For anyone who has ever suffered from insomnia, it is basically the same as being a Spurs fan Down Under. It is a very extreme version of sleep deprivation. If the Americans are ever forced to leave Guantanamo, they could do a lot worse than abandoning their water boarding equipment and setting up shop at the Spurs Supporters Club on Elizabeth Street in Sydney. Couple that with some of the dire football we have been playing in recent years and that’s a pretty effective method of torture if you ask me. Obviously, I am kidding but as I mentioned in my previous post, it has become increasingly difficult to follow my beloved perennial underachievers whilst also holding down a full time job and a part time marriage.
Which is a convenient segway into the theme of my latest post. A few years ago, I read an aptly named book called Vertigo by John Crace, which chronicled Tottenhams brief yet enjoyable flirtation with the Champions League in 2010/11. Ironically, it was our very own Emmanuel Adebayor (then of Real Madrid) who knocked us out of the competition with a couple of well-placed headers. Of course, nowadays finding Adebayor unmarked in the box is like trying to find Anne Frank. Anyway, in the book Crace explains that the stress and unpredictability of watching Spurs could be overwhelming and he often wished that someone would sedate him shortly before kick off only to tell him the score when he awoke several hours later. Obviously, this was an overly dramatic example of poetic license.…..or was it?
Having consulted my local GP, it was swiftly decided that no one was getting sedated any time soon. In fact, there were to be no needles involved whatsoever – he was very clear on that. After a confusing and rather awkward referral to a nearby Behavioural Psychologist, I trudged home crestfallen. On the back of this, I made an executive decision. I decided that in order to preserve my sanity and to continue in gainful employment, I would try to sleep through entire games and deal with the inevitable emotional fallout in the morning. How hard could it be? I had slept through games before, I have seen George Graham’s Arsenal play many times. The plan was foolproof. It was the Football Manager equivalent of going on holiday, leaving your assistant manager in charge of the next match and hoping for the best.
As I said, how hard could it be? As it turns out, pretty hard. Trying to force yourself into sleep just hours before a game is a similar feeling to when you have an early morning flight to catch. You will lie there in bed, sweating like a freshly released paedophile due to the unrelenting heat in this bloody country, worrying about having to get up early and as a result, inadvertently keeping yourself awake. As if to make matters worse, I normally have my very own Tottenham blooper reel playing on a loop in my head as I worry about all the things that could go wrong in the next few hours. Vlad Chiriches repeatedly failing to judge the flight of an uncontested long ball, a seemingly endless montage of Roberto Soldado holding his head in his hands or looking imploringly to the heavens and Andros Townsend, producing more step overs than Fat Ronaldo before delivering an end product that wouldn’t be out of place in a Chinese toy factory (and nowhere near as dangerous).
But it doesn’t stop there. Once you do finally manage to drift off, your subconscious kicks in and wages fully blown psychological warfare on your dreams. The match gets played over and over in your head, in all manner of different formats. In some of them Spurs win, in others we lose heavily. It is like a low budget version of Inception. It is dreams within dreams within dreams. Except at the end, Leonardo DiCaprio is nowhere to be seen and it just pans to Paul Merson on Soccer Saturday, making increasingly ridiculous predictions about the demise of Tottenham Hotspur whilst struggling to string together even the simplest of sentences. A pretty solid anti-drug campaign if ever I saw one! In the end, you have so many numbers and scorelines swirling around your head that you wake up feeling like Rainman. And then the moment of truth. You reach for your phone, bleary eyed and trying to ignore any texts that you may have received during the game. You click on the Sky Sports app……..and your bloody internet isn’t working!
Unfortunately, this is a fairly common occurrence in Australia and significantly prolongs my suffering most weekends. Our internet provider, Telstra, is about as effective as the Michael Jackson jury. It appears that our internet ceases to function in the following bizarre conditions: 1) Excessive heat 2) Excessive rain 3) Excessive wind. Basically, anything that could be described as a slight change in the weather plunges us back into the Stone Age. But after I have turned the modem off and on again (thank you Telstra customer service) and seen that Spurs have once again been beaten at home by West Brom, I crawl back into bed, adopt the fetal position and cry myself to sleep.
It has been difficult to force myself into this routine but as with anything, practice makes perfect. Depending on Premier League scheduling and the ever changing time zones, I have struck up a pretty satisfactory balance between watching games and dreaming games. On a side note, it is a pretty damning indictment on your mental state when you consistently lose in your own dreams! But it has certainly become easier now that we have started to win again and will become easier still as the Australian summer comes to an end. In short, I am comfortable that my new policy towards Tottenham is the same as my existing policy towards my wife. If I ignore it for long enough, it will generally sort itself out.