Archive for October, 2015


I had this blog in mind to write for a little while and then last week the guys on the Fighting Cock pod broached the exact same subject. Nevertheless I thought I would carry on regardless.

Now as I understand it the term “Spursy” first came into being as a term of reference for something that was typically Spurs but in a good way. For example Ginola being a Spursy type player. Skilful, entertaining, oozing class. But in recent times Spurs fans have adopted this term as one of self deprecation to mean Spursy in a wry piss taking kind of way as in “typically Spurs not doing things the easy way” or “typically Spurs bad luck” or generally “typically screwing things up”. It’s almost like a coping mechanism for Spurs fans when things go wrong.

Personally I can’t stand the reference so I am with Bardi on this one. It makes us Spurs fans look silly in my opinion and if anything gives opposing fans a stick to beat us with. Moreover it indicates the weak mentality in which we fans (and some players of the recent past) have been mired in. It also misses the point that shit can happen in a football match to anyone not just Spurs and it generally does.

When Gerrard slipped last season to allow Ba to score for Chelsea and kill off Liverpool’s title hopes, was that’s “spursy”? Or just the other day when the same player got sent off after entering the field of play just 40 seconds earlier? Or how about when John Terry slipped at the critical point of Champions League Final penalties (funny though that was); or when Arsenal contrived to lose the Carling Cup final to a relegation destined Birmingham City or blew a winning position in the Champions League final? None of these instances amongst the many thousands that affect all clubs all the time were “Spursy”. No they were kind of “footbally” really. It just happens and it always has. To everyone.

If you really want to see what kind of things are Spursy well take a look at this season for example – scoring late goals; winning games 2-1; pulling games back from the dead (West Ham twice). Spursy is also having players such as Bale, Eriksen, Modric, Hoddle, King, Ginola, Klinsmann, Lineker, Gazza, Berbatov, VDV, Waddle etc and being able to attract these players despite not having been title contenders for the best part of fifty years or more. “Spursy” is being the first English club to win a European Trophy; to do the domestic double; to win the cup as a non-league team; to win the league cup with 10 men; to reach the Quarter Finals of the Champions League in our as yet only venture into that competition. There’s more to be proud of than not so why doesn’t “Spursy” just reference everything that is sexy about supporting Spurs?

I think that it is presently used as part of the healing process as mentioned earlier but it’s OK to be pissed about something that has happened in a game without labelling it. If using “Spursy” makes you feel better then fine. Each to his own. But for me it just tells the world that as Spurs fans we are conceding that shit only ever really happens to us and we are so used to it that we have given it a name. So we will laugh at ourselves before others can laugh at us and thereby getting our retaliation in first. But really all it does is prime us for more abuse doesn’t it? Being Spursy should mean that there are things that we fans ought to be proud of that are unique to us. And as Ricky referenced on the pod, let’s reclaim the meaning of it.

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At the risk of sounding a bit of a woose I just want to say that “My name is Vass and Spurs have made me weep”. Now I am not talking about the gut wrenching self destructing tendency that successive spurs teams have had over the years which mess up our weekends/weeks or make us blank Match of the Day type of weeping. Nor am I talking about events that can easily be encompassed by the currently in vogue verb of “Spursy” which is a way of sharing the pain and saying that things can typically only happen to us. It’s not about karma being a bitch and knowing where spurs fans live. We’ve grown immune to that stuff unfortunately. No I am talking about tears of emotion. Of utter pride from belonging to something as glorious as Tottenham Hotspur and the realisation in a single moment at what being Spurs means to more people than you will ever comprehend. That realisation isn’t always there. But just sometimes it hits you, usually when you are not ready for it and when it does it’s a fantastic feeling.

Now I hear some of you thinking already that I am off my rocker but just bear with me for a moment. I am going to leave all the issues that divide us aside. Which player should play; who we need to buy; why we won’t spend; sack the board; sack the manager; why we lost; why we won; who’s useless; who’s brilliant; who’s right; who’s wrong! You see none of this matters in the overall scheme of things.

Of course we all want to win and we all want to a successful team but ultimately Tottenham Hotspur is about you and me and thousands upon thousands of others just like us. We’ve nailed our colours to the lilywhite mast and the pain of supporting this club is hugely offset by a series of single moments in time that make us proud.

Take a look at some of the video compilations on You Tube for example. Lump in the throat stuff. The back drop to every emotional aspect of glorious triumph or painful defeat is us the fans. Those videos would be bland without shots of the fans going mental or singing in unison.

When I hear a pod cast of Spurs fans based in the USA and listen to what Spurs means to those guys, it makes me proud. When I hear the plethora of “podsters” (is that a word?) and read stuff from bloggers in the UK and elsewhere, then I know what spurs means to people. People write books about Spurs because they love the club; people have made films about spurs because they love the club; we go to games, we watch on TV, we cuss we swear we may even kick the cat (not guilty), but we all love the club. And you only have to look at the guy next to you, or listen to the chorus of “yidio” after we score a goal; or know that you will embrace any person standing next to you at that precise moment when joy just leaves your body uncaring of circumstances, logic or sanity. THAT’S what it means to be Spurs and there are millions of us (no they’re not all on twitter) and THAT’S what should make us proud.

The tears? I first let them out at the UEFA cup final in 1984. I couldn’t understand why but it just happened. But there was a trickle from my eye in 91 at Wembley too and again in 2008 at the end of the Carling Cup final, but not because I was at that last one. No, my sons were. I couldn’t get a ticket. So when that final whistle went I shed a few tears at home for them. Because they were there and they experienced what I had experienced before. Now I feel a sense of pride for my US friends across the pond who are learning to love Spurs the way I do. The way we all do. And to the people all over the world that have created Spurs supporters clubs and gather together to watch games fully kitted out in our colours. Whether California, Texas, New York, Scandinavia, Dubai, Europe, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia; just about anywhere.

Are we one big family? Absolutely, no matter how cringe worthy that might sound. We’ll disagree; we’ll argue as all families do. But ultimately we are brothers in arms. We are unified by a cockerel standing on a ball whether it is jokingly called a “chicken badge” or not and we are embalmed in a glorious history. We’ve taken the word “Yid” and all the issues that invoked as a badge of honour. We’ll choreograph the “oh when the Spurs” chant so that everyone knows when is the right time to speed it up and clap and sing. And of course we’d like to be at more finals and have more “San Siro” moments and hopefully they will come again, but until then we will all remain “TTID” because we are all the heart and soul of the club. And if you haven’t welled up over something Spurs related before then there will come a time that you will and that’s when you will know it.

And yes I know that after writing this that it will be really “Spursy” if Sheffield Utd make me shed a tear for an altogether different reason this week. We half expect it as Spurs fans don’t we? But I tell you what, take a look around. We are everywhere. COYS!

Who knew? I mean really, who expected that? I know that we all hope to put in a performance and maybe sneak a 1-0 or a 2-1 victory against title seeking teams, but come on! 5-3 (which flattered Chelsea in fairness), and not only that but with the likes of Rose, Townsend, Bentaleb, Mason (partly) and Kane in the team? These guys were in the U21’s a couple of seasons ago. These are developed players who stood toe to toe with “world class” (well if not world class then certainly established international class) players worth millions and not only did they stand toe to toe, they proved that they had it in them to win and win with some style. How did the commentator describe our fourth goal? “Gorgeous!” I couldn’t have summed it up better.

But I mention these players in particular precisely because we didn’t buy them for millions of pounds and because not that long ago they were being derided by Spurs fans. Bentaleb was apparently Sherwood’s love child, Rose was useless and Townsend also. I had the cheek to predict that Kane would be no more than a Championship level player about ten months ago (as someone saw fit to find that tweet last night and retweet it for me), and how wrong was I about that? Now I am not saying that these players are going to suddenly propel the club to domestic and European glory. Rose has improved greatly since last season although still needs to learn, whilst Townsend can still infuriate with his decision making and gap in quality. Bentaleb and Kane however were superb that evening and Mason does his job well. But that win altered my perspective on some levels and maybe you have felt it too?

The “watershed” I refer to relates to the team construction and the pattern of play. Of course the game is about players, but you need a good coach too. No question about that. And we are starting to see that Pochettino has slowly been forming his team from a nucleus of players that can best implement his strategy whilst having assessed and probably now discarded other players that won’t quite deliver what he wants. The win over Chelsea was all about playing style and tactics and my objective here is not to analyse this but to say that after that victory my perception about the kind of players we need at Spurs changed. I sent a couple of tweets out a few days ago saying that I no longer thirst for “name” players coming to Spurs and that I just want to see players that can fit the system and do a job.

I have no expectations from this transfer window, I never do in January. There is no point raising expectations as whatever happens will happen as there are so many variables in concluding a player contract in January. But if that victory against Chelsea didn’t suddenly make a lot of people realise that Pochettino is on the right track I am not sure what will. I imagine we will stumble along the way this season and struggle in a few games yet, I am prepared for that; but I am more upbeat about what is to come now than I was a few weeks ago against Palace at home for example. There is something happening that we can feel.

Of course not everyone will buy in to this view. With the transfer window open the mere signing of a player by one of our rivals triggers a mini meltdown. Recent case in point is Bony reportedly to City. Out came the “we could/should have had him last summer”; “we will probably end up with Defoe on loan”; “we will be left buying scraps”; “we won’t be able to shift any of our dead wood” and so on and so forth. Watch for more of such comments as soon as other clubs sign players. Bony is a very good player but he will be going to ACON for a month now. And we didn’t buy him in the summer probably because we’d had a managerial upheaval; Soldado had only played half a season previously and needed to be reassessed; Kane was coming through; and of course there has to be willingness from four or five parties to a transfer each time (clubs, agents player): we will just never know if it was even a starter never mind a done deal scuppered by Levy or whoever.

Of course it is easy to get carried away after a victory such as this, but in that one game we got a glimpse of something and a feeling that we Spurs fans have not felt for a long time and if that means we take the good that came out of that game and use it as a foundation to build on then that’s good enough for me. For long periods this season I struggled to see where this new “philosophy” that the new coach kept preaching about, was coming from. I didn’t really see the evidence. But that in itself is a lesson to us all. Sometimes players and coaches do need time and it may very well be our desire for people to hit the ground running and meet the immediacy of our needs that ultimately challenges what we are trying to build and makes the job harder.

No the Chelsea game changed it for me. If I can see players like Kane and Bentaleb doing what they did, who’s to say that there aren’t other players out there of a similar ilk? A player’s footballing intelligence, ability or adaptability to a team ethos is not measured in pounds or euros. It is measured nowadays with sport science, tactical philosophy and perhaps who knows black boxes too. So maybe we should all just sit back enjoy the ride, bumpy though it may be, and see where Mr Pochettino takes us. The club has made mistakes in the past. Perhaps we will get it right this time. Let’s hope so.

I had a Twitter conversation a few days ago. It started when someone tweeted a Daily Mail article about which clubs were the big spenders since Pellegrini took over at Man City (June 2013) That’s what? 18 months ago? Yes just 18 months. And it came with a tweet saying that Levy wants Champions League football but on a Poundland budget. Yes the stick to beat Levy with was back. Now I don’t favour Levy one way or the other but there is so much nonsense being passed off as fact on social media and I don’t really do “unreasonable” personally. Give me facts and I’m happy. If I am wrong I will hold my hand up. That’s the art of reasoned debate.

So the conversation I joined went something like this. I pointed out that Liverpool had a recent net spend of -£91m compared to our +£14m so were they therefore showing more ambition or in a better place than us currently? The tweeter moved the conversation on to spending money wisely. I argued that some of the money has been spent wisely and not all teams get every purchase right. Every top team has had their share of dud buys even Sir Alex had a few. The tweeter moved the argument again to whether it was right to buy “by committee” or not buying in to the coach’s philosophy. This of course can’t be proven either way by anyone as it’s speculative, and who says we aren’t buying in to the current coach’s philosophy anyway? The firing of coaches at Spurs in recent years could be said to have been justified (and agreed with by many Spurs fans in each case) for varying reasons and I won’t go in to each here today.

The tweeter moved the argument on once more to say that our owners are only interested in making money for themselves and to the fact that we came “44th” in spending for English clubs and he would back it up with the article; but didn’t. I raised the issue of needing to fund a stadium and the tweeter used how long the stadium project was taking as a new stick to beat our owners with. The argument had moved once more. I pointed the tweeter to due legal process in the UK and how the land owner blocking progress had allegedly been reneging on agreements with the club for approximately 12 years. The conversation soon ended as I saw no point continuing it further if the crux of the argument kept moving. The argument against the owners had shifted three or four times during that one conversation just so that some kind of blame could be attributed to the ownership. And this is a mentality that is perpetrated by people that are desperate for someone to blame because we had the temerity to get in to the champions league in 2010 and failed to do that again since.

Nevertheless. My point? It is this in regards to spending. As an owner of my own small business as many of you may be too, we are all in it to make money. Anyone that isn’t needs to take up charity work. And when we spend money from a business we generally will spend what we make. We reinvest where we are able to and the amounts from reserves or free capital at our disposal. If we are reckless then our bank managers will look at us with scepticism and wonder as to our credentials especially if we are going to look for a large business loan to fund some development or proposed expansion. And if we spend £10,000 or £10m or £100m then that money is spent. If I raise more than I spend I did not spend any less and that is why this whole argument of “net spend” is so irrelevant. “Net spend” is a figurative table that Sky Sports concocts to give them something to talk about and the fan to interpret any way he or she wants. Of course our owners must no doubt be milking all the money and we couldn’t have spent the millions we have spent over the years because we happened to have earned more in sales. (It’s funny how wages never come in to the equation however).

Then we have those fans that try to convince us that we could have kept players like Bale and Modric if the club had invested more and at the right times. The fact that the biggest club side in the world came in for those players had nothing to do with it apparently. You see it was our owners being greedy again and lining their pockets. I personally don’t think that whoever we signed would have kept those players at Spurs or even if we had been in the Champions League we would have been able to keep them. They would have gone. Just the same as many of you would have gone to a new employer at the drop of a hat if the salary and conditions far surpassed what you were doing previously. Human nature and self-interest are bedfellows you see. It seems that these days everyone wants to play for Real Madrid or Barca and you just know that even though players are at teams like Chelsea or City or United (as proven with Ronaldo), if one of the Spanish giants come calling players will manoeuvre the move away regardless.

But then fans tell me that if we had backed ‘Arry then we would have been in Champions League and everything in the garden would have been rosy. Except that people forget that ‘Arry was either about to do time for tax fraud or leave for the England job (or so he thought). Either that or if reports were true then he would have liked to have brought in Charlie Adam, or Rio, or Phil Neville or some such. Or he could have just told Pav to “run about a bit” more. My apologies I am letting my feelings get the better of me here, but we’ll never know either way really. But it has to be the fault of the ownership though according to some fans even though we had a squad good enough in my opinion to achieve third in at least two of those seasons regardless.

And then there’s the new stadium. Agreed it seems to be taking an age and maybe we don’t really know what is going on. But you can’t deny something is indeed happening if you actually visit White Hart Lane. Of course it must again be the clubs fault for dragging its feet. The owners have no intention of building it and just want to find a buyer and line their pockets some more. Money grabbing bastards in charge of our club, how dare they? Just for some context the Emirates stadium took over 9 years to become a reality. The North London squatters in Highbury first mooted their new stadium in 1997 with a declined planning application I believe (so it may have been from even earlier). They finally bought a plot in 2000. It was built in 2006. Nine years in total and they didn’t have a land owner dragging them through every court possible at the time. Nobody seems or wants to recall how quickly we turned around a hi-tech training centre in Enfield. Yes that doesn’t suit the agenda that one. That’s a good news story. That won’t do at all.

I am not saying that everything that our owners have done is perfect. It isn’t. Mistakes have been made along the way (and if you read my previous blog you would have seen my comments on the Scholar and Sugar years and how glad I am that many of you missed those years). Some of the current mistakes are being addressed quite rightly and properly by Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust (THST) – Stub Hub; ticketing; communication; openness with fans etc. but there are “fans” out there looking to constantly beat the club with a stick; any stick. And if they keep repeating their message loud enough they gradually influence opinion and in the end they would be right you see. It’s all about being right. About knowing where to point the finger and knowing who to blame. It’s easy to blame when things aren’t rosy in the garden. And once everyone buys into the hysteria and the blame game and everyone is proved right…..what then? Then there will be a lot of “I told you so” coming back and we can all sit there smug as Larry and patting ourselves on the back.

But that’s today’s football fan. The cynic. The conspiracy theorist. Happy being unhappy. Wanting it all but not really understanding what it takes to get there. No patience for gradual progress no matter how hard the road. No doubt we’ll find something else to bitch about because we won’t be happy until we are the biggest and best club in the country no doubt. Because we have been that quite a lot since 1961 haven’t we? Or is that really what we aspire to be? The next Chelsea or Man City perhaps? Will we be happy then? I doubt it. We are constantly fed vines to laugh at of Gooner fans moaning about their own club and how unhappy they are and they have had some 19 years of continual Champions League appearances and some trophies in between. Today’s fan. All about today. Nothing else matters.

In my last blog I spoke about the disconnect between club and fans and this resultant air of exclusion appears to be breeding suspicion and distrust that is fuelling an army of discontents armed with their smartphones trying to drive the gap wider instead of looking to close that gap if at all possible. Me? I just want to see my team win matches. I want to see a style of football develop on the pitch. I want joyous moments as a fan and supporter. Perhaps I am naïve but I am just growing weary of the “off the field topic” agenda drivers and the haters that could be doing as much damage to the fabric of THFC as the people that they are trying to blame at times. And whilst we may all have different opinions (I am not expecting you all to agree with this post) as Ledley said, “This is my club. My one and only club” and as much as we can all be infuriated by events at times, we have to ask, is there really a point to it all? Is it really all just about “the money”? Or have we all just forgotten what being a fan is about?