Support for many people relates to an office IT guy or a comfortable bra size. But not for me. Loyalty is the virtue that defines and separates the beloved and irrelevant in our lives. Too often this feels like a forgotten, almost alien, concept in modern football with its single serving fans drinking pitchers of Fosters on faux leather pub sofas and the online post-match rage, blame culture and insecure trolling from young men who have not yet known the touch of a woman.
For 90 minutes of a largely Emmanuel Adebayor-free game, I sang in the trenches. When other less hardy away fans fell quiet or filtered out of that soulless stadium, forged in the pits of corporate hell, I found empowering, Spurs-fuelled words to fill their absence. In the second half, real Tottenham supporters, the true and blue bloods, stood and joined me in song and an omnishambles of a game, punctuated by under-par refereeing, poor form and absent heroes, soon faded from view. We were back where we were supposed to be, singing and supporting, representing and validating the club that we love and cherish to the depths of our souls. The regular silence of Arsenal ‘fans’ (with their team clearly in command) was all too predictable. A hooped, old school scarf is not an indication of loyalty. It’s a statement of wankerism.
The calamity Kyles, Walker and Naughton, were thankfully withdrawn at half-time by Andre Villas-Boas and then fortunes, for the most part, improved. The hapless Naughton was, in fairness, playing out of position at left back but Walker now sadly resembles a human road sign. His best defensive moves this season have taken place on Twitter. He needs time off the field to regroup and return a better player. At the moment, he’s an accident waiting to happen. Anyone who doubts the corn-rowed brilliance of Benoit Assou-Ekotto, take a drug test now. This option does not apply to Jack Wilshere, the human equivalent of a Coke Zero.
One cannot help but feel a little sorry for Villas-Boas. There is a hefty asterisk associated with his early Spurs ‘failure’. The Portuguese is an inverted Harry Redknapp, an increasingly luckless individual whose every tactic or turn appears hampered by key injuries or Daniel Levy’s calamitous ‘everything must go’ summer squad sale. An anorexic, striker light bench will now weaken further in light of Adebayor’s suspension. We’re down to a solitary striker (as grimly predicted on this blog) for the next three league games. Lucy Pinder has greater options up front. And she could easily distract Jermain Defoe should West Ham field her next weekend. Dodgy Davids Sullivan and Gold certainly have form in this area.
The largely misleading 5-2, 10-man defeat may appear a life and death result now, but the Adebayor sending off (yellow or red?) and key injuries were mitigating factors. Spurs bossed the game with 11 men and half a team missing before old foe Howard Webb (who missed Mario Balotelli’s three-stamp on Scott Parker) rejoiced in an instant dismissal for Adebayor. Yet this is not an exceptional Arsenal team but a club in a tailspin that requires a one man advantage or the helping hand of a human billiard ball. For all Spurs’ limitations, we still have a more than decent chance of finishing ahead of celebrated heterosexual Sol Campbell’s favourite north London team.
As I zig-zagged through the shuffling red-shirted zombies on my way back to my local pub in Crouch End, I almost pitied the celebrating bug-faced hordes. Three points cannot cure personal deformity. Within a few games, South London’s finest will lose again and this brief sense of joy and entitlement will swiftly be replaced by limp-wristed threats of bin bags and those embarrassing ‘Wenger out’ protests.
Let them have their false dawn. I walked into that hellhole Tottenham and I walked out with Tottenham branded on my heart, guts and soul. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.