West Ham 1 Spurs 0
8th May 2017
Somehow I knew.
‘Gut’ is an amazing thing. You know something in your gut. Gut feel. That instinct that man has been refining since prehistoric times. Sometimes it’s just adrenaline. Pre-fight nerves. Tension. Danger. But occasionally you just know. There’s a bullet with your name on it. And it’s heading right at you. And you can’t dodge it. Whatever you do.
So it was last Friday. In the build up to the game. Even more so as kick-off approached. West Ham’s Cup Final. Dembele only on the bench. It gets worse for me after 20 minutes. That instinct. Spurs misfiring. Walker distracted. The Dier-Wanyama axis ponderous. One chance. Just one moment to dodge the bullet. Kane shoots. Adrian’s foot diverts the ball over the bar. From that moment the one-nil defeat was as much our destiny as the post-match bullshit was inevitable.
The narrative is being hastily rewritten in a way that sets Spurs up for ‘failure’ (yet again) … the ‘Spursy’ knives have been sheathed a while. But they’ll be out again sharply if we fall away.
(‘Spurs set up for Storybook Finish, 20th April 2017)
As I wrote in my first post on this blog, after our 4-0 victory over Bournemouth, the media was setting Spurs up so that we could ‘fail’ again this season, just as we apparently did last year.
I thought about posting here Friday night after the game, and again on Saturday, Sunday, but I decided to take the entire weekend to digest my disappointment. I checked in at ‘Dear Mr Levy’, my favourite Spurs blog, to find his post titled “Grim” and a photo of the Reaper. No words. His post perfectly captured my mood. Then I began trawling through the 150 comments posted by others underneath his eloquent silence. And they depressed me even more than the result against West Ham.
The media are just doing their job. Selling newspapers. Baiting clicks. Talking shite. Whatever. According to the business model of their employers. Just doing what they’re paid to do. There are good journos and pundits. And there are … er … less good ones. In talking Spurs up one minute only to shoot us down the next, the media as a whole are only treating us as they do any success story.
No, it’s the trolls who get me. Well, they don’t get me because I’m disconnected from their hunting grounds. But if I stumble upon their verbal diarrhoea, I despair at the thought of the person behind such incontinence. I genuinely feel sorry for them. Just as I feel sorry for somebody drawn to extremism or terrorism. They get their kicks from hatred and destruction, not creation. From pretending to be what they’re not, rather than being brave about who they are.
Spurs have managed to become the team most hated by all three other (major) London clubs. Arsenal I get. But all three? Why ? Perhaps it’s generations of our players? Although quite what Blanchflower, Lineker and Ginola (to choose three at random) all had in common, or all did wrong for Spurs to deserve such loathing is beyond me. Perhaps it’s our fans? But, really, are Spurs fans (as a whole) any worse – or better – than any other club’s set of supporters? Perhaps its roots are in antisemitism, handed down from past generations to current fans who don’t even realise it? Maybe people just don’t like cockerels and a bit of swagger?
Whatever the reason, Chelsea last Season and now West Ham this season awoke from their slumbers to fight like men possessed to stop Spurs. “Not on my watch” as John Terry said. Other clubs get waved through at this time of year by teams already in their summer flip-flops. But not Spurs. Thou shalt not pass. Four successive derbies; Chelsea at Wembley, Palace away, Arsenal at home. Then West Ham at the athletics track. It’s not an excuse. Nine wins in a row. Our players looked mentally tired for the tenth. Up for it but not ‘up for it’.
And somehow I knew.