Saturday, February 26, 2011

Dean Richards: A tribute

It was sadly confirmed today that former Spurs defender Dean Richards had passed away after a long battle with serious illness. He was just 36-years-old.

Dean first sprung to prominence at Bradford City and Wolves before impressing for Glenn Hoddle’s free-flowing Southampton where he looked every inch a future England centre-half.

When Hoddle took over at Spurs he bought Richards for a significant £8.1 million fee, the highest at the time for an uncapped player, and the big defender marked his debut with a goal in that epic 3-5 encounter with Manchester United. Between 2001-2005, Dean made just 73 league appearances in Spurs colours scoring four times. He also featured in five FA Cup and three League Cup ties.

I’d like to recall one of Dean's best performances in a Spurs shirt where he marshalled the Tottenham backline superbly in a 1-0 win at Aston Villa. He punched the air at the final whistle before paying tribute to the celebrating Spurs away support.

Unfortunately, Dean's Tottenham career was blighted by injuries and illness before drawing to a premature close in 2005, but that’s how I’d like to remember him.

Sincere condolences to the Richards family and his loved ones. Next Sunday two of Dean’s former clubs Wolves and Spurs will meet at Molineux where a fitting tribute can be expected.

RIP Dean.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I am glad we lost to Blackpool

No, I’m not. Just trying to get your attention like a podgy Geordie girl in a boob tube during -5 temperatures or every other misleading, lazily-posted football headline on the internet.

It would be easy to be overly negative after a 1-3 defeat to a woefully out-of-form Blackpool, but I won’t fall into that obvious trap. You have to lose well and win well in life. And Spurs have won a lot recently and enjoyed a fair slice of luck here or there. It was probably due.

If you can’t take a defeat and a bit of ill-fortune with good grace then you probably shouldn’t be here and, if you are going to lose to any side, there are worse teams than likeable underdogs Blackpool who play the game in the right spirit and have frequently appeared luckless this season.

I am sure there are people on Twitter, Spurs messageboards and football call-ins petitioning for Redknapp’s sacking, British jobs for British workers and the return of capital punishment. We’ll leave them to it. If you follow Spurs for easy victories, textbook demolitions, bragging rights - the pub football sofa experience complete with replica shirt sans match ticket - this is probably the wrong gig for you. But remember it’s still a good gig.

I was unable (thankfully) to make it to Bloomfield Road tonight, but I was – as ever – entirely bemused by the BBC website’s slapdash coverage of the match. Only at the weekend they claimed AGAIN that a Crawley win over Manchester United would make them the first non-league side EVER to make the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. I reminded them that Spurs won the cup in 1901 as a non-league side. Did they correct this error? Did they fuck. Your average cokehead has less arrogance. I can only assume they are on something a bit stronger. Roll on the government cuts.

Intriguingly, Blackpool were one-nil up but had no attempts on target, according to the stats on the BBC website. A fascinating insight into statistical accuracy. The half-time report said how much Blackpool had ridden their luck, but were yet somehow good value for a 2-0 half-time lead. If this makes sense to you, I look forward to your appearance on ‘The Jeremy Kyle Show’ tomorrow. We await with interest the results of your obese wife’s lie detector test.

Unfortunately, the true criminal of Spurs season is rapidly shaping into Jermain Defoe. JD has less of a kick than his alcoholic namesake. Thirteen league games without a goal in a season admittedly disrupted by injury and suspension. Maybe a new chant of “Jermain Defoe, you owe us a goal” would be appropriate. I hoped being surrounded by orange-chested individuals might have fired his enthusiasm, but sadly no.

It’s not too late for Defoe to fire us into the Champions League next season, but it is certainly overdue.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tottenham are mugs (angry emoticon)*

Oh. We used to be mugs. They regularly saw us coming and rolled us over with almost comic effect. Newcastle scored seven, Leeds six, Sheffield United six, Chelsea six. We grew disillusioned, angry. Our eyes bulged with mindless rage like a Nick Griffin devotee. The bitterness sustained us in the bad times. We always had an angry song. Other teams had the glory. We didn’t care. Our boys would have their boys in a scrap. Yeah, great.

Now it’s different. The glory, glory nights (and days) are back. And how. If you were there with me last night in Milan, you will never forget the experience. And if you are a true, grizzled veteran of the bad times, the fallow years...if you bit your lip and clenched your fist as you shipped abuse in offices, pubs, wedding receptions and burger bars then Spurs’ quantum leap forward should bring you more pleasure than most.

When the under-appreciated Peter Crouch stroked home the winning goal after Aaron Lennon’s breathtaking run, madness erupted in the upper echelons of the Curva Nord; a place with the equivalent toilet facilities of your local Primark (but for 4,500 people). It was no less than Tottenham’s steely show, expertly marshalled by reformed Gooner William Gallas, deserved. There was not one poor Spurs’ performance on the field. Even ancient, former Scottish international benchwarmer Joe Jordan rolled back the years with some classic eyeballing of a tiny, bearded Neanderthal.

Who is this Sandro bloke? He previously resembled an out-of-sorts tourist who needed an all over grade 3 and a good eyebrow pluck at Boots. But he owned the Milan midfield on Tuesday night. The bushy Brazilian seemingly covered every blade of Italian grass with wonderful verve and considerable bite. Tellingly, the ‘Sandman’ was La Gazzetta Dello Sport’s ‘man of the match’. Such plaudits were justified.

And what about the reincarnated Wilson Palacios? The beast is back! Dear Wilson has suffered a torrid time in Spurs colours since the tragic news of his young brother’s horrific demise in Honduras. His performances were deteriorating at an alarming rate. However, wise heads like Spurs die-hard John Ali confidently told me: “Wilson will be back, the player we once knew.” Thank god, John was right. The Palacios-Sandro tandem, overwhelmed in November at the Reebok, somehow excelled and dominated at the San Siro. Work it out. And what a return for the artist formerly known as Jonathan Woodgate. ‘Woody’ left a baptism of fire without a scorch mark in place. Just a strained abductor muscle!

This was the greatest away result in Spurs’ European history. I told everyone who was there to cherish it, love it, never forget it. We weren’t exactly hanging out the back of it, but we still gave it a good, old-fashioned squeeze with our tongues out.

The tie is by no means over, but we enter an intriguing second leg on the front foot. Never forget the wonder of Milan, my friends. If you were there, the journey back may also stay with you. But that’s probably best forgotten!

*Applies -1996-2005

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Exit Sunderland, enter Milan

A few tasty facts for you.

*Tottenham’s record in the last fifteen league games is 9-5-1 (W-D-L) including three league wins on the bounce. Our strikers have only contributed four goals in this run. It doesn’t matter if your midfield scores like Casanova.

*Spurs last won at the Stadium of Light almost 10 years ago with Christian Ziege and Teddy Sheringham the scorers in September 2001. Katie Price had not even popped out a kid yet.

*Match winner this week, match winner last week, the Croatian Saint Niko Kranjcar and his good lady wife Simona are expecting a baby in March 2011. We wish them all the very best. It’s unlikely Bolton and Sunderland are being considered as Christian names.

*The visit to the San Siro this week will be my 22nd European away trip following Spurs in either the UEFA Cup or Champions League. There have been many weird, wild and wonderful scenes on this journey. I can still vividly recall my first trip in Rotterdam....standing on my seat, clutching an Oranjeboom aged 10 as Tottenham and Feyenoord fans rioted in the adjacent stand. Spurs won 2-0 in the famous De Kuip beating a side fielding former great Johan Cruyff and future one Ruud Gullitt. The latter a legend for the Rossoneri.

*An away goal is absolutely critical in Milan. This season in the Champions League Spurs have scored two in Berne, two in Bremen, three in Milan (vs Inter) and three in Enschede including two own goals (any more charity on Tuesday night will be most welcome). The presence of the man dubbed Incredibale by the Italian press is critical. Enjoy the moment.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Stratford: White elephants on parade

White elephants. David Sullivan and David Gold are quite familiar with them. I understand they once published a magazine featuring ‘big beasts’ au naturelle if that’s your thing. So the Olympic Stadium seems a perfect fit for these former porn magnates turned protectors of Olympic values. But it won’t take long before West Ham discover that an athletics track is an impossibility in a football stadium and make moves to tear it down. It’s a white elephant waiting to happen. What price the precious legacy then? Sebastian Coe (Lord....of what exactly?) better start running.

A football stadium with a running track doesn’t work. I have sat in one and watched the colourful ants on the field perform wild zig-zagging patterns. When the ants move to the centre-circle, you know there’s been a goal. Despite our intense (er, and local!) rivalry, West Ham are a great club with traditions not unlike our own. The Hammers always play football the right way and have a passionate hardcore and legends like Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst who we can all sit back and admire.

But the continual rants of Sullivan and Gold and their double-chinned puppet Karren Brady do these fans little credit. I went from being ambivalent about the stadium move to hoping Spurs would win the bid having been antagonised by the non-stop media diatribe from these unpleasant people and the recognition that a redeveloped White Hart Lane sadly isn’t going to happen. I reiterate, if a club fails to sell out a home cup semi-final with a 36,000 capacity what hope is there of them filling 60,000 seats? The London taxpayer will eventually bear the brunt of West Ham’s failure to make the Olympic Stadium a success. Keep Talksport on speed dial.

You know a sport has limited interest when Sky Sports haven’t bid for it and that’s athletics to a tee. It’s a sport that has historically attracted steroid users and drug cheats extraordinaire. If you’re fast enough...maybe they won’t test your piss. The Olympics is a supposedly noble four-year sporting event but invariably invites jingoism and foul play. It’s always been a filthy, political plaything and little has changed. Think Hitler saluting the crowds in Berlin 1938, the dreadful massacre of Israeli athletes in Munich 1972 to smaller but unpalatable wrongs like hometown boxer Park-Si Hun being awarded a farcical points victory over the mercurial Roy Jones in Seoul 1988. At least the South Korean had the decency to apologise to Jones afterwards.

The Anti-Stratford movement chose to use the ‘news’ (the now classic cut and paste ‘BBC has learned/Sky Sports understands’) to crow, but they need to understand that no-one who supports Spurs has won - the Northumberland Development Project won’t happen. Daniel Levy has said as much and, with the new financial rules relating to club turnover soon to be implemented, a Spurs selling 36,000 seats has a significant disadvantage compared to an Arsenal selling out 60,000 seats. Even a club like Sunderland boasts 49,000 bum spaces. We are falling behind – this is no time to rejoice. Certainly not for the meagre 7,635 ‘Spurs fans’ (including West Ham supporters and many anonymous agitators) who signed the high profile, low take-up ‘We are N17’ petition. Supposedly this is a majority, but I was under the illusion we had more fans? And am I the only one who finds the irony in those Spurs fans who don’t support their local team talking about roots, tradition and community?

What makes me sick about football today is not Spurs looking to move from White Hart Lane to Stratford to compete against the corporate juggernauts who one has to defeat in order to win’s the angry, rent-a-mouth fan, always agitated, wide-eyed with seething rage, but nothing constructive to offer. He can’t enjoy Spurs in the Champions League or the wonder of Bale, Modric and Van der Vaart. He’s on Twitter or Spurs messageboards perpetually unhappy and his sole purpose in life is to pass this negativity on like that swarm of black flies in ‘The Green Mile’.

This usually surreal, offbeat and light-hearted blog has always been intended as an antidote to the non-stop moaning on other blogs and messageboards by keyboard warriors and those who probably shrink in size when their wife or partner grabs the remote control. They scream so loudly and with such passion you might think they outnumber the sane ones among us, but they don’t. They merely have the time and inclination to shout. Following Spurs is supposed to be entertainment, not an endless source of misery and complaint. Try to enjoy it, please.

West Ham may win the Olympic Stadium bid tomorrow (subject to the inevitable legal challenge by Daniel Levy ;-)!!), but in four months the ‘winners’ may be toiling in the Championship and Spurs facing another decade in an ill-equipped, under capacity stadium with a restless 35,000 plus waiting list. That’s a victory for no-one.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Willie’s wind-ups - Part Trois!

Bonjour, mes amis, c’est William Gallas! These international breaks, the time stands still, non? It is a time of solitude and contemplation at Chez Gallas since my international ‘retirement’. I might read Sartre and scribble thought-provoking existential notes on the page or breathe in the magic of Truffaut on my home cinema system while sipping a frothy Kronenbourg from my home bar. But my everyday pleasures are no more...lost in the slipstream of international football.... I can’t calm myself by platting Benoit’s hair or telling Luka a bedtime story. Long dark nights of the soul are not uncommon in these times.

There is only one thing that can lift my flagging spirits amid this bleakness. What is it, mon William, you ask? Why it is ripping le piss out of Samir Nasri!

Le set-up: Arsenal are 4-0 up in 26 minutes against a forlorn Newcastle outfit sans Andy Carroll. It is an embarrassment for the Cheryl Cole fanciers. But non! Voila le comeback! Un, deux, trois, quatre! The game finishes 4-4 and the most noble of draws. Your William pretends to be a clueless Thierry Henry and asks Samir the final score.

‘Thierry’: Bonjour, Samir, c’est Thierry! Le Arsenal legend Thierry Henry!

Samir: Ah, Thierry. Ca va.

‘Thierry’: Samir, I call with grave news. My wife has died.

Samir: Oh no, Thierry, this is dreadful. I was unaware you had remarried.

‘Thierry’: You dwarven fool. I said my wi-fi has died! But before le blackout my fading iPhone brought me great beloved Arsenal were 4-0 up against Les Toon after a mere 26 minutes!!! The title is ours surely! Tell me, Samir, what cricket score did we rack up today....sept? Huit? Ah, it was dix!!! We beat the Tottenham record, I know it.

Samir: Thierry....I....Rosicky.

‘Thierry’: Merde.

Samir: Oui, Rosicky. It started to go wrong with Diaby’s tackle.

‘Thierry’: You are pulling my baguette? Diaby's tackle? Is this the guy celebrated, 84 times capped French international legend William Gallas used to laugh at in the shower?

Samir: We no longer speak of this man.

‘Thierry’: It is better days now Squillaci is here, I understand. But his is a little girlish, you must admit. Premier League football is not a salad bar.

Samir: (A sobbing Nasri hangs up and watches the Twilight trilogy).*

Le merk!: In 2010, seamstresses in Peru created the largest ever pair of jeans measuring 141 feet tall (approximately 25 Samir Nasris) and 98 feet wide (approximately 32 Pat Rices) and weighing in at 7.5 tonnes (approximately 1/2 Nicklas Bendtner’s ego). I purchase and send these record-breaking jeans directly to the Emirates Stadium with a special touch. On the pocket stitched in lilywhite: ‘Property of William Gallas - will all Arsenal players form an orderly queue and climb in! 3-2, 3-2, you pansies!’ Ha ha!

*Actual conversation/events did not take place.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tottenham: sex, lies and videotape

Lies and mistruths are wonderful. You can make up anything in the UK and people will believe you if you repeat it often enough. I used to be married to Jose Dominguez’s younger sister, but the relationship broke down after we went on a fishing trip in Portugal and Jose pinched my sardine.

History is rewritten every week. A non-league side has never gone as far as Crawley in the FA Cup apparently. Except when non-league Spurs won it in 1901 (we have played like amateurs since – see last weekend), but don’t be burdened by the truth. Just say what you want. Chances are the person reading will be too lazy or ignorant to check.

Meanwhile, Ryan Babel, Fernando Torres and Pele III are in a helicopter somewhere circling your club’s training ground, football was born in China and Joey Barton is the best midfielder in the country. Those gems from Sky Sports, Sepp Blatter and, er, Mr. Barton. More truths; Jermaine Jenas is crap even when he plays well (see Saturday), Michael Dawson was suspended for three games after his red at Fulham (it was one) and Jermain Defoe is a practicing monk. Hopefully, the off-field scoring will rub off soon, JD. Please.

The misinformation continues to flow like house red in your local Pizza Express. Bolton manager Owen Coyle somehow transformed into the Scottish Steve Bruce in his post-match interview following Spurs’ last gasp victory, describing Daniel Sturridge’s pea-roller that squirmed under ‘He-Ho’ Gomes as a ‘good goal’ and Niko’s thunderbolt as a ‘mistake’.

Certainly, Gary Cahill (who superbly shackled Spurs' misfiring strikers) was clipped by Steven Pienaar in the box in the second half. It 'could have been a penalty'. But equally Spurs second spot-kick initially converted by Van Der Vaart 'could have been a goal'. I didn’t notice Mr. Coyle referencing the blatantly offside goal Kevin Davies scored at the Reebok Stadium in November. He needs to review the video (okay, DVD, Blu-Ray, M-peg) and change out of those disturbing shorts.

Oh, the sex? That was Spurs pin-up boy Niko Kranjcar’s sumptuous 92nd minute winner. Hopefully, Harry will give the Croatian boy a chance now. I'm a fan. He has talent and a welcome eye for goal. Want a laugh? According to a Bolton fan in The Observer, referee Mark Clattenburg deliberately added on enough time for Spurs to score the winner.....!!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Spurs striker scores goal!

The Mayan prophecy was true, the world is doomed. It is written in ancient scripture that a Tottenham striker will score on the second day of the second month in the 11th year of the third millennium. And so it came to pass.

The second part of the prophecy will see our world consumed in hellfire but until that toasty day let’s just enjoy a surprise Spurs win.

A striker scoring? The mere notion was dismissed as sheer fantasy by Spurs fans, but just as the Mayan soothsayers predicted two thousand years ago Peter Crouch netted and an injury depleted Tottenham triumphed 1-0 at the ‘Chicken Cottage’, Blackburn.

It was only Crouch’s second league goal of the season alongside a ‘handful’ for Roman Pavlyuchenko and a big fat zero for tiny lady magnet Jermain Defoe. Failure to secure a big name striker in the January transfer window had left Tottenham fans restless. Injuries to Luka Modric, Gareth Bale, Tom Huddlestone, Steven Pienaar and Younes Kaboul did little to lighten the mood.

Even manager Harry Redknapp expressed his concern at the striker drought as drastic measures were taken by the coaching staff.

“Bondy said to me on Sunday that our front men couldn’t score in a brothel so I told him to prove it,” confessed Redknapp. “He took Crouchy, JD and Pav to a ‘how’s your father’ establishment in Soho and Bondy was right. They all came out with frowns and IOUs. Thank god for those old Mayan fellas. ”