Thursday, 22 March 2012

I'm with Cherie Lunghi


At the nail-biting denouement of pioneering '80s drama The Manageress, one of the players has to take a penalty which, if he scores, means the team, called, er, something or other, will, um, I dunno, get promoted. Or avoid relegation.

Look I was mainly (only) watching for Cherie Lunghi. But what I do remember is that, her character, The Manageress, just before the kick is taken, turns her back and walks away. She is so disillusioned with... sorry, again, I'm not quite sure, it was either drugs or match-fixing... anyway, she was so disillusioned with something that she could no longer actually bring herself to care whether or not the pen went in.

I know how she feels.

(Just reading that again and really wishing it was true)

But, no, I empathise. Honestly, if Cheri Lunghi's so hacked off with football that she fancies an early bath then I see no good reason why I shouldn't join her.

As Tony Hancock would have said: Honestly, I ask you, what's the point? What is the point?

I mean we'll have those all or nothing moments between now and the end of the season, sure, in the league and in the cup, but they're just blinking lights in a vast dark sky. A vast dark sky that's falling in. So it's time to get philosophical and go Lunghi.

Either that or I'm sulking.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Supporting Spurs is for lunatics


Essayist, bon viveur and garish jazz enabler George Melly wrote that one of the 'benefits' of growing old was that as your libido dissipated then disappeared it was 'like being unshackled from a lunatic'.

A similar effect can be achieved at a far younger age, of course, simply by getting married.

I wonder, though, how similar the effect would be if we could just turn off the part of our brain that cares about football? The bit that supports Spurs and still, despite what much smarter bits of the brain keep telling it, harbours hopes of glory. It would, I am certain, be wholly joyous.

The wild mood swings; the emotional dependency; the regular outlays of serious cash for no tangible or lasting return; the breakdown of relationships with friends and family who just don't understand that this week, unlike last week, when it was apparently a life affirming laugh riot, Harry Hill's TV Burp is deserving of nothing but grumpy, sweary disdain (clue: we lost): this is nothing short of a debilitating and damaging addiction.

It must stop.

Maybe I'll wander into one of those Alpha Course churches, with their posters that constantly ask you what's missing from you life. Or maybe there's an Allen Carr-style guru especially for our type of affliction who can prescribe some sort of programme. Is there a patch, maybe?

It's not the first time I've thought this. As long ago as the 1991 FA Cup semi final with Arsenal I remember being retrospectively horrified at the prospect of having lost. How much would it have hurt? Was it healthy for something so far beyond my control to matter so much?

Two years later, of course, we did lose, and I found out exactly how much it hurt. I hadn't kicked the habit in time. I still haven't. But I surely must.

(And yes, whenever you're reading this, whatever the next home game is, I'll see you at White Hart Lane; at what is more a support group than a group of supporters. Which is precisely why this blog is called Such Small Portions.)

Monday, 12 March 2012

This bears no relevance to Tottenham's current season


It also contains no information or insight concerning any matches we've just played or will soon play. It does not purport to tell you what we should have 'learned' from the Everton game or what we need to do against Bolton, Stoke or Chelsea, or why Harry... etc.

So, if you're the type of reader who likes a 'point' to things, you'll probably want to give this a miss. Because what it is, in fact, is:

Some things I noticed whilst recently watching the first leg of the Spurs v Anderlecht UEFA Cup Final of 1984...

1) A brilliant hand-scrawled banner in the Spurs end that just says, in massive letters, 'CHELSEA ARE ALL MOUTH'.

2) Pretty relentless monkey noises when Danny Thomas gets the ball. It still happens, sadly, but here the commentator makes no mention of it whatsoever.

3) Lack of replays. There must be less than half a dozen in the entire game. And when they are used they have that strange light quality that Brian De Palma used in the last scene of Carrie. At one point Mark Falco misses an open goal. No replay. Then again, it was quite a familiar sight in the mid-80s, so maybe wasn't deemed worthy of a second look.

4) Fans leaving on stretchers. Quite a lot of them. And they ain't moving. Again, the commentator doesn't make much of it. It seems to be just part of the 'occasion'. And is very much linked to...

5) Snarling Alsatians patrolling the perimeter of the stands, straining at their leashes to get a good bite of hooligan flesh. (They have handlers, I should add. Things were different back then, but dogs didn't run their own division of continental police forces.)

6) The TV cameras just watch the game, much like you or I would do. There are hardly any cutaways to the crowd or to the bench. They assume, quite rightly, that we would rather see players playing than a manager chewing or some buffoon in the stands showing 'passion'.

7) The game hardly ever stops. Players take knocks, but when they go down the ref doesn't stop the play, the physio isn't waved on, so they tend to get up, rub their legs, maybe hobble for a bit, and then they're fine. I'm not saying this makes these 'the good old days' or that players were tougher, the game was more manly etc., it's just the way it was.

There, that was a nice diversion, wasn't it? Now, as for Gareth Bale playing on the right...

Monday, 5 March 2012

Tottenham: Where did it all go wrong?


This is a classic 'Where did it all go wrong?' moment.

You know the story, of course; it practically defines George Best. One afternoon, injured or AWOL, our man, instead of slogging away at the training ground, is 'relaxing' on a hotel bed surrounded by swathes of bank notes, bottles of Champagne and a Miss Universe (or two, depends who you believe).

A waiter walks in to deliver some room service, assesses the scene, shakes his head ruefully and asks, 'Oh George, where did it all go wrong?'

And here we sit, third in the table, with a run in that, apart from one or two exceptions is more or less strewn with petals, - oh, and home games against Stevenage and Bolton between us and an FA Cup semi final.

So, where did it all go wrong?

Well, we lost away at Arsenal and at home to Man Utd. For about 90 minutes across the two games we were pretty woeful, for the other 90 minutes, we were probably just about the better side but failed to really capitalise.

Win our next two league games and we should still be fine. It would mean we couldn't come out the other side of Chelsea away any worse than a point ahead of Arsenal. And from then on the average league position of our last eight opponents is about 15th.

So, Everton away becomes, inevitably, the most important game of the season so far.

Remember though, the thing about that George Best story is that the joke's supposed to be on the waiter. We're meant to laugh at him for asking such a dumb question. But he was right, wasn't he? Things had started to go wrong for Best.The causes and the symptoms of his decline were indeed all present in that hotel room - his very presence there being one of them.

Which means we actually learn nothing from it. Except, maybe, how to console ourselves on Saturday night after Tim Cahill bags a late winner.