What a trip, what a match, what a brilliant 48 hours

2
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Pochettino said it was “mission impossible,” I didn’t think so. Yes, we started off the season wobbly but quickly got into our stride. My prediction for this match was either 1-0 or 2-1 and the way we played I thought we could have/ should have won it. They were lucky, not us. But saying that, we started off the match shaky and I thought that was that. Then we got into our stride and went for it. When we equalised, we were ecstatic. After the whistle went, we had to wait another few minutes for the PSV Eindhoven/ Inter Milan result to be announced (they drew) and then the roof blew off… and as they haven’t got one, it was no mean feat.

The trip started on the Monday. I made my way to Goodmayes and stayed the night with Hanna (she is nearer to Stanstead), had dinner there and some wine and then went to bed about 9ish. Got up at 2.45 am, had breakfast and made my way to Martin’s house, got there at 3.45 am. He wasn’t there as he had stayed the night at his parent’s house. So I kipped in the car for 45 minutes. He arrived with his dad at 4.30, and a Taxi picked us up at his home at 4.40. Then a 15 minute trip to the airport. Went to the check-in and got our boarding passes (we travelled with Sports Options – which included the trip and one night in a top hotel). Once at the airport we went to the security check-in area. Everything ok.

As Martin is a frequent traveller (because of his job), he is entitled access to the Airport’s Hospitality lounge where we can get free food/ drink (including quests; us). After the meal, we then made our way to the Check-in area, and after the formalities (passport & Boarding passes checks) we got on the plane. It left at 7.30 am.

I sat with Martin and his father at the back. It was a good trip, and we finally arrived at about 11ish (their time). The stewards were very pleasant and very helpful. We left our plane and met up with Martin (another Martin) and Steve (not the Steve from the hospitality lounge at Wembley; name confusion!). Between the five of us, we got a taxi to the hotel (Hotel Catalonia). Booked in and went to our rooms. Met up fifteen minutes later and got a taxi into the main city centre. Then Martin (the other Martin) stayed and met up with his son and friends while Martin, his dad (George), Steve and myself found a restaurant (the Shaq Shuq) and had a great meal with beers. Paid up, Steven went to see Martin while we made our way to the Metro line and from there to the stadium.

Got there approximately 2.45 pm. We decided to go and watch Barcelona U19 v Spurs U19 match. It was in a stadium next to the Nou camp (it was called Miniestadi). We went to the gate and was told to get tickets at the Nou Camp stadium. We walked there and were given tickets (free) and then made our way back. We thought KO was at 3 pm, but it wasn’t. KO was at 4pm. As supporters we were all mixed together. Only half the stadium was used. I thought there was just over a thousand, while Martin said about 1,500 were there.
I thought Barcelona U19 would thrash us, but we gave a good account of ourselves (we were actually a better side) and eventually won 2-0. I think we are now through to the knockout stages. It was a great game and the weather was great (warm). On the way out we bumped into Ledley King and Gary Mabbutt, who we chatted to. We then found a coffee shop and had a coffee and something to eat. Then we made our way to the stadium.

Now: before we travel we got an email from Tottenham to say what we can and can’t take in/ do. We are not allowed to take in Battery chargers and large bags etc. Before Steve parted from us (earlier), I gave him some stuff to take back to the hotel (he wanted to go back anyway). Previously I decided to leave my camera at the hotel. But I did keep my phone charger with me as I had used my phone a lot and it wouldn’t have lasted without the charger. But I was worried that it would be confiscated. So I decided to put it down my pants, but that idea didn’t last as it kept slipping (in other situations some people would pay for that pleasure!). Then I thought I would keep it near my phone (you are allowed to take phones in) and hope they would bypass it.

We made our way to Block 21, where the away fans area was, and then to the security gates. In fact, as we walked up the walkway, there were other security/ police checks at intervals. Talk about over security! When we got to the main entrance/ security gates, a quick body search and then through (no confiscations). I think the notices we get are over-egged. The security wasn’t that rigorous (I find that at most stadiums; Europe and England). Anyway, to my relief I was through, phone charger as well.

Because Martin’s dad was 85, they put him in a wheelchair and took us to the lifts (we were up in the Gods), Martin and myself followed. More security checks but we got through. I must admit once through they were very accommodating (the Spanish staff).

We got to our seats and met up with Martin and Steve (we all sat in different places). Martin & Steve are season ticket holders, while we are Premium holders.

There was confusion in the seating as some people sat in different places (or where they wanted to). The crowd started to grow and got more boisterous.

One thing I would like to add: about a year and a half ago Hanna and I went to Barcelona on holiday (this was in June), and we booked a tour around the stadium and Museum. We had tea were the managers sat in the stadium and had a great time. On the Museum tour, we saw a model of a planned stadium rebuild (and extend it to 100,000, currently 85,000). This time around when I was there, I could understand why they wanted to rebuild it. The stadium flooring was crumbling. It needed urgent repairs.

Where we sat – in the Gods – there was a wall of plastic and wire so we had to view the match through that. But I must say it was an excellent aerial view. At that distance, my camera – which I left at the hotel – wouldn’t have been much good. But I did take some photos with my iPhone of myself and the pitch.

The crowd was about 69,000 plus. I suppose the Barcelona supporters thought it was a job done so couldn’t be bothered to turn up. Our side was sold out, there was about 4,000ish Spurs supporters. Plus there was a lot of Tottenham supporters (who couldn’t get tickets) in the Barcelona end. They got their tickets through Spanish StubHub or other means.

The players came out to a loud applause.

To the match:

As I stated earlier, we didn’t start off with confidence and quickly conceded a goal (after 7 minutes). Then it all changed.

We needed to match or better Inter Milan’s result at home to PSV Eindhoven and had faced elimination when Mauro Icardi cancelled out PSV’s early goal. Moura’s goal swung the advantage back in Spurs’ favour, but an agonising wait followed before it was confirmed Inter had failed to find a winner against the group’s bottom side.

We had gone behind to Ousmane Dembele’s early strike but then peppered Barcelona’s defence with wave after wave of attacks, with both Harry Kane and Son Heung-min going close. We finally made the decisive breakthrough five minutes from the end when substitute Moura, who moments earlier had a header cleared off the line, fired in. We become only the eighth side to qualify from the group stage after claiming only one point from our first three games.

After the game, we were held back 45 minutes… in that time Pochettino came out and applauded the fans, in return he got a massive cheer back from us (plus we sang his name). The atmosphere was brilliant. What more could we ask for?

Now we are in the last 16. Until then we move back to Wembley and face Burnley. No rest for the wicked.
We left the stadium and caught a Metro back to our hotel. Martin and Steve went to their rooms, while Martin, his dad and myself went to the restaurant to have a bottle of wine between us. Martin went up, which left George and I talking until 2ish in the morning. Other Spurs supporters who were also in the bar kept coming up to us for a chat. Restaurant closed up, and we went to bed.

Martin suggested we meet up at 7.45 for breakfast. Got up knackered and made my way to the restaurant. I was the first, followed by Martin and George, then Steve and Martin joined us. Had a great breakfast and chatted (about our trip, and what a great trip it was) and then back to our rooms. Checked out at 11. Got a taxi for the five of us to the airport. Sat and waited and finally got our plane (1.30pm). We had the same seats.

Got back, then through passport control and said our goodbyes to Martin & Steve. Got a taxi to Martin’s house. I eventually got home at 6.20pm. I then had to pick my dog up from my daughters and finally to a much-needed bed.

A brilliant Spanish trip, result and something to look forward to; continues on our European Spurs tours.

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In the 90's, I was a writer for many of the top Spurs Fanzines (The Spurs, Spur of the Moment, MEHSTG and many others). A Spurs loyalist since the 60/61 season and now a season ticket holder (Premium). I run a Spurs Facebook page (“Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ voice” and co-run another one with Don Scully called “Tottenham Hotspur FC: Inside Track”). There is also a Spurs Twitter account (@HotspurVoice). I travel with Spurs to away games (including Europe). I have my a Blog (My blogging travels with Tottenham Hotspur Premium). The articles that appear on the blog also appear on SpursWeb and other applications.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Glenn. As a Spurs fan from Bangalore, India, you helped me get a ground level delicious feel for one of our more memorable European nights. Found it incredible that you are following from the glory decade of the 60s. Given your perspective will be interested in knowing how you would rate this Spurs team under Pochettino over the last 4 years or so with the best of Spurs you have seen.

    • Hi Anirvan,

      Thanks for your words.

      I have seen many great Spurs teams over the years; Bill Nicholson’s double side, the excellent teams Bill built afterwards to Keith Burkinshaw’s great side in the 80s. The team that Pochittino is developing has the potential to be a great side and providing he/we can keep them together I can see silverware coming in the future. But I wouldn’t compare them – yet – with Burkinshaw or Nicholson’s great sides, as they haven’t won anything. But I believe they will.

      We also must remember that these three sides were in different eras, which meant different health regimes, different training methods etc. Players are much more healthier than they were in the past. But, yes, a great side Pochettino is building, and we have the potential to go on and recreate those “Glory, Glory Days” again. But he has to keep the players together and build on what we’ve got. What complicates things is the building of the new stadium and the debt. So, keep our fingers crossed that Pochettino can outdo his predecessors.
      Glenn

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