You can’t start writing about White Hart Lane without thinking about what happened to Fabrice Muamba only a few days before. I was at the game and saw it happen. It was grim, and I’ll never forget it. I approached this game against Stoke philosophically. Whatever happened wouldn’t really matter, not really in the grand scheme of things, not when a player’s life is in the balance… but then the whistle went. And I realised, as much as my mind was with Fabrice, there was enough left to once again become entangled in 90mins of Tottenham Hotspur. I kind of wish there wasn’t. At points I thought the left side of my skull was going to cave in.
I’d imagine being a Spurs fan is slightly different from being a supporter of other teams. Mostly it’s unrivalled agony and heartbreak. Obviously there are moments of joy and delusion, that maybe we’ve turned the corner, maybe this season, after so many false dawns, will be the one when Tottenham’s quality shows through. We know that it won’t, but we hope and believe none-the-less. This season is different in one way, we kept belief until February, rather than giving up all hope in early September.
The problem that most Spurs fans have is that once we start playing well they fall in love with the idea of being successful. It’s those fans who were gloating when we were 10 points ahead of Arsenal. And it’s those fans that expect victories at home against teams like Stoke, despite being well versed in Tottenham tradition. To be fair, they got what they wanted, except the goals. We hit the bar and post, we created plus twenty chances; Stoke were dull and scored a shit goal. But that is what Spurs are about, and really, what Stoke are about.
[typography font=”PT Sans” size=”20″ size_format=”px” color=”#222222[/linequote]Being Spurs is more than living your life vicariously through millionaire football players who, despite what they say on twitter, really don’t care about you.[/typography]
When Cameron Jerome made it 1-0 on 75mins, a tap in from 3 yards, it was a feeling of inevitability rather than injustice. When Van der Vaart scored a sublime header from Bale’s pitch perfect cross from the left it wasn’t jubilation, it was… what we deserved. The celebration was muted in desperation for second goal with all but three minutes to grab it. We didn’t, obviously. It ended 1-1, as Arsenal held on to beat Everton at Goodison. They leapfrogged us into third to finally overhaul the ten-point gap we’d lauded over them for so long. I’ve done my best to avoid them, but the digs are coming through, and another droplet of blood forms on my forehead whenever I read a goading tweet or text message.
It could have been different. We could have easily won last night. And to be fair, Stoke deserve credit. As much as Sky Sports would have you believe it, football isn’t all about wild attacking football, and stupendous goals, the large majority of football is organisation and perspiration. Stoke were dogged like no other team I’ve seen at the Lane this season. They harried, and fought, and blocked our one hundred and forty eight shots at goal, and probably, if I was being extremely generous, deserved their point. But bollocks to being a Stoke fan.
As the game ended I began to ruminate. We’ve got Chelsea away next Saturday, and the Scum are at home to Villa. Depressing though it may sound, we could easily be four points behind them and I’m sure we’ll get dog’s abuse if it does happen, but I don’t really care. Being Spurs is more than living your life vicariously through millionaire football players who, despite what they say on twitter, really don’t care about you. It’s about loving the football club, and the cockerel on the breast. Which is why it’s easy to deal with disappointment, the pain, and obnoxious neighbours, because we’re Tottenham Hotspur and we’re built for misery and live for the hope. It’s the way it is.
There’s nine games left. We could win every one and finish above Arsenal, sign Eden Hazard and win the league next season. We could lose them all and sell Bale, Modric and Van der Vaart and return to mid-table mediocrity that was the mainstay of my adolescent years, but that’s what Spurs is all about, and there’s glory in that.