelievable, in the sense of beyond belief, not even a figment of my imagination. My dreams during my most disturbed, feverish nights never included reaching the Champions League final.

Spurs fans are in a state of bemused delight, rekindling the lost pleasures of joy, belonging and the unsurpassed thrills that supporting a team can bring, finding the child within us when football first cast its spell. We’re floating not gloating. There’s no strutting hubris or self-absorbed over-importance. We’re too busy having a good time being Spurs.

Liverpool fans have a different perspective. I have always respected and envied Liverpool, respect for their achievements, envy for the manner in which they’ve succeeded, a precious combination of good football and bloodyminded willpower I’ve wished Spurs could have found over the years. I also envy their fans for the link between club and city, a foundation and identity which London fans cannot match however loyal and passionate we are. The recent rivalry that’s has grown up has largely been fuelled on social media by millennials who spout abuse online as an element of the way they express their support. It’s not important. They’ve been there before. They have a context, a march towards another title, it’s their destiny. We don’t exactly know what to do.

Klopp clearly hears destiny calling. I like the way his teams play football and he takes pride in managing Liverpool, which for me are two benchmarks when it comes to judging managers. His celebrations, cocksure and certain, after that thrilling comeback against Barcelona, were entirely justified, but the different reactions to reaching the final are shown in the reaction of his opposite number, Mauricio Pochettino.  Poch fell to the turf and fell apart. He wept, unashamedly and uncontrollably. Just like you and me.

One of the features of Pochettino’s time at Spurs, which I’ve freely written about on the blog, is how he and his players have created a close relationship with the fans. For much of this period, the board seemed to try to alienate us as much as possible but in that moment, Pochettino’s tears established an unbreakable bond between him and the supporters. He has always understood what our heritage means for us. Now, he is one of us, overwhelmed with the joy of being Spurs. That reaction was about us, not personal reputation.

More than this, Pochettino gives us the words to express our feelings about the club in a way matched only by the illustrious Bill Nicholson. Bill wanted to aim high, for players to give their all for the fans. Tottenham was his life and he loved the club. Pochettino, in his moment of triumph, also digs deep: “Without football, it is impossible to live.” Modestly, he thanked his players for being ‘heroes’, but here is a man who understands what this victory, this club, means to everybody who reveres the navy blue and white. Football is life itself. This win makes us truly alive. We feel the blood pulsing in our veins, sensations are heightened, life and love is better than it was before. We reach deep down into our heart and soul to find out something about who we are, what matters, and who we can be. Only football can do this for us. Poch knows.

Poch has also developed our vocabulary:

“Pochettino has run the gamut of emotions during Tottenham’s run to the final but he admitted it did not take much to have him well up with tears. “My mother said to me: ‘You are a llorona’ – a person who cries often and a lot,” Pochettino said. “My mum and my two brothers are different, and my dad is more strong. I am strong but very emotional and I cry.

“Maybe I listen to some music in my car, it translates to some moment in my life and I start to cry. When I arrive home, my wife says: ‘What happened?’ I say: ‘I was listening to some music that translated to a moment 30 years ago in Argentina!’ And she will say: ‘You are crazy.’”

We are all llorona now. Our minds flicker back to moments in Spurs’ history, prompted by nothing much in particular, we well up and we’re not crazy. And Mauricio, as long as I live, as long as my son and granddaughter live, we will not forget the moment Moura scored and you wept. As long as people talk of the Hotspur, they will tell tales of Mauricio Pochettino and the comeback at Ajax.

I’m just coming to terms with the reality that on Saturday night, I will be five rows from the back of the Spurs end in Madrid. In the end, I had easily enough loyalty points, without going to away games but having the season ticket for many years and notching up those points for going to Wembley. Seems it was worth it after all.  I’ll probably have to sell my internal organs to pay for it but now I know why god gave me two kidneys. Liverpool fans again – they thought it was possible so they booked ahead, and of course they had that extra day before we played.

I’ve had the extra expense of getting a passport at short notice. The old one expired years ago, and one Sunday night when I was feeling low, in a fit of pique I thought life means I’ll never need this again so I cut it up and threw it out. Telling that to people at the Passport office produces wholesale incredulity. Nobody cuts up up their old passport before renewing it.

All I ask of players is that they be the best can they be. Those goals though. Somehow, they freed themselves from the burden of expectation to fashion three glorious chances through invention and pace, rather than relentless pressure of frantic gung ho attacking. They were beautifully created, the high velocity craftsmanship only football can provide and finished with exquisite precision and poise. Dele’s pass for the winner – where did he get that from, in that instant, at that stage in the tie? Moura’s expression as he finishes – here’s a link to the Guardian pictures that capture the moment as only still photography can. Your new desktop pic is there by the way. As he takes the shot, that’s my look when I concentrate on pouring a cup of tea, not scoring a legendary goal. His second matched Villa’s 81 goal for calmness amidst the bedlam. There’s no higher praise.

Everything has changed now. Vertonghen’s header against the bar, in that arc your lifetime of support flashed before you. The golden moments, the surely nots, the there it is, as it looped back in the opposite direction, the dashed hopes and crushed dreams, swaddled in the comfort of familiarity. This is what we expect from Spurs, a lifetime of support doomed to be separated from glory by the width of the crossbar. I missed Moura’s second go in because I was still looking to the heavens in frustration at the initial miss. That’s all over now. Throw away the lucky charms. No need to keep wearing the same pair of pants. The jinxes have themselves been jinxed. Spurs 1 Karma 0. Spursy is 6 feet under. Start again.

Allez Spurs. The allez allez song is unlike any Spurs chant I can recall, less a football chant, more a piece of storytelling and mythmaking.  Perhaps also the first football song to celebrate VAR. Wanyama and Llorente feature, hardly two of our most celebrated players, but maybe that’s why they are included. Maybe their names scan easily, or maybe, and I like to think this is true, maybe this recognises those moments when Llorente, after a shocker at the Lane, made sure he was in the right place, and when Wanyama, a shadow of the powerhouse he was once was, stood tall against City’s relentless attacking force. Deep in the second half, with Spurs penned back 35 yards from their goal, as an attacker bore down on him, he steeled himself. A fading warrior fighting one last noble cause, he rose to his full height and thumped into the tackle to come away with the ball. Unforgettable.

Players, managers, games, we see them come and go. Each one takes a little piece of your heart. But now is our time. We are giddy and intoxicated with sheer joy of being there and being Spurs. I’m overwhelmed with pride in my team and my heart is bursting out of my chest. We are the Hotspur. Wherever in the world you watch it, we’ll be together. Come on you Spurs.

33 thoughts on “Spurs Dream the Impossible Dream

  1. Thank you for a great blog – as always. Only one thing to add; I loved the observation from the BT Sport commentator, in true Del Boy style he said:
    “Spurs have only gone and done it”

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  2. Watched City away in Pub with Dublin Spurs,the semi away in the Sports Bar in Amsterdam,both with my son. And you are so right..we were all together,all of the world…never cried so much in my life!
    Win or lose…but god I hope win…it’s been an amazing ride.
    Fabulous blog,just so spot on.

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  3. This is one of the best piece of writing I have ever read about my beloved SPURS and I love spurs beyond anything and I have supported them for over 60 years.Everything you said in this piece is exactly how every Spurs fan is feeling right now as though they are floating on air and that Spurs seem to be unbeatable right now and I hope that is the case on Saturday.I am watching the match at White Hart Lane and it is a sell out and the atmosphere will be electric.Well done though for writing a superb piece for
    SPURS and all our fans.H.A.Williams.

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  4. Great piece Alan, thanks, been expecting it – you just had to make one of your best. The 58th second of the last minute extra time !! My eyes were on the clock when the magic happened. And yes I did all the waving and weird dances described by Alan.

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  5. Yes indeed, another great blog post! Thank you Alan. I won’t be going to the Philly Spurs pub. Need to be home with the same buddies (and sitting in the same seats) as when we watched leg 2 at Ajax. Yeah, I guess I’m 62 in age, but I’m excited like a teenage boy for Saturday. COYS to all from Philadelphia, USA!

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  6. Superb piece Alan, thank you.

    I watched it in a bar in Medellin, Colombia, with one Everton fan and a bunch of Colombians.
    I found myself taking my spurs shirt off in and prancing around wildly, hugging everyone I could get my hands on when Lucas got the winner.

    The Colombians were loving it as a crazed 50-something Brit totally lost the plot. The Everton fan was great, he just looked at me and said, in broad scouse, ‘You’re a bit mad, you are.’ But he was pleased for me.

    Have a great trip to Madrid, hoping and praying it goes our way. I’ll be back in the same bar for the final where I watched both the City games and both the Ajax games.

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  7. Thank, you, Alan for taking the time to say it the way a Spurs supporter SHOULD say it; not with bluster and boasting, but with a proper appreciation of our associations with GLORY!

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  8. I never post comments, ever.

    But this is spot on !! The whole truth and nothing but the TRUTH !!! The Bullseye !!

    Beautifully described in words that only one of our own could have written.

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  9. Tears are running down my face. Havent stopped crying since yesterday! Cant imagine the state i’ll be in on Saturday.

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  10. It’s crazy really. I’ve spent my whole life, since my first match at the Lane, Easter 1964, carried over the heads of the crowd to the front of the East Stand, while I caught a glimpse of my father (a Geordie and committed Newcastle fan) above me, smiling, as I receded from him. How ingrained in my memory is that first day (we lost 3-1 to Liverpool, and although Mackay wasn’t playing, Greavsie & John White, The Ghost, were, and how devastating when he died just months later) ..the colours, the smells, the atmosphere, the noise, the intensity, the emotion ..the Glory (which defeat didn’t detract from one iota). Since then, Tottenham Hotspur has never been far from my heart and thoughts. Hardly missed a home game until my late teens, and not one match, home or away, including Hillsborough and Wembley, in our 1966/7 FA Cup year (oh, except the Millwall 3rd Rd replay on a wintry Wednesday night in January, when I got ‘locked out’ and had to make that long lonely trek back up the High Road, leaving the 61,000 crowd’s roar behind me, and straight on to Manor House tube – no Seven Sisters station then – in order to get back to my Harrow home). Then, when I was a student, frequenting games became less after Jimmy left for West Ham. Not purposefully (although my 4 heroes of the 60s were him, Bob Dylan, Superman and Alli – not necessarily in that order – so I was gutted), but because I was discovering new things, travel and new adventures etc.. I took my love of Tottenham for granted, knowing they’d always be there. OK ..I know I’m meandering but, Alan, you’d understand that. I guess what I’m trying to say is that whatever I’ve been doing, and wherever I’ve lived in the world, throughout the past 55 years Tottenham have been a ‘constant’ in my life. Saw most of the 2nd Division games in 77/78 and then the ticker tape Ardiles/Villa intro against Aston Villa at the start of the following season (another memorable game which we again lost, 4-1). In the wonderful recent years since 2014, I’ve only been able to get to about 6 or 7 matches a year, some accompanied by my eldest daughter, so thank God TV has seen fit to feature this fantastic team so much.
    So here we are (after arguably the two most exciting games, City & Ajax away, with the 1981 Cup replay apart, that I’ve seen live or on TV since watching Spurs as an 11 year old win the ECWC in 1963 on a 16″ grainy B/W family telly) just one game away from being Kings of Europe and possibly the World. I’m speechless and in dreamland. I’m a nervous wreck awaiting the most monumental game in our club’s glorious history!!
    It’s like Spurs are saying to me ‘it’s been worth the wait, hasn’t it?’

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  11. Great article. To all spurs fans, enjoy the final . Look out for a big blue flag , north London is ours, to dare is to do. Corner flag block, spurs end. Enjoy, COYS .

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  12. Readable article, reflecting my emotions on the night quite accurately, but is it REALLY necessary to be nice about Liverpool? Why would you do that? It spoils an otherwise enjoyable (if slightly lengthy) piece.

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    • I’m not sure – sometimes Liverpool do irritate me, their fans can be a bit entitled, and the nonsense about Harry Kane and our late penalties a couple of years ago was annoying. But they are a genuinely great club, and their fans can be awesome (I have suffered enough times at Anfield!). Any success they achieve is legitimately earned as far as I can see (much more than City or the Chavs anyway). Klopp seems a decent bloke (if a bit one-eyed at times), and they play great football with a few home grown and English/British players. I hope we grind them into the dirt on Saturday.

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  13. I will forever identify with that whimpering sound made by Jermaine Jenas after Moura’s deciding goal. The first time in 57 years of supporting Spurs I was unable to speak. No leaping around, no punching the air, I crumpled onto my sitting room floor & felt my eyes go wet. Truly cathartic after decades of under achievement. Lord knows how I’d cope if we won the thing…

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  14. “As long as people talk of the Hotspur, they will tell tales of Mauricio Pochettino and the comeback at Ajax.” A little misty eyed here in Tottenham, Ontario, Canada. A well written piece.

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  15. Superb, supreme fabulous fantastic piece of writing, the best i have had the honour of reading for many many years. I haven’t cried yet. Come close, the only thing i clearly remember is after Lucas scored his 3rd, is telling anyone who would listen to me, over and over again, that “The ball’s gone in the net!”
    Every bit of your article and every comment simply bleeds lillywhite, these last few weeks, and the next few days will be forever remembered by all Spurs fans, and will still be told to many generations that have yet to be born. Thank you, sir. Thank you.

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  16. Just brilliant Alan , and I hope you and everyone else going to Madrid, have a great night, while the rest of us Spurs fans, no matter where we’re based, have something to celebrate.
    I’m glad so many others , and not just me, seem to have spent the last few weeks watching Moura’s hat trick on a constant loop
    , getting all emotional along with Jermaine Jenas on BT Sport , or even with Chris Sutton’s co-commentary on radio five, which is well worth a listen for anyone who hasn’t heard it.
    Personally, I’m 40% can’t wait for the final, 60% dreading it! Never thought I’d live to see the day. Enjoy, and COYS!!!

    Cheers, DB

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  17. As all dedicated spurs fans know we’ve suffered so much over so many years, every time we get close we all know that feeling of dread of not really believing that we can do it that we’ll fail that we’ll always be behind, those fans of teams I cannot mention with fans that whose hate us & are now so jealous of how far we’ve come & how far we can go.
    Spurs supporters unlike others are made of stronger stuff as a group we’re the backbone to the club, the club we love we’ve stuck together sometimes with smiles sometimes anguish a lot of times sorrow, but you can feel it in the atmosphere emanating like a storm, that feeling of it’s happening it’s our first Champions League Final we’re within touching distance of the Silverware I for one believe we can win it it’s ours for the taking we maybe the underdogs but history shows that those who are in the fight & have the heart to win will win we just need to prove we want it more as the saying goes,
    “ TO DARE IS TO DO “
    COYS
    Ray

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  18. —————————————–From: “TOTTENHAM ON MY MIND”

    To: dread718@tampabay.rr.com Cc: Sent: Wednesday May 29 2019 9:33:48AM Subject: [New post] Spurs Dream the Impossible Dream

    WordPress.com

    Alan posted: “Talk to any Spurs fan about reaching the Champions League final, and I’ve spoken to many, or tried to, and the reaction is the same. Make eye contact, pause, look away and a shake of the head. Words just don’t cut it. I’ve wanted to talk about nothing “

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  19. Everything I want to say but just dont know how to! Perfect. Lets hope tomorrow plays out as beautiful as your writing!

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    • Hey Ash, late but want to say – you were right, you wise head you. Could’nt put something together, so left the feeling there. Roll on the 10th, see you here then!

      All the best,

      Al

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