Friday, January 25, 2008

One perfect night – Margin

For football fans the inevitable pain and suffering visited on us by our teams is made bearable by the prospect of a perfect moment. This is the story of one such match.



Standing on the cracked concrete of the back yard, Spurs fans sang with their heads held high, getting wet by the rain as they drank their beers. Inside we got wet by the beers we spilt as we jumped arm in arm, singing and chanting and enjoying the night.

That was the Bell and Hare - an hour before kick off.

I’d ridden up on the rush hour train after work, and no commuter could have been left in doubt that Spurs were on the move. I don’t know what those heading to Bishop’s Stortford made of the constant chants of ‘Yid Army’ throughout the carriage. Nor do I care.

When the time came, those heading home squirmed to make space for the alighting supporters who could now be joined in their chorus by comrades from other carriages.

‘We are Tottenham – Super Tottenham – We are Tottenham – From the Lane’ announced the blatantly obvious as we, in Spurs shirts, hats, coats, gloves and scarves, surged down White Hart Lane station’s metal stairway onto White Hart Lane.

Cars slowed to a crawl as the marching crowd took to the roads, and programme quickly in hand I slipped into the familiar yellow glow of City Kebabs. At a table with fellow fans - there were no strangers tonight - I gorged on the best doner in town, washed it down with a beer, and made haste to the pub.

The Bricklayer’s was heaving. So too the Coach and Horses. The Corner Pin, its windows permanently boarded up, was audibly full. But the Bell and Hare was groaning under the weight of revelry.

The manic sweaty throng was united in its expectation. No talk of tactics. No fretting at results. No pondering likely line ups. Just singing, dancing, jumping, shouting, drinking and glory for one and all.

A few brandies and a Guinness necked, the pub emptied. The whole crowd as one had passed into the High Road which was ablaze with bright jackets of a wary police force, and ringing to the sound from seemingly miles around, “Spuuuuurs are on their way to Wemb-ley.”

Passing by the away fans entering their corner of the Park Lane, one large drunk behind me shouted “You’re going out you c*nts!” No more need be said.

Twenty minutes to go and the ground was almost full. The atmosphere had started to build and when the players marched on the announcer could barely be heard.

Kick off triggered a giant roar lasting so long that when Jenas sauntered into the box for the early opener we had no higher volume with which to mark it.

“Hark now hear - the Tottenham sing – the Arsenal run away.”

Soon after Denilson went down, seemingly injured by walking about. The signal came from the bench and he got back up again. Then after fifteen minutes another signal was offered. This time he stayed down to cover his manager’s embarrassment at changing the team in an act of early panic.

“Now we know you’re wooorrieeeed.”

The second goal went in and all heaven broke loose. People toppled over plastic chairs. Men hugged each other like long lost brothers. Children were hoisted high into the air. There was more jumping, more shouting, and a delight that no one knew how best to express.

“Ramos – Give us a wave – Ramos, Ramos, Give us a wave.”

Berbatov hit the post. Spurs dominated but couldn’t score. Fabregas gave the ball away cheaply time and time again. And then the interval.

Fans shook hands, grinned knowingly, and universally expressed the view that we were finally going to do it.

Keane opened the second half with our third and the contest was all over. We cheered again, we hugged again, and we marvelled at just how many we might score.

“Aaaalll I want is a team of Robbie Keanes – Team of Robbie Keanes – Team of Robbie Keanes.”

Now there was nothing left to do but celebrate. When Lennon scored we cheered again and revelled in the humiliation of our rivals. But by then the ground was already singing in full voice about the win.

“Que Sera Sera – Whatever will be will be – We’re going to Wem-ber-ley – Que Sera Sera!”

And to top it off, at that point, our wonderful Spanish manager took off Berbatov, Keane, and soon after Lennon. He was resting them for the big game at the weekend. No goal count, no chant, no other gesture, and no score line could have better insulted our opponents than that. Although by then many of their fans had gone home.

“Weee can see you – weeee can see you – weeee can see you sneaking out”

The rest of the match barely mattered. Arsenal players started fighting each other. Adebeyor scored what was barely a consolation goal. And Malbranque concluded matters with a last second fifth.

And during all of that time the Spurs fans combined in a universal spine tingling slow rendition of “Ohhhhhh Wheeeeen theeeee Spurrrrrrss – Goooo Maaaaarrrcchiiiing iiiiiiin - Ohhh Wheeen theee Spurrrss Go Maaar-chhiing iiiin – Iiiii Waaannaaa Beeeeeeeee Iiiin thaaaat Numbeeerrr – Oh When the Spuuuurrrs Goooo Maaaaaar-chiiiing iiiin.”

55 comments:

andrewm said...

Who wants me to write the story of my night watching the 2005 CL final, which ends with me screaming down the phone at my brother and being sick on my own arm?

Anyone?

Hello?

guitougoal said...

Andrewm,
my brother called me from France at half time to inform me that Liverpool will catch up-He also was screaming down the phone at the end.

Sid said...

Great article, truly captures the thoughts of 1000s of Spurs fans all over the world.

wrigley greengrass said...

Margin,

well done!

Welcome the the Theatre of Wet Dreams
and prawn sandwiches!

bluedaddy said...

Good lad Margin. It does truly sound like a perfect night (your boys will turn up for the final though won't they?).


Some joker of a Spurs fan on GU was making out the game was some kind of nerve ridden tightrope walk, with Spurs fortunate to score at all the right times! Some people wouldn't recognise a thrashing if they had a grazed arm in a pool full of hungry sharks.

bluedaddy said...

AndrewM, give it a whirl (I'm assuming you were screaming at your bruv about the game BTW)

andrewm said...

guitou, I know how he felt.

BD, I'm only kidding. Margin has put anything I could have written to shame.

Margin said...

Thanks everyone - I had fun writing it.

Bluedaddy

That guy's been doing the rounds. I wouldn't pay much attention though, he was watching the other side.

And as for the cup final - its in the bag.

Zeph said...

As a football outsider who walks past pubs like that and marvels at the number of people squashed in and the amount of noise they're making, this was a fascinating insight! Great piece Margin, a really good read.

mimi said...

Love that there was squirming. A word not often found in football reporting.

guitougoal said...

Margin,
as a stress free and non committed gooner I found this article very refreshing, honestly the display of Arsenal disarray was an epic-
It was your night indeed but hey, anybody is entitled to a perfect night every 15 years:)

munni said...

Dog, that was embarassing. Spurs played very well on Tuesday (there, I said it), but it wasn't really that much of a thrashing. We would have been quite decent if we didn't keep losing possession every two seconds.

guitougoal said...

mumu.
let's face it our boys were spanked-
Ramos is turning this team around the same way he did with Sevilla-They are pressing very well and quick on counter-attack-Malbranque and Robby Keane are awesome.I think they could be a problem for Man utd, it would interesting to see them one more time for the
FA cup.

bluedaddy said...

Margin, maybe for your sake, Wayne D Ramos better not do too well this season, especially if our Avi G doesn't match his illustrious predecessor in the other competitions. RomanA might just start looking for a manager who wins trophies playing attacking football.

bluedaddy said...

BTW I noticed today that if you type the word 'pseuds' into google then this esteemed and glorious blog is ranked third.

Bravo Lord E.

greengrass said...

So, dear Margin, how does it feel with one day to go?

Have you checked the suspension count and the injuries news?

Have you hedged your bets by reasoning that one cup final would really be enough this season, and maybe it's better to concentrate on the Mickey Mouse Cup and the league?

Are you shit scared of meeting a black cat?

I'll raise a foaming glass of Guinness to you when they kick off tomorrow!

Margin said...

only third? we must do better.

BD

if he sacks Grant any time soon then Roman can give up any hope of achieving the 'respect' that he wants for his club. And surely he must know that?

It was bad enough that Jose's phenomenal talent and success failed because people couldn't see past the Russian at the top. But to keep the hyper-activity going only hurts the club's image and the sense that they don't belong where they are.

Give Grant five years in the job and Roman's influence can gradually fade in people's minds. Then perhaps Chelsea will be seen as a natural part of whatever the elite is by then - instead of looking like a Russian toy.

Margin said...

GG and Munni

Everyone could see we played well with the ball, and fair play for acknowledging that, but what may have missed the radar was how well we played without it.

I was surprised how easilly Tainio and Keane in particular harried Fabregas into mistakes. That's good work from our boys that doesn't look as spectacular as the crisp forward passing we made such good use of.

It will be interesting to see how many teams have seemingly 'off days' against us if we keep up that work rate.

Margin said...

Greengrass

It still feels great - I've bet Spurs 5 ManU 1 - (JJ opening goal) - And I'm brimming over with excitment.

Why stop at one cup final? We want three....

;)

bluedaddy said...

Margin, Agreed. Will it happen? If the CL victory happens in 08 or 09, maybe. If not you can bet your boots Roman will flutter his readies at the next big thing.

Margin said...

BD

Obviously I hope he panics again in a couple of years time. The last thing I want is Chelsea doing the smart thing. I'm a Spurs fan don't ya know?

But I did took it as a sign of things to come that having ditched Jose he signed a relative unknown with a solid record rather than a glitzy name like last time.

And despite my allegiances, I've found myself warming to the slug in your dugout. And as a knowledgeable sort of Spurs fan I take a degree of satisfaction at a well run club. (something I'm only recently reacquainted with at Spurs.)

tony said...

Great stuff, margin, felt like I was there. I like the way you've used all the chants. My own perfect night was at Elland Road in 1980 for a semi-final replay against Everton.

I would have chosen the 4-1 against Liverpool in the league cup, but I could only get tickets for the South Bank which is where the Scousers were. Since they were howling for cockney blood, I could only allow myself the occasional 'YES' under my breath.

Margin said...

That must have been a hell of a west ham team to watch Tony. I hope you went to the final...

I should say I basically wrote this as a chance to relive it - and it seems that came across. I'm really quite proud of the chants I included now.

tony said...

It was and I did, margin. My only regret was that one of my favourite players, Keith Robson, had left a couple of years before.

The song I most remember was "he's only a poor little gunner" sung to the tune of that awful song by the St Winifred's school choir (I think).

When we got back to Upton Park station, there were hundreds of people waiting for us there and we went off to the ground to celebrate...

Margin said...

Thats what we need more of on this site. Great sporting memories about beating arsenal.

greengrass said...

Thanks for a grand game, Spurs - you had me worried for a while.

You were decimated, but Lord Wrigley treated you with respect and played what he regarded as his best side (Anderson would always, if fit, start in my best side).

Nice to see Scholesy back!

The sending-off? 50/50, in my book - but what if he'd have been allowed to stay on, and Jesus had missed the penalty?

You nearly bloody scored when we had 2-1...

bluedaddy said...

This kind of thing you mean Margin:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3p1I2J4Kpes

Margin said...

Thats a cracking goal from a left back BD.

Greengrass

couldn't argue with the penalty - though I thought the red card was over the top.

It was an excellent game - we didn't get the rub of the green - and playing ManU with only two (and later only one) defender in the line up is hardly the route to success.

Ebren said...

Really good game - I thought Spurs were at their best at 2-1 down. Great skill displayed from both sides, good game.

"are you arsenal in disguise" after the first goal was a personal favourite...

offsideintahiti said...

I always enjoy the personal pieces, and this one in particular. Thanks, Margin. I take it your hangover didn't last that long after all?

I've never been to a football match in England, but if I get a chance, WHL sounds like as good a place as any.

Margin said...

We get a good atmosphere at the Lane Offside. Although we don't get to beat arsenal 5-1 every week.

But hey, we have to play them again next season so lets plan for a repeat performance....

guitougoal said...

the way Ramos is reinforcing his defense, the Spurs are margin in...

offsideintahiti said...

"But hey, we have to play them again next season"

That's IF you stay up. Focus, Margin, focus. Sort your priorities!

Margin said...

relegation was never a threat with Ramos - he's won over half his games in charge so far and that's not relegation standard.

pipita said...

Nice one Margin, really enjoyed this. I've really got fond memories of WHL, where I mostly went to see Spurs-Everton clashes. First time I went was around 1972-73 and Tottenham thrashed us 3-0 with Chivers in amazing form. Last time I went must have been in the early 90's when Lineker and Gazza where playing. In between I got to see Ossie and Ricky play a few times, off course

byebyebadman said...

Nice stuff Margin, only just got to this.

I love the slow version of when the saints go marching in, United do the same version (substitute Reds for Spurs) and, until it breaks out into accelerated bigging up of Manchester and slating of Merseyside, Elland Road and Eastlands, is utterly spine-tingling in unison.

We are at the lane on Saturday, looks an infinitely trickier tie with Ramos in charge.

offsideintahiti said...

Margin,

Joke!

Still touchy, are you?

Margin said...

offy
touchy? I'm still over the moon.

Pipita
Well it wasn't a classic tonight but a clean sheet away from home is just another sign of our recent improvements on the pitch.

byebye
I'll be honest and admit that although it will be tougher than it might have been in October, you'll still have too much for us.

We are progressing well, but we have a way to go before we get the team playing fully into the way Ramos wants things played.

Margin said...

oh

and "I've got a golden ticket" (for those who remember Gene Wilder in charlie and the chocolate factory).

All booked up and ready for a trip to Wembley.

offsideintahiti said...

Lucky boy.

I meant touchy about relegation talk. I was only joking, you're well safe anyway. Good luck for Wembley.

greengrass said...

Who needs forwards?

Juande seems intent on buying half the backs in the land, just as Tony was intent on buying half the half-backs.

It's a good thing footy doesn't feature quarter-backs, or Jolly Jol would have had the lot.

It looks like Hotspur might stumble over a solid defence, and with Robbie and Berbie doing it up front and Defoe doing it upside down they
will be a force to reckon with in
the PL and the gossip columns.

Double-header at the alehouse on Saturday: first the footy at 4, then England v. Wales.

Anyone passing through Stockholm?

offsideintahiti said...

Yes, in thought.

Wenceslas Greengrass said...

offside,

make sure to dress your thoughts in reindeer pelts, then, or they'll freeze their horns off!

guitougoal said...

-1-1:it was 1-0 ,min 90 with 3' to go-
did Tevez goal came after the final whistle?

bluedaddy said...

Guitou, you are forgetting the Fergie Factor. Sir Alex can actually slow time, using the power of his jaw alone.

guitougoal said...

the Fergie Factor, that's a good one to be used under any negative or positive circumstances...btw positive circumstances are taking place for River Plate 3-1 at the half. I wonder if Pipita is experiencing the Fergie Factor.

gg said...

A good result for you, Margin - congratulations!

P.S. What a home ref!

gg said...

guitou,

Bluedaddy is guilty of gross understatement.

Fergie can actually still blood,
turning it into ice by use of the Fergie Frown.

His powers of healing are renowned - I haven't seen a wheelchair at Old Trafford for years.

He is not often known to smile, but his smiles have catastrophic effects: you may have heard of Global Warming...

guitougoal said...

gg,
for frown,the french word is froigne-
regarding your version, Fergie is a froignier-
Now if we have to blame him for global warming I would suggest the Da Fergie code but i like"Fergie the froignier" as opposed to Arsene the frog-nier

Margin said...

Good game - should have had it wrapped up before the end - must do better next time.

Also - we must learn to hound referees properly - it works - top teams all do it - we must learn!

guitougoal said...

who is on first?..........back to whistling.

offsideintahiti said...

What a cool weekend in the Polynesian heat.

Thinking of gg in his woolen hat in Stockholm is always a good way to keep cool. Of course, Wales beating England is always cool. France won, too, Man Utd didn't and Arsenal are back on top, which is pretty cool. Now, you'll say Nice got knocked out of the Coupe de France by 2nd divisioners Angers, but that's cool 'cause they're 4th in the league and can now concentrate on a nicking a CL spot, which would be really cool.

Here's hoping there's a cool week ahead of us. Slàinte!

guitougoal said...

offie,
Something cool is happening in California , I took my daughter to UCLA, to watch the "yes we can" brigade +Stevie Wonder, Caroline Kennedy, Oprah Winfrey-It was more of a Rock concert than a political meeting , more music and dancing than speeches and still the feeling that a unique event is taking place-
the black eyed peas introduction was as cool as this,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjXyqcx-mYY

gg said...

offie,

since we invented all games (except lacrosse, which is only played by cool Inuits and freezing - but uncool! - Canadians), everyone thinks it is hypercool when anyone beats us at anything.

We English live in a permanent coolish state of just having been licked at our own game by someone.

P.S. Woollen hats are for frogs and computer nerds.

mimi said...

gg: I thought lacrosse was invented on the subcontinent and just another way to humiliate dastardly colonials.

Possum sandwich anyone?

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