The European Cup was there and before I knew it, it wasn't. Admittedly, alcohol helped expedite the process. I don't know if Tottenham will ever reach the final again in my lifetime. I want to think so, but none of us can be sure.
The kernel of this piece came the day before Tottenham’s first legged Champions League Semi-Final match against Ajax. The ecstasy of the VAR fiasco had finally settled, and the nerves had once again emerged from its dormant state. On paper to the uncritical eye, Tottenham had to be the favorite right? They were the ones bringing hundreds of millions of pounds in revenue and playing in arguably the most competitive and complete league. All the rest of us knew this was not the case; Tottenham limped over the line as they did for a majority of those last two months. What happened next over the following weeks was simultaneously incomprehensible and too familiar; The zenith of the euphoria in Amsterdam and a kick, or hand I suppose, of bad luck in Madrid. Truth be told, I’m still processing it all. I’m sure many of you are as well.
And yet, I’m still drawn back to that day in Amsterdam. Based on our Dutch opponent, it is only reasonable to conjure the image of a Greek myth to help rationalize the feeling of uncertainty and “Spursiness” for lack of a better term that tossed our way. The Greeks of today may play pragmatic and torrid football, but their true trademark is a tragedy. It may be hyperbolic to classify this year as a tragedy, but in romantic and literary ways it feels hard to say otherwise. I will not dwell on that night in Madrid. It is probably not good for my health, and I would never make fellow supporters unwilling recount that day. However, that day, for all its disappointment, was still remarkable and will forever be remembered in the club’s lore. But the feeling of being so close and yet so far is as recognisable to Tottenham fan as a dog to its owner. But I refuse to call it Spursiness; rather, it is Orphic.
Orpheus was the musician and poet of Greek lore who lost his wife Eurydice to the underworld and attempted to bring her back. There’s no need to retell the entire story, but instead, I want to focus on the ending. It is tragic but not in an egregious manner. Instead, it is heartbreaking; something we all can sympathise with.
Orpheus manages to convince Hades and Persephone to allow him to bring Eurydice back to the world of the living on one condition: during the trip back through the underworld, he must not look back at Eurydice or else she will be lost to him forever. Seemingly simple, right? But what happens when you love something so much and want it too much. For Orpheus and Tottenham, the occasion may have gotten the better of them. As Orpheus was ascending the final step up out of the underworld, he had a lapse in concentration. Maybe it was over-excitement. Anxiety? Disbelief? He glanced back…she was gone. He would never have that chance again.
That’s how I felt.
The European Cup was there and before I knew it, it wasn’t. Admittedly, alcohol helped expedite the process. I don’t know if Tottenham will ever reach the final again in my lifetime. I want to think so, but none of us can be sure. Maybe Tottenham, as a whole collective (players, staff, fans) glanced at that two-eared trophies too quickly. But for that brief moment beforehand, it was a wonder. And that is a feeling that will be everlasting, even if it buried underneath the debris of depression and disappointment.
And while this may sound a bit of a downer, there is a resilience in this. Like Orpheus, we went to hell and back and survived. Yes, we didn’t come away with what we went down there for. But we are still around.
Like all great tragedies, this Tottenham Hotspur season will forever be written in the cloth of time for all of those to return to and reminisce about. And frankly, I was happy to be in the audience watching it all unfold. Onto next seasons play, my friends.