On the anniversary of Tottenham’s biggest home defeat to Arsenal we look at how the balance of football in North London has changed.
Glory, Glory Hallelujah…… by Paul Fowler
After an incredible Sunday afternoon at ‘The Lane’, and two previous close 5-2 derby game defeats, Tottenham supporters are reported in the media to be cock-a-hoop and rightfully crowing after a famous victory over their close rivals, Arsenal, hammering the Gunners 2-1.
For the first time in 19 years it looks odds on that Tottenham will finish above Arsenal at the end of the season and many Tottenham fans believe that this is truly where their club belongs.
As both sets of fans would admit, it has been a long time coming but to erudite students of the game, it has always been there on the horizon, since Tottenham’s League Division 2 championship winning season of 1950 – a division which significantly Arsenal have never won.
Some Tottenham fans and quite a few Sky Sports pundits, not surprisingly believe that Spurs’ current league position justifies their claim to be the top club in London in spite of the claims of West Ham and Fulham, who, in many respect it could be argued, have a better record than Tottenham when it comes to not having won much.
Many Arsenal fans far from satisfied about an increasingly appalling record under Arsene Wenger are crying out for his resignation. They are mortified that their club has only managed UEFA Champions League qualification for the last 16 years or so in succession and that during that time, despite the odd ‘famous’ victory over mediocre opponents such as Inter Milan in 2003 (5-1 away) and Real Madrid in 2006 (first English team to win at the Santiago Bernabeu), they have failed to win the coveted trophy.
They also point to an embarrassing loss in the subsequent final in Paris to Barcelona (hardly a European giant) after their goalkeeper’s late sending off (17 minutes into the match ) and of only being able to hold on to a one nil lead gained by the ten men until the last 13 minutes of the match, and then spinelessly conceding defeat.
Add to that Arsenal’s abysmal recent record of not having won the Premiership title since 2003 ( 13th time, unlucky?) with a unique unbeaten season and the FA cup for only the tenth time in 2005, then it is easy to see why this once great club is in ruins.
Contrast that with the record of their illustrious neighbours, Tottenham Hotspur. Tottenham not only point to a mammoth 12 match unbeaten current run, but also boast a record of not having won the ‘championship’ since 1961 – a mere 51 years.
Furthermore, unlike Arsenal, Spurs only have to look back to 2008 for their last trophy – the League Cup. This recent success means that Tottenham have won the League Cup in all its guises a massive four times as opposed to Arsenal’s paltry two. For Tottenham supporters this statistic tips the balance when football pedants compare Tottenham’s 8 FA Cup wins and 2 Championship wins with Arsenal’s 10 and 13 respectively.
Tottenham’s recent foray into UEFA Champions League football in 2011 brought back those ‘glory, glory’ nights to the Lane, and thrilled neutrals everywhere. After scintillating fight backs against European stalwarts Young Boys and FC Twente respectively, the coup de ‘grass’ was a fantastic 1-0 victory in Italy against AC Milan, thus setting up a mouth-watering Quarter final tie with Spanish giants Real Madrid.
After two hard fought matches, many observers commented on how well Tottenham had acquitted themselves,and their manager at that time, Harry Rednapp, gave a rare, exclusive interview to Sky Sports. Tottenham lost 5-0 on aggregate, but quite clearly they had graced the competition and were very unlucky not to win it.
Now, the Tottenham fans truly believe they are back where they should be and that no one can dispute the evidence. This inherent belief in the sanctity and status of their club is apparent from the collective response of their supporters to Sunday’s derby victory which has been calm and restrained as befits supporters who expect to win such games.
Indeed not for Tottenham fans the hyperbole which often accompanies the reactions of so called ‘lower’ clubs when they manage to topple a giant. Not for Spurs fans the smug disdain for those clubs in the league below them; and not for Tottenham fans, the facile suggestion that they are a ‘one man team’ when people point to new Eurostar Gareth Bale’s goal scoring contribution as opposed to that of Robin Van Persie for Arsenal last season.
The Tottenham players are convinced to a man that the ‘glory times’ are back at the Lane. Many cite the recent revival of Chas and Dave on tour, and the more philosophical point to straightforward logic; namely, the club that has won fewer trophies is ipso facto more likely to win more trophies in the future when compared with the club which has won more because the latter cannot win all the time especially when the former wins the trophies. (If you see what I mean).
It is no surprise then that the football world now looks forward to a new, vibrant Spurs winning at the very least four trophies next season and continuing its remarkable development as both club and team since 1961. The sheer chasm in class between the two teams on Sunday just could not be ignored, and, unfortunately for Arsenal fans, would point to a new era in English and European football.
‘And the Spurs go marching on!’
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal FC: crowd behaviour at the early matches
- Royal Arsenal: from the Common to the Manor. Coming next.
The sites from the same team…
- Referee Decisions - just what are the refs up to this season?
- Parent News - what is going on in schools these days?
- The weight loss programme: The only guaranteed way to stay fit
- The Arsenal History Blog from the AISA Arsenal History Society
- Untold Dylan - the music, the lyrics, the meaning