…..whatever will be, will be, we’re going to Sydney! Not really a chant that you commonly hear reverberating around White Hart Lane every Saturday afternoon. Probably because I just made it up right now. I doubt it will catch on. Tragically, you seldom hear the more popular “Wembley” variant much nowadays, either. This is probably because in recent years, our balance sheet has looked significantly stronger than our team sheet! But this season, despite our sporadic and inconsistent form, we have managed to achieve both. Not only did we reach and predictably lose a Wembley cup final but the club has also arranged a friendly with Sydney FC on May 30th. This seems to be our only chance of winning a game right now. For most Spurs fans, this will barely register as news. It is probably on a par with hearing that Kenny McEvoy has signed a contract extension or the Club announcing a change of caterers at Spurs Lodge. However, for those of us Down Under, this is really quite a big deal. Believe it or not, Spurs have a huge following in Australia, probably because half the population of North London were deported here in the 19th century. And in celebration of this momentous occasion, the Tottenham Supporters Club (which is consistently recognized as one of the best from outside the UK) are putting on a number of events and turning it into a week-long Tottenham extravaganza which threatens to eclipse the Australasian Waste and Recycling Expo, which is being held at the nearby Convention Centre around the same time.
On the back of a quick Google search, it would appear that Tottenham last visited Australia in 1976 and the country still knows very little about football and even less about Spurs. The fixture has been gaining a decent amount of media coverage in recent weeks, despite the fact that Channel 7 News continually refers to us as the Tottenham Spurs. I suppose that this is the sort of journalistic integrity that can be expected from a country that spawned Rupert Murdoch and his evil media empire. As far as Sydney FC goes, I honestly cannot say how we will fare. I have only been to see them play once and I occasionally catch the highlights on TV but on my list of footballing priorities, the A-League ranks somewhere between the Conference North and the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. Despite this limited knowledge, initial findings would suggest that everything in the A-League is the polar opposite to what you might expect back home. Everything is, both literally and figuratively, upside down. Alessandro Del Piero was quick, Emile Heskey was considered a superstar, Michael Bridges was a picture of good health and Dwight Yorke was……well, he was a tosser. So not everything is different apparently. But it does speak volumes that Andy Keogh, formerly of Wolves and Millwall fame, is currently regarded as one of the best players in the league and is the 3rd highest goal scorer this season. This is a man who struggled to score for Scunthorpe United. Honest to God, Scunthorpe United! If I were to take a stab in the dark, I would say that the current level is around Sky Bet League One standard at present. Despite all of this, the A-League does appear to be getting stronger each year and Sydney are now one of the better teams in the competition. Their manager, Graham Arnold, used to coach the Socceroos and their Austrian international striker, Marc Janko is the sort of uncompromising forward that will no doubt cause all sorts of problems for our lightweight and error prone defenders. Even though I am sure that we will field a mixture of youngsters and fringe players, I hope that the club will take the game seriously and we get to see the likes of Harry Kane, Hugo Lloris and Christian Eriksen get a run out before Daniel Levy starts his annual pre-season fire sale.
Needless to say, I snapped up a ticket as soon as they were available but with all of the excitement, I got a little carried away. As my wife is always complaining that we never do anything together (even though we actually do everything together) I got my application for Husband of the Year in early this year and bought her a ticket for the game as well. What can I say? I am a hopeless romantic. Despite being German, my wife has very little interest in football. When Germany won the World Cup last year, she went into the office early to get some work done and missed the winning goal! It is this antipathy towards football that makes it very hard for her to understand my life long passion, with it’s subsequently violent mood swings and a seemingly endless procession of broken PS3 controllers. She doesn’t really like FIFA ’15 much now either. If I’m honest, I’m not even sure that I do anymore. Anyway, every now and then I try to involve her in my world and because she has made such a fuss previously, she really has no choice but to grudgingly accept. So she plays along, feigns excitement and gives me that knowingly indulgent smile that one might give to a naughty puppy or a child with learning difficulties. A marriage counselor may later describe this sort of behaviour as dysfunctional but as I keep reminding my lovely wife, that is really a matter for the courts to decide.
But enough of my awesome husbanding skills. Let’s get back to Spurs. Despite her reluctance, this won’t be the first Tottenham game that my wife has attended. She has been to one other game in her lifetime and if the previous experience is anything to go by, the Sydney FC game is going to be a cracker! The game in question was the momentous 6-4 drubbing of Reading at White Hart Lane in 2007. For anyone that remembers that game, it was the perfectly heady mix of utterly inept defending and flamboyant, cavalier attacking. It was like putting Ossie Ardiles in charge of the Harlem Globetrotters. Whilst being a great advert for the Premier League it certainly didn’t do anything for the careers of Pascal Chimbonda and Lee Young Pyo. Our beloved traitor Dimitar Berbatov stole the show with 4 goals in that game, only for the not-so-Secret Footballer, Dave Kitson to peg us back every time and set up a very nervy end to the game. This was the only experience that I have had of taking a woman to a football match and I will be honest, it was an eye opener. Looking back on that game, I reckon that I learnt three key things that day.
Firstly, women and football shirts are a great mix. I bought her a Spurs jersey with Lennon on the back especially for that game. I won’t go into specifics but for any gentlemen out there, I can guarantee that you will get a return on your investment if you buy one for your missus (and I don’t mean putting it on eBay afterwards). Secondly, trying to watch a game of football with your girlfriend or wife is exactly the same as trying to watch a movie with your girlfriend or wife. Please note the emphasis that I place on the word “trying”. You waste so much time explaining each of the referee’s individual decisions, or in my case, the words to every single bloody chant, that you forget that there is a game going on in the background. If you thought it was annoying when they ask you “who’s that?” every time someone walks onto screen in a movie, just imagine what it is like every time 1 of 22 different players touches the ball during a game! After 90 minutes, I felt like I had done a better commentary job than Stuart Hall, obviously without all the paedophilia. Thirdly, and this is my enduring memory of the game, my wife was both fascinated and disgusted that we were drinking “hot ham water”. In reality, she was referring to Bovril, which is actually made from beef but I was too astonished to split hairs. I couldn’t believe that I was receiving dietary advice from a German (albeit a very pretty one). This is a country whose national cuisine has a higher fat content that Susan Boyle and the traditional end to a dinner party is coronary heart disease! I know that as a nation, England doesn’t have much to offer from a culinary perspective but Germany? Really? Nevertheless, I refrained from throwing my piping hot Bovril all over her and held my tongue, as we were not quite at that stage in our relationship where casual racism would be perceived as banter and I was really quite keen to continue with all the sex. It’s funny how things change.
Anyway, I know that I am not the only one who is very excited to welcome Spurs to my adopted home and I am quietly confident that I may even get the chance to meet some of the players. Maybe then I can achieve my lifelong dream of punching Kyle Walker in the face. Only kidding, I am sure that he will be out of position as always. More than anything, it will be a good opportunity for a lot of neglected Spurs fans to get together, have a few drinks and watch our team lose for a fraction of the price that our British brethren fork out each week. But you never know, with my lucky charm in tow it could go one of two ways. Either we will romp to a resounding victory or I will get ejected from the stadium for throwing a half eaten meat pie at my wife. I suppose that at the end of the day, we just have to accept that whatever will be, will be.