About time

2
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Yes, about bloody time… and I am not talking about the stadium (even though that could also apply), no, but about time we finally won a game to get back into the battle for a top-four place.

After being humiliated by Burnley, Chelsea, The Arse, Southampton and Liverpool we needed to kick arse (that’s ours). Five loses (ok, one draw amongst them) isn’t good by anybody’s standards. If we would have lost against Palace, and at our new home, I think we would have kissed any chances of being in the top four (and probably be the butt of a few jokes). Over the last couple of weeks, both United and Chelsea have helped us out by getting beaten or drawing. While Arsenal has been making steady progress up the ladder (at one point overtaking us).

We had won our past seven Premier League meetings against Crystal Palace, the win on Wednesday making it eight.

Away from Wembley, we are unbeaten in our last 15 home London derbies in the Premier League (W11 D4), winning each of the past five at White Hart Lane and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and may that continue. Son Heung-min has now scored 12 Premier League goals this season; only in 2016-17 (14) has he scored more in a single season in his top-flight league career (and the season isn’t over yet). Christian Eriksen has both scored and assisted in nine Premier League games for us – more than any other midfielder for the club in the competition. Which means he has now assisted 59 goals in his 200 Premier League games – only Cesc Fabregas (66), David Beckham (62), Thierry Henry (61) and Dennis Bergkamp (60) provided more in their first 200 appearances in the competition. So that is the statistics out of the way.

After reading all that, you are probably thinking… he hasn’t mentioned the new stadium… well spotted, and rightly so you spotted it.

Our magnificent sweeping stadium is a spectacular arena that proved well worth that 689-day wait. It ranks alongside any in the world.

As I had a walk around the stadium – well before kick off time – I noticed the fans gathering around their new home, our space-age structure dominating the skyline and the local area. They/ we were so proud to have such a stadium; it marked our intent for the future. Now our future is bright… maybe not orange, but bright with a Cockerel crowing over us with pride.

As for the pre-match ceremonials, well they matched the occasion, with the stadium’s place in the community highlighted alongside the obvious sporting and financial benefits for us.
Everywhere you looked was our new motto for the occasion: ‘Welcome Home.’ And to Arsenal and the rest; are you watching? Let us not forget our English tradition, the weather, obliging the stadium as we were hit by a dramatic hail and snow storm an hour before kick-off (and occasionally during). Don’t you just love our British weather and its timing?

As for the immense South Stand, rising in one tier and home to 17,500 fans, was already providing a wall of sound when the pomp and ceremony got underway. The pieces of the puzzle were knitting well together.

Our giant cock… erm, sorry… that should be a golden cockerel, was illuminating the night’s sky, as if it was looking down from his perch, satisfied that is he was finally home, and was ready and waiting for a new dawn to begin. As the Golden Cockerel was observing all below and around him, the Gladesmore Community School choir performed “Everybody Dreams”, which was written as an anthem of hope for the area’s young people after the Tottenham riots back in 2011.

Finally, the warriors came out and lined up, waiting for something special to come… and it came in the form of the award-winning tenor and Spurs’ fan Wynne Evans and former Gladesmore student Lanya Matthews delivered a rousing rendition of “Glory, Glory Tottenham Hotspur”. Ending with a spectacular firework display whipped around the roof of the stadium. Tears rolled and hearts throbbed. We were finally home, and we bloody knew it.

The players went to their position, the referee and his linesmen to theirs. The referee looked around him as if admiring this superlative God of brick, iron and stone towering over them. Finally, he put whistle to mouth and blew. They were off.

The beginning was a bit mediocrity though, pouring cold water on the mood of the celebrations, but when the action did materialise, and the opening goal was scored, the roars and atmosphere confirmed Spurs’ (our) new home, combined with all the mod cons with good old-fashioned atmosphere. We had finally arrived. The Gods were kind as Bill Nicholson smiled from the heavens. He knew that his legacy and those before and after him had laid the path to this new and splendid monument. The future was starting to shine and look a bit brighter now.

As I said at the beginning; having not won in the league for nearly two months, our new surroundings had provided that spark, or renewed impetus, as we fought for pride and a top-four place.

Was that performance on the field, one of our best? No, but the scoreline and the occasion was precisely what the supporters and we wanted/ needed. The referee blew, and the players stopped in their tracks. Then our players hugged each other, while the Palace ones looked dejected, but knowing in their hearts that they had played a monumental part in this distinctive and remarkable occasion.

Son beamed, as he, and the crowd knew that he had become ingrained in our history with his goal. The fans loved him… after all, he was one of their own.

What’s next? Well, once the euphoria has died down, we can reassess the situation. Yes, we’ve gone back to third, but Arsenal still has a game in hand over us, while United and Chelsea are sitting firmly by, ready to pounce and take away what we believe is ours.

We’ve been lucky so far; with Arsenal, United and Chelsea tripping over each other in their foul-ups on the pitch, thus allowing us to keep our dignity (and place). Nevertheless, it will be a case of dog eat dog, and the best will push the unlucky ones deeper into their own misery. Benjamin Franklin famously said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” So be warned Tottenham, be warned.

We will now start preparing for Tuesday’s home Champions League quarter-final first leg with Manchester City (20:00 BST).

Rest well my friends, because you will need it. Then when you return to our resplendent arena, you’ll be required to roar like no other fan has ever roared before. The team can do it, but they will need your help. On top of that, the players will also need to be mentally focused, plus a little bit of the rub of the green wouldn’t go amiss.

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