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!

Match preview – Canning Town Bingo and Social Club

Tottenham Hotspur v West ‘Am United
White Hart Lane
Sunday February 22nd K.O. 12pm
Referee – Jonathan Moss

Pochettino

Tottenham Head Coach – Mauricio Pochettino

Tottenham Hotspur manager – Mauricio Pochettino

Sam Allardyce

The Canning Town faithful will be behind Sam Allardyce

West ‘Am manager – Fat Sam the big dirty toe-raggin’ wanquer!

Mauricio Pochettino will be consuming his lunch in one of the stadium’s executive restaurants using cutlery and fine linens, whilst Fat Sam will be receiving his from some sheepskin-clad ‘errand boy’ in a large braahn papah bag (plenty of green in that meal for his good ‘elf)…

Dildo brothers

The Mighty Spurs take on Fat Sam’s jellied eels, the Dildo Brothers, dodgy East End market traders (as in Sunday morning not daily dawn-risers), and Karren Brady (insult enough in the name!) to name but four foul and odious things. What can we say? Not much except their followers must be sent packing back to gangsterland where they can continue to thieve a living selling dodgy watches, packs of tea-towels and useless home electronics from their market stalls with their LAAAHDEST VOICES POSSIBLE ELLO DARLIN I’M SAATCH A CHARMIN’ GEEEEZAH charm before retiring to their luxury caravans. They will, of course, only be successful in this if they don’t injure their knuckles sloping back off down the High Street after a pitch stuffing courtesy of Messers Kane, Eriksen, Lamela, Bentaleb, etc…by the way, unless the sky is completely overcast, be sure to wear sunglasses as you will have to follow portions of the game in the skies as Wet Spam pepper the air with rocket balls launched from their player’s hoofs.

RayBan Wayfarer

Fans who have seen an Allardyce side before will know to come prepared

Sunday is about cold-blooded revenge. Twice we allowed them to turn us over on OUR PITCH, but Sunday will see a return to winning ways.

Line ups

Tottenham Hotspur

West ‘Am

 

Prediction

3-1

Lamela, Kane, Mason

I further predict Levy will dispense with some of his finest reserve amber nectar and offer it in Dixie cups on a wooden tray to the opposition board for post-match refreshments in a small broom closet near the main toilets. He will not be present, as he will have a pressing engagement with his navel, a small piece of fluff and some paint drying in the corner of his office which will require his URGENT attention.

COYS!

Badgers

Tasmin Archer and friends cheering on their beloved Spurs