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!