What a relief to the rivals it must be, knowing Spurs are back to their old ways. A cockerel cannot change its spots. Legends only in the mind. I welcome the banter. My one and only club.
It All Feels… Familiar
Watching the players come out of the tunnel and onto the carpet, the stadium announcer presenting the teams in a thick Spanish accent, Asturia Girls playing the anthem on their violins, half of Old Big Ears’ ribbons in lilywhite and blue. Everyone’s seen a Champions League final a dozen plus times, and everybody forgets the opening ceremony. But when it’s your team, it just hits different. It sears into your brain like flames to a steak. The idea of our team, our Tottenham Hotspur, being in a Champions League final was and still is such an utterly unfamiliar concept. It’s not just that we got there, but it’s also how we got there: Beating the Champions of England and Johan Cruyff’s longest lasting legacy in a fashion that will long be remembered after all of us are dead. Both ties will be in highlight reels and top ten lists forever.
Everyone thought that the club had finally arrived. After decades of false dawns, phony prophets, and razor-sharp banter, half the planet tuned in to watch our Tottenham Hotspur play the biggest match in club football. Everyone was on foreign territory. The rivals were terrified: They couldn’t actually do it, could they? Are they really going to win the biggest trophy in club football doing it “the right way” – beating out petrostate dollars and fleeting, aspartame fans the entire time? Well no, much to their relief. We could not.
It still represented a milestone, however. It’s why Spurs fans still stick to it. You always heard talk about the Tottenham of old: the dazzling European glory nights, the team that dared to win the double, about the dedication to entertaining the masses. It was familiar in legend only. For a few weeks there, that beautiful, legendary club had returned. It was going to stay. It felt tangible, yet unfamiliar to so many of us.
That was two years ago.
Since then, we sacked our most beloved manager (whom we broke) since Bill Nic and replaced him with a serial winner who is massively under-performing and blaming literally everyone else. Yes, the very proud man who has won everything, everywhere, has suddenly stopped performing like a 65 Mustang Fastback developing a rod knock. Maybe. The entirety of the season now boils down to a domestic cup final, where we have to beat the English Champions-elect. He probably needs this more, since not winning is commonly treaded ground for us.
We’re about to miss out on the Champions League for the second season in a row — after being in it for four consecutive years. Forget about the tears of Amsterdam and opening ceremonies, we may miss out on Europe all together. It has been a minute since Spurs just stayed out of Europe, but the fans remember that feeling. Ask us; what is a glory, glory night if they do not exist? We know. The chairman sweats over lost bonus bounties. The rest of us continue onward as normal.
We keep dropping points to massively inferior sides and failing to beat our rivals, usually in comedic fashion. In the league, we’re seeing a lot of sides with tremendously inexperienced managers who bring nothing to the table other than being a former player that maybe the fans won’t hate. Spurs with the manager who has made winning a part of his identity, are dropping points to these teams. Our fans are desperately dreaming that the most exciting up and coming manager will break his current contract with Leipzig and ignore siren calls from Bayern München and the DFB to come to Spurs; just because. Mister Winning Man may yet deliver us silverware, but right now he can’t even win over the fanbase.
Spurs have a very beautiful history with the UEFA Cup, now the Europa League. Heavily favored to win it, we got knocked out in a trainwreck of a tie that saw us squander a 2-0 lead to lose it all to Dinamo Zagreb — while our backup keeper thinks we’ve actually won. The winningest winning manager to ever win somehow found a way to lose to a manager who is still in jail as of this writing. Zagreb’s plan was to get the ball to their best player and pray. The praying worked, but I imagine it didn’t take much. I cannot tell you what our plan was. Martin Jol was sacked during a UEFA Cup match and I am still concerned that the same courtesy was not extended to Sir Won-A-Lot.
Oh, and we also got mugged off by our own sponsor on social media an hour after announcing the partnership. A miscalculation? A rival fan posting as the official sponsor? Does it matter?
This Tottenham Hotspur? This feels all too familiar. There was concern of the new stadium not having the proper atmosphere, but it is certainly capturing a long tradition that we thought was finally behind us. Our chairman is breaking wage structures and transfer records to bring in and secure big names, yet producing such a recognizable and predictable sense of frustration and disappointment. Our own homegrown boy, the best striker in the world, a massively overlooked superstar, England’s captain, is itching to leave and get out of this all too familiar quagmire of a club.
I know this Tottenham Hotspur, and I am truly Tottenham ‘til I die. This is the Tottenham I fell in love with, and even now I would not trade it for anything in the world. What a relief to the rivals it must be, knowing Spurs are back to their old ways. A cockerel cannot change its spots. Legends only in the mind. I welcome the banter. My one and only club.
Sometimes our own fans downplay the previous few years, that living in moments instead of tangible, silvery success is moot. Celebrating a semi-final win is small, tinpot shit. Rubbish. I expect such comments from the rivals, but sometimes no rival can hate a Tottenham fan like themself. I cherish those moments because nobody in football is entitled to anything. It is a truism that is all too familiar to Spurs.
There is a word out there describes this club that is unique to this club. I don’t say that word…that familiar word that all of us know. That word we banter ourselves with as a defense mechanism before our rivals can do it. Journalists and pundits were saying that word was gone and has been gone for a while. Two years later after the zenith, as we continue to fall back towards earth at both a pace and a depth none of us could have imagined, all I can see is that word and nothing else.
The familiarity is comforting.
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