As I watched my beloved Spurs play Arsenal off the park at White Hart Lane on Saturday, I couldn’t help but ask myself for the 100th time ….what was I thinking? Five years ago I gave up my season ticket, sold all my belongings and moved to Australia to start a new life. If I’m honest, I know full well what I was thinking. I was thinking what my wife was telling me to think! I know how soft this sounds but you have to bear in mind that my wife is German and, much like a hippo, you never come between a German and their relentless pursuit of lebensraum. It was settled. After 25 years of following football religiously, I was moving to a country that refused to acknowledge its existence.
Predictably, I timed the move to perfection. For the first time in living history, Tottenham had qualified for the Champions League and I was leaving the country. Once I had landed in Sydney with nothing but a suitcase and a packet of Monster Munch to my name, I decided to embrace the jet lag and find a place to watch Spurs on a regular basis, which was surprisingly easy. The Sydney Tottenham Supporters Club is conveniently sandwiched between an illicit Chinese casino and a dubious looking Oriental seafood restaurant. However, after a few bouts of food poisoning and spiralling Triad related gambling debts, I decided to bite the bullet and subscribe to Foxtel. For those of you that have never heard of Foxtel, it is essentially a carbon copy of Sky but five times the price. This is pretty much the case with everything in Australia. But at least I could now watch Spurs lose in the comfort of my own home……or so I thought.
For the first time in my young life, we were winning…..a lot. Of course, this was back in the days when Harry Redknapp had two fully functional knees and a transfer policy that revolved around flicking through his 1998 Panini sticker book to see who was still alive and/or playing. This was a totally new sensation to me and one that I was not entirely comfortable with. Over the past 25 years I had become battle hardened to the disappointment, the false hope and at times, the sheer futility of supporting Spurs. My weekends used to consist of being nervous from Friday evening until Saturday lunchtime and then subsequently depressed and moody well into Monday morning. I had grown up on a staple diet of Vinny Samways’ exclusively lateral passing range, Jermaine Jenas mincing around the pitch without ever touching the ball and Paul Robinson defying physics by diving further backwards than he ever did sideways. But now we had the likes of Luka Modric, Rafa Van der Vaart, Gareth Bale and Sandro tearing teams apart. Even Peter Crouch looked good. After years of disappointment, things were finally looking up……
……but then I got a job. It is fine to watch football until 4am when your days consist solely of eating pizza and playing more Pro Evo than the average Japanese teenager. Things started to get difficult when I returned to work and my employers unrealistically high expectations (be in the office, be awake, don’t dress like a hobo etc) threatened to make watching Spurs a thing of the past. With the late night weekend kick offs (2am) and the early morning European ties (6am) I think that my new bosses were beginning to fear that they had hired an intravenous drug addict. I was a mess. It was becoming nigh on impossible to juggle my love for Spurs (and football in general) with societies insistence that I behave like a respectable adult. As a result, I tried to become more detached. I would record the games using some new fangled Sky+ technology and watch them in full the next day. I stopped playing Fantasy Football entirely. It wasn’t the same but I was beginning to look less like an extra from The Walking Dead and my monosyllabic conversations were becoming slightly more adventurous, which pleased my wife immensely.
In the end, it didn’t really matter as it was just another false dawn for us Spurs fans. We narrowly missed out on 4th place that year after Marton Fulop’s comically inept impression of a man who hadn’t taken a bung from the Arsenal hierarchy. As if this wasn’t enough, we had to endure another horrific twist of fate as even though we managed to regain 4th place the following season, Chelsea went on to win the Champions League and prove beyond doubt that God is a Chelsea fan. At the very least, he is certainly not a Tottenham fan! Harry Redknapp then left to fulfil his lifelong ambition of managing QPR and we bought in AVB, who flattered to deceive for a short while until it became apparent that Gareth Bale was papering over some fairly significant cracks. Tim Sherwood then came in and proceeded to piss off everyone associated with the club until he was swiftly replaced by Mauricio Pochettino. A fairly high level synopsis of the last few years but now we are up to date.
Needless to say, I have adapted to my new surroundings and still manage to follow Tottenham and the Premier League. But it is infinitely harder considering the time difference and the general sense of apathy embodied by the Australian public. If you can’t drink beer, hurl racist abuse at tourists and clothesline opposing players on a whim, it’s simply not a sport in this country. That is why I thought it might be fun to document my trials and tribulations as a southern hemisphere Spurs fan, as you certainly see the game in a different light when you are no longer in direct proximity to it. It may also help to answer the age old question…..does absence make the heart grow fonder? Or in my case (as my Dad keeps reminding me) does it merely grow increasingly pessimistic?