The 501 coach from Exeter to Heathrow pulled into its destination at 16:15 on a sunny Thursday afternoon in September, the 13th to precise. I stretched my lanky limbs and began to remove my kneecaps from my eye sockets, where they had been wedged for last 5 hours because the seats on the bus do not really accommodate my frame.
A loud beep from a nearby car alerted me to the presence of my Father, and just so I knew it was him and not some other 50 year old, who looks like me, but fatter, older and with a ponytail, he proceeded to lean out of the window, sporting the blue Pony away kit from 97 (don’t judge my Dad on his fashion sense) and started a one man chant of “you’re Spurs and you know you are”. Most people would be embarrassed by their Father acting in such a way, but sod that, the man is a legend, so I joined in.
My Dad is what you would call your typical ‘angry fan’. The sort who has a heart of gold, but also has high blood pressure (and high cholesterol). He hates Levy; he loves Harry, “the atmosphere at the Lane has gone downhill”, blah, blah, blah (although I partially agree with him on that last one). As soon as we started driving he began to inform me exactly how Levy had shafted us all on deadline day. I contemplated having a little sleep until he’d blown himself out, but I hadn’t seen the old boy for a couple of months, so I decided to humour him, after all this was why I was here. Tonight would be the first time the two of us had gone to a match at the Lane together in 10 years, and even though it was only a youth game, I couldn’t wait.
I stood, I sang, I laughed and rejoiced in the best atmosphere I have experienced in God knows how long.
We got to his house in Ealing, had a bite to eat while continuing to argue and banter about all things that involve our beloved football club, before heading out to grab the tube to Seven Sisters ready for the 19:30 kick off (yes I know now that kick off was at 19:00, I haven’t got to that part yet). The journey was great and had the feel of a proper pilgrimage, but when we got on the Victoria line at Oxford Circus it struck me how little lilywhite shirts could be seen, I say little, but the fact is there were none. I thought maybe most people had got there early and were probably in the pubs surrounding the ground (I had badly wanted to go to the Bricklayers Arms to mingle with a few other ‘fighting cocks’, but my dad isn’t much of a drinker, bless him).
Exiting the station I was worrying more and more about the lack of any Spurs faithful, even on the bus from the station to the Lane there was not a white shirt in sight. Getting off the bus I decided with an impending sense of dread to have a look at my ticket. “Oh s***!” was all my Father heard before seeing his son take off at full pelt toward the stadium, confused, the poor man had no choice but to try and keep up. Now usually I enjoy seeing a portly man have a go at running as much as the next person, but on this occasion it was slowing me down.
Despite the frustration I kept my mouth shut as it is probably the most exercise he’s done since his twenties, and to be fair it was all my fault that we were late. This was my first time in the west stand, so I asked my Dad which was the right entrance for us to go through, but he was no help as he was doing his best not to have a heart attack. Thankfully we got some directions from a friendly staff member who had a look in her eye that seemed to suggest that we were in for a treat on this night of nights; either that or she wanted me (understandable).
This was where the evening really began. Walking up the steps my ears were met with a crescendo of song and my eyes feasted on hands raised to the heavens. We had apparently arrived in the middle of our fellow fans telling the stewards that “we pay your salary” (said stewards gave up trying get people to sit down rather quickly after that). The rest of the game is a magical blur. I stood, I sang, I laughed and rejoiced in the best atmosphere I have experienced in God knows how long. I cannot express to you how much I loved telling Barcelona that they were just a rather poor version of Crystal Palace or that their brand of football was “tiki-taka bulls***”. Personal highlights include asking an empty Paxton End for a song and booing at the lack of response, and pretending to score goals every ten minutes (absolutely classic).
The best bit of the night though was the reaction from my Dad. For 70 fantastic minutes I saw him become the young boy who used to sing his heart out from the Shelf every weekend in his glory days. During one particularly loud rendition of “when the Spurs go marching in” I looked over to see him welling up while belting out our anthem, I have never felt closer to him than at that moment in time. On the way out he gave me a big soppy squeeze and thanked me for taking him back to ‘the good old days’, before jumping on some unsuspecting lads and joining them in a chant of “whoa Dembele he’s a yid”.
The game ended in a 2-0 defeat, but that didn’t matter, being late and nearly killing my very unfit Father didn’t matter. What mattered was the togetherness and that when Barcelona scored it only served to make us sing louder. This, for me, is what supporting your club is all about. I would like to thank the Fighting Cock and anyone else who sang with me that night for making me proud to be a small part of Super Tottenham from the Lane. I have never been happier to love the shirt.
P.S. my old man says thanks too.