Tottenham 3 West Ham United 2
Games like this is what we live for. It's the bread and butter of tribalism. The very pinnacle of escapism and entertainment. Even if there were few prolonged moments of joy across the entirety of the game, it was the precious cameos that mattered most. Everything was defined by those pockets of delirious celebrations. They had two. We had three. The timing of the last couple, scripted to perfection. It's like watching a movie that's completely sold you on its ending, only for one final demented twist that turns you upside down, shaking your senses into complete overload. We've seen it before, yet we never see it coming.
It's not about the football itself in terms of dominance or fanciful style. It wasn't about playing them off the park. Not this time. It's the emotional wreckage that the narrative spits in your face. You go from processing what a home defeat means for your team, for your weekend and the days ahead. You also process what it means for the away fans, already lording it over you. It's agonising. It's excruciating. It's peak waterboarding. Torture. You're drowning in their smugness. You attempt to rebuild your shattered ego with cliched defensive mechanisms to create an illusion that 'it's going to be okay'. You attempt to accept the inevitable.
"At least our unbeaten record is gone", muttered a mate.
"We didn't start playing well last season until after we tasted defeat", another poignant muttering followed.
The opposing fans pushing the volume up to eleven. Gloating galore, blagging rights showcasing in real-time because in football you make the most of the moment because otherwise you're wasting it. Even if there's always a risk the moment will be eclipsed by another not in your favour.
As beautiful as it can be for those baiting, they soon fall in the abyss of cruelty the other half were enduring. It's poetic. Shakespearean. A Greek tragedy. Football. It happens time and time again but it never loses the ability to surprise with devastating impact. It's that same movie we've seen time and time again with an alternative ending. A directors cut. So many variations to the same story. Ridley Scott spiritually in attendance for this fixture.
It all turned in our favour, gloriously, in the space of minutes towards the end of ninety of them.
You accept your fate and then fate alters your destiny. Unless it was never altered in the first place. Perhaps we were always destined to win and our acceptance was another one of those defensive mechanisms we default to. The brutality we experience as supporters is relentless. We are constantly psychological beaten up, yet we always go back for more mental abuse.
I was sat in Block 45 right next to the vocal visitors. You want a match review? Here's one:
They were singing a sing about a fire drill whilst some Spurs fans crept out of the stadium at 1-2. They had everything in their hands and they left with nothing. Nothing. From rejoicing in our misery to then being consumed by their own, all in 120 seconds of ridiculousness. We had everything from nothing. All their songs about it being quiet, about how we only sang if they instructed us to and especially the one about having a party when Spurs f*ck it up...all those smiling faces...vanquished. Gone. Yet without West Ham, without their chanting and abuse, it wouldn't mean a thing. It wouldn't matter. We wouldn't care. Their hatred and our discomfort with any potential joy they can gain from our suffering fuels the counter-hate. It's no different to any given derby. Different degrees of hate, but all cathartic in victory. If you can't focus on any of this then you're doing football wrong. Their despondency when Harry Kane scored the winning penalty is lube for my moneyshot.
What? Did you really expect heatmaps and tactical flowcharts?
For our penance as Tottenham Hotspur fans (the ones that didn't leave their seats early) we were rewarded with the 3-2. Everything else is irrelevant. We dicked them. Football is watching dreams fade. Football is hoping its the other teams dreams that die. To those that walked out before the end, the end is when there is now where else left to go. Give up on us at your own peril.
F*ck West Ham and their repertoire of songs. F*ck 'em. Don't care about their team and their players but f*ck their fans, one and all. Juvenile, right? I don't care. It's my right as a grown man to behave like a child. I'll concern myself about performance, form, lacklustre individuals, clumsy possession, the missing dynamism and spark and the rest of it another day. We are still fighting our way out of this prolonged lull but at least we're fighting.
The substitutions changed it enough to make that telling difference. Below par Spurs never gave up. For all our current deficiencies, you cant dismiss this. I'm looking forward to all our missing players returning. That includes the ones playing that have lost their mojo. We'll be missing Danny Rose for the next one - gutted (especially with Ben Davies injured). Hopefully Toby will be back. Story of our season, shifting players around.
We need to dig deep and rediscover invention and imagination along with that swarming high tempo pressing game. Basically, the 'City' performance mixed in with the type of goal-getting we saw countless times last season.
In addition to the f*cks I'm dishing out, f*ck anyone that isn't drunk on a result like this in the context of the aforementioned narrative. It's infinitely more satisfying than an easy 3-0 win.
Winning convincingly, week in and week out is quite obviously the best route we can take for our natural progression to get back into contention. We need to rise up to the levels we know we're capable of. We have to regain that position of pomp. Regardless, the 3-2 was an acceptable way to win a derby. Minds wrecked by the end of it. The ocean of salt pouring from the broken faces in the away end was worth a dozen comfortable three points.
It wasn't a great performance but it was a great result for all the reasons given above. Games like these are the ones you'll talk about to your grandchildren when attempting to explain how important it is to avoid losing to a set of supporters that hate us with every fibre of their being. Just to deny them the feeling we all now own post-win. It's one of those nights that will forever be anchored to the memories we have with White Hart Lane.
Personally, I've come full circle. The last game I attended was the win over City, the last time we won a league game. Peak Pochettino, dismantling Pep's side with the finest example of our very best football. This game was a pale comparison to that particular day in terms of efficiency and top drawer balling, yet infinitely more gratifying for purists.
The same time next week we visit Stamford Bridge, a battleground of bitterness. Another derby and one with equal measures of disdain for each others fanbase.
No time to catch your breath.
Solider on Spurs.