The grail awaits in a far-off country where people sing like never before
As a stoic philosopher, I have – up to now – been successful in telling myself that enduring hardship is a breeze, and whoever said life was going to be easy anyway?
This week, however, I have been challenged by the realities of lockdown. My natural sense of alienation has been increased by watching masked residents stalking the streets of Bondi like misplaced bandits with no stores to rob.
Foolishly, on the weekend, after watching crowd-free racing on TV, and backing impeccably bred losers, I plugged into the English Premier League. Mistake. All the commentators were in rollicking good spirits, saying things like, ‘I’ve never heard Old Trafford in such fine voice’, and ‘Elland Road hasn’t rocked like this since the days of Don Revie and Billy Bremner’. So, you’ve got a party in the old UK, have you? Bully for you! And, secondly, fugg orrrf!
My bad reaction to all this bonhomie had been pre-poisoned by two hours of watching my beloved team, Tottenham Hotspur, produce a display of self-immolation that I can scarcely describe for fear of running out of vituperative expressions. I’ll start with the term, ‘utter crap’, as a warm-up.
They say that charity begins at home, but some of our players have no love for the club. Two of our Argentinians, told not to travel to a World Cup match the week before, effectively said, Vete a la mierda, and immersed themselves in a Covid shit-fight in Sao Paulo, perhaps never to be healthy again. Our Colombian, Davinson Sanchez, took a similar flight path of defiance. This led to us fielding a sub-optimum starting 11 against Crystal Palace, and we eventually became a team of 10 when our defender, Japhet Tanganga, started playing like a psycho off his meds. He was dispatched in a red mist, and down we spiralled like no-jab Covid patients with a smorgasbord of pre-existing maladies.
But those things are nothing. The tone was set pre-season when England captain, Harry Kane, our legendary striker, told all and sundry that he was tired of playing for lilywhite losers, and demanded to be sold to Man City.
‘So, are you looking forward to leading the Tottenham Hotspur line this season, Harry, old son?’ ‘Tottenham who? Leave me alone so I can learn the lyrics to all the Oasis hits, mate.’
Why does it have to be like this at Spurs? There’s always a litany of problems, and an endless managerial roundabout of under-achievers, the shortest incumbent being one Jacques Santini, who lasted 13 games. There’s actually a film called, ‘The Great Santini’, but, well, it isn’t about him.
Our managers often have portent-laden names like Juande Ramos, leading to the cruel joke, ‘How apt – Spurs have a manager called “One day” ’. Well, one day we did win the League Cup with Ramos (2007-2008), but our form then nosedived and Ramos had to vamoose.
Now we have a manager called Nuno Espirito Santo, a name which resonates with spiritual rejuvenation and miraculous possibility. This is what scares me. For some reason, our club brings curses where there should be blessings. One day we’re infused with a divine spirit (and luck) and can beat Man City. Next, we’re playing like sacrificial lambs on the altar of a diabolical demon at Selhurst Park (‘Where there’s never been such jubilation, elation, celebration’ etc. blah blah blah).
There’s an ancient curse in operation, I suspect, with wicked bones of a former player lying beneath our retractable football pitch at the ‘New White Hart Lane’. I suggest we send Espirito Santo down there with a priest to dig them up and perform a symbolic exorcism. Our Jewish chairman, Daniel Levy, might not see the appeal of this bold foray into spiritually contaminated territory, but I think it’s worth a try.
What I am saying is that supporting Spurs can be an effing challenging experience. It’s as if, having become the first club to win the League and FA Cup double, we took our foot off the accelerator and, sportingly, let the other clubs catch up. Well, lads, they have caught up now, they have … and gone right on bloody well by.
It’s time to find a roadmap, burn the rotten bones of past mishaps, and rediscover the path to glory where others have marched ahead.
The immortal words of our greatest manager, Bill Nicholson, will forever resonate: ‘It is better to fail aiming high than to succeed aiming low. And we of Spurs have set our sights very high, so high in fact that even failure will have an echo of glory.’
The lessons from this are simple. Harry Kane must understand that wearing the white shirt is an honour beyond all trophies and medals. Our South American players must put the world’s greatest club above country, or go home permanently. And Nuno Espirito Santo must shove his safety-first playbook up his ass, and get us delivering some swashbuckling football with the aim of achieving eye-catching victories, not 1-0 grinds.
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