Tottenham are a big club, there’s no doubt about it. History, cups, famous names and stories galore. To be honest, it would even be fair to call me a glory hunter. At 6 years old, with Nessum Dorma ringing in my ears, I decided I wanted to support the team that Paul Gascoigne and Gary Lineker played for; my heroes of Italia 90. One year later and I was paying 50p at my school summer fete to go in to the TV room to watch them lift the FA Cup at Wembley, the first proper Spurs memory that I have. From that point on the lilywhites of north London were my team.
So although my love affair with Tottenham started because they had the most glamorous players and were the most successful FA Cup team in history at that point, I think most would agree I haven’t been showered in glory since then. A League Cup in 1999, the year before I got a season ticket, and another one in 2008 (which I missed as I was at the African Cup of Nations in Ghana) means I’ve never seen Spurs win anything. I’ve watched them lose more semi-finals and finals than I care to remember and they’ve done this against both bigger and better resourced clubs and smaller ones that weren’t, it never seemed to make a difference.
Of course, it isn’t just those memories of disappointment from the big days but the distinct averageness of the teams throughout the 1990s and early noughties that fills my consciousness of growing up a Spurs fan. There were some great players in those years, no doubt. I’ll never forget the likes of Sheringham, Klinsmann, Ginola and Anderton but the team would, more often than not, disappoint. It seemed built in to the very fabric of the club that Spurs were there to provide the occasional bit of magic but were never destined to be part of the big boys.
I’ll never forget the day I watched Spurs go up by three against Man United at half time but looking terrified of their own shadows when they resurfaced for the second 45. When Andrew Cole scored after 40 seconds we all knew what was to come. Luckily for us United took their foot off the pedal at five and we were saved further embarrassment. The guy next to me at that match just kept screaming that the players had to “believe”. But believing in ourselves wasn’t the Tottenham way.
For years after that match if we were winning by a good margin someone would shout out, “you can still win this, Spurs.” And although we’d laugh deep down we would still be nervous we would, once again, throw it all away.
We were ‘spursy’ after all.
Fast forward and here I am writing this post on a plane where I’m heading to the Champions League final with a ticket in my pocket. I’m with my dad and one of my best mates and I know that thousands of other Tottenham fans are flying in to join the party. It gives my goose bumps to think that I’m going to be part of the biggest club match on the planet and it’s my team that I get to watch. With my formative years as a Tottenham fan being full of memories like the stories above it is beyond my wildest dreams to even just be here.
And the way we got Madrid was so un-spursy. Sure, there was the odd dose of luck, but the team showed grit, determination and an absolute never-say-die attitude. The sheer elation and surge of emotion I felt after *that* Lucas Moura goal will stay with me forever and I feel privileged to have watched this squad come together over the past few years.
I don’t need to write about the magic that Pochettino has sprinkled on this team or the group of world class players that we’ve assembled as it’s been done a hundred times elsewhere.
But one thing I know for sure is that those players won’t need anyone telling them to believe in themselves before they cross that white line tomorrow night. And if everything goes to plan I get to call myself a glory hunter again. Fingers crossed eh?