One of the things I like about The Fighting Cock is that the phrase “It wouldn’t be Spurs…” does not seem to seep into the podcast much. You usually hear it in the context, “It wouldn’t be Spurs if it were easy” or “…if there weren’t some uncertainty” or “…if there weren’t points dropped along the way”. You’ve all heard it.
The phrase gets my goat for two reasons. First, pace Crace and his excellent memoir Vertigo, I don’t think there’s a way in which Spurs fans suffer uniquely. Every team drops points. Every year, 19 teams fail to have the wherewithal to win the Premier League. Every year, far more teams come up short in the hunt for the FA Cup than the sole team that manages to prance around Wembley with it. Clubs routinely face a stretch of tough fixtures and come out a little beaten up. Every club (I imagine) looks a little dodgy from time to time protecting a slim lead or looks ready to slip up and give away its solitary point at a moment’s notice.
It may be the case that since Sky invented football, Man United, Arsenal, Liverpool, and, more recently Chelsea, have looked like they were always winners. They’d never make mistakes. If they had leads, they kept them. Letting them score first was starting the signature on a death certificate. But that has not been the case lately. Arsenal have looked laughable more often than not. Right about now, Chelsea is swooning heavily (which they did, don’t forget, last year, while still rolling to a second place finish). Liverpool is making Arsenal look good. (Then again, so are we…)
In fact, the only sides I’ve seen this year that seem to not face “banana skins” or run into the above problems are the two Manchester sides.
[typography font=”PT Sans” size=”20″ size_format=”px” color=”#222222[/linequote]When I look at what Parker, King, Friedel, BAE, Walker, Kaboul, Modric, Livermore, Bale, van der Vaart, Lennon and Adebayor have done this season, it seems an insult to call what they have done “underperforming”.[/typography]
So I don’t think Spurs are pre-programmed to muck it up in a way that “it wouldn’t be Spurs” any more than nearly any other club in the PL are. And, in fact, saying “it wouldn’t be Spurs,” to me, suggests that we lack a finishing touch, that we’re underperforming.
When I look at what Parker, King, Friedel, BAE, Walker, Kaboul, Modric, Livermore, Bale, van der Vaart, Lennon and Adebayor have done this season, it seems an insult to call what they have done “underperforming”. In order to look good, but then fuck it up, it means that, like the hare against the tortoise, they took their eye off the ball and, again, underperformed.
I’m not saying they’re overperforming, either. I think they are playing at the level they are playing. No one is loafing on the pitch, at least not as much as I can tell from my postage-stamp sized little window in Chrome.
So to say “it wouldn’t be Spurs” if they didn’t fuck this up suggests a level of moral want. A lack of drive. Some kind of decadent arrogance that lets them come up short despite talents in abundance.
The club’s efforts over the past half-decade to overcome the Sky branding of “not really sh*t, but not that great either” have been, in my view, somewhat successful. It has been part of a process (a process that takes time) that will let them look back on that Sky branding and laugh. First it was breaking back into Europe. Then a cup. Then fourth. Now (hopefully) third and a deep FA Cup run. Next? a title run? Solidifying a position in the CL? More? Hard for those in the know to call us “not really sh*t, but not that great either” when we stare down the table at the Sky-anointed giants of English football.
And yet, even as we shed the sh*t sobriquet, I still hear “it wouldn’t be Spurs”. Which leads me to the second reason why the expression gets my goat:
On Saturday, after Koscielny brilliantly put Liverpool up by a goal, my (non-Spurs) TL, which includes many non-UK journalists/bloggers who all seem to be Gooners, blew up with the rankest self-pity imaginable. Waah, waah. It begins again! This is the Arsenal we have been expecting all along! Last week was a fluke! Wenger out! I quickly grabbed and threw my laundry in the way of the timeline, knowing that the alkaline tears of the tweeting Gooners would render my undershirts white anew.
And what stuck was the repeated phrase of “It wouldn’t be Arsenal,” although voiced differently. These Gooners start sobbing after an own goal, completely forgetting their famous victory the week before which sealed their winning the League and the CL this season. And the idea of Spurs fans, in a position like these Gooners, whining in the same way, just made me sick.
When we say, “It wouldn’t be Spurs”, aren’t we just doing the same thing?
It’s football. Swings and roundabouts. If it didn’t hurt when it was bad, it wouldn’t make you want to throw yourself in front of a train when it was good, right?
But Spurs aren’t programmed to always fuck it up: KNOW YOUR HISTORY. And we have a future looking deliriously grand in the “won’t f*ck it up” department.
It wouldn’t be Spurs if I didn’t love it.