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Monday, 29 April 2013

Spurs have "already won".

Guest Piece by @jackuzisps 

Coming towards the end of the season, it's a time for reflection. It's been an interesting season for fans, and not necessarily for good reasons. We've had a number of racism occurrences, some horrendous European away stories, and even fans at Wembley fighting themselves. But, for every person that gives this football a culture a bad name, there's thousands that give it a good one, and at this time in the season, it feels like a good time to talk about that.

I am not a spurs fan, which I apologise for in advance. But having heard about the 1882 setup that you've got going (I've even been to one myself), I think a mutual respect is always built between sets of supporters who follow the game in the right way. That is, religiously.

Being a Pompey fan, the stats suggest that this should have been the most depressing season in modern history. However, for reasons I am about to go in to, it has been the most satisfying. It's during these types of seasons that you realise why you really love it, and why all the 4am starts the away schedule can throw at you are all worth it, just for that split second euphoria of a meaningful goal.

So why, with the worst losing streak since the war, and facing back to back relegations, has this season been what has kept my faith in football? Because, in the same way that the 1882 movement has created more excitement for the right type of spurs fans than a number of games at White Hart Lane put together this season, it's about what's done off the pitch that matters. To me, football isn't about the amount of away goals per season, or the average pass percentage of some unknown Spanish midfielder; it's about how many times you sang for 90 minutes, how many times you went away and embarrassed the home fans, and how many times the score didn't matter, because the proper battle was won in the stands. Speaking as someone who has now experienced three relegations in four years, I honestly believe that part of the magic that I fell in love with was lost in the Premiership, by a number of casual fans (and owners, which is another point entirely) getting involved for the wrong reasons.

This is not plea for sympathy, nor is it a 'look how good our fans are' shout. It's more of general rejection of the fair weather supporters that flood the premier league today. Yes they 'pay good money' and yes they have just as much right to boo as they do to watch a good performance. But what does that actually help? The spirit of the 1882 movement is what the Premiership needs. An injection of passion, of escapism. The reason everyone fell in love with the game in the first place. And that reason wasn't because you reached fourth place over Arsenal, it wasn't because you saw a particular bit of skill or a particular finish. It was because you felt part of something, part of something that seemed like it could never be crushed. So take that to every game, and make sure you sing for your shirt, because any true rivalry has never really been about what happens on the pitch.

To me, football is this thing about being part of something that is actually worth remembering in years to come. Because when you look back on it, are you going to be someone who remembers being disgusted at the exact scoreline of a random league game, or are you going to be someone who remembers backing your side the whole way and enjoying every second? I know what I'd rather be. And anyway, we're still singing 'Que sera sera' down at Fratton park. It's just these days, 'We're going to Wembley' is replaced with 'We're going to Accrington Stanley'.

So, from a happy Pompey fan to a load of (hopefully) loyal spurs fans: don't worry about the race for fourth place. Because to anyone that properly understands, you've already won.

Author: @jackuzisps 

Saturday, 13 April 2013


Dreams were soon becoming murmurs of the Dam. Can we honestly forgive ourselves for even daring to think, daring to believe? I felt an Utter fool for doing so. Allowing myself to be sucked in to the belief that Spurs could make a final in Amsterdam. It would've been too perfect. No Spurs train ever arrives at the end of the line as planned. We encounter far too many signal failures, breakdowns and engineering works in our season and we're left reflecting on how we'll cope as fans, how Spurs will cope and whether we can snatch at any positives that fight their way out of the abysmal anticlimax that is the exit of the Europa League quarter finals.

We worked hard for it. The players left blood in their tracks. I genuinely couldn't fault their effort in a competition traditionally snubbed and demeaned by the English; our own past proving little to shy away from this. We've given so much in an intensely demanding season. Our lack of depth almost predictably epitomising perfectly why the season proved as demanding as it has done. Adebayor's penalty didn't knock us out. The complacency in the first leg did, but we always knew we'd be limping through this competition because of a lack of investment in depth in the summer and January. I do trust Levy and hope he'll give AVB the backing that'll match his initial faith in appointing the young Portuguese coach.

I did little to hide my disappointment at Friedel starting ahead of Lloris. Friedel undoubtly gave us a great year last season but the dynamic of our side has changed. Lloris' importance in the Spurs side is second to none. It does force the subconscious feeling of 'what if'. I struggle to find any real benefit of starting the American ahead of the French 'keeper. The Europa League now enters its de-valuing stage. The remaining teams once playing under the Champions League lights now find themselves in Europe's second tier competition. Perspective. Chelsea's arguably initial goals of a good run in Europe and contending the Premier League title now fall to accept a top 4 finish and a Europa League final.

I don't say this accepting second best. I say this as I see it. We've done well to get to the quarter finals of the Europa League and are still heavily involved in the fight for fourth - as were our initial plans. I've been to three Europa league away's this year and I can't express my admiration for the competition so much more-so now. It's an exciting competition that reaps the passion of the fans all across Europe. They love it, and so should we. It's secondary status to the Champions League gives it the edge for me in almost taking away the commercial propaganda that invites half-arsed fans to flick on the TV or buy up space in a ground that could be filled by those that truly wish to sing for the shirt.

Don't have me mistaken, the Champions League is fantastic in terms of growing the club and continuing this exponentially is key. But, from a fan point of view, I've loved every minute and every aspect of following us in the Europa League. It's granted me more opportunity in which to sing my heart out for the only club I'll ever love. Winning games breeds confidence. A minority saw the Europa League as an opportunity cost to a top 4 place. There's little point playing in a competition if you don't want to go out and win the thing. Nothing beats lifting a European trophy, regardless of its' status.

As has been mentioned before, we must return to find our collective. Slating certain individuals does nothing to help the side progress. I don't knock fans having their own negative opinion, I just call for that particular negative opinion to be bottled away from White Hart Lane. Breathing positivism lifts the tension weighing down the players each week. Believe it or not, but we do make a difference at games. We've only a handful of games left in which to play. We're once again underdogs for top flight European competition. Regardless of how other teams perform, let's show both on and off the pitch how much we want that place in the sacred top 4.

Ben - Follow me on Twitter here.

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