My pre-season preparation wasn’t all it should have been this season. My usual identification of the date when the opening day tickets go on sale, somehow got lost in a July maze and as result of this lack of pre season discipline I found myself in unfamiliar territory this week, when Tottenham finally played their game in hand against Everton. Having missed the on-line day of sale for Tottenham members I had to be content with a seat in the West Stand rather than my normal berth in the South Lower amongst the Spurs choir.
Having only ever sat in this stand once before and bizarrely in about the same place, my pre match thoughts turned to the only other occasion id been in with the West crowd. The match similar in that it was played in the evening, against the same opponents but 18 years earlier in the crazy year that Spurs unveiled Jurgen Klinsmann to a skeptical football public as the spearhead of an attacking front line dubbed the famous five. A team and strategy put together by Ossie Ardiles on the back of the 1994 World Cup. The reason for my presence in the West Stand that night was the redevelopment of the South Stand as we entered a season not only one stand short, but also with a 6pt deduction handed down by the FA.
My reward for attending that night was a memory that will stay with me forever, Klinsmann on his home debut volleying an overhead strike and running to my section of the West Stand to celebrate (I think he may even have dived as well) as part of the celebration, was a moment anyone there that night will never forget.
Although the team of 1994 had been put together by Ossie to attack, attack and then attack some more, our manager forgot that a strong spine was also required as a base to build this strategy and sadly despite some great moments another season went by totally unfulfilled.
Now a proper football blog would now open up the debate of why with such an attacking threat back in 1994 did Spurs once again fail to compete and challenge for the title? How did that side compare with today’s current exciting team? What did Ossie get so wrong compared to Harry when he had Sheringham, Klinsmann, Dumitrescu, Barmby and Anderton up front, Mabbutt and Campbell at the back, as well as an international goalkeeper in Walker between the sticks.
Sadly you will have to debate this amongst yourselves or save it for another day, as my other memory that surfaced on Wednesday was a deep troubling event from even further back, that only ever re-surfaces when we play Everton and I feel it’s now time to confess before I get any older and where better to bear your soul than on football blog.
What is to follow is a confession that will shock those who know me but stands as a vital lesson on how decisions we make in our lives shape our future and effect the memories we will all contemplate when we have the time. My confession as you will discover could have placed me not in the West Stand on Wednesday night or eighteen year ago….it could have had me in the away end!
Growing up in the seventies, which was not a great era for the Spurs, you would have thought that handling defeat was something I grew up with and became accustomed to, let’s face it, we even suffered the shame of dropping into Division Two towards the end of the decade. Yet I could in those days become very upset if another weekend ended without points or an exit from a cup competition. My parents would gladly tell you how their nine year old boy was someone to avoid on a Saturday afternoon if things hadn’t gone the Spurs way.
Playing Everton in midweek is extremely poignant in my trip down memory lane as it was the toffee’s that my confession revolves around, after one particularly bad Saturday afternoon back in the seventies. Having retreated to my bedroom after defeat at Bolton, I vividly remember staring at my blue and white scarf and realising it was the same colours of the Merseyside team….now before I go any further please bear in mind that I have never mentioned this to anyone, don’t judge me, just be pleased by the power of football blog that my thirty year secret is out, I can return to normal life without this burden and that you have all helped.
With Everton bearing exactly the colours I needed to make a transition of allegiance to the toffee’s, I there and then decided to change, it was my father’s fault anyway I was stuck with Spurs for no real apparent reason and the upside was I wouldn’t have to suffer weekend misery or buy a new scarf. Everton were doing so much better, having consulted my Panini sticker book I had already collected more Everton players and they boasted more stars then the Spurs team of the seventies. In my mind the deed was done and all that remained was the long walk downstairs to announce the news to my parents.
It was at this moment that the football gods intervened, having arrived home from work just in time, my father proudly handed over the programme from the previous week’s game against Leicester, collected from his pal at work that day, who had not only attended the game and purchased a programme for me but put the icing on the cake by collecting a number of autographs of the Spurs squad. This was the best thing I had ever had, all thoughts of my switch disappeared and I spent a happy evening with my father discussing every page of the programme as well as optimistically predicting a win next weekend against Southampton.
And so on such events life changes, If the programme hadn’t arrived, would I today be supporting Everton, bemoaning the lack of a striker and some cash to spend on one. Sure the Eighties would have been fun, but I would missed out on Gazza’s Semi Final goal, local derby’s against the team in red and of course Harry’s team, the fast flowing attacking football side with a spine, unlike the class of 1994.
The team I have waited 30 years for was out on the park last Wednesday night and it confirmed it to me that I was in the right end, always will be and any young supporters reading this should take this tale as confirmation, however your team are doing now, at some stage your team will come good, keep the faith.
Now that is over, any of you who wish to have the debate comparing the team of 1994 to the current squad, a glance at the programme for the 1994 game has already given me a clue for our friend Ossie, instead of installing a Scott Parker type to support this attack mentality chose Jason Dozzell, need I say more.
Thanks for listening.
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