White Harts, White Army, Red Faces?
Date: Friday 24th October 2008White Hart Lane has long been the home of incorrect optimism, and I'm not solely referring to the Cocks who go there every fortnight.
Two days before Christmas 1995, weary Wanderers schlepped to this arsehole of north London with an away record of W0 D0 L9. By half past four, with the wintry gloom gathering round us, we were two goals down, far from home and far from talented. Then Scott Green pulled one back and, two puzzled minutes later, former Spur Gudni Bergsson lashed home a leveller. We held out for 12 long minutes then filed out exultant, convinced the draw was the start of the comeback, that this new striker Nathan Blake would fire us to safety, and that all would be well in the world.
It wasn't. We were bottom at the time, and we finished bottom.
Others may recall different games in N17 (one of the worst areas of London, and I've seen a few). There was the time in November 2003 when an imperious Jay-Jay Okocha managed to beat the home side on his own while waging a one-man Crossbar Challenge. That made a change from our first four visits under Sam Allardyce, when we shipped 16 goals. Some will go back to October 2004, when a freshly-introduced peacock scored the winner. Others will go back further, to barren decades of fruitless journeys: Gudni's equaliser gave us our first point at White Hart Lane in 33 years.
If anything else, it reminds me of the 1-0 loss in April 2006. After a first half in which Kevin Davies tortured left-back Young-Pyo Lee while Jared Borgetti prowled up top with menacing intent, the Mexican made way for Ricardo Vaz Te with Davies going up top and every touch of the ball we had was directed towards his head. Aaron Lennon ran the game, scored the winner, was named Spurs' Young Player of the Season and sealed his place in Sven's last squad. While he was parading his trophy round the pitch, Allardyce was on camera and on his knees, begging for an England job he'd never get. Some say he never felt the same again.
Our last visit was typical Megson: it did a job, it earned a point, and it divided opinions. Some said we were lucky to get anything, while others revelled in the result. Some railed against Rasiak, who that day was arguably at his least effective (quite some feat); others pointed out that if the Pole was fighting a losing battle in an incredibly isolated role, Megson was quick to change it, having made all three of his available substitutions by the time the second half kicked off. Seconds later, we were level. We stayed that way and stayed in the division. Job done.
Or is it? Such is the battle of ethos that will rage as long as Megson continues to eke out draws (with the occasional win balanced out by a couple of draws: eight points from eight games this season is 1ppg, 32 points from 28 last season is 1.14ppg, or 43 points per season). There are those who correctly point out that he did what he was asked to do – save our skins – and that it's absurd to expect Total Football in such a difficult market. And there are those who long for more quality, who point out that if football were truly an entertainment industry rather than an addictive tribal ritual the club would wither and die under the present management.
These arguments will rage in the away end, as the home fans continue to believe they're a big club despite propping up the league and not finishing in the top four since Bobby Robson was England manager. Do they still have the right to dream? Do we?
Prediction: a 1-1 draw – on the pitch and in the stands.
Dave Sutton’s Barnet
It is very frightening that a club of Spurs's size and stature sits at the bottom of the table with only two points from eight. And they've only played one of the top four so far.
The game has been touted as a ‘must-win’ and a ‘last chance saloon’ and all sorts of bobbins puns regarding the Titanic have been used. This will either galvanise the beleaguered Tottenham squad or they will buckle.
If the rumours of them losing faith in their manager are true then chances of them recovering will waiver. One senior squad member has already spoken out that they are "sh*t" so it isn't the happiest of camps. But if you were to list a fixture you would be happy taking at such a time, I'm sure Bolton at home would be up there in your preferences.
First goal is crucial. We will really have the opportunity to crank the heat up if we score first. It will put their players under huge pressure and the crowd would get extremely restless. If we let them get a foot in, then we could unwittingly help them turn the corner.
We again have a full squad to choose from, with Hunt and Joey pushing Steinsson for his Right Back berth, a three-way fight for the two left side positions and a real head-scratcher in how to accommodate the exciting Riga. Last week though we failed to put a much-changed Blackburn to the sword so we'll need to step it up to take something this time.
Once again the club is laying on free coach travel, which will be extended to the Hull game also. I'll be making my first trip to White Hart Lane and hopefully it will be more successful than my last trip to the capital to see us face Fulham.
COME ON YOU WHITES!