In mid November Spurs’ number one priority for the coming transfer window was to buy a new Number One.
The fans groaned as much every time a cross threatened us. The press printed it and listed possible replacements. And Harry Rednapp hinted the same with all the subtlety of a Soho Strumpet after a cut price jug of sugary purple cocktail.
Of course Gomes wasn’t ever as terrible as he appeared. The Brazilian’s poor record of three clean sheets in nineteen games was also the fault of shoddy defending. And he did made a string of impressive saves in those games.
But there was no escaping it. He more than matched the good with the inexcusably bad. He was indecisive, he punched instead of caught, and he flapped so badly at so many crosses that a lighter man might have flown.
So why is it then, that now January has come, no one anywhere thinks Spurs want a new keeper?
The answer is that, as Jarvis Cocker once sang with Pulp, something changed. And that something was a home game against Blackburn Rovers.
Now you have to understand, and I don’t believe I can illustrate this adequately with mere words on a page, that Paul Robinson was not worshiped as a footballer at Spurs. He was loved as our friend. And that was especially so for the rowdy bunch of crooks and scoundrels who join your beloved Margin in the Park Lane every other week.
This was a man who, like many a Spurs fan, would shout “Yiddo!” in recognition of a lilywhite shirt in the street. He would signal a fan about to return the ball to the pitch to throw it the wrong way if we were winning. He bought us dozens of Spurs printed footballs and excitedly kicked them to us as gifts at Christmas. He rushed to join us, and instinctively us, when he scored his 80 yard goal. And he came to share his gleaming winners medal with our stand the game after last season’s League Cup victory.
Robbo even admitted on TV before the game, almost unprofessionally, that he didn’t how he’d feel if Blackburn won, and that perhaps a draw would be for the best. So when he returned we cheered, sang his name, and praised a man whose monumental slump in form never could diminish his standing as our best mate in football.
Then the second half came, and he was replaced in front of the Park Lane by Gomes. And having backed Paul Robinson for 45 minutes, we turned our attention to supporting his usurper. We had to. He was our keeper now and we owed him our support. So we sang his name. He cheered his every touch of the ball. We held off from groaning for a full 45 minutes. And we gave him all the support a struggling player dreams of having.
We won. With a clean sheet. And we now cheer Gomez every game.
We sing his name and ask him ‘what’s the score’ knowing he’ll only answer if goals against stands at nil. And such is the turnaround in his fortunes that we have achieved five clean sheets in twelve games since then.
So now that the importance of that drab 1-0 home win is clear I thought take my credit. Gomes walks tall onto the turf of White Hart Lane nowadays, and I undoubtedly played my part in making that happen. After all, he himself has put his turnaround down to support from us fans. And who am I to argue?