Tuesday, 19 April 2011
The dreaded derby
I don't dread any game like I dread the North London derby. I don't dread death or the return of Davina McCall's chat show like I dread the North London derby.
I have heard other Spurs supporters say that they look forward to it. I can only assume that they are mentally unwell.
What's to look forward to? Even when we win it's torture. Apart from the sweet release of the final whistle, it's pure agony. I mean it's actually physically painful. It makes me ill.
In the last 25 years I reckon Arsenal have taken nearly as many years off my life as they have points off Spurs. No, that can't be right. I'd be dead, wouldn't I? No one lives to 197, do they?
This year's hurt is being ratcheted up by Arsenal fans shaking their heads, sighing heavily and intoning as sincerely as they can: 'I honestly think you'll win'.
I see what they're doing. I know their game. Sly bastards. Think we'll win... yeah, right. Utter bollocks. What they mean is, for the first time since 1863, the gap between the two teams isn't the length of an ocean liner, and for the first time since 1924 we've had the better of the last couple of league encounters.
And what they're actually saying is: 'Blimey, if you don't win this, you've fucked up. Come on, let's see how you deal with expectation. Let's see if we can trick you into feeling confident, thereby increasing the pain levels when we eventually do win - and throwing in a whole heap of making you look foolish into the equation.'
When I picture the game itself I see them passing their way round and through our midfield, making more triangles than a Dairy Lea factory. It looks like their players have been imported from the new FIFA game on PS3 and ours have been ripped from a rickety old table football set.
There is wave after wave of red attack. Sometimes I think I see Paolo Tramezzani back in defence.
These are the waking nightmares that stalk and cripple me for days before the derby.
And that's why this isn't much of a match preview. I can't bear to look directly at it for fear of the consequences. It's like the gaping eternity of death in a Godless universe (as Ray Wilkins will almost certainly point out just before kick off): if you actually stop to consider the mind-blowing reality of it, if you stare right into the very maws of doom then it will overwhelm and ultimately destroy you.
That's how people end up dribbling and gibbering in asylums, sat on the floor, hugging their knees to their chests, manic terror seared into their eyes. They're not mad, these people, far from it. They see things too clearly. They're not confused by life, they understand it perfectly. They know (and feel) the horrible hopelessness of existence. They suffer constantly and their tormentor is the truth. Oh, and they've got a Spurs season ticket.
What I'm saying is, I'd take a draw.
Follow that, Lawro.