Editor's note: Not sure why I didn't notice this when it went up. Great stuff.
My name is Jonathan Pearman. I am 29 years old, and have lived in England all my life. I have been blessed with a loving family, and great friends, as well as a wonderful girlfriend. I am incredibly fortunate, and have always considered myself lucky, relative to those who have suffered atrocities and hardship around the world, in having the life I live.
However, its not all plain sailing.
From the age of 9, I have been a supporter of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club . . .My first memory was that of watching the 1991 F.A Cup Final. Well, to be honest, I was just sitting around whilst my Dad sat proudly watching it. He had been a Spurs fan since the 60's. Growing up, he can recall the famous Spurs side orchestrated by the legendary Bill Nicholson, and captained proudly by Danny Blanchflower. He would often tell tales of the 'push and run' with free flowing, glorious football. Jones, Smith, Mackay, Dyson etc. I just sat and took it all in, as he reminisced of the 'Glory, Glory' days.
"Jimmy Greaves was the best goalscorer this country ever had", he'd beam. "And he played for Spurs".
He would go on to name yet more legends. Jennings, Peters, Clemence, Chivers, Ardiles, Villa, Hoddle, Waddle. The list was endless of some of the true greats of the game, that proudly wore the lilywhite shirts of Tottenham Hotspur. My dad had seen them all, and recount in great detail the full extent of their genius.
The 1991 Cup Final showed three more of these legends. Gary Lineker, Paul 'Gazza' Gascoigne, and the fearless captain, Gary Mabbutt. Three absolute legends. None more so than Gascoigne, who sadly in this game, suffered a horrific injury early on that blighted him for the remainder of his career.
Spurs eventually won the game 2-1, but that was before going behind to a thunderbolt from Forest's Stuart Pearce. Paul Stewart pulled us level, before the unlucky Forest defender, Des Walker, headed an own goal to win the game for Spurs.
At the time, it did not really mean too much to me. I was only 9, and was just starting to understand the game. But from there on, I was a Spurs fan.
Through the years, I became more and more obsessed with the game. Playing football every spare second of the day, until I could no longer see the ball as darkness fell. I would pretend to be Sheringham. Then Klinsmann. Then it was Ginola, Ferdinand, hell I think I even pretended to be Jose Dominguez at one point!
I loved following every kick of the ball. Every tactical change. The set piece routines (yes we did have them once). I could tell you everything about any player not only at Spurs, but at any club in the football league, and also Serie A. The game enveloped me to such a great extent that it became my passion. Every season I would 'rosterbate' to unprecedented levels. Different squads, in different formations. It was my true passion.
Now, twenty-one years later, I sometimes wish that I had maybe not been in the room on that fateful day in '91. That I had not seen the Spurs banners that my dad had pinned to the wall, or that the blue and white colours of his scarf had not ingrained themselves into my brain. For twenty-one years, Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, have toyed with my emotions more times than I care to remember. The lows, far outweigh the highs. And this season may well be a record beater.
Before this season, I have endured many gut wrenching disappointments as a Spurs fan.
The first I can remember, came in the 1993 F.A Cup Semi Final. Spurs were playing arch rivals Arsenal (or as my dad affectionately calls them 'The Arseholes'). The game was a tense affair as always. Both sides throwing everthing into the game. And then, in the 79th minute. An Arsenal free kick was met by club captain, and villian to Spurs fans to this day, Tony 'Donkey' Adams, who powered in a header to win the game.
I was utterley dejected. But what I remember most was my dad's reaction. Even though he was in another room of the house (another floor, to be exact) the shear tirade of expletives was something I had never heard before in my life. I was disappointed, but couldn't understand how my dad could react the way he did. After all, it was just a game of football. Right?
Spurs would forever have quality players, without having a quality team. And continuously languish in mid-table obscurity. But hey, at least our rivals were no better.
In 1996, Arsene Wenger arrived at Arsenal. The rest is history.
In 2003, Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea. The rest is history.
Year after year. Season after season. My beloved Spurs have lived in the shadow of their two promenant London neighbours. At times, flirting with relegation. More often than not, the mid-table blues. Spurs were considered the big joke. ''Tottering Tottenham'' were the cries. ''Spurs have no back bone'' our rivals jeered. They were right. And it hurts to admit it.
2008, and its happening again. 2 points from 8 games. We're doomed. But somehow, everything starts turning rosy. Harry Redknapp has turned Spurs into a force we all knew they could be. When Peter Crouch scored 'that' goal against Manchester City to assure Spurs a place in the heralded 'Top Four', I almost felt like crying. Such is the emotional bond I have forged with this football club. This continued the next season with a fantastic run through the Champions League. Finally, Spurs where back on the footballing map. Or so I thought.
To be honest, it just proved to be another grand stage for the football gods to once again kick me in the teeth.
Spurs finally tasted the big time, for the first time in my living memory. But as soon as it was there, it was taken away again. The following season, Spurs narrowly failed to finish in the top four. I generally felt that we had missed our chance. Manchester City were now guaranteed a top spot due to their riches. Manchester United are always going to be there. Chelsea would also just spend their way into the top four again, and it looked as though Liverpool would do the same. Even Arsenal would finally spend some money to compete, and thus leave Spurs playing catch-up in 6th place . . . probably for a long time too. Our star players would leave. That would be that. My dreams were crushed.
But no, unbelievably, things actually went incredibly well.
Liverpool's spending power was excessively exercised on the most average signings ever. Chelsea's pensioners decided to turn on their manager faster than ever before. And Arsenal, well, lets just say that their arrogance finally caught up with them. Panic buying on the final day of the transfer window in an effort paper over the glaring gaps left by the departures of Clichy, Nasri and Fabregas.
Spurs on the otherhand, kept their stars, shrewdly adding to their ranks in key positions. By Christmas, Spurs were sitting pretty and looking like genuine title contenders.
And then. And then, the 26th February 2012. Tottenham vs Arsenal at the Emirates. 10 point gap. 2 - 0 lead. Effectively 13 point gap. Third place was ours. Not only were Spurs going to finish above their rivals, but they were going to do it in style. Comprehensively. No room for the slightest argument. Spurs were now far, far superior. The rightful Kings of North london. Hell, the rightfull Kings of London, period.
Tonight, on the 9th April 2012. Tottenham sit precariously in 4th place. Only due to a late Clint Dempsey equaliser that prevents Chelsea from leapfrogging Spurs. The gap has gone. Arsenal now sit 2 points ahead, with a game in hand. Five games to go. Its happening again.
I have surpassed my dad's rage at Spurs' failings.
But whatever this season pans out to be, I'll still be there next season. Ready to go through it all again.
I just hope that one year, Spurs will move out of that shadow.
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