“If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same…”So said the cake-making chap, but I make no apologies for the fact that I treat the two rather differently. Almost every Spurs-supporting day of my life has been spent meeting with disaster – cursing or stomping, or at the very least shrugging philosophically. And then for the first 80 minutes last night the priority was just to avoid throwing up, as Tottenham did what Tottenham do and the agony of it all made my stomach fold in on itself.
Today, however, it’s triumph alright, and you can spot the Spurs fans a mile off for the great big beaming grins. Here at AANP Towers it’s taken the best part of 24 hours to float gently back down to earth, a process still not quite complete.
Champions League. Where the world’s best play one-twos, and clubs are given squillions of pounds just for having a half-time break.
Champions League, baby!
Alright, there’s a qualifying whatsit in August, but let’s worry about that later (hell, let’s finish third and remove the qualifier from the equation). Lest you be waiting for some objective assessment and reasoned debate, I might as well point out that it ain’t going to happen, not round these parts. Not today. The mood at AANP Towers is still very much tip-a-bucket-of-ice-cold-water-on-your-boss-and-laugh-at-him-in-yer-underwear.
Playing For A Draw
These are changed times I tell ye. In the last 20 years or so The Tottenham Way™ has been about salvaging ignominy from the jaws of glory, about keeping a loaded pistol close at hand in order to guarantee a means of shooting oneself in the foot at a moment’s notice. This current bunch however, is a different breed. With scant regard for the traditions forged over 20-plus years of false dawns and spectacular implosions, this lot have made a habit of delivering top-notch performances with the pressure on. Slick in possession; razor-sharp on the counter-attack; and organized throughout when not in possession – it’s so good to watch I would support us even if I didn’t support us, if you follow.
Gold Stars and Back-Slaps
Crouch’s well-meaning but often mediocre performances have had the denizens of AANP Towers howling in frustration at various points this season, but last night he ruddy well delivered. Where previously some queried how he managed to snare Abby Clancy, now every Tottenham fan – man, woman and child – openly professes their love for the gangly maestro. With a laudable sense of timing he saved his best performance in a Spurs shirt for our most important game in years, winning nigh on everything that was lobbed up at him (credit too to Defoe, for a determined stab at that whole business of puffing up the chest, sticking out the backside and holding up the ball). There is a fair amount of air-space between Crouch’s quiff and his size fifteens, so whenever he tried to bring down the ball it typically happened in a number of installments, and via various hops and skips and jabbing of his pointy limbs. Yet if a City player tried to interrupt the procedure, he managed to produce another giant appendage, and kept doing this until the ball eventually hit the deck, and one of his chums arrived in support. All that, and the most important goal we’ve scored in years. Peter Crouch, AANP salutes thee.
Modders and Hudd are fast becoming the greatest mismatched double-act since B.A. and Murdock. Neither is exactly a born tackler, but they have managed to turn us into a team that no longer needs a central midfield tackler – which at White Hart Lane is pretty much tantamount to alchemy. They just scurry back in position whenever we lose the ball, and politely refuse entry to any young upstart trying to barge their way through to our penalty area. Once the ball is back in their grasp the fun begins, these two possessing technique and passing constructed from the very DNA of Tottenham Hotspur FC.
At the back, Kaboul’s astonishing flirtation with amazingness continues, while Gomes duly delivered the now customary three world-class saves. I am a tad worried that King and Dawson will imminently be exposed by FIFA as gods, masquerading as mere mortals kicking footballs, and we will be deducted 10 points as a result; but until then I continue to watch in awe, and offer small, symbolic sacrifices by way of thanks.
Mature, disciplined, creative, confident – it sure as hell didn’t resemble many of the Spurs teams I’ve watched over the last couple of decades, and yet now it happens every week, against the best teams in the country. Last night was supposed to be our cue to choke; instead we reached the Champions League. I still can’t quite believe it. Glory Glory Tottenham Hotspur.
Talk Champions League With Gary Mabbutt!
Apologies for the shameless plug, but Saturday is the last chance to catch Gary Mabbutt signing copies of Spurs’ Cult Heroes. Previous sessions have indicated that the man is a true gent, and more than happy to stop and talk Tottenham with the fans. The session begins at 1pm, at Waterstones Walthamstow (26 Selborne Walk, London E17 7JR).
Spurs’ Cult Heroes, is now available in the Spurs shop, and online (at Tottenhamhotspur.com, as well as WHSmith, Amazon , Tesco, Waterstones and Play). You can become a Facebook fan of Spurs’ Cult Heroes and AANP here, follow on Twitter here