Now that the dust has settled and my blood pressure has returned to normal, I would like to recount the events that led to one of the most exciting and memorable weekends of my (relatively) young life. The mighty Tottenham Hotspur, fresh from losing the race to avoid Europa League qualification, came to Sydney and turned the city a glorious shade of Lilywhite for a few memorable days. Normally, I detest having to run the daily gauntlet that is George Street, as you cannot walk 5 feet without crashing into an Asian tourist who is under the impression that they can walk in a straight line, talk on Skype and look at Facebook simultaneously. On the plus side, I finally understand why God created the elbow. But for one weekend only, Spurs fans were able to enjoy George Street and the normally packed CBD, as we engaged in a delightful yet inadvertent game of hide and seek with an unsuspecting Spurs squad. It was both riveting and soul destroying in equal measures. Mostly because I kept bumping into Benjamin Stambouli. Or he kept bumping into me. He has the balance of a new born calf. Nevertheless, the majority of fans realized pretty early on that the club had put the players up in the Four Seasons, which rather ironically is more than most of the players give us nowadays! But if you hung around said hotel or some of the more iconic landmarks that Sydney has to offer (The Opera House, The Harbour Bridge, the Hungry Jacks in Wynyard Station) then you would more than likely get the chance to stalk one of your heroes. From start to finish, both the Ozspurs and the City of Sydney were excellent, welcoming the club in brilliant fashion and turning out in force for all of the events. At one stage, the Harbour Bridge was lit up with the Spurs crest and giant images of the players. This led to an amusing and slightly disorientating picture of Harry Kane taking a selfie with himself! Everywhere you went, there was a sea of white shirts and people on the street would greet each other before spontaneously bursting into song. It was like being on the set of a low budget Broadway musical. Almost overnight, the beautiful city of Sydney had been turned into the magical kingdom of Yidney….
The only slightly disappointing aspect of the last few weeks is the fact that after months of planning and excitement around the arrival of Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea did what they do best and tried to ruin the fun for everyone (especially Spurs fans). On the back of buying the Premier League title and boring neutral fans to tears, our good friends from the west of London decided to piggyback off the buzz that was created by our boys and generate even more ill-gotten funds for their dark hearted schemes. Thankfully, no one really cared. From what I understand, they held very few events for their ‘fans’ and I have it on good authority that they were only here to set up a strategic partnership with Sydney FC, where they propose to send their most promising young racists to Australia, in order to gain invaluable experience of abusing minorities in a new and exotic environment. In hindsight, they probably should have partnered with the Western Sydney Wanderers. Anyway, their game was a bit of a non-event full of corporate types and prawn sandwiches. In all honesty, I haven’t seen that many plastic tits since I watched the Debbie Does Dallas Boxset on DVD. Interestingly, Channel 7 news were claiming that in the 72 hours that Chelsea were in town, reports of teenage pregnancy in the Greater Sydney area went up by 38%. Say what you like about John Terry but he is nothing if not efficient. Thankfully, my wife was in Melbourne during this time……or so she says. I should probably follow up on that.
Anyway, back to a proper football club. As part of the festivities, Tottenham held an open training session at the ANZ Stadium on the Friday before the game. There was a very impressive turnout, for what was essentially an opportunity to watch the squad stretch from a distance. However, through a mixture of targeted blackmail and expert blagging, I managed to get pitch side in order to meet the players up close and personal. I felt like a kid at Christmas and unfortunately, this was reflected in the photos that I took. I have never really been one for selfies, as I generally regard them as the hallmark of the moron. But in for a penny, in for a pound. I am not ashamed to say that I went on a selfie binge that would make even Kim Kardashian blush and I am now the proud owner of an entire album of an awkward looking me standing next to some very patient and polite Spurs players. I also have a shirt signed by the entire squad but I have been told in no uncertain terms, that it cannot be displayed anywhere in the house. Not even in the bathroom! This is why I can’t have nice things. Anyway, I am very grateful to the people that made this opportunity happen for me and true to my word, Daniel Levy’s pet turtle was returned, safe and unharmed.
On the way to the game on Saturday night, the atmosphere was electric. The station and the trains were full of Spurs fans, singing their hearts out and it genuinely felt like match day at White Hart Lane station. Except the trains were on time. And there were plenty of carriages. And those carriages didn’t stink of piss. Actually, it was nothing like White Hart Lane station on match day! The game itself, as could be expected, was very much an exhibition game. The players were just going through the motions but the atmosphere in the ground was amazing. Our end of the stadium had been aptly named “Park Lane” and was packed full of happy, drunk Yiddos. From what I managed to see of the game, there were a few interesting takeaways for next season: Nabil Bentaleb hates playing at left back. Benjamin Stambouli is as ineffective at centre back as he is in midfield. DeAndre Yedlin, despite being a certified midget, looks promising and played very well. Erik Lamela is just one rabona away from breaking his own ankle but he did set up the winning goal. And lastly, Harry Kane is a legend. It was also good to see a few of the youngsters get a run out as Tommy Carroll, Harry Winks, Grant Hall and Josh Onomah all got onto the pitch in the second half and didn’t look out of their depth.
Unfortunately, whilst we were in the process of winning the only silverware of our season, Arsenal were busy doing the same back home, which soured the weekend a little. Predictably, this led to Jack Wilshere’s latest annual bus top rant, which proves beyond doubt that you can take the boy out of the trailer park but you cannot take the trailer park out of the boy. In any other country he wouldn’t be trusted with scissors, let alone a microphone. But even that could not dampen our spirits. We put on a great party for Spurs and in return, they put on a great weekend for us. Before the tour, many of us were proclaiming that this was to be a once in a lifetime experience. However, after everyone made the club feel so welcome, hopefully Daniel Levy appreciates what a loyal and passionate fan base exists in Australia and we will be welcoming the team back on a regular basis in the future. Even if this doesn’t happen, I know that I will never forget the fact that I got to share my adopted home with the club that I have supported since I was a boy, whilst snapping some rather creepy photos in the process. And for those blissful few days, I can honestly say that I was very proud to be a Yidney-sider!