Thursday, 17 February 2011
The ten greatest moments of my Spurs supporting life - No. 8
8) Man City 0 - Spurs 1
City of Manchester Stadium
Spurs scorer: Crouch
I can't remember the exact maths, but I remember the precise moment.
What I mean is, looking back, I know a draw would have been okay and I don't think a defeat would have actually killed us, but I don't recall the exact equations. Which is odd, because at the time I was thinking about almost nothing else. I was great company that week.
As with AC Milan on Tuesday night though, we went for the win and dismissed as rot all talk of whether we actually 'needed' it or not.
As with AC Milan on Tuesday night Harry told the world (and especially our opponents) that he'd send out a team to 'give it a right good go'.
As with AC Milan on Tuesday night, he was true to his word.
And as with AC Milan on Tuesday night, the boys put in a great performance, deserved to win, with Crouch clinching it late on after good work down the right wing.
You've heard about AC Milan on Tuesday night, right?
The parallels are definitely there and entirely appropriate. You can connect the two nights with a line as straight as little Azza's run from our half to their penalty box.
That evening at Eastlands we went toe-to-toe with our direct rivals for Champions League qualification. We didn't blink, we didn't bottle it and we didn't half play some good stuff.
We absolutely deserved to win, to finish fourth.
And it was/is such a big deal.
I wanted us to fall over the line so badly. Partly, yes, so we could embark on our European adventure, play teams like Inter and Milan. And goodness knows who else. It was part of our progression.
But I also just wanted us to get it done. To stop it being a thing. To stop us never having qualified for the Champions League being a fact, a nasty little fact that the media and other fans used to beat us with. I wanted them to shut the fuck up and for that ugly, undeniable fact to fuck the fuck off.
It was a means to an end, of course it was, it was the ticket to the chocolate factory, but it was also an end in its own right. An end to a fantastic campaign and an end to all that bollocks about us never having played with the big boys.
It's a petty reason, sure. But I'm a petty man. I'm pettier than Tom. And he's Petty.
Crouch's performance that night epitomised his Spurs' career and his relationship with the fans. Harry picked him for the big game. A lot of people weren't so sure. He worked hard, put himself about, looked awkward, missed chances, smiled ruefully, began to frustrate, but never looked for a second like giving up.
Then he fluffed a sitter. A long cross, a free header six yards out, more or less a gimmee, and he manages to hit Shay Given. The entire goal is empty and he manages to pick out the only Martin Fulop-shaped object in the vast expanse of nothingness.
Fucking Crouch. Pav would have scored. Defoe would have scored. Sandra would have scored. Etc.
And then Crouch did score. Then came the moment. It was about three minutes later. The crowd's curses were still in the air, probably still in his ears. And he goes and makes himself a hero. He's an enigma that lad. An enigma wrapped in a riddle trapped in a grow-bag
I watched the game down my (Spurs leaning) local, in a state of heightened tension and advancing inebriation.
Almost exactly a year earlier, a chap called Adam had bullishly bet all non-believers that next season Spurs would qualify for the Champions League. 17 people took him up on it at ten pounds a pop. The landlord wrote all their names down and kept the sheet of paper behind the bar.
At about 10:00 that night, all of the 17 that were there to witness his prophecy come to pass duly paid up. And yes, of course that included me.