We Shall Fight Wigan on the Beaches…
Alright, hands up. Who had some pre-match jitters going into this one? I know I did.
I was all but ready to write the obituaries. Typical, we score eight in one half at home then can’t score once in ninety minutes at their place. These bloomin’ relegation strugglers, they keep doing us over with their 10-0-0 tactics…blah, blah Who was that keeper? Gordon Banks?…yadda, yadda… I knew those flash b*stard wouldn’t cope playing that in that swamp.
And so on.
Thankfully, we needn’t have worried. It appears we are made of sterner stuff than we might’ve thought. In a torrid afternoon in the Lancashire, sleeves were rolled up to the shoulder- revealing homemade tattoos of bulldogs and machine guns- and the game was taken by the jugular. The pitch, as to be expected of one moonlighting in rugby league, was a nightmare. I’ve seen meteor sites with fewer divots. But it didn’t stop our capable herd trying to do things the right way rather than opting for the ‘ping it to the tall one’ method that such an occasion might have called for. Defying the laws of physics, we passed it fairly proficiently. The ball bobbled, slowed, stuck, but it was Tottenham doing their darndest to keep it on the deck and make a game of it. At times it was ugly- hideous, even. But like all good Disney villains, there was some beauty in there somewhere.
Modric’s cameo was a delight. It was like watching someone do an oil painting in the eye of a hurricane. It’s a wonder they’d even managed to stretch the canvas let alone paint a masterpiece. A blistering shift from the Croatian; quick thinking, quick footed and quickly get his name back on the team sheet for next week. If not sooner.
Grumbles from Wigan? I’ll say. It’s hard not to feel some sympathy for the residents of the DW after Defoe’s conspicuous offside. I’m sure there’d be plenty of bile spewed over the internet’s forums and messages boards had we been on the receiving end. (Replay the game, find out where the linesman lives, take his family hostage, etc.) Lord knows, we’ve had our fair share of refereeing meltdowns. But, while it’s hard not to feel sympathy, it’s even harder not to be a little bit grateful when the decisions do go your way. In short. Stuff ‘em.
Super Roman Pavlyuchenko. He’s like a persistent ex-girlfriend. Despite all the hints- changing the locks, turning off all the lights and pretending we’re not at home- we just can’t get rid of him. He spends most of his time either moaning or, according to ‘Arry, yawning his way through training sessions, yet he garners more applause in twenty minutes than Darren Bent could in twenty orbits of Jupiter. Didn’t it just warm your innards to see Gomes, Modric and the like ambush him with bear hugs after the game; Defoe tore onto the pitch like an enamoured teenager. Then, as the crowd chanted his name, his fingers traced the symbol of his affection in front of the lingering Sky cameras.
Oh alright, then. We love you too.
A gritty away win, then. Perhaps even more significant than the nine goal trouncing at The Lane. Not only can we play some eye-catching stuff when we put our minds to it, we aren’t, as David Pleat once confirmed, a team of pansies. Well most of the time, anyway.
Back in the race.