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Mental Croats at The Lane: Spurs 4-0 Dinamo Zagreb

Confused.com over here. I have to admit that in all my years I’ve never been to a comfy 4-0 win against a second-rate team, and frankly, at The Lane last night I just didn’t know how to react. Admittedly I’ve only been to dozens rather than hundreds of games, but this was easily the biggest win I’ve seen. It’s different on tv, you have more opportunity for animated discussion with the unfortunate souls who have ended up around you. And no doubt it’s different in the stadium when you’re handing out a thrashing in a massive game, against half-decent opposition (I’m thinking 5-1 vs l’Arse, in case you hadn’t clocked). But 4-0 against some impotent Croats? If I tell you that Zokora and Huddlestone bossed the game you no doubt get the idea, Spurs aficionados that you are. (Nutshell summary of the salient points: Bent’s on form; Hutton and Bale were strangely below-par; foreign teams don’t realise that Lennon is one-footed; Modric again looked alright in the hole; nice to see a debut for wunder-kid Bostock, our youngest ever player, he seems to have a good touch)

Cruising at 2-0 after half an hour, without having to break sweat, there was only one thing for it – some good old-fashioned needle and jingoism between the sets of fans. Admittedly the language barrier threatened to douse the hostilities (for all we knew they might have been chanting tactical advice at their coach, or complimenting us on our shiny blue seats). However, that didn’t stop several thousand middle-aged men from Norf Landaaan reminding them of our nationality, chastising the quality of their support and offering hypotheses regarding their sexual preferences, in between the regular reminders of our own team’s identity. Credit to the Zagreb fans though – they just didn’t stop throughout the 90 mins. No doubt they’d made a day of it in London, and were probably fairly well-sauced by kick-off, but I do enjoy the slightly different, utterly enthusiastic and frankly mental atmosphere created by the away fans on these Uefa Cup nights, when they bring along songs we’ve never heard in languages we don’t understand. By setting off flares, although breaking stadium rules and causing panic for the stewards, the fans injected into the arena the sort of electricity that was beyond their players. By removing their shirts at three or four nil down they confirmed that they were enjoying their night out, irrespective of the imposters on the pitch masquerading as the Croatian league-leaders.

The pièce de résistance however, came as full-time approached. By that time we were in olé mode for each pass, and had lost the will to scream obscenities at our Croatian guests. Instead, in a surreal moment of mutual pacifism that conjures memories of the 1914 Christmas Truce, we joined in with their songs. To hell with the language barrier, the “clap-clap-clap-clap… MAD DANCE” number didn’t require words. That one lasted, again and again, for the last 5 mins of the game and a fair while in the stadium thereafter. I jest ye not, it was the sort of bizarre international camaraderie that Ban Ki-moon would kick his own granny to achieve. Do check it out on youtube or whatever (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIT1f5Syd2A). For my part, while enjoying the mad Croats, I remained confused. We don’t win comfortably, it’s not the Tottenham way. We make heavy work of it, whoever the oppo and whatever the occasion. A 4-0 stroll just leaves me baffled. Confused.com.

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Published in Friday, November 7th, 2008, at 10:05 am, and filed under Spurs news, rants.

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