Diary of a sad end to a Tottenham season

Posted by Dan Fitch

Due to the importance of Sunday's games, my editor at ESPNFC suggested that I bash out the match report on the road, rather than waiting til I got home to put finger to keyboard.

As I begin writing pre-match, I'm anticipating the day will prove to be a topsy-turvy, rollercoaster ride that at various times will have me in states of wild jubilation, nausea-inducing nervousness and deep depression.

- Randall: Last stand not enough for Sunderland
- Delaney: Reflections on Spurs' narrow miss
- Dawson: We thought that we had done enough
- Villas-Boas: Bale will stay at Spurs


As such I've decided to document the day in broken-down diary form to fully capture the events leading to Spurs' 1-0 victory and the resulting emotions.

If you're not reading this, then it's because Arsenal went 2-0 up within five minutes and effectively killed the idea, along with Tottenham's Champions League hopes.

The Journey

The more nervous I am about a game, the earlier I want to get myself over to Tottenham. Sunday got off to a poor start when I missed the 12:12 train by a mere couple of seconds.

It was a faulty ticket machine that was to blame and the chances are that it's even more faulty after I kicked it several times, having realised that I was going to have to wait another half-hour for the next train.

I'm already furious, despite still being within 500 yards of home. A bad start. Once I was finally on a train, I calmed down and observed my pre-match ritual.

I start the journey to every Spurs game by listening to "Thunder Road" by Bruce Springsteen. It somehow seems to fit. The Boss (Spurs) pleads with a girl (me) to give him (Tottenham) one more chance. To show a little faith...

Will Bruce (THFC) and the girl (still me) leave the town full of losers (Europa League) and be pulling out of here to win (Champions League)?

The Pub

I meet the same three friends before every game.

We always give our verdict on the likely result. My friend Neil is always hopelessly optimistic and always predicts a victory, regardless of who Spurs are playing.

We go round and make our predictions. Three of us say that we will win, but that Arsenal will also pick up a victory.

It's Neil's turn. He predicts that Tottenham will lose.

So what does that mean?

The First Half

Spurs have not had a penalty in the Premier League all season. Sunday they should have had one.

Gareth Bale was put through in the box and was brought down. You can never properly judge these incidents from the stands, but bias aside, it looked like a penalty.

A couple of minutes later I received a text. It is almost impossible to get a phone signal when you're within the confines of White Hart Lane, so I have no idea how this happened.

The text said that Niall Quinn had remarked that he was astonished that it wasn't a penalty. Anyone who has seen Quinn commentate on a game will tell you that he is incredibly biased towards any of his former clubs. Sunday, he had two of his former clubs in his heart and yet still had to admit that it was a penalty.

I think it was a penalty.

Half-Time

We found out Arsenal was also 0-0, so things could at least have been worse.

Ledley King came out at half-time. We sang a song about how he only had one knee but was still better than John Terry.

Second Half

The second half was one of the most typical Tottenham displays that I've ever seen. Spurs were dominant but Sunderland seemingly had a force-field around their goal.

At one point Tottenham hit the post amidst a goalmouth scramble that more resembled a scene on a pinball table than a football field. Spurs’ shots hit their own players and were deflected wide. Balls were cleared off the line.

As I've mentioned, it’s near impossible for your phone to function at Spurs. This puts the spectator who has gone to the game at a disadvantage to those watching at home on TV with fully functioning broadband.

Aside from wanting to know how your Fantasy Football team is performing, this isn’t normally a big deal. Sunday, of course, was an exception.

Word spread that Arsenal had gone 1-0 up early in the second half. This wasn’t a disaster. Newcastle could still equalise and Tottenham were only a goal from victory.

Then news filtered through that Newcastle had equalised and the fans celebrated as if Spurs had scored. I write 'news' erroneously, because it turned out to be completely untrue.

A couple of minutes later and word spread that Newcastle hadn't scored. Then a rumour started that the Gunners were 2-0 up. It was like a massive game of Chinese whispers. Toward the end, I heard people say Arsenal were 5-2 up. I now know that they were talking about Manchester United, shortly before they somehow conspired to draw 5-5 at West Brom.

None of this mattered of course, because Spurs were still not winning. The same old issues loomed large. Emmanuel Adebayor didn’t look like a goal threat in attack and the midfield lacked creativity.

Yet I somehow believed that Tottenham would find a way to win, even if the victory was to be ultimately pointless. Perhaps it's simply because Spurs have a player in Bale who is good enough to decide these sort of things.

He’d had a pretty quiet game, but that's going to be the way for him now that he is truly a marked man. Eventually he found space to cut inside and score another incredible goal.

The celebrations were muted. Arsenal were 1-0, 2-0 or 5-2 up, depending on who you believed.

I’m sure that I wasn’t the only Tottenham fan to also question whether I’d just witnessed Bale’s last goal for the club. It all added to the general melancholy of the day.

The End

Once again Spurs came near, but just missed out. Andre Villas-Boas’ side picked up a record number of points for the club (72), but it still wasn’t enough as Arsenal held on (1-0 being the correct result).

I thought I had prepared myself for failure, but I still found the experience to be utterly harrowing.

If Bruce Springsteen came calling tonight, I might just tell him to go away, but I know that when he comes back in August, I'll be a lot more pliable.

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