On second thoughts

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

So the lights have now dimmed on our beloved Lane, the sound of wrecking balls and bulldozers replacing the reverberating passion of Tottenham Hotspur humanity, and the aura that you and I helped build there during our lives.

Introduced to the soon-to-be-Double side, when far too young to really appreciate what I was seeing; as a wide-eyed teenager draped in the, now, notorious threads of the emerging skinhead cult; as a suited and seated Season Ticket Holder in later years; my life has wholly revolved around the Tottenham Hotspur fixture list. But as I am confronted with the usual summertime worries of my team, or manager, or both, being whisked off to richer climes, and as I come to terms with the demise of the stadium that I’d loved for over half a century, these issues pale in to insignificance on analyzing the diminishing nature of human beings.

Let’s be fair, for too many years we’ve lived in the shadow of a red oppressor; one who speculated with their future at the beginning of the new Premiership, whereas we sat back and watched them, and others, pushing onwards and upwards. Even as recently as the year of the so-called ‘invincibles’, when we wallowed in ‘mid-table obscurity’, we had lost our drive, our spirit, our intention to compete; the odd, special individual offering us sporadic morsels to keep our interest. If I asked you to guess the deficit between ourselves and our table-topping neighbours in 2003-4, I doubt the hefty FORTY FIVE points that separated us would be your first port of call. Yet, now, even though we’ve overturned a FIFTY point plus difference, I am more concerned with the unbelievably mealy-mouthed, begrudging ways of many who call themselves football fans…

If somebody told you, say, twenty years back, that Tottenham Hotspur would be regular visitors to Europe, you’d have laughed. Then, when sent out on our Thursday night ventures to a collection of unheard-of European anagrams, our heads were patted by the big boys after bumping our previously regal heads on football’s glass ceiling. Then, under the regime of Harry [and Rosie the dog/accountant], we touched our toes in to deeper waters, still considered as a sporadic cup team, the league the domain of the ultimately richer and progressive. Of course, the ‘Coronation Street’ jibes hurt deeply, as did the conveyor belt of smugness that often drifted our way after yet another capitulation. Then, gradually, we went and broke the unwritten rules by actually becoming quite good… cue every snarling idiot for miles with a grudge…

This is the first year of my life where finishing a close second in the League incurred the title of ‘bottlers’. This was aimed at a young, and largely, British-based side that supposedly ‘bottled’ in May – from a number of fans of teams that ‘bottled’ last August…

This is the first year of my life where finishing second in the League incurred a wave of hatred for ‘winning nothing’, even though the brilliant progress made by the club in recent years is rarely mentioned or acknowledged.

This is the first year of my life where finishing second in the League seems to be recorded as a crime. Mentioning it to Arsenal fans will incur a well-rehearsed history lesson of the past 20 years, while those of a Mancunian persuasion will turn the conversation in to one of spending power, of more 90 million pound players, learning little from the lessons of spotting, buying and nurturing youth and actually coaching them; radical I know, but maybe one for the future…

This is the first year of my football life where I’ve seen a distinct and worrying change in the bitterness of people, their lifetime angers overcoming all logic, all ability to display a single microbe of sportsmanship. Sadly, an overwhelming hatred of everyone but themselves is turning football in to a, sometimes, torrid experience, hence the strong and passionate feeling that currently links the Tottenham triangle between Manager, team and fan; the incredible wave of passion that is being a Spur…

God only knows what will happen if we win the League…

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