Saturday, 12 March 2011
The ten greatest moments of my Spurs supporting life - No. 5
5) Spurs 2 - Chelsea 1
White Hart Lane
Spurs Scorers: Dawson, Lennon
It's rather pathetic and perhaps even a little embarrassing that this regulation league fixture ranks so highly. It isn't a tale of glory, rather the full stop (or exclamation mark) at the end of a tale of woe.
Our litany of fuck-ups against Chelsea had become an embarrassment, frankly. Just fucking tortuous. It was like we were being punished for something, but I couldn't remember what. Being shit, presumably.
Going into this game it had been 32 league games and 16 ghastly years since we'd taken three points off Chelsea. There were people in full time employment who had never seen us beat them.
I'd given up. It had all become too painful and too predictable. And when Claude 'goal machine' Makelele opened the scoring after 15 minutes it seemed certain that the game would follow a familiar pattern.
It was November 5th. A Sunday. The match was live on Sky. And I was monumentally fucked off.
One of my daughter's needed a lift somewhere so I volunteered. I'd seen this show before, far too many times, and it didn't have a happy ending.
I only switched the radio to 5 Live on the way home. Just to check on the extent of the damage, you understand.
The crowd was loud. Too loud for it to be them making all the noise. Why are we making so much noise? What's happened? We haven't, have we? We have. Fuck.
Then it got really painful. We could get a point here. As every football fan knows, it's not the despair that kills you, it's the hope. Horrible, horrible hope.
I got home and put the TV. Almost straight away, Robbie Keane made their full back fall over, crossed and Lennon scored. Beautiful, brilliant Aaron Lennon.
Fuck. This is terrible. We might well get a point now, but it'll feel terrible, like a defeat.
Then Terry gets sent off. Not entirely sure what for. Hmmm, now they'll get a point and it'll be 'heroic'. They'll all mention 'JT' in the post match interviews. Fuck. ('JT' and 'Lamps' are the two most unpalatable words in football, surely).
I couldn't watch anymore. I grabbed my iPod, put my coat on and went for a walk. Honestly. I was getting texts from a few friends. They were excited. Fucking idiots. I replied to one. My friend Ron. I told him I couldn't watch, that I was walking round in the cold listening to the Manic Street Preachers. The Intense Humming of Evil, probably. Or 'Chelsea's theme tune', as I like to call it.
Ron agreed to text me only if anything happened. If anything happened. Please God don't let anything happen. Let the game achieve some sort of transcendental state of nothingness. Happening but not actually existing. Or existing but not actually happening. Or, y'know, two banks of four, whatever's easiest.
I wrapped my hand round my phone in my pocket. If it didn't vibrate, we'd be fine. The 90 minutes must have been up by now. Every second that passed cranked up the level of pain the equaliser would bring. At a conscious level, that was all I could think about it.
Subconsciously, of course, I must have been thinking, this is it. Finally. Surely. Please. All the pain will end soon. Today's pain, the last 16 years of pain (it seemed that long). The counter would be set back to zero. It would be no games since we'd beaten them. We'd be almost like a normal team again.
My phone vibrated. "It's over". For just a second I thought, is there a tiny chance he means the dream? The possibility of beating them? Does he mean stop hoping, we've fucked it up again, "it's over". No, he can't mean that. The phone vibrated again. It was ringing this time. Another friend, Graham. He was shouting. Happy shouting. Unintelligible ecstatic shouting. Not the sound of a man gloomily reflecting on our dream being over.
I ran home. My wife and daughters, not great football fans, but huge fans of me not killing myself, were actually there to greet me at the door. Great big grins on their faces.
Three point lane? Fuck the fuck off.
Since then, we've done fine against them. Can't win at Stamford Bridge, of course, but in the last five at WHL we've won three, drawn two. And that's why this game was so huge. It ended an ear of unadulterated misery and smashed down a crippling psychological barrier.
Are we now their bogey team? Nah, of course not, but we're not their fucking doormat any more - and this was the game that set us free.
(Here's some Fanzone footage that includes the main highlights. Fair play to the Chelsea lad, his little glances to camera when our fella's going nuts are absolutely priceless)