There is a narrative that irritates me. It goes something like ‘signing someone NOW is more important than ever, this moment right now and everything will collapse if we don’t’.
I find myself getting more annoyed at the outlook of other fans. I’m not saying that I think some folk are too entitled or that I don’t share that desire to see us strengthen or have that ambition to see us go up a level. I do. That’s part of supporting your football club. You want them to do well then better. It could be a team in the Hellenic League or the Champions League, it doesn’t matter, you want your team to succeed and be the best club you can be.
I take the view that something is getting missed by a few people and it’s a difficult thing to pin down. I suppose at the centre of it, it’s how to understand Tottenham, but I accept that sounds a bit self-indulgent. Frankly I am not qualified to tell you how to support us or contextualise where we’re at. But I can say why I don’t feel the aching despair or extreme anger that some social media fanatics do about transfers or what will become of us if we don’t sign every target we are linked to.
There is a narrative that irritates me. It goes something like ‘signing someone NOW is more important than ever, this moment right now and everything will collapse if we don’t’. Let’s be scrupulously fair, it may be true but collapse for us might mean falling out of the top 4 or even not qualifying for Europe. It’s not relegation or extinction. I think it’s gone almost unnoticed under the radar that our terms of what constitutes success and failure have moved on such a gargantuan scale.
On the last game of the season I took my Dad up to see the new ground for the Everton game. He saw the stadium at the top of the High Road from Seven Sisters, the silver roof panels shining in the distance. I took him to the Market Place. There was singing, beer flying in the air and that same spirit of the club he introduced me to when he took me to the Bricklayers Arms when I saw my first Spurs game many years ago. We sat on the stepped seating in the belly of the South Stand as the singing ensued and repeated ad infinitum. In conversation I asked when his first visit to the Lane was, he said it was ’59 and we played Manchester United. Without too much counting on fingers I pondered on the fact he was sitting with his son in Tottenham 60 years later, six decades, the better part of a century.
Now, I don’t have the time and the words to tell you all of the things my Dad has experienced with Spurs. I can mention the double, the EUFA Cup, the Cup Winners Cup and many FA Cups, players like Gilzean, Hoddle, Greaves, Jones, Jennings and Blanchflower. He’s seen Spurs at their very best, however, let’s not forget he’s also seen us relegated. He’s seen mediocrity and the club sailing near bankruptcy. Extreme highs and lows. That is what we will all experience over time too, the future is coming and it’s relentless. The past is an indicator. It’s the only surety we can rely upon. The truth is that as long as there is a Tottenham Hotspur, the story will continue.
This is not like a story book with a beginning, middle and end. We joke ‘there’s always next season’ but it is true. If everything falls apart we can fix it next season and if we win the league, cup or something European, we still have to sustain that or not, whatever the challenge is. We’ll be there with our scarves, voices and ambition for us to keep on marching to the next level and ultimately we will be mostly powerless to change the outcome but we will process the experience and make sense of it one game at a time.
I suppose it’s the fact that I don’t see our worst case scenario as all that bad. Not finishing in a European spot would be a disappointment. I’m not stupid enough to deny that. Many moons ago I paid to see us play Middlesbrough at the Lane when there was an outside chance of European Football. Spoiler, we lost, and I should have got the message that watching screenings at the Lane is not something that augers well for the club. But contrasting those two screenings just goes to show how monumental our levels have become and the sea of change that has been happening here, from barely touching Europa League qualification to playing in the Champions League Final.
I want to tell some fans, ‘can’t you see how far we’ve come’ but some thoughts and notions are hard to articulate. Why? Because it’s easier to want more than realise the level where we are at right now. When you’re on the side of a mountain you’re looking at the pinnacle not the ridiculous distance you’ve already travelled.
Does this mean we shouldn’t want the club spending money on marquee signings or desire success? God no, we should all want progress, success, great football and moments to savour. My point is that we don’t need to believe that the moment right now is more important than any other. Spurs have had moments that have made me hug strangers, cry a little, feel the hair on the back of my neck raise and bought me closer to friends and family. Those feelings don’t predicate themselves on a transfer window or a single match, it just doesn’t work like that, well, for me at least.
It boils down to what makes you happy. Millions of people go and watch their football team every week. Most won’t see all their ambitions fulfilled but in the fullness of time most will get their moment in the sun.
It’s a never ending ride but it’s only really worth experiencing it if you enjoy it. I suppose that’s what I want more people to get. Football and life, ultimately, it’s what you make of it.