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.”