As I sit in front of the laptop, concentrating, frantically and bravely fighting the battle between index finger and LiveJasmine pop-ups, something strange is happening in my head & heart, which, for once, has nothing to do with the questionable material on my internet browser.
No, this is something else.
For many years, I’ve hoped, willed and wished for nothing more than for Tottenham Hotspur to be successful. Having put up with the blinkered, glory-hunting, drivel spouted by Woolwich & later from the West London plastics, there were times over the years where I shamelessly ached to be in the same position & would’ve traded anything for a shot at the titles, the trophies, the coveted Champions League. Hell, I got excited over the possibility of finishing in 4th place in the same way I imagine generations of Spurs fans before me got excited over European cup finals.
In an apparent answer to my prayers, along came Ramos.
My heart at the time was in pieces from BMJ’s dismissal. Who I had seen lead a team with the quality & squad depth of a pub outfit to within a whisker of the Champions League. Ramos was introduced to us as the future of our club. The way forward. Here was a man who was going to take us back where we belonged, challenging at the top & playing the stylish, entertaining football we all adore.
And sure enough it wasn’t long before we’d won the Carling Cup. I won’t go into it too much. It’s been blogged to death. A team fed on lettuce for 6 weeks triumphed, credit to Woodgate’s face. Celebrations broke out. Giant awoken. We were back! Champions League? Next year for sure!
2pts 8 games….
Enough to deflate even the most thick-skinned of us. Ramos was dispatched & in his place, ‘Arry “Run around a bit” Redknapp. Things improved. They really improved. Soon enough, we’re there! Champions League qualification! The Holy Grail or promised land for some.
But looking back at it, that for me, was when it really kicked in. This weirdness.
[typography font=”PT Sans” size=”20″ size_format=”px” color=”#222222[/linequote]I’ve experienced some amazing nights down The Lane. Truly magnificent atmospheres. But, truth be told, something’s not been right for a while.[/typography]
Other fans & bloggers have written excellent pieces on the slow death of atmosphere in stadiums, the horrendous abandonment of the fans by their clubs in favour of corporate deals, sponsorships and back-handers. I’ve read some fantastic – and some mind-numbingly deluded – posts on a certain manager’s tactical fallibility. I’ve also trawled through the England distraction, Champions League qualification, Mind The Gap & Relegation threads, pieces & debates online. I do not intend to cash in on a topic whilst it’s hot. Well not intentionally.
No. What I wanted to do was address something slightly different. I’m not interested in the who’s, how’s, why’s or what’s behind the current situation (not only the fall from 3rd place but the experience of ‘supporting’ Spurs altogether) but I am interested in how I’ve been feeling towards my beloved Tottenham the last couple of years.
I’ve experienced some amazing nights down The Lane. Truly magnificent atmospheres. But, truth be told, something’s not been right for a while. Whilst some will argue that I’m overreacting & to look at the recent ‘improvement’ in our standing – I say ‘improvement’ as I for one refuse to use the word ‘success’ for finishing in 4th or 5th place. Watching past greats lift FA Cups, UEFA Cup etc is success, not establishing yourself as a top-end ‘also-ran’. Either way I can’t avoid or ignore this niggling feeling.
Watching Tottenham has and does evoke in me a butterfly slaughtering, guttural, unstoppable rage-worthy passion that I can’t control. I will sit on a train to work & subconsciously a spurs song or chant will start up and I’ll be full voice before noticing I’m singing at all. The cockerel is proudly worn on my arm, etched there forever – I have actually developed a habit of rolling up the left sleeve of any shirt I wear to reveal it, whatever the scenario. I have never & will never leave a game early. I get a full blown hard-on when I see Klinsmann or Mabbutt on TV and I normally erupt whenever I hear the words Oh, A, Goal, What, Debut, His, On, League, Premier, in any particular order.
I do not profess to be a super fan. I don’t believe I am a shining example of how to follow and support your club. I am not some keyboard warrior, who professes to be better than the next fan. In fact I think the opposite. I think that I should represent the bog standard fan. I think that it’s what is so vital to supporting your club, whoever they may be & whoever you may be. Through thick & thin, there’s not a moment that passes in my waking life, and most dreams to, where Spurs aren’t involved, mentioned or thought about. I’ve had dreams where Scott Parker has given me a speeding ticket. I know, but it’s just my dream part of the brain doing its bit – well, it can hardly don a scarf & sing ‘Nicola Berti’.
[typography font=”PT Sans” size=”20″ size_format=”px” color=”#222222[/linequote]I am noticing the very things I hate about other fan bases slowly appearing in our own.[/typography]
And now here we sit with the apparent fork in the road being the outcome of CL qualification or a return to the Mid-Table mire, depending on what school of KneeJerk-ology you adhere to. It’s clear that an almost Emirates-esque cloak of silence is descending upon our once vociferous & raucous ground. Loyalty points potentially only counting if you’ve ignored the club through all the shit, lower table, relegation scraps and conveniently took the time to re-do the decking in the garden whilst the rest of us suffered the heartbreak & sleepless nights over the club potentially folding, but found the time for the team since 2008. Supporters missing out on tickets so that Oscar can take his cousin Quentin to a Premier League game and then sit there bewildered as to whether they should be applauding the team in white or red. And more importantly wondering where are those damn sandwiches he ordered.
I am noticing the very things I hate about other fan bases slowly appearing in our own. The things that make me sick. The lack of passion & support. The unwillingness to pull on the shirt, or anything with a cockerel on, regardless of result & walk around with pride. The apparent inability to sing. The constant derision of the players, the chairman. The fixation on the negative. The fact that when I go to see Spurs – and as of late, even when we’re away – I feel like the odd one out or a mug for even trying to fucking sing & back the lads.
Where’s all this going? What’s it been building up to? Unfortunately it’s no grandstand finish. Just a sad, weirdness that I find myself sitting here with, almost in tears because I could conceivably want our team to miss out Champions League. I would genuinely consider a return to fighting bravely for a Europa League place. Before you shoot me down for not wanting the absolute best for our club all the time, let me explain. I want the real fans, the ones who love the club to re-emerge, given a chance once again to get near the ground & team they adore. I want noise, atmosphere, dedication, passion, blood, sweat, tears, effort, daring & doing. I want to be surrounded at a game, goose bumps all over me, with a support Sir Bill himself would be proud of – even if we’re 3-0 down to Yeovil in a cup tie. I want to be screaming my lungs out. I want to be in that number. I’m done with standing (or should I say sitting?) next to people asking me “who’s number 9?” etc. I’m done with it.
People so very often say that the club you support will be there long after the chairman, manager & players are gone. The badge remains. The legacy lives on. Tottenham Hotspur will always be there.
Thankfully, for me at least, the majority of our newly acquired plastic fans will not be.