According to the Bureau of Meteorology, ever since Australia was first invented by the British Empire in 1788, there has never been a report of snowfall on Christmas Day. This does not really come as much of a surprise, as Christmas falls in the middle of summer and it’s rare for the temperature to drop much below 30 degrees......thanks very much Al Gore. However, this year I was feeling a little homesick and if ever there was a time of year to believe in magic, surely it was now? And the wish of a slightly overweight, middle aged man can be a very powerful thing. I wasn’t asking for much, just your bog-standard Christmas miracle. Unfortunately, over the years I have been forced to learn the hard way that miracles are almost exclusively reserved for the Catholic Church and Sunderland's yearly relegation battle. In fact, the only thing remotely close to snow that we could expect to see this December was the impending nuclear fallout from Kim Jong-un’s latest attempt to wipe South Korea off the map and prove to the world that he is now a “big boy” despot. Even though he looks like a life-sized Cabbage Patch Doll, it is fairly apparent that the crazy apple doesn’t fall far from the crazy tree. Anyway, as you can imagine I didn't get any snow and I can confirm that there is absolutely nothing Christmassy about Australia. Except maybe for Christmas Island……but trust me when I say that this is nowhere near as fun or as festive as it sounds. Even the people who live there tried to burn it down. And thanks to Tony Abbott, it is now only ever a boat ride away! As such, this time of year is always very surreal for ex-pats. Having grown up immersed in the age old traditions of Christmas jumpers, roast dinners, Baileys and epic family feuds over the “real” rules of Monopoly, we now find ourselves in shorts and thongs, being forced to eat some rather questionable seafood whilst simultaneously Googling the early symptoms of heat stroke. But on the plus side, Christmas TV is exactly the same! Aussie's also enjoy such seasonal classics as Home Alone, Love Actually, Elf and…….Die Hard. They have similar adverts too. One minute you are getting all nostalgic as a group of elves and reindeers frolic together in a snowy hinterland, to the background noise of sleigh bells and subliminal messaging. Next thing you know, you glance out of the window to see a flock of birds literally burst into flames, mid-flight. As such, the whole Aussie Christmas experience can be rather disconcerting and quite frankly, a little bit depressing. Even more so if you are a bird.
But where Jesus/Santa Claus/Will Ferrell couldn’t deliver, my beloved Tottenham Hotspur stepped up and single handedly saved my Christmas! Which to be fair, is the absolute least that they could do based on the emotional carnage that they have inflicted on my life over the past 32 years and counting. Somehow, we managed to claim an impressive 10 points from a potential 12 on offer and as a result, topped the festive form table and clambered into the top four for the first time this year. This fabulous run of form commenced at St. Mary’s against a struggling Southampton team on December 19th. Despite the fact that we have a good record there in recent years, it is never a fixture that should be taken lightly (as Arsenal fans will testify) but we put the game to bed inside of 3 frenetic first half minutes, with goals from Harry Kane and Dele Alli. We were certainly helped by some Benny Hill style defending in the Southampton back line, but for once this was someone else’s problem. And to be fair, it probably won’t be Southampton’s problem for much longer as the majority of those defenders will be playing for Liverpool by next season. Aside from this, Hugo Lloris made his customary world class save late on and we were able to see out a comfortable win. The following game was at home to Norwich on Boxing Day and despite a slightly nervy opening 20 minutes, it turned out to be a walk in the park. Harry Kane bagged another brace and a late goal from the festively named Tommy Carroll sealed the victory and finalized a score sheet that would have made our Head of Youth Development a very happy man. Despite not getting on the scoresheet, Dele Alli once again stole the show as he delighted the home support by providing more festive nutmeg than a Starbucks Eggnog Latte!
Three days later, we headed down the road to take on high-flying Watford and did brilliantly to grind out a hard fought 2-1 win. In recent years, this is the sort of game that Tottenham would probably have lost and it goes a long way towards validating the shift in mentality that Mauricio Pochettino has bought to the club. Erik Lamela continued his fine form with a well taken goal before Son Heung-Min brushed off the impending annihilation of his home country to score a cheeky last minute back-heel through the legs of everyone’s favourite anti-hero, Huerelho Gomes. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make it four wins out of four away at Everton, where we played well but only came away with a 1-1 draw. Again, it says a lot about the progress we have made as a club when this result is seen as a disappointment. Predictably, former Spurs favourite and part-time hobbit Aaron Lennon opened the scoring for Everton whilst also managing to break a personal record by finally managing to lift the ball off the ground for the first time in his illustrious career. Bless him, he only has little legs. And to his credit, he looked about as happy to be scoring against Spurs as he did when we forced him to sign for Everton! Despite this temporary setback, we dominated the first half and hit the woodwork twice before Dele Alli once again popped up with a an acrobatic goal right on half time. Now I am not one to get carried away too easily but I am fairly certain that Dele Alli is going to be the new savior of English football. Ok, I got a bit carried away. But based on the performances that he is putting in this season and his increasing importance to the club, it may not be a totally unfounded comment. If you look at the intelligent runs that he makes and his uncanny ability to pop up with important goals, he reminds me very much of a young Frank Lampard……except not fat. He seems to have a hand in everything that we do going forward and as I alluded to earlier, this kid could nutmeg a mermaid!
So just when I needed them the most, Tottenham came to my rescue and saved me from the absurdity of a sun drenched, 40 degree Aussie Christmas, for one more year at least. And as we say goodbye to 2015 (the year, not the number of minutes since Wayne Rooney last scored a goal) we can be uncharacteristically optimistic about what lies ahead in 2016. And with this in mind, the question that all Spurs fans should be asking is this: Enjoying a Lilywhite Christmas is one thing, but could we soon be enjoying a Lilywhite New Year as well? Paul Merson says “no”. But Paul Merson is a dick.