It’s Only A Game… Really!
I confess up front that I am a lifelong Tottenham Hotspur supporter. I first went to see them play some sixty years ago in the mid- nineteen-fifties and have followed their fortunes for good or bad – mostly bad – ever since.
I still remember taking the number 144 red double-decker bus from Gants Hill in Ilford, and travelling around the North Circular road and dropping off near White Hart Lane.
But when we came to the run in, I knew that we would fall short. Leicester were too far in front and it would have taken a terrible fall in fortune had they not managed to win a single one of their last 3 matches whereas Spurs had to win every one. I knew what would happen – Spurs would crack, not the Foxes… par for the course.
Leicester have my heartfelt congratulations for their astonishing achievement. What a season – and it wasn’t luck – it was a great team playing at the top of their game. I am quite sure they will be ‘there or there abouts’ next season.
But to hear and see the fuss on radio and television – you would think they had landed on Mars, or a third world war had broken out.
Okay, I understand that football is the world’s most popular sport and the premier league is arguably the most popular league – but even so, it’s only a bloody game. Does Leicester’s success really merit nonstop coverage, day after day after day, and push out serious news items on BBC TV, ITV, Sky, BBC radios four and five spent the best part of two days talking about Leicester. They had endless reporters and camera teams camped out in Leicester, and just about every single resident of Leicester must have been interviewed at some point or other in the past week or so.
But there was something even more unsettling than the over the top hype that accompanied Leicester’s victory. It was something that left me with a very bad taste in my mouth.
As I have stated, I have been a life-long supporter of Spurs. But that didn’t stop me and my mates going to watch West Ham, Arsenal, Leyton Orient and even Chelsea when Spurs played away. We always sat in stadiums where the fans were not separated and there was never any crowd trouble.
Whenever it became clear that Spurs were not going to win the league (and that was nearly all the time), we used to hope that another London team might make it. But if they didn’t, we would always cheer the team that gets there – be it Liverpool, Manu, Leeds and even Norwich. We loved football, we loved watching good teams and we always acknowledged that the best team had won.
Imagine a tennis player, who had no chance of winning, saying that he didn’t want Andy Murray to win, because he didn’t like him. Imagine an athlete, who had no chance of winning, saying he didn’t want Mo Fara to win – because he didn’t like him.
Crazy ain’t it?
But that’s what’s happens in football’s highest echelons. We get Chelsea player after Chelsea player telling us that they didn’t want Spurs to win the league and they would do anything to stop it. And they succeeded… by deliberately indulging in dirty tactics to provoke Spurs into retaliation. Job done!
Honestly, I just don’t get it. They are all professional sportsmen paid untold millions to entertain us. Spurs haven’t won the top tier league for over 50 years – and then only once. Do they really begrudge their London rivals a rare share of glory? They can’t win, so they don’t want Spurs to win. Are they that mean spirited and unsportsmanlike?
You know the answer.
It really makes me want to… er…er… throw my football boots at Boris Johnson!