Michael Dawson has left the building. After nine and a half years and 324 appearances for Tottenham Hotspur, Daws has moved to Hull City. Where Spurs players not quite good enough for regular first team football go to get first team football.
Nobody would have guessed he'd remain a long serving player when he arrived in N17 as part of the Andy Reid transfer deal. As a 21 year old, there was little expectation as all eyes were on Reid with his eyes on the next meal. It never worked out for Andy but Dawson went on to become part of the Lilywhite furniture at Spurs. Yet some would prefer to quickly point out that he had the mobility of a wardrobe rather than simply thank him and wish him well. Easy pickings, it's not even run of the mill scapegoating. It's just cynical commentary that lacks the emotive connection that Dawson had with the club.
"He's rubbish, not good enough for us and we need to get rid. No time for sentimentality"
Fair enough but there's no need to cut your nose off to spite your face.
Dawson has limitations. I don't think anyone would dispute that. He was made club captain after Ledley King's retirement because of his passion and spirit. Perhaps more of a token gesture as others led by nature of selection.
Still, that passion was infectious and courageous. In a game where we often bemoan and malign the lack of loyal players, or rather players that play for the shirt with desire - he deserved the honour. Those limitations shouldn't over shadow the fact that he loved playing for Tottenham. He was hardly bang average all of the time.
If he wasn't the type of player you could rely on consistently he'd never have lasted this long. Yes, the premium players in the Premier League have often magnified the harsh reality that he can not turn, spin and chase quick enough to keep up with them. We know this because he hasn't been a certifiable starter for a long time. But let's not pretend he hasn't also given us plenty of solid performances and personified out on the pitch the way we feel watching Spurs. Flawed in many ways, just like you and me and our wonderfully dramatic football club.
It's a shame the potential shown in the early years when playing alongside King did not allow him to mature to owning his own place in the centre back pairing. With King he looked great. Without him he often struggled. A case of not quite having the top tier skills and pace to be guaranteed a start. Andre Villas-Boas high line was a suicidal error. Don't expose him to something he's quite obviously not built for.
Still, he's never complained and he's always dug deep and you can see that by the response of his team mates and thankfully the vast majority of Spurs fans. He turned down QPR and fought and regained his place in the team. He's been a part of our journey from the dark old days of mid-table mediocrity to the rise to Champions League contenders.
I'm not naive enough to believe that any given player is 100% loyal to a football club. Players go where the money is. If Dawson got an offer during his time at Spurs that was better than the contract he had and the club was level pegging or above us, then he might well have considered it. Much like if King didn't have one knee he'd have gone to any one of the very top football clubs. Dawson was focused on doing well for Spurs. He never played like someone that didn't care.
We've had more of our fair share of average, erratic, misfit footballers. Players that never looked content. I guess if you accept Dawson for what he was you also have to accept that for the duration he spent at Spurs (almost a decade) he played like he was one of us.
Blood and thunder Dawson, be weary of the high line and the offside and the tricky forward, but keep on smiling. I'll miss that smile you big beautiful lump.