Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The ten greatest moments of my Spurs supporting life - No. 4







4) Spurs 5 Arsenal 1
League Cup Semi-Final

White Hart Lane


Spurs scorers: Jenas, Bendtner (OG), Keane, Lennon, Malbranque

It may be a bit sad, possibly even slightly demeaning, that the number four spot is occupied by a semi-final in a not especially prestigious competition against a team that professes not to care about it anyway, but, in our world (certainly in my world), this was a very special night.

After the first leg, a 1-1 draw at the Emirates, I went out to pick up one of my daughters from something or other. The first thing I saw was a banner hanging outside the front of a local church displaying the single word HOPE in massive letters. Yeah, thanks God, we don’t need you taking the piss as well.

I wasn’t at the second leg. I watched it on my own at home. I just couldn’t face witnessing it in public. To paraphrase Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral, I needed to be where others were not.

Because, of course, this would end badly. And then, most unexpectedly, it started brilliantly. Jermaine Jenas put us 2-1 up on aggregate after just three minutes. I’ve been a staunch supporter of our much-maligned midfielder for many years now, and I would definitely throw ‘key goals against Arsenal’ into the case for the defence.

Bendtner then helped us on our way with a beauty of an OG. This was back when the world was only just discovering how shit he was – though to be fair he was already giving loads of clues.

And the goals just kept coming: Keane with one that Fabianski should have stopped, Lennon finishing off a fantastically flowing breakaway and Malbranque getting the fifth (created by Jenas) on 90 minutes. At that point I shouted at the telly ‘That’s embarrassing. That’s. Now. Officially. Fucking. Embarrassing’. I’m not proud. Then I went to the pub.

Arsenal fans subsequently, tediously and for the most part disingenuously mocked our excitement. They claimed that they hadn’t taken it seriously. Utter tosh. Their team of kids and reserves? Step forward messers Fabianski, Sagna, Gallas, Traore, Hleb, Denilson, Fabregas, Silva, Diaby, Walcott, Adebayor and Bendtner. Recognise a few of those names? Thought so. And Van Persie only didn’t play because he was injured. He started in the first leg, though.

The one player who didn’t figure on the night but was available and would have strengthened the line-up was Eboue – a fact that acknowledged sportingly by several Arsenal-supporting friends the next day.

And when Bendtner, Adebayor and Gallas started rowing with each other on the pitch, they looked like they cared a bit, didn’t they? Let’s not get bogged down in all that nonsense, though.

For us, this wasn’t just a win, this was an Event Win. It was a Can’t Wait For Work Tomorrow Win. It was a Buy All The Papers Win. It was a Marks & Spencer Win. It was a Still Got A Soppy Smile On Your Face 24 Hours Later Win. And, yes, Arsenal fans, it was a DVD Win (although I didn’t buy it).

Look, I wish I lived in a world where this wasn’t quite such a treasured highlight of our last 20 years, but we are what we are and this is what it is. In five years maybe this night will have been knocked out of the Top Ten altogether by a series of far more glorious achievements and amazing matches. But for now, let’s not apologise. Let’s just remember and enjoy.


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