Monday, April 24, 2006


Memories of Tottenham

After bemoaning derbies last week I've been meaning to knock something up about the only derby that counts for me. Arsenal against Tottenham. Had we lost yesterday, believe me this would have been shelved for a more fortuitous time! The first derby I went to was 30 years ago at White Hart Lane. Malcolm MacDonald scored twice for us, Willie Young got sent off for them and it was kicking off all over the ground. We were in the Paxton that day and everywhere I looked there was surges and rows and severley badly dressed lads being chucked out. This was in the days of flared trousers, wing collared shirst and silk scarves ties round wrists! The only other thing I remember was during the warm up Peter Taylor, now Hull manager I think, had a shot and he missed the goal and the ball hit some kid near me full in the face! They were relegated that season which was a shame because it meant the next year they won something, promotion.

Our next visit was a 5-0 white wash with a glorious goal from Liam Brady. A couple of seasons later and I went to my first home game. It was at the start of the season and I was running late. The game had just kicked off and I was heading for the North Bank turnstiles. Touts were desperately trying to get rid of stand tickets saying it had kicked off in the North bank with Tottenham fans having a pop at the Arsenal end as was the thing in those days. It had quietened down when i got in though still the odd row kicked off. We won 2-0 quite comfortably I think. The following season, 81/82, we were having a crap season and we played them twice in a fortnight. We drew 2-2 at theirs but at Highbury they tonked us 3-1. Again they got in the North Bank, this time chanting Argentina for this was at the time of the Falklands War. John Hawley scored for us which kinda sums it up.

A year later and we comfortably beat them 2-0 at Highbury with goals from Sunderland and Woodcock. That day I went with a Spurs mate in his Robin Reliant which seems strange looking back. Later in the away game I won't go into that! The next season saw Charlie Nicholas arrive at Highbury and launch a thousand bubble perms on the terraces as the casual scene hit its peak. In the League Cup we beat them 2-1 at theirs, I game I went to with a couple of Spurs mates and got stuck in the Shelf. Nicholas scored. At Boxing Day we done them 4-2 at theirs and Nicholas scored twice! At Highbury he danced through their porous defence and milked the applause in front of the adoring North Bank as we beat them 3-2. Good season that was!

1985 sees us playing them at Highbury on New Years Day and Roberts, their silver haired nutter, puts Nicholas into the Lower East as they kick us off the park 2-1. We won at theirs though 2-0, of course Charlie scored, but we never got out of the pub that time. The following season was crap with 0-0 at ours and a loss at theirs. But 1987...In the league we drew 0-0 at Highbury but wone 2-1 there in the 100th derby in this George Graham's first season. We got drawn against them in the League Cup Semi Final. First leg at Highbury we lose 1-0. Second leg we win 2-1, we need a replay which is scheduled for White Hart Lane. We go a goal down. At half time the club d.j is playing Chas n Dave, Spurs are on their way to Wembley, the PA is announcing ticket sales for the Final. The story goes GG opened the dressing room door at half time and just said 'listen to that lads.' Two goals in the last 8 minutes from Allinson and Rocastle (RIP) and we're through! Ask any Arsenal who were there about that night. It was special, very special. We'd done nothing for so long, this was our first step back on the ladder to success and what a place to do it. An in our own uniquely Arsenal way, leaving it to the very end!

And then I left the country. Subsequent games are marked by where I was and who I was with. The 91 FA Cup Semi I was in Sydney on the piss in the Rocks with 3 Totts mates. We got home and belled their mate back in London. Two up after 10 minutes they went ballistic. Two years later and another Semi. This time we win 1-0 and Adams scores. I'm in Germany, spent the weekend with my Claudia Schiffer look alike girlfriend in Munich. I phone my Tottenham supporting mate from the main railway station and he ain't a happy bunny. I meet him in the Rose and Crown and gloat all night which is fair because if the roles had been reversed...I'd have stayed home. 2001 sees another Semi, this time I'm in Bangladesh. Like the first two there's no TV coverage. I sit at home waiting for sports updates on Sky News while the internet had crashed. We won 2-1 and I raced down the Bagha, the only bar in town, looking to celebrate. It was empty, just a couple of miserable Geordies who'd just found their contract had been ended and were heading home the next day!

In the following season I'm in my local in Bangkok with the missus at the time. My mates ask who is playing then decide maybe it would be a good idea if they take her and wander round Nana Plaza instead of sitting with me! Smart move, it's in injury time, one of the barmaids asks me the score. I tell her 1-0 to the Arsenal. No problem she says. I'm not so sure. Seconds later and Poyet equalises. She smiles and says no problem!!! Then there is 2004. Mad Jens gives away a needless pen but we draw 2-2 and we're champions. Hmm, how many times have they been crowned champions at Highbury? We've won the League at White Hart Lane as often as they have! Later I move to Malaysia and watch the corresponding game in the following season down the Green Man. We win 5-4 and I'm so pissed I lost track of the goals going in! As I reread this I am struck by a couple of things. One is how often I seem to watch the games with Tottenham fans. And two? Two is how quickly the mind expunges the defeats as I get older...

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