Why only Spurs fans' opinions actually matter

Discussion in 'Columns' started by le_magnifique, Nov 10, 2010.

  • by le_magnifique, Nov 10, 2010 at 8:03 PM
  • le_magnifique

    le_magnifique New Member

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    [due to a technical hitch this piece has been published a little late. I actually wrote it right after the Bolton game.]

    It was about half an hour in to a drab, goalless first half between Chelsea and Spartak Moscow that I heard 5live’s Alan Green said a few words that succinctly spelt out how the broadcast media in this country cover European football.

    “I certainly don’t want Spartak Moscow to score”, said Green, “but the purely neutral would want Chelsea to concede here”. The neutral, then, would want a Spartak goal, but this was not what our commentator wanted. It’s no secret that the BBC abandon their impartiality when an English team (or Arsenal) are playing in Europe, but it’s taken some getting used to for me to hear my beloved Spurs discussed in this sort of context.

    Growing up, I spent countless evenings hunched on my parents’ sofa watching Newcastle, Leeds and the so-called big four taking on Europe’s elite, and have always felt as if I’m expected, for whatever reason, to be supporting those teams rather than Marseille, Barçelona or Zagreb.

    A couple of weeks ago, for the first time, I was treated to a Spurs game on ITV in midweek: the Champions’ League aria, the MasterCard adverts and the poor quality analysis all somehow adding to the excitement, associated, as they are, with the competition in the same way that so many things set us thinking of Christmas or of any special occasion.

    What was different, though, and made all of this feel unusual, alien, and uncomfortable was the fact that this time the hype was all about Spurs. I’ve daydreamed about this, and I’ve watched Spurs and the Champions’ League so many times, but not together. It felt familiar and new at the same time.
    We’re there on merit, of course, and the glamour ties against Inter Milan are our deserved reward for going to Eastlands in May and beating Manchester City (not waiting for them to die of boredom, Roberto) and for digging in when it mattered in Switzerland and fighting back to claim the two crucial away goals that turned a nightmare start in to qualification for the competition proper.

    Sitting on the sofa, though, I was blinking as if I’d stepped out of the cinema. The San Siro. Somehow, despite having seen it so many times from that exact spot, it was strangely different.

    What was unusual was the beginner’s introduction to Tottenham Hotspur that I got from ITV when the coverage finally started. There, in front of me, was a West Bromwich Albion fan telling me what was going to happen, and inviting the thoughts of a man who had played for Aston Villa and Middlesbrough. The second pundit, Marcel Desailly, was even stranger: when one club is from Italy and the other from England, where is a Ghanaian born man who grew up in France supposed to put his loyalties? Of course, being on ITV, he was right behind the team from London. Having spent all those years at AC Milan, he could scarcely change his stripes to follow Inter. Then again, there’s hardly any love lost between us and Chelsea, for whom he played for six years: one longer than he spent in Milan.

    Desailly was playing in central midfield for Milan in the European Cup when I first saw him, so there’s a strange symmetry that he should be there, pitch-side, at his old ground introducing my team’s first Champions’ League appearance to be broadcast live into my own living room. It’s seeing all of these faces that made it seem so much more real, so much more like the European Cup I remember from my childhood.

    Despite all this, though, I don’t need to feel that all of these people are suddenly Spurs fans. Especially when I know for certain that they’re not. All of that somehow feels a bit disingenuous. I rarely watch the earlier rounds of the Champions’ League these days, and when I do I don’t become a Liverpool fan for the evening: that only happens when they’re playing Arsenal. And let’s get this straight: in no game against any other team will I ever want Arsenal to win. Ever. I’ve had arguments before with Manchester United supporters, for example, who tell me I should support English teams in Europe, but I don’t. I can’t, and nor would I want to. I’m happy to watch football matches of any level as a neutral except when Spurs are involved, or when it affects our own league position: the Blackpool versus West Brom game, for example.

    But the fact that Barçelona come from Spain would never, ever make me want Arsenal to beat them, whatever about the UEFA coefficient of the Premier League. I was ecstatic when Juliano Beletti scored the winner for Barçelona against Arsenal in 2006. Some comedian had commented on another blog that Arsenal being in the final might, as had been suggested, “unite the whole country”, but what about the few in London who wanted them to win? It’s funny, sure, but it’s true of all teams, I bet: there are plenty of people watching in their home countries who want Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle and Spurs to lose despite the fact that they’re playing a foreign team. It’s a little naïve to assume otherwise in a sport where so many tribal loyalties exist and grudges are held so strongly for so long.

    A couple of Everton supporting mates have wished me the best for our campaign in the Chamions’ League, “living their dream”, as one put it, and my mate from Bolton (who supports Blackburn) was texting me pretty much non-stop as we demolished Young Boys at the Lane. For all of that, though, I’ve been heard much more about how “hilarious” is was when Young Boys took that early 3-0 lead, and when Samuel Eto’o put Inter 4-0 ahead of us in the San Siro.

    It was then that the backlash really began to start: Gareth Bale’s hat-trick didn’t count, as Inter had relaxed by then, and the “real” score, for one Arsenal fan on a message board was 4-0. Yup – as opposed to the fictional score in UEFA’s record books that was carelessly based only on the number of goals actually scored by each team during the game.

    It wasn’t a Tottenham fight back in the second half, it was Bale’s fight back. A defeat, albeit one sustained playing with ten men for eighty minutes of a match away to the European champions and still by the single goal, meant we had been found out: we’re not good enough. We were the also-rans included to make up the numbers and had been made to look as such. No matter the grit, the fighting spirit that all of our players showed to stay in that match, as they had in Berne, and fight their way back towards parity: we were a joke.

    If that opinion is as popular as it seems, and it seemed to me to be almost universal the following morning, and if the rest of the country are either Tottenham fans by default or Spurs for the night out of some sense of patriotic duty, then why not just present the game like any other? Why should a man from Accra who spent a decade playing for fierce local rivals of both the teams he’s about to commentate on claim to support one more than the other?

    I admit it: I don’t like it when would-be neutrals become Spurs fans for the night. Give me Mark Lawrenson over all of that any day.
    It’s not much better when we win. I read the Fiver, on the Guardian website, most days: it’s meant to be a funny, slightly sarcastic take on football, but, given the stick dished out after we’d been beaten by Inter, surely credit was due after the return fixture, when we dominated the possession against them for 90 minutes, created so many chances, and the world’s best right-back wassent back to Milan in a London taxi? No: talk was immediately of the inevitable “European hangover” to come against Bolton, despite the fact that we’d lost only one of the five games played immediately after European matches this season, and won three. Alright, it’s just happened, but it wasn’t inevitable, besides, credit where credit’s due: we’d just demolished the best team in Europe.

    Otherwise, the general reaction was one of amazement at Gareth Bale. The lad had had another stormer, but, let’s be honest, he’s looked a player since he arrived. Scratch that, he was “the next Ryan Giggs” while at Southampton. Now he’s done it on the big stage, though, he’s really the next Ryan Giggs, apparently. Not just for Wales, but for Manchester United. Except if Barça get him first. And we’re a one-man team, anyway. Presumably, then, we’ll be fighting it out for 17th place with Cardiff City next season.

    The defeat to Bolton hasn’t helped. I didn’t go, and listening to it on 5live has been a painful experience. I’ve just been reminded that we’ll need to qualify for next year’s competition via the League, and that beating Inter in what Andy Gray laughably called "the biggest game in Spurs' history" doesn’t mean we’ll beat Bolton by turning up throughout. It was a pretty shabby game for the most part, apparently, so I guess they needed something to talk about.

    Surely, though, as professionals, you’d think that Green and his mates could prepare a little more thoroughly than the last two pages of Wednesday’s Sun? All I heard was that we’d beaten Inter but were trailing at the Reebok. Thanks: I could have got that from Teletext. Bale, Bale, Bale. Hangover, hangover, hangover. It’s as if the excellence of Tuesday’s performance and result had become a stick to beat all of our fans with.

    Bolton were excellent, apparently, and wanted it more. Kevin Davies played very well, and they pressed us and took advantage of the extra day’s rest they’d had. Fair play to Bolton, they’re a good side and one of the toughest away games in the Premier League. If I were one of their fans I’d be screaming for the credit that my team deserved for turning over a team that had just hammered Inter, the best team on this continent.

    Sadly, for whatever reason, the Inter result will be the stick that we’re beaten with, just as last year the 9-1 against Wigan somehow made it worse whenever we slipped up. It’s an angle, an eye-catching, easy to remember little hook for headline writers, the first page of Talking About Tottenham for Dummies. No need to know our players, Alan, or our history, Andy: our biggest game ever was only on Tuesday.

    I know I’m not happy when we’re over-hyped, when every neutral is a Spurs fan for the night. It doesn’t feel right. And when we don’t get the credit that we deserve, or losing to Bolton becomes somehow worse for having beaten Inter, then I don’t like that either.

    I just want to watch the game, chaps. I couldn’t get to Milan, and didn’t want to go to Bolton. If you’re lucky enough to be paid to enjoy the rollercoaster, then please remember this: we at Tottenham like having six or seven goals in our games. The rollercoaster is what makes all of this worthwhile. And we have set our sights so high that even failure will have in it an echo of glory. Two weeks on Wednesday, when you’re Tottenham Til I Die for two hours because the opposition are German, please remember all of this. Put it in your crib sheets, and stop talking about which of our players might aspire to be good enough for Manchester United. Because once you’ve built them up, you’ll have to knock them down again.

    Oh, and also because I don’t care. The fact is that all of this has made me realise that, when it comes to discussing Spurs, I only really pay any attention, to the opinions of other fans. We just tend to know more about our own club, to support them only because they’re our team, and, with a few exceptions, tend to take a more balanced view of how good they actually are. Gareth Bale wasn’t the new Messi in the San Siro, and was never in Rafael or Gretar Steinsson’s pocket. Those were never our words, so I won’t be mocked for them when the real culprits, with the benefit of hindsight, mock us for that hyperbole. We’ll be there or thereabouts.
    Not all commentators have to support Spurs: just tell me what they’re doing out on that bit of grass. In the mean time, I’ll be talking Spurs with the other fans. Thanks.
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Discussion in 'Columns' started by le_magnifique, Nov 10, 2010.

  1. Lillywhite_Jon
    I really enjoyed reading this and am sure that what you say is right. Thanks.
  2. nav007_2000
    I think the results today worked out ideal for spurs.
    Liverpool drew, Man City drew, Newcastle lost and Bolton drew. Looking at the table the gap is so tight between 5th and 15th

    Spurs have to beat blackburn and hopefully get something out of the Arsenal game.
  3. Oscar2
    Enjoyed your post!
  4. Oscar2
    They sure did. If we can put together a decent run we will be back in contention. Cant afford any more slip ups though. Its not every match day that results go your way
  5. not_tenth-again
    Dream results really, we could have easily dropped into the bottom half of the table if results had gone against us. Blackburn, Arsenal and Liverpool in the league this month - with a CL game in between the last two games. I wouldn't say make or break but it's massively important we take at least 5 points from those games.

    p.s Great article
  6. spud
    Nice article, M. le m. I agree with just about all of it.

    I've never understood why anybody feels that they should (or would want to) support the likes of L'Arse or ManUre in Europe. Like you, I always want them and Chelski to lose every game. Seeing the goons lose three european finals over the years has been excellent fun.

    Your comments about the laughable lack of knowledge in media coverage are also spot on. You would have to laugh at some of it if you weren't too busy cringing.
  7. JimmyG2
    Us fans eh!. What are we like?
    Enjoyable read .
    I'm a bit of a purist and want the best team who play the best football to win whoever they are and wherever they come from.
    That's why over the years I have been an ardent Spurs fan. Even when they are bad they're quite good.
    I can't say that I don't enjoy watching Arsenal and as long its not Spurs don't mind at all if they win.

    I think that you are expecting too much of the media.
    They are all jobbing journalists and even those that should know better have to sell copies and subscriptions, have to create their hooks and angles and as you say most are less well informed than the average fan.
    They hype up the most tedious games in case people switch off.
  8. Paxtonite
    Good read. I kind of started to lose the jist of the message for a bit but i get that it was a pop at the media. I am pretty sure that we could all do their job. Any football fan with half a brain could really. Alan Green is a Liverpool fan that takes any given opportunity to have a snidey pop at Man U when his ego isn't getting in the way. Andy Gray (the master of hindsight) is just an ignoramus that loves the established big four and feels uncomfortable that he now has to say good things about us and maybe Citeh too cos we've gatecrashed his private club.

    The only pundit worth listening to in my opinion is Stewart Robson (usually on Talk Sport). Despite being ex gooner and spammer he speaks an awful lot of sense. As for the commentators we have to sadly take what we are given.
  9. JimmyG2
    Just remembered the Danny Blanchflower story first read on here posted by COYS

    "These teams can't play"
    Blanchflower commentating on an early NASL game for US TV

    "Accentuate positive truths rather then negative truths"

    "These teams positively can't play"
  10. BringBack_leGin
    Brilliant, best read of 2010!
  11. Freddie
    Brilliant, brilliant piece of writing. Occasionally a sentiment will be floating around when it comes to Spurs and it leaves me in a state of irritation. Ususally it won't go away until I can put my finger on what's bothering me, or someone else perfectly encapsulates my feelings and releases the tension. This is what you've done. I feel I can now go and unleash a tirade at someone. I feel reborn.
  12. Sauniere
    Good post, was a bit daunted by the length of it what with being at work and all that but glad I read it.
  13. tRiKS
    i can pay no higher compliment that to say i shall be saving this, reading it it times of crisis and quoting from it when arguing with a "neutral"
  14. guate
    Le_magnifique.......great read and a topic I totally identify with. Living in Central America has, like everywhere, advantages and disadvantages and one of the negatives for me in the early days (1976) was a lack of exposure to English football, specifically all things Spurs. I use to eagerly listen on an excellent Sony short wave radio, aided by a home made antenae that stretched 150 metres across the road from my house to the hotel I worked at and back again, to the Beeb's broadcast of each Saturday's match of the day, ocasionally getting lucky when they broadcasted the odd Spurs game.
    Whenever I went to Guatemala City I would pop in to the British Embassy and devour for a couple of hours at a time a back log of the month's newspapers they had on display avidly looking for anything Spurs related.
    Once parabolic antenas came along it wasn't until a few years into the Premier League that I could begin to see televised games on Fox Sports and Champions League games on ESPN. Initially I was more than happy to support any team representing England in the Champions as I was desperate to watch good football but for some ingrained reason I just couldn't bring myself to watch the Arse anal games as it seemed treacherous on my behalf to do so.
    Latin American commentators are extremely knowledgeable regarding football, whether it be the Mexican or Dutch leagues and more so with the Premier (often referred to as the world's best league) and Champions. However where they set themselves apart is their true love for the game and although they've been accustomed to basically seeing the "Top 4" for far too many years for my liking, they're now always very enthusiastic regarding Spurs. In part because of the three latins in the squad, Wilson, Giovanni and Heurelho, but also because we've participated in and played key roles in highly entertaining games such as Young Boys away and at home, W.B away, Inter away and at home, consequently their enthusiasm with the new kid on the block knows no boundaries as they countlessly rave about VDV, Bale (el mono blanco), Heurelho, Disco Benny, Aaron Lennon, Crouchie (who they call the "sancudo" from the mosquito family because of his long spindly legs) Luka (the diminuitive magician), Hudd (el gigante 1) and Younes (el gigante 2). Ledley they like also but never see enough of him. Never have I heard snide comments regarding Spurs or any other English club as you guys listening to British commentators have to put up with on a weekly basis and although Spanish is not my maternal language I now far prefer to listen to any of the Premier league games in Spanish, unless I stream the odd game with US commentators who, as you all well know by now, are just a hoot to listen to regarding their description of what's happening on the playing field.

    Apologies for my lengthy post, got a bit carried away.
  15. le_magnifique
    Thank you. I actually very much enjoyed your lengthy post. I also very much admire your devotion to Los Spurs.

    Thanks. Yes, if I'm honest, I went off topic for a while there. It was a bit of a pop at the media, but was intended more as a defence against the inevitable Spurs-bashing that follows once we've been so over-hyped.

    My defence is that it wasn't us, but the same press and broadcast pundits, who hyped us in the first place. But then I got going and digressed a little bit.

    Thank you all for your kind comments. It's made me feel warm inside. :)
  16. TimJ
    A very good post which I enjoyed reading. Thanks

    I live in Asia and we got all the Premier league football (or EPL as they call it) live.
    When I speak to locals about the EPL they are normally reasonably knowledgeable and most know Spurs but very few support teams outside the sky four, in particular Man Utd, Liverpool and Asrenal, in that order. I think it is in part because the colour of their kit is red (red is a lucky colour in Asia) but also because they have the double exposure with the Champions league.

    It can also be quite irritating when Spurs lose to one of these lot is it 'normal' and noone will mention us. However, if we win they always focus on why one of the sky four lost. The focus is always on the sky four.

    That is why websites like this are my saviour.

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