the spiel

This is addictive. I’m not sure that’s a good thing, because there will inevitably come a time where I can’t get a fix. But what a beautiful high. As I count my blessings on a scab train heading south I feel the tiredness seeping through my body. The swoosh of adrenaline fades but the memories will remain.

I can’t be doing with a traditional match report this evening. Bale is a freak. Modric in the last few games has become a midfield lynchpin. Simple graceful turns and feints, linking and connecting, give and go. Push and run. Lennon was of course our second best winger by a country mile and yet he gave Chivu and co a torrid time. Kaboul and Tottenham hero (they all are tonight) William Gallas were solid and disciplined. Huddlestone kept the shape beautifully when Inter attacked and distributed the ball calmly and efficiently when we won it back. Vfondevfoort scored at home. Apparently the stadium falls down if he ever registers a blank, but don’t worry it won’t happen. Alan Hutton didn’t do enough wrong to ruin it, thank you Alan. He was the best right back on the night. I’d love to see him up against Bale in training.

But you know all this. You know what this meant tonight. All of Europe watching and – as with every game so far in this tortuous torturous group stage – we were glorious entertainment. Every neutral – and even lots of those who don’t like Tottenham (or perhaps more to the point don’t like the fans) seems to be loving our big adventure this year. We are a breath of fresh air, an English team not bored to death by a slow waltz through the opening six games, and not willing (or able) to bore everyone to death on our way.

I think I’ve made it pretty clear I’m not Redknapp’s greatest fan in many respects but listening to his post match interview (enjoy them while you can – like he could stay away) you realised what a good fit he is for this club in so many ways. Emotional nearly to the point of tears, blown away by the knowledge that a team of his had gone out and put on a performance that will be remembered for years. For me, tonight was not about ‘beating the European champions’ or ‘showing we’ve arrived’, although it’s nice to dwell on those points.

It was about putting on a hell of a show and about a link to our past. On the way back I was talking to Gilly, a fan who’s WHL memories go all the way back to the 60’s. The joy she felt was not just about being there for a fantastic performance, it was about seeing a team live up to what we all love to think Tottenham can be. What we all know they can be, even though we know they hardly ever are. 1961 was a long time ago, as gooners love to point out. We know that more than anyone. That’s kind of the point. I know the emotions that the respected elders of the Tottenham clan must have felt last night – Gilly, the Oogfather, thousands of others, and for one night and perhaps one night only, this current crop – of the silly premiership muppet age – were able to give the faithful a thrill that harks back to a long gone time and will itself echo down through the years. This is why we love Tottenham. Not because they actually give you nights like this very often, but because it’s the spiel we all fell for in the first place. Some of us have seen it before, some of us for the very first time, but it’s inside every one of us.

Otherwise we’d support Chelsea.

Enough blarney. Three players deserve special mention.

Assou-Ekotto. His best performance in a Spurs shirt. It’s a measure of how far we’ve come that one of our three ‘weak links’ is also one of the best left backs in the premiership. A self declared mercenary he may be, but it was a nice touch to throw his shirt into the crowd at the end. I guess he knows it means everything to us even if it means not that much to him.

Cudicini. This blog is not afraid to admit when it’s wrong. Finished? Being a fan is all about making snap judgements, and Cudicini did everything he needed to do in a match that must have had special resonance for someone who grew up with an AC Milan legend as his dad. Thank you Carlo. Sorry Carlo.

Bale had a pretty good game. Oh ok, the man is a phenomenon. Tonight was supernova hyperbale. Forgive the hyperbale. To think people questioned Harry’s tactical acumen at the outset of this competition. He had a masterplan all along. Get ball. Give Bale. Goal. It’s a pretty simple game really, or it is when you have someone who can do something clearly very very hard – control the ball at full pace and still deliver quality ball after quality ball – so seemingly effortlessly. Maicon was Bale’s bunny and at times it felt like having Jonah Lomu in our team. It’s almost cheating.

Ok, back to reality. Can we make this the template for the rest of the season? Not that I think we can always perform this well, but from now on if we get beat I want it to be how Chelsea or Man Utd get beat – hearts in mouths for the opposition fans, taking it to the wire, never accepting we’re anything less than a team that can operate at the highest level. What a glorious, ridiculous thing it is to be a Tottenham fan, more confident we can beat the champions of Europe than get a result at Bolton.

Actually, sod ‘back to reality’. Last night was reality. I think I’m gonna cry.



14 responses to “the spiel

  1. An incredible night for all spurs fans .The kind of game we have been dreaming about for decades.

    Other than the obvious heroes I thought Cudicini and Kaboul were immense.

    Hutton is the greatest Scottish player of his generation……….

  2. Again……quality!

  3. Great post oog..totally agree on all levels. Sadly I couldnt get tickets to the game and my missus kicked me out the house last nite cos she said i scare the cat. So met the guys at the local, and what a nite. The drinking the singing the whole shabang!….The thing thats makes me proud to be a supporter, is when we SING!!!…Er mmm..GLOOORRRY GLORY TOTTENHAM HOOOTSPUR…..

  4. What a night. The stuff of legend!

  5. Love it. Well said. It almost feels like cheating with Bale in your team. The moment among moments that sticks in my mind is when he spun and tricked his way out of defence in the first half with Benny and our flank under pressure from Biabiany and some Brazilian right back I’ve never heard of.

    From where I was sitting, I totally agree that Kaboul was immense. I think we expect that kind of performance from Gallas because we’ve seen him do it for other teams but it was another exciting glimpse of Younes who has showed that he’s got the energy, strength and commitment to play at the top. If he continues to cut the errors out of his game, or at least make amends every time he does, then that might make one less centre half we have to buy at the next window.

    Also, I have to say, spare a thought for…

    King Ledley and Safety First for not being able to feature in any of these games. They’re the rocks that got us here and they’ve been such fantastic servants. It must be gut wrenching for them not to get a taste of this big time that they earned so bravely.

    Peter Crouch because we don’t sing for him. As occasionally frustrating as he can be and as much as we might rather have Eto’o playing for us, we have built the team and our style of play around him. He makes it easy for Bale and Van der Vaart to do the rest.

    Luka Modric because he’s lost the lime light since FDF arrived and that first goal was as much his as it was the Dutchman’s.

    My dad because he idiotically made an arrangement last night that he couldn’t get out of and didn’t even get to watch it on TV.

    Thanks again, Oog. Lovely words.
    The Bagel.

  6. I’ve been a season ticket holder for 10 years, and prior to that an occasional WHL attendee dating back 27 years. Last night was, without any question, the best performance I’ve seen from any Tottenham team in all that time.

    Clearly, Bale stood out (more on him in a minute), but right through the team, they all played well. My personal stars were Luka and the Man Mountain.

    The evening started for me just enjoying the very spectacle of Inter playing at WHL – it developed with me realising that we weren’t just matching them, we were outplaying them (1st half possession stats: Spurs 52%/Inter48%), and finished with the realisation we’d all witnessed something special.

    I hate to do it – but a note of caution (and a dig at Rafa Benitez) to finish with. Provided we do, now as expected, qualify for the later stages of the tournament, we are going to come up against greater levels of tactical expertise. Look at the Bale/Maicon matchup: in the 2nd half at the San Siro, it was patently clear to most observers that Bale had the measure of Maicon. Why on earth did Benitez send out a team at WHL with exactly the same game plan to deal with our Welsh Wonder? Especially when Harry, in the buildup, admitted that Bale might not get the same freedom as Inter would no doubt double up on him. Crazy management – can you really see Mourinho making the same mistake?

    That said: COYS!

  7. oog, great post and great game. Beuatifully written and beautifully played.
    You are so right about us Spurs fans falling for the impossible dream / fairy tale that hooks into you. But fuck my old boots, sometimes it comes true.

    Last nights performance should keep us all going, at least until we shuffle off this mortal coil.

  8. Bagel, I totally agree about King and Dawson. Looking further ahead, this has to be the beginning of the end for Ledley. We now have an established old head in Billy Gallas, a guy who’s already come of age – Daws – and another who looks like he is in the process of doing so – Younes. Add Bassong to the mix as back up, and its hard to see how King can be anything other than a hindrance to the development of at least two of those guys. Its sad, and I hope that King can be accepting of it, but we have got to the point where perhaps we don’t need to rely on him coming to the rescue. He is and always will be a Tottenham hero, and he’s still the best defender at the club (to say the least) but there are other issues to consider.

    Modric is now one of the big Tottenham three. VDV and GB being the others. There are a whole host of fabulous players just behind them , and I think Tom H is one who can still get up there. England’s best passer. Can he find a role in the national team or is he destined to be mistrusted like Hoddle. Not that he’s up at that level yet!

    Finally, and this is probably just one for Dave, who is horny for shoes – football boot porn :

    (not really porn)

  9. enjoy everyone!!

  10. I enjoyed reading your blog on what last night’s victory meant to you.

    Having seen over 2,000 matches at White Hart Lane since 1943, I can say that last night was definitely one of the best nights I’ve ever had at Spurs. What I loved about it, apart from the great perfromance, was our fans. Sitting in my seat in the West Stand and looking around at the crowd it was a joy to watch and listen to the supporters singing about their love for Tottenham Hotspur! It was a magical night, like the communal gatherings from the days of old – 35,000 signing “Oh When the Spurs, Go Marchin In” – all singing about their love for Tottenham Hotspur, singing from the heart like we did in 1961 against Gornik.

    I will always love Tottenham Hotspur more than I hate Arsenal. I can’t be bothered with these chants about hating the enemy. For me it’s about singing like a choir and last night the fans were singing from the same hymn sheet. We were all Spurs together, showing the love in our hearts for our Tottenham Hotspur. A love that will last until our last breath. A magical night and one I’ll never forget.

  11. “I know the emotions that the respected elders of the Tottenham clan must have felt last night – Gilly, the Oogfather, thousands of others, and for one night and perhaps one night only, this current crop – of the silly premiership muppet age – were able to give the faithful a thrill that harks back to a long gone time and will itself echo down through the years. This is why we love Tottenham.”

    Yes, Oog, with the sure touch of the editor of a local paper whose editorial policy is to mention the readers by name, you know how to reel the old man in.

    And you are right of course in a way that is slightly uncanny, or even – to use a term which seems to reflect the aesthetic interests of so many footballers confronted with a microphone – surreal.

    I can’t get Sky at home, so usually when there is a Tottenham game, I invite myself round to oogbruder or to a pal who lives locally. Last night oogbruder was not around and my pal’s Sky had temporarily fallen in. So he and I went to a pub in Morningside which has three screens of which two were showing the Rangers game. However there was a small corner of this foreign field which I hoped might at least for the evening be forever Tottenham.

    My pal likes good football but is basically a St. Johnstone man. So the Tottenham support consisted of me and two other guys. The sound from the Lane was switched off so that all we could hear were the crowd noises from Valencia. It is hard to get the buzz of a game like last night’s if you can’t hear it. When Eto’o scored that fantastic goal I expected panic to set in. My pal said “Cheer up. You are still leading the European Chamions in a Champions Leauge game which you must never have expected to see”.

    Then I saw Gareth Bale embarkon yet another of his trademark runs. “Yes” I said with a mixture of hope and belief, “ and something always happens when Bale is on the ball. A moment later I’m looking at the pictures of Bale being congratulated by his team-mates and imagining the chants of “Bale!” which must have been echoing round the Lane and which Morris must have been enjoying. And as I imagined this sound, I could imagine the features of Gareth Bale morphing into those of Cyril Knowles. Nice one, Gareth, nice one, son!

    Exactly how good is Bale? Will we keep him for at least a couple of years? How far can we go in the Champions Leauge? Can we put a run together in the League? Time will answer these questions. But last night time stood still.

  12. Goodness me oog!!! Mr Morris Keston is reading your blog.

    Best regards Mr Keston. I salute your devotion to the cause and your longevity. For you to say that Tuesday night was one of the best clearly illustrtates what a night it was.
    And while I’m at it, a tribute to the Morningside 3. I guess the Gers fans still haven’t forgiven us for 1962 at Ibrox? Perhaps Oogfather and Mr Keston was there?

  13. Can’t speak for Morris, HY, but I fear I wasn’t there. It was approaching the end of my first term at St. Andrews Uni. and it would have been quite impossible to get back to St. Andrews after the game. So I would have had to miss my very first end-of-term exam. But I remember going to the Mens’ Union (quaintly the Unions were still segregated) later the next day to read all the reports.

  14. Catriona Farrell

    Great blog, written with such passion!

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