Peter Garnett who was born in 1957 and chose Spurs by his on free will explains why watching Dnipro in the Europa League with 1882 was like being cast back in time to one of the ‘glory glory’ nights of yore.
As I cycled back from the game against Dnipro, to my home in Marylebone, central London, this Frankie Valli song “oh what a night” was a brain worm, rolling around my head in that frequently annoying way that most can identify with, it had been a particularly memorable night for many reasons, perhaps to explain this best I should really start from the beginning.
I have been a fan of Spurs since the mid sixties, not quite old enough to ‘be there’ when we won the double but I distinctly recall that specific part of our glorious history being a contributory factor when I chose to follow this illustrious team as a young man of 7 or 8, I was born in ’57, unburdened, if that is the appropriate term, by having previous generations of my family supporting the club, it was an entirely free choice.
Since then there have been times of unbridled joy, winning multiple cups in domestic and European competitions, also periods of major disappointment, relegation, just the once but traumatic nevertheless, losses at key points in various campaigns and possibly the biggest of all, qualifying by right for the holy grail of modern club football, champion’s league, only to watch Chelsea overturn the collective footballing strengths of Barca and Bayern Munich to rip the place from our hard earned grasp.
Back around the turn of the millennium I met a Japanese woman, Tomoyo, not previously a fan of football, at all, I introduced her to the game and also to my particular passion, Tottenham Hotspur, since then she has become a passionate supporter in her own right, I don’t necessarily agree with all of her opinions but we remain close friends, watching all of our games, whether that is on TV, from the comfort of a local hostelry (pub), via the freedoms that the internet now affords us, or, very occasionally, at the focus of the most relevant of our common interests, White Hart Lane.
Some weeks ago she bought tickets for the match, three in total, two were together, in the west lower, close to the half way line, and one, for me, in block 35 behind the goal of the park lane, she asked for my ticket to be on paper as I am not a member, as things transpired the ticket office messed things up a bit, the paper ticket that arrived was, in fact, one of the west lower seats that had been bought for her and the other of our party, Steve, another Spurs’ fan of similar duration to me.
There have been times of unbridled joy, winning multiple cups in both domestic and European competitions, followed by periods of major disappointment, relegation and losses at key points in various campaigns
This was the cause of (not inconsiderable) consternation for her on the night as the upshot of this cock up was that I had to try and get into the stadium using her bronze membership card and Steve’s mobile smart phone which had the details of the row and seat numbers which the bronze card was entitled to.
Whilst we both missed the opening minutes of the game I made my way to the seat to find everyone in the area standing, not a problem for me at all because I’m old school, frankly I prefer it, so much has changed in modern times, and not necessarily for the better, I had a warm fuzzy feeling, a bit like being cast back in time to one of the ‘glory glory’ nights of yore. Not that I’d ever been to one before, just that I was on the threshold of something special.
The first half was relatively inconsequential on the pitch, in the stand things were rather different to the normal experience of my all too rare trips to the Lane, the crowd around me never stopped singing, and not the usual, rather unimaginative stuff which I was familiar with, a peculiar mix of current and historic songs, thanks entirely to a large part of the 1882 movement’s presence, seriously passionate followers of the club, they sing their hearts out, non stop, proudly exhibiting the sort of verve and dedication that the proverbial twelfth man has to show to make a difference.
My enduring memory of that time was the persistent rendition of the ‘Oh when the Spurs…’ anthem which was kept going, at it’s slower pace, for fully five minutes as half time approached, the ref eventually blew for the break at which point it broke into it’s more allegro tempo, dying out only as my fellow spectators departed for refreshment and/or bladder alleviation according to their requirement.
The first half was relatively inconsequential on the pitch, in the stand things were rather different to the normal experience of my all too rare trips to the Lane
A few minutes sat in my seat was speedily interrupted by the crowd as Jermain Defoe was introduced, as if any such introduction was necessary, making his farewells to the assembled faithful. Rousing choruses and rapturous applause ensued and before you really had time to take a breath the second half began.
Within minutes things took a decidedly inopportune turn for the worst when we conceded a particularly sloppy goal to go one down in the match and two down in the tie, the Ukrainian players and crowd were visibly lifted, we now needed three to win with no prospect of extra time, by virtue of the away goals ruling, not that the crowd in my section of the ground let their disappointment be known, on the contrary they seemed galvanised, spectacularly raising the level of their contribution to the game both in volume and intensity, it’d become personal in a way that I’d heard of but never before witnessed.
The growing crescendo wasn’t halted by the disallowing of a goal for us either, they just got louder, more committed to keeping the players’ minds on the job in hand. A goal from Eriksen ratcheting it up a notch, followed by another, fuelled by the sending off of one of the opposition’s players. A second goal sent the spirits through the roof, we were back in it, clearly no respite could be afforded at this point.
On a scale of one to ten this was now an eleven, a spinal tap moment of gargantuan proportion, there was no let up in the incessant barrage of noise coming from the stands urging the players to even greater commitment, mostly up the other end of the pitch, endeavouring to seal their place in the last sixteen, the atmosphere was truly electric.
The crowd in my section of the ground never let their disappointment be known, on the contrary they seemed galvanised, spectacularly raising the level of their contribution to the game both in volume and intensity, it’d become personal in a way that I’d heard of but never before witnessed
The collective effort was finally rewarded as Adebayor skilfully converted his second of the evening to put us into a winning , if slightly vulnerable, position. The crowd erupted, mostly triumphal with tinges of relief, jumping up and down in an ecstatic display, marking the turning point with joyous expressions etched on each and every face present. Any slip up now, a dodgy penalty award or inspired bit of artistry for our opponent would see us fall at the final hurdle, there was no way that we were going to let that happen, would we?
The final minutes of the ninety saw our goal come under increasing pressure but the defensive formation, for the most part, held firm, on the rare occasions that it was breached the imperious goalkeeping of Lloris came to the rescue. Hugo! Hugo!
The crowd were baying as the game approached it’s searing denouement, five minutes of injury time were filled with songs for anyone who hadn’t had a ditty on the night, Fryers, Naughton, even the substitutes, nothing rhymes with Bentaleb! Our voices rang out into the chilly night air as the ref brought proceedings to their victorious conclusion, oh what a night, indeed.
I will take these memories to my inevitable grave and wish to personally thank everyone who was there and made the night so special for me. A veritable ‘glory glory’ spectacular.