Only yesterday I wrote that I didn’t know what to expect, and duly listed a bunch of possibilities – a thrashing, a surprise win, a tough draw (thinking more along the saner lines of 1-1 etc). A 2-1 defeat seemed likeliest.
Somehow, though I had readied myself for the unexpected, never in a million years could I have imagined that. I ought to have done – we had enough of those 4-4 draws last season. But still. A forty-yard screamer to get the ball rolling? Yet another ‘mare from our keeper? (Actually, I think we all expected that part). 4-2 down after 89 minutes? Jermaine Jenas – Jermaine Jenas – to deliver one of the goals of the season? And a 94th minute equaliser, to make it 4-4, against our biggest rivals, on their ground?
I’ve tried before – almost ruining my Master’s degree in the process – to articulate the unique magnetism of football. It seems churlish to try again, but what the hell. With one bizarre and completely gripping twist and turn following another, last night’s game had to be experienced live to be fully appreciated – and maybe there’s the rub? It is unscripted and spontaneous. And when Spurs are involved it generally stretches the boundaries of credulity, in a way which would detract from scripted drama. Maybe that’s why there never has been a particuarly good film about football – it’s unscriptedness is its essence.
Even if the above is true, there is undoubtedly far more to it than that – no doubt some bright spark would want to witter on about human involvement, and aesthetics, and other such stuff. However, the unscripted, spontaneous element definitely has something to do with it.
I’ll maintain until my dying day (and my death shall be incurred by over-excitement at a Spurs/Englang match) – football is like women. What’s that? No logic to either of them? I didn’t say that, how dare you. Wash your mouth out and apologise. No, football and women both drive you mad, day after day, week after week, absolutely relentlessly and almost, it seems, deliberately… And then, once or twice a year you get that moment, like Bentley’s lob or Lennon’s equaliser, which makes everything seem worthwhile. It isn’t, but for a few sweet moments you forget and convince yourself it is.
Back to the game. I’ll remember for a long old time my spontaneous leap of amazement that greeted the sight of Bentley’s lob (forty yards!!!) dipping into the net, and good grief I’ll remember the spontaneous, unrestrained multiple air-punch that greeted Lennon’s equaliser. (Equally memorable was the sight and sound of a supposedly neutral colleague gradually warming to Spurs until he too celebrated Lennon’s goal).
Coca-Cola once ran a bunch of posters, showing grown men who ought to know better getting rather carried away at football matches. The line was something along the lines of “One day you will see a goal so beautiful you will want to marry it, move to a small island and live there with it forever.” That’s Bentley’s goal, that is. I want to marry it and have lots of baby wonder-goals with it.