I'm afraid I think it's my fault. I
mean, it has to be someone's fault. There is no effect without
cause, and the fact is that I'm doomed, and everything I touch is
doomed. This season has been one of the most painful - perhaps
the most painful - since Tel's last season, when a very poor Scum
side beat us in the FA Cup Semi at Wembley, and possibly the last
time before this season that a Spurs side showed so much promise and
ended up with nothing.
What an odd season, though.
England's summer in Portugal set the tone. So much promise.
So much disappointment. Our capitulation to France in the last few minutes. A
certain central defender having a late winner disallowed against
Portugal. (Now, the last time that happened to him in a major
tournament, he was a Spurs player, and I was doubly gutted. This
time, I was gutted for England, but glad that it happened to him.
Hurts, doesn't it, Sol, when you feel that you've been cheated ?) Postiga
scoring. What was that all about? The mystery of penalties.
Another drunken walk back home thinking what could have been,
starving hungry, all the takeaways shut except for the drive-thru at
McDonalds. The wife and I probably got some odd looks as we stood
patiently in line between a Honda Civic and a Mini, but we were too
drunk and hungry to care.
Like most close seasons at Spurs, the
disappointment of the previous season gave way to hope. A new
manager. A team-full of new signings. This could be the
year. I doubted it, but I wondered...
I don't get up to the Lane much, coming
from the swamp-lands that separate Southampton from Portsmouth, but
me and a couple of mates got tickets to the opening game against
Liverpool. Ten minutes before kick off we looked down on the
pitch, looked at each other, and it was like, where did last season's
team go ? Can you imagine how confused someone who hadn't seen a
paper all summer would have been. Where's Keller, where's Carr,
where's Gardner, oh thank **** for that, Taricco's not playing ... A
well earned draw in the sunshine, a cracking atmosphere, a great
goal from Defoe, and if you'd said to me, one of those teams will go on
to be champions of Europe this season (well, I wouldn't have believed
you, being honest, but we looked as good as they did, easily).
Sadly, that being a twelve o-clock kick
off, and it being a nice hot day, I don't remember much about it.
At one a.m. the next morning the guard woke us up at Poole, the
last stop on the line. As if football isn't expensive enough
already, the taxi back to the swamp-lands cost us sixty quid.
And my wife left me.
Under Santini, things got steadily worse.
A home draw against Norwich. A narrow defeat to Pompey. My
wife came back. Arsenal looked like they might win the league yet
again. I got to see the narrow defeat against Man U.
The atmosphere seemed a bit muted. The performance was dull but
steady. Would you swap a close 0-1 defeat by a dodgy penalty for
being three up at half time and losing by two goals ? It doesn't
matter, really. A defeat's a defeat. But for the money that
day cost me, Spurs didn't do much to entertain me. And
another twelve o'clock kick off. This time we woke up in Fareham. The
taxi back was only a tenner.
The death of Sir Bill. Pouring down
with rain. Defeat at home to Bolton. Sometimes it's
like Spurs are an old dog and someone's just kicking it over and over.
I didn't go to the game, but I sat in front of my computer listening to
the web link like the sad useless moron I am, and thought of everyone at
the game having to file out into the downpour, taking nothing but
frustration with them. Why do we do it to ourselves ? I have
The arrival of Martin Jol Jol Jol.
We got up to see the reverse against the Scum. What a strange
game. What abysmal defending from us. What great
attacking by us. Why do Scum fans only sing when they've got a two
goal lead ? Each time we got within a goal of them, they all
went graveyard quiet. Why did we gift them so many goals ?
Why wasn't Henry flagged offside for the first goal ? We should
have had a free kick on the edge of our area moments before that as
well, after Reyes pulled one of our players back or dived to try and get
a penalty but got away without being booked (it was one of the two, I
can't remember now), but oh no, the ref played advantage (to us, on
the edge of our area, nice one, ta) our move broke up, they
equalised. One one at half time. It was going from bad to
worse: Robinson's throw out that hit King and led to the
penalty. Twenty five missed tackles on Vieira for the third.
That's why we're the champions, sang the Scum. Why ?
Because everyone gifts you stupid goals after they've outplayed you
? Defoe's screamer. So many memories. So much Stella
Artois. So depressed. So hopeful. And we woke up at
the right station. I finished the night with a kebab and a big
slobbery kiss for the missus. She said she wished I'd woke up
Then came a disgraceful display against
Aston Villa. I watched it on the TV around my mate's house.
Utterly woeful. Were we going down ? Where would the next
win come from ? Er, I can't remember who we beat next, but other
than the criminal loss to a very young Liverpool side in the Worthington
(is it still called that ?), we went on a good run that, I think, ended
the next time I got to the Lane to see us get beat by Chelsea. My
mate bought his brother a ticket as an Xmas present and we both got
tickets as well. Another twelve o'clock kick off. A close
game, they probably didn't deserve to win it, it wasn't a penalty, but a
great atmosphere, we had a real go at them, and, as we were in the bit
just below where the old shelf used to be, we got to stand the whole
game. Brilliant day. Not for my mate, though. He'd paid for
two tickets. Then he put quite a big bet on Spurs to win. He
was quite a lot of money down. He tried to win it back by betting
quite a lot more on Scum to beat Bolton away. Bolton won.
The day had cost him hundreds. And just to top his day off, we got
so drunk in London Town he forgot his last train left at ten and had to
sleep at the station, after having a massive row with his other half on
his mobile and then falling out with his brother. I sat watching
all this unfold and wondered what we'd done in a previous life to
deserve this. Not just me and my mate and his brother. All
Spurs fans. Everywhere. Life stinks.
Was it before or after this that Mendes
scored from the halfway line ? So much Stella. So many
disappointments. So hard to remember. I was proud of the way
the players and the manager reacted to that. Can you imagine if
Man U had "scored" that goal. Or the Scum ?
The world would have come to an end. It was nice to see us just
shrug and admit we were happy with the draw. As for Fergie's insistence
that his side were denied a penalty straight after, well, do you think
that had our "goal" been allowed we'd have let them get
in that position straight from the restart, with just under a minute to
go ? Well, probably. In fact, knowing Spurs, we'd have most
likely lost the game by conceding two or three goals in a matter of
And no, I never thought those two points
would cost us a place in Europe. What cost us a place in Europe
was this: home draws against Norwich and Palace and West Brom
(six points dropped); away defeats to Southampton, Palace and
Fulham (nine points dropped). Had Spurs won these massively
winnable games, we'd have had sixty seven points, and would have
finished the season in fourth, two points clear of Everton, who we beat
at Goodison and thrashed when they came to the Lane.
The rest of the season stuttered after
the Chelsea game. Some close wins against teams we should have
stuffed in the FA Cup, a stupid loss at St Mary's, and then a great
performance at St James' Park where we should have had a draw at least.
I knew we were going to lose. I'd got back that day from a week's
skiing in Italy, and the slopes that were open had been an ice rink.
It was just the way my life was going at the time. I sat stone
cold sober all alone in front of the widescreen and listened to
commentators talk the usual garbage about what a great pro Shearer was
and how he deserved to win the Cup for Newcastle's great fans (who our
fans, from the sounds of the telly, sang off the park). (There
should be a button you can press that allows you to turn the
commentators off and just listen to the crowd, or maybe have one bloke
talking and he's only allowed to say the name of the player who's
on the ball. Wouldn't that be better than the utter crap most of
them talk ?)
The Newcastle game was sad for two
reasons. We were out. And whatever happened to Stephen Carr
? I was sorry to hear him booed. I'm not sure I would have
booed had I been there. He was a good servant to us, but his heart seemed
to leave the club when a certain player went glory hunting with the
Scum on a self serving Bosman. Injury or motivation, he never
seemed the same player as the one who was one of the few shining lights
of the Gunner Graham era. When I saw him make a mistake to concede
a late goal in Newcastle's UEFA Cup final defeat, I thought, well Steve,
you got the stab at European glory you left us for, and you weren't
quite up to the job, mate, were you ? Harsh ? I don't know.
He was a very good player once, but too much finger jabbing and
shrugging over the past couple of years makes me feel glad we finished
above Newcastle. There have been too many players at Spurs over
the years who have tried to move on to better things without seeming to
question the part they've played in Spurs not being good enough to
provide them with the stage they think they deserve. Carr epitomised
that for me. A sad parting of the ways.
A hollow league victory over Newcastle. A
flirt with qualifying for Europe that culminated with the great win
over Villa at the Lane. Now this utterly sums up my life.
It's on pay-per-view. I pay to watch it. I sit down to watch
it. About a minute in, the picture goes from a sunny, buzzing
White Hart Lane, to the entrance of some community centre.
There are a couple of old biddies standing outside it as if they're
waiting to greet someone. They're mumbling and there's a few
coughs and I can hear bird-song. What the **** is going on ?
I switch over. I switch back on. Still the community
centre. Minutes pass. I think about kicking the telly, but
it cost a grand, and the wife would kick me if she saw me abuse a
material object. I resort to standing in my living room hitting my
head with the remote control and screaming at the general insanity of my
life when the picture goes back to White Hart Lane as Keane jumped on
Kanoute's back after maybe the most interesting sixty seconds of our
season - a possible penalty against us not awarded (and how often does
that happen ?) with a lightning break up-field for a Kanoute goal (and
how often does that happen ?). Typical.
So we're in the driving seat for Europe.
For a week. I knew that we'd lose to Boro. And I knew the
last day would end in disappointment. Typically, the wife had
planned a weekend away for us that carried a three line whip, and I was
marooned with non football watching relatives on the final Sunday.
I avoided the scores and watched MOTD "blind" to see Saints
relegated and Spurs fall flat. I did watch Fowler line up for the
penalty against Boro with my head in my hands thinking, City are going
to win, and we're going to fall a couple of goals short of Europe
because we couldn't beat Blackburn at home. I was almost relieved
when he missed it, but what if this happens ? Liverpool go into
the Champions League, City take their place in the UEFA, Spurs miss out
on Europe not by a point, but a couple of goals, but win
through in the Fair Play draw, only to be told that England's place in
the Fair Play draw has been withdrawn to compensate some other country
for the loss of their Champions League place to Liverpool. Remember
you heard it hear first.
So there goes another season.
Good and bad and indifferent all rolled into one. Goodbye to Sir
Bill. Good riddance to Santini. Farewell Simon Davies.
Not sure what I feel about that one. He frustrated me when he was
on the ball, but he could be exciting and he will get better than
he has been for us. He seemed happy at the club. He seemed
to like Spurs. He didn't cause any trouble (that I know of).
He was a very good pro. Now he plays for one of our rivals for a
place in Europe. It looks like Keano's on his way as well.
Again, I feel very mixed. Had he scored quite easy headers
against Chelsea at the Bridge and the Scum at the Library, we'd be
in Europe now, four points better off, but you can't score them all and
I remember his goal against Brighton in the FA Cup, and there were
plenty of times when Robbie made the difference. If he goes, I
hope it's to Celtic, and I hope he wins a shed-load up there. He's
a very skilful player and he's been great for us, but he's one of those
who scores hard ones and misses easy ones, and too often his goals
come in bunches and then dry up. I'd still like to see him stay,
though. If I could sell on anyone, it would be Kanoute. The
bloke has so much natural talent, and if he applied it, he could be up
there with Henry. For some reason, he just doesn't seem to want
it. Who would I want to see in his place ? I
have no idea. I'm a drunkard football fan, not a Premiership
manager. It's up to Jol to decide what I want. Whatever
happens, whoever leaves and whoever goes, this time next season, I'll be
a year closer to the coffin (or in it, nothing's certain) and Spurs will
still be Spurs. Whether that's a successful Spurs or a
disappointing Spurs remains to be seen, but if you know your history,
it's not enough to make your heart go ... , it's enough to tell you that
all of our managers since Venables have followed up promising first
seasons with disappointing second ones. That's the way Spurs are.
(Venables on the other hand, was crap from day one - I still remember
standing in the rain at Port Vale, wondering how last years FA Cup
finalists had been turned into this years third round mugs - and didn't
start to look like he could get it right for Spurs until the second half
of the 93 season, just before we sacked him).
Whatever happens, I'll be kissing the
wife goodbye and making my way up from the swamplands three or four
times, drinking too much, caring too much, and waking up in the wrong
Keep the faith? Keep taking the