Woolwich – last day drama

This Sunday will be the 7th time in my Spurs supporting lifetime that we’ve gone into the final game of the season battling with Arsenal with the season’s Pride of North London at stake. Needless to say we’ve seldom been victorious but this weekend presents a set of circumstances which stack the odds firmly in our favour. Here are some details of the previous occasions:

1989-90

3

Arsenal

61

+16

Norwich C (a)

4

Tottenham

60

+11

Southampton (h)

Back in the pre-Premier League era it is often difficult to remember that football existed. In 1990 Liverpool won the last of the 18 League Championships and Alex Ferguson was about to win the first of his major trophies as Manchester Utd manager by beating Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final.

lineker

Under Terry Venables Spurs were building an attractive side; spearheaded by Lineker and Gascoigne (who would go on to star at the upcoming World Cup) we had gone on an excellent run in Spring 1990 catapulting us to 4th going into the final game of the season against Southampton. The following season was to be the first that English clubs could enter European competition (after a 5-year ban) – this meant that there was only one UEFA Cup spot available for the team finishing second which Aston Villa had already secured. Arsenal had fallen well short of defending their title and found themselves needing a win at Norwich City to guarantee a top 3 finish above Spurs.

Arsenal stumbled to a 2-2 draw at Carrow Road (Ruel Fox scoring Norwich’s second) whilst Spurs in the bright sun took a commanding two goal lead (Allen and Stewart) which only a late consolation couldn’t ruin. Presumably in the days before twitter it would have been the trusted ‘terrace trannie’s’ (transistor radios) which would have confirmed Spurs as Pride of North London for the first time since 1987.

Although I wasn’t at the game…I lived through most games back then on Capital Gold…..I do recall there being a euphoric atmosphere as it became obvious that we would finish above Arsenal.

3

Tottenham

63

+12

4

Arsenal

61

+16

1995-96 UEFA beckons

4

Arsenal

60

+16

Bolton (h)

5

Tottenham

60

+12

Newcastle (a)

Back when only the champions received a spot in the Champions League a highly coveted spot in the 1996-7 UEFA Cup was up for grabs for the team who would finish in

ff6465c64a76faac0ebe734853cf91565th position at the end of the season. Both Blackburn and Everton were also in with a chance but would require Arsenal to drop points at home to already relegated Bolton. Spurs meanwhile travelled to St James Park in the immediate aftermath of the Kevin Keegan ‘I’d love it if we beat them’ rant; in fact the Geordies had drawn 1-1 at Nottingham Forest on the Thursday evening (where you may recall Ferguson had questioned whether the home team would be as motivated as when they played Manchester Utd). Newcastle therefore needed to beat Spurs and hope that United would drop points at Middlesbrough. In essence Arsenal had by far the easier task.

With 60 minutes played Spurs held an unlikely 1-0 lead through Jason Dozzell whilst Arsenal trailed by a goal at home to Bolton. However, within the space of 10 minutes Newcastle equalised (Ferdinand) and Arsenal scored twice; Blackburn and Everton also won their games meaning that the season would end fruitlessly and we were denied successive finishes as top dogs in North London for the first time in a decade.

5

Arsenal

63

+17

Qualified for UEFA Cup 1996-97

8

Tottenham

61

+12

Bruce Rioch left Highbury that Summer with an unknown French bloke taking over; Spurs floundered under Francis and a chasm opened up between the two sides which was not bridged until……..

2005-06 Lasagne-gate

4

Tottenham

65

+16

West Ham (a)

5

Arsenal

64

+35

Wigan (h)

This one still hurts like mad and it had all the ingredients (excuse the pun) for the most wicked of endings possible. This heartache involved not just Arsenal but the pikey boys’ in their cup final.

We all know what happened to our boys in the early hours of their Canary Wharf hotel that morning. News broke by mid morning amidst rumours and counter-rumour of the game being postponed due to the ill health of the team. The suggestion was finally quashed by no less than Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore who spoke live pitch side at Highbury where Arsenal fans gleefully celebrated the news on the day of their final game at the old stadium.

davids

There had been suggestions that Spurs would have to field a team of reserves or even the youth team in order to fulfil the fixture but Martin Jol had to make the decision to play a ‘full strength’ team all of whom were still suffering badly from gastroenteritis.

Arsenal incredibly fell behind in the first half and when Defoe fired Spurs level we were still in pole position. Spurs’ energy levels predictably dropped in the second half and needing a winner were unable to create much against a highly motivated Spammers team –all for the exception of Spurs legend Teddy Sheringham who fired a penalty into the torso of Paul Robinson. Alas Berkovic danced through the defence with 15 minutes to play and Spurs were unable force even a consolation equaliser. Henry netted a second half hat trick meaning Arsenal secured 4th spot although both protagonists were to lose the Champions League and FA Cup finals respectively the following week to provide something of a meek consolation.

4

Arsenal

67

+37

Qualified for CL 2006-07

5

Tottenham

65

+15

Qualified for UEFA Cup 2006-07

2009-10 – An after-thought

3

Arsenal

72

+38

Fulham (h)

4

Tottenham

70

+28

Burnley (a)

We had famously qualified for the Champions League fir the first time with a 1-0 win at Manchester City on the Wednesday night. A draw may have been enough with a comfortable looking fixture at already relegated Burnley on the final day but the win had secured a top 4 finish with a game to spare. As a result of Arsenals traditional title meltdown in which they had been in a 2-horse race for the title with Chelsea yet went into the final game looking over their shoulder at fourth and their favourite neighbours.

164

Finishing above them was no more than an after=thought. They would have to lose ay home to Fulham which was at best a farfetched fantasy and so it proved when they scored 3 first half goals en route to a 4-goal rout. Probably just as well as Spurs managed to finish an historic season in traditional Spursy fashion by throwing away a 2-goal lead against a relegated side to lose 4-2 largely courtesy of Ben Alnwick’s catastrophic performance in goal (he would only ever play one other game for spurs when he was equally as bad also at Turf Moor in a League Cup semi-final).

3

Arsenal

75

+42

Qualified for CL 2010-11

4

Tottenham

70

+26

Qualified for CL 2010-11

2011-12 Mind The Crap

3

Arsenal

67

+24

WBA (a)

4

Tottenham

66

+23

Fulham (h)

Similarly to two years earlier Arsenal were 3rd and Spurs 4th which should have been enough for both to qualify for the Champions League. For Spurs, to finish above Arsenal would have been no more than an added bonus but the cloud hanging over North London was in the shape of a Chelsea Champions League final appearance of which a win for the Chavs would result in the 4th place finishing team being denied a place in Europe’s premier club competition.

Tottenham-v-QPR-Gareth-Bale-celeb-second-goal_2672373

Added to the apprehension was the fact that not only had Spurs been in with a realistic chance of winning the title in January but we had surrendered a 13-point lead over the Goons having comfortably led 2-0 in the first half at The Emirates in February. In overturning that deficit to win 5-2 that points tally was gradually eaten away at and overturned going into the final game of the season. With both sides playing mid-table opposition Spurs needed to better Arsenal’s result.

Spurs were ahead in 2 minutes; Adebayor slotting home from Van Der Vaart’s through ball. The authorities at White Hart Lane decided not to display latest scores from The Hawthorns which meant the crowd were reliant on mobile phones or looking at the TV’s in the hospitality lounges. Arsenal went 1 up but before long were 2-1 behind in 15 minutes; Arsenal would score again in the first half to go level but the results as they stood were enough for Spurs to clinch 3rd spot.

Little did we know at the time that WBA emergency loan goalkeeper, Marton Fulop (who had once been on Spurs’ books) was having a stinker. Not content with throwing the first two in he would later gift Koscielny with a winner in the second half; Defoe did score a second for Spurs who comfortably held on to a 2-0 win. History would dictate that 4th wasn’t to be enough and having lost out to Arsenal the Chavs would deny us Champions League football with the most fortuitous victory in European football history in Munich a week layer. It also proved to be Harry Redknapp’s last game as Spurs Manager.

3

Arsenal

70

+25

Qualified for CL 2012-13

4

Tottenham

69

+25

Qualified for Europa League 2012-13

2012-13 The ‘Ghost Goal’

4

Arsenal

70

+44

Newcastle (a)

5

Tottenham

69

+19

Sunderland (h)

With a vastly inferior goal difference we needed to win and would also require Arsenal to drop points. The 4th Champions League spot was up for grabs with Arsenal in the driving seat having beaten Wigan during the midweek – a result that relegated the shock FA Cup winners.

Rafael-Van-Der-Vaart-scored-2-for-Tottenham-Hotspur

Arsenal were playing a Newcastle side who had only just avoided relegation; their relief was palpable with Alan Pardew claiming that ‘he wouldn’t care if they lost 4-0 to Arsenal’ (now that they were safe). Let’s face it Newcastle players have never needed motivation to not care. Meanwhile, under AVB we were set to record our highest ever Premier League points tally albeit were heavily reliant on one Gareth Bale.

Bale was wrongly penalised for a dive in the Sunderland box in the 1st half and both games were goalless at half-time.

Arsenal then took an inevitable lead early after the interval through Koscielny. Spurs huffed and puffed but found a resolute Sunderland defence. Midway through the second half a ripple of excitement emanated from the White Hart Lane crowd…this evolved into muted celebration followed by confusion. TV cameras picked up on a fan with a radio to her ear asking her friend what was going on. Whether this was the work of a mischievous Arsenal fan in the catering staff has never been revealed but alas Newcastle had barely got out of their deckchairs positioned neatly around their own penalty area as Arsenal’s players tiptoed around them in their flip flops with cocktails in hand.

Despite a trademark Bale curling effort from 25 yards very late on the win did no more than gain a record points tally in the Premier League era and provide a fitting end to Bale’s Spurs career as he embarked on a protracted Summer move to Madrid in order to avoid forthcoming Europa trips to the Arctic Circle and the Moldovan breakaway Republic of Tiraspol.

Arsenal emerged off their sun loungers to celebrate wildly in front of their fans at St James to enjoy yet another final day St Totteringham’s Day.

4

Arsenal

73

+45

Qualified for CL 2013-14

5

Tottenham

72

+20

Qualified for Europa League 2013-14

Sadly this has been quite depressing to write and I’m sure equally so to have read….let’s hope that Sunday provides a happy ending!

COYS!

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30 thoughts on “Woolwich – last day drama

  1. Daisuk

    A depressing read, but excellently written! Thanks! Hopefully we won't add to this story today. :)

    The ultimate, 'read that and weep' for any Spurs fan.

    And any Spurs fan saying they're not bothered by it all and instead hurls at others, accusations of small mindedness and of being obsessed, as far as I'm concerned can go fudge themselves!:):p:D

  2. Nice article. A bit depressing, but I'm a little surprised how often we have been close enough for the final day to matter. Lasagnegate, Fulop and Munich flopping at home is surely extremely bad luck.

    P.S. I think you have a mistake in the 1995-96. The table extract has us in 4th, playing Bolton, and Arsenal playing Newcastle. Should we be 5th?

  3. jts1882

    Nice article. A bit depressing, but I'm a little surprised how often we have been close enough for the final day to matter. Lasagnegate, Fulop and Munich flopping at home is surely extremely bad luck.

    P.S. I think you have a mistake in the 1995-96. The table extract has us in 4th, playing Bolton, and Arsenal playing Newcastle. Should we be 5th?

    Yes you're right…didnt proof read properly in desperation to get this out in time!
    Arsenal were 5th going into their final game (Bolton – home) and we were 6th (newcastle – away).

  4. GPRD81

    Yes you're right…didnt proof read properly in desperation to get this out in time!
    Arsenal were 5th going into their final game (Bolton – home) and we were 6th (newcastle – away).

    I'll update it when I get home

  5. Daisuk

    And this one's for the bloody ages! Worst one yet, no doubt.

    Throwing away an 8 point lead over the Goons with only 4 games to go and an opportunity to finish in the Top 2 for the first time since the 1960s, quite possibly tops the Mind-The-Gap season :oops:

  6. SteveAWOL

    Throwing away an 8 point lead over the Goons with only 4 games to go and an opportunity to finish in the Top 2 for the first time since the 1960s, quite possibly tops the Mind-The-Gap season :oops:

    I think this is questionably worse

  7. SteveAWOL

    Throwing away an 8 point lead over the Goons with only 4 games to go and an opportunity to finish in the Top 2 for the first time since the 1960s, quite possibly tops the Mind-The-Gap season :oops:

    But we're still in the CL. Have to man up and come back better next season. We've made some massive advances. There is more to come…

  8. I don't think this one will be remembered in the same way that Lasagne-gate or even Mind the Gap will be as ultimately there was nothing tangible (i.e. champ league qualification at stake). Unlike Mind the Gap I don't feel as if we have ever got roostery about finishing above them and they were really resigned to it happening as well – i.e. there hasn't been much banter in the last few weeks. It's as if we always knew this was a possibility.

    Big difference for me is that all the previous occasions contained circumstances and odds that were against us. Of course the 3rd goal/penalty which should never have been may have made a difference but on the whole we completely roostered up today and can blame nobody but ourselves.

  9. Absolutely disgraceful end to the season.

    Pochettino had a chance to bury the "bottlers" tag and instead we've just added probably the worst bottling job ever.

    He's had the tongues of British journo's up his ass for the last 3yrs, maybe he needs to take a quick look at himself and see if its gone to his head at all.

    From an outside chance at the title to finishing behind them again.

    Just a miserable end to what should have been a highly enjoyable season (in its entirety) but now has a very sour taste.

  10. I think the difference now is that we failed to finish second with our best PL points total. The poor end of season is upsetting, but its not defined on Arsenal in the way previous seasons were when the pipped s for CL qualification. We didn't miss out on the CL or the direct group qualification.

    In the end, we fell off from a long-shot championship challenge and got pipped by a side that had no shot for the championship. Irritating but not a big issue. Both of us get group stage qualification for the CL, they will get a slightly higher share of the revenues.

    And for better or worse, Wenger will stay. This upsets a remarkable number of Arsenal supporters.

  11. GPRD81

    Yes you're right…didnt proof read properly in desperation to get this out in time!
    Arsenal were 5th going into their final game (Bolton – home) and we were 6th (newcastle – away).

    I've updated it. Let me know if I've got it wrong or there are any other errors

  12. Thats correct now Milo!

    Put another way folks – I think in years to come this season will be remembered for pushing for the title into May, developing a fantastic and totally unknown team ethic and qualifying for the Champions League. That we finished below Woolwich will hurt but it won't be the predominant thought when reflecting back on 2015/16 – but may take a while!

    Even 10 years on we only remember 05/06 for Lasagne-gate and 11/12 for Mind the Gap collapse/Chavski fluking the CL.

  13. Any Arsenal fan who isn't looking at their team and thinking what the fk are you lot at is lying to themselves! Flat track bullies, the Graham Hick, Colin Montgomerie, Jimmy White, Lee Westwood of football. Brilliant when the pressures off and sh1t themselves when they went top.

  14. THIS has to be the most incredible interview I have seen from Wenger. He is actually not even hiding mugging them off with this, err, 'achievement'…Ian Wright wrote something in The Sun today where he basically said the goon excitement is embarrassing and only shows that we are right there next to them. Seriously though, watch this. Unbelievable. And excellent!

    http://www.standard.co.uk/sport/foo…l-finish-above-rivals-tottenham-a3248906.html

  15. This is the Ian Wright article. Can't stand him most of the time (just find him incredibly annoying, even without his history/allegiance), but he speaks some sense in this.

    "The way Chelsea and Arsenal fans are celebrating Spurs not winning the league signifies the change in Tottenham."

    "Chelsea and Arsenal, two teams that are supposed to be in a different stratosphere, are now bricking it because Tottenham are coming."

    "… when you know what the standards are, finishing second — and with a worse points tally than last season — is disappointing."

    "We will see who is laughing at the end of next season."

    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepag…behaving-like-fans-of-Mickey-Mouse-clubs.html

  16. Context.

    At the start of this year, Arsenal were top of the league and ended up coming second.

    Tottenham were 4th and ended up 3rd.

    And they are celebrating, while we are slitting our wrists?

  17. thfcsteff

    THIS has to be the most incredible interview I have seen from Wenger. He is actually not even hiding mugging them off with this, err, 'achievement'…Ian Wright wrote something in The Sun today where he basically said the goon excitement is embarrassing and only shows that we are right there next to them. Seriously though, watch this. Unbelievable. And excellent!

    http://www.standard.co.uk/sport/foo…l-finish-above-rivals-tottenham-a3248906.html

    Fair play to Wenger, he gets the rivalry, hates Spurs and will do anything to finish above us or do better than us. He then installs this into his teams.

    I don't think we will finish above them until he leaves, this season has simply confirmed it. He has a hex over us. Oh well one or two more years and surely he will pi$$ off forever and then we might just finally topple the runts.

  18. It's just in the modern Spurs DNA to bottle it against the Goons like this but getting past the rage on Sunday evening (and subsequent painful barbs from family and workmates), things are still progressing nicely. The steeliness and hunger of this squad has been so impressive. It definetly doesnt hurt like 06 and Mind the Gap. Granted next season will be a hell of a lot tighter when the Mancs and the Chavs inevitably get their act together but am still very hopeful.

  19. indianspur

    Fair play to Wenger, he gets the rivalry, hates Spurs and will do anything to finish above us or do better than us. He then installs this into his teams.

    I don't think we will finish above them until he leaves, this season has simply confirmed it. He has a hex over us. Oh well one or two more years and surely he will pi$$ off forever and then we might just finally topple the runts.

    He only does it because it's a lifeline. It's nothing to do with hating us, it's appeases the vocal, diehard placard washing gooners. You know the morons.

  20. Glenda’s Legs

    This is the Ian Wright article. Can't stand him most of the time (just find him incredibly annoying, even without his history/allegiance), but he speaks some sense in this.

    "The way Chelsea and Arsenal fans are celebrating Spurs not winning the league signifies the change in Tottenham."

    "Chelsea and Arsenal, two teams that are supposed to be in a different stratosphere, are now bricking it because Tottenham are coming."

    "… when you know what the standards are, finishing second — and with a worse points tally than last season — is disappointing."

    "We will see who is laughing at the end of next season."

    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepag…behaving-like-fans-of-Mickey-Mouse-clubs.html

    100 times THIS! Which is why we shouldn't get that upset about our disappointing finish.

  21. indianspur

    Fair play to Wenger, he gets the rivalry, hates Spurs and will do anything to finish above us or do better than us. He then installs this into his teams.

    I don't think we will finish above them until he leaves, this season has simply confirmed it. He has a hex over us. Oh well one or two more years and surely he will pi$$ off forever and then we might just finally topple the runts.

    I think it shows him as a small man resting on laurels. He should be brushing it off! Instead he uses it as an 'achievement'…bigger wage bill, bigger stadium, more years in CL and us handing them second (they didn't 'achieve' it) is an 'achievement' worthy of that sort of reaction? He knows. Sent the small-timers home happy, he is off the hook for a bit. Small time for me. I hate them but soon, I believe in 3-4 years time, we will be firmly established ahead of them…as Ian Wright said, lets wait a year before saying anything. Trust me, if we had finished second I'd be saying exactly the same.

  22. A billion pounds more spent on their squad, was it, over his tenure? I don't think a point is all that much to crow about, in the circumstances, especially having had to rely on our KIDS doing a fart in the final game. I tend to switch off when he starts speaking, anyway. Just sounds to me like somebody upstairs is using an industrial vacuum cleaner.

  23. Aldo

    Context.

    At the start of this year, Arsenal were top of the league and ended up coming second.

    Tottenham were 4th and ended up 3rd.

    And they are celebrating, while we are slitting our wrists?

    [​IMG]

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