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Remembering love lost

Lazio at the Lane under the floodlights. It's not the Champions League, it's the Europa League and if we're not in Europe we're nothing. So the saying goes. There's a fair amount of anticipation for this game. For me at least, you might not be as excited. You might not care too much. You might be hoping for some rotation and no injuries. Or perhaps not, perhaps you're rubbing hands together gleefully.

I'm looking forward to seeing how we line-up, with Andre Villas-Boas wanting to take the competition seriously. There's a very decent cut of opposing clubs in this years competition. Most of them are going to take it very seriously, so there's no reason to be dismissive in approach and application, unless we want an early exit. Doubt yourself for a second and you'll be punished for it. What Villas-Boas truly envisages in Europe won't begin to play out until the whistle kicks off proceedings. But I'd like to believe he will use the squad with the express aim to win each game, taking into account the fixtures that follow the European encounters.

He's alluded to the fact that silverware is important. Something we tend to forget and rationalise as secondary in a world where a league placement is perceived as a far more relevant accolade. We are more gutted about losing out to say 4th spot or CL than we are failing to get to a cup final or losing one. That's the royal 'we'. I know not everyone thinks the same way. There are still some traditionalists that pump their chest for a good old fashion cup run. But I'll hazard many are conflicted. I know I've argued for both sides, because I like to think it's possible to have the best of both worlds. Although admittedly I'm sided ever so closer to the league runs in recent years believing that you can consolidate in strength and be fitter to challenge for those cups. The reality of this thought process is that you're gambling the present with a vision of the future that might not play out.

League placement is important if a club wants to be able to sustain that challenge in the top tier consistently. Such is the hierarchy of modern football blah blah blah, I've made this speech a dozen times before. If you harbour dreams for the title, as far away as this might seem what with other clubs in stronger financial positions to compete - if you want to realistically be in the mix you have to qualify for the elite competition and milk it for all it's worth. Money is the commodity clubs perceive as the gateway to success. Yet this vision of the future might never materialise and remain simply a dream forever out of reach.

But as we all know, such things do not get chronicled in the history books as success or as glory glory days. That's if all you do is finish in a place that grants you access rather than seeing your clubs ribbons on a bit of silver. Although playing against the best sides in Europe, even if all you get out of it is away trips, should not be frowned upon. As a supporter you'll always desire a little more than that.

We finished fourth last year. We've been heavily involved in that top tier for several seasons now. That's the bread and butter of our season. The league games. But when was the last time we had a massive dollop of jam spread across that bread? 2008? And before that in 1999? And further back in 1991? Not forgetting some continental  in 1984? Yet too many times since and in-between our tea has gone cold waiting. It's time for a fry up. And there's no need for Marmite on the table.

The days of the Cup Kings and flirtations with the Twin Towers, that's history, some of it iconic never to be forgotten. These moments are truly the building blocks of a clubs identity and their traditions. We swaggered and might have gone on swaggering had we not hit a brick wall that left us bloody and bruised and nursing injuries we've only just recently recovered from. Rehabilitation has been a long and laborious journey. Whilst we began to walk again, others around us sprinted past, knocking us back down.

We all know the story.

The 1980s. The Big Five. On the verge of something greater. A young chairman with a heart bigger than his brain. Crippling decisions with development at the Lane and the baseball bat to the knees that was Hummel. We never stood a chance. Instead of being primed for the Premiership we were left struggling, on our knees and perilous close to financial ruin. Scholar tried to innovate but all we did was dehydrate. That's just how things panned out and in 1991 we anchored ourselves to survival by winning the FA Cup. Mostly thanks to Des Walker but more so thanks to a shy Geordie that practically dragged us into the final only to then implode. Cruciate ligaments raptured, his transfer to Italy delayed for a season. Another cliff-hanger of a finale in the roller-coaster ride that is THFC. Then into the wilderness we went. In many ways, so did Paul Gascogine. Both of us at the foot of the brick wall looking up, uncertain of the climb ahead.

I remember Sunday afternoons on Channel Four, James Richardson and the odd Gazza cameo and wonder goal. He only played around 40 games for the Rome club before ending up at Glasgow Rangers. The first player, the only player I ever idolised. I remember Hoddle and adored his effortless gliding and majestic arrogance but Gascogine was the one plastered all over my bedroom wall. Somewhere, at my parents home, I have a box full of cut outs of newspapers and magazines, practically all of the match reports, articles and interviews of the player and the coverage he got just before he joined us and whilst he wore Lilywhite. I remember 1990 very well. More so that fabled 91 season. All the cup games. The queuing for the semi-final for tickets. That free kick. It's just the FA Cup right? No, it's more than that. It's something that's untouchable that nobody can ever take away from you. It's Tottenham Hotspur.

So where am I going with all this? One thing is for certain, we're over that wall. Gascoigne too, but he's still sitting at the foot of it on the other side. We've left it behind us, from a jog to a run. We're not so easily knocked down any more either. But we've got plenty of shoulder bruising and there's one or two runners up ahead.

From Europa League to the seasoned question of silverware versus Champions League and long lost love for a breed of player that no longer exists. It's simply this: You can't create history that can be looked back on with pride if you let the present pass you by as an inconvenience.

It's not that supporters don't want to win cups it's just that so many of us prioritise the league and want that top four place more than anything else that we forget that there's no necessity for sacrifice. This won't be easy. The games come thick and fast. The recognition isn't what it was in bygone eras. You could even argue it's just a financial safety net for clubs falling out of that other more grand competition. Then again, if you win it you get to play the winner of that grander competition and that doesn't always turn out the way you expect.

To host Lazio, another club to have loved and lost Paul Gascogine, unbeaten and a dangerous opponent - it's a fine way to reignite a lust for a different type of momentum. One that can lead to moments in games that remain in memory forever. One that can lead to success, regardless of its downgraded stature, regardless that its perceived as an afterthought. Football is what you make it, not what someone else tells you it is. Those conflicted thoughts around what is or should be more important pale into insignificance. It should always be about Spurs and it should always be about glory.

How else can you define yourself as a winner if you don't actually win anything? More importantly, you can't add to those blocks of identity and tradition if you don't set out to build them to stand the test of time.


"It's full of history & different winners. It does not generate financial advantages but it generates emotions when you win it."

- Villas-Boas on the Europa League

Reader Comments (31)

I would rather we win this cup than the FA. I would even rather win this and get 5th than 4th and no trophy. That may be a unpopular view amongst fellow yids?

Sep 20, 2012 at 1:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterLuke

We are still a couple of bricks short of a load, so I do not see us winning this but we will not roll over. It is an important trophy for us and if AVB takes this seriously it will be a good measure of how good our talent really is and hopefully some of our young talent will get a chance to show their wares.

Sep 20, 2012 at 1:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

I want to see Spurs win the Europa, the FA Cup, the League and the League Cup. What? Weren't you there in '61?

Sep 20, 2012 at 1:34 PM | Unregistered Commenternikitak13

I must admit, in the Harry times I did feel simiar to him when he announced the UEFA Cup as pointless but I do feel invigorated by Andre and his comments about we are going out to try and win it. Fair play. It would be easy to play the kids for experience and lessen our expectations on all Trophy fronts but this is exactly the type of trophy that is synonomous with our club. LET'S FUCKING DO THIS!
To those going, PLEASE replicate the atmosphere at the NextGen game against Barca...we need YOUR support!
Defoe + Dempsey 2-0.

Sep 20, 2012 at 1:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterSi

i hear you but mark this. Last season we were still third and 13 points ahead of The Bad People. Then the Sweet FA Cup competition begain. Our squad was not rotated and they were knackered. We lost 11 matches on the trot. If people ask you why we didn't come third, there could be many excuses - Harry and the Revenue, Harry and England, Harry used to fade at West Ham, or simply Harry. But the real issue I think was the Cup run which should never have been allowed to happen when we were so high up in the league.

Sep 20, 2012 at 1:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterSolidificate

There is very little you can write that is not heart felt .. its in our vains.
Euro nights at the Lane are Special .. Special because the players and fans make it so.
I was up against the fence when Robo scored in the 1984 Eufa Cup Final ...I shook Tony Parks hand as he walked around the pitch at the end.No one at the time said that this trophy ment any less than the European Cup at the time ... and there was no one at that amazing night at White hart Lane that as Parks made that final save it didnt mean as much just because it was the Eufa Cup.
I was very pleased to hear that AVB was going to treat this competition with the respect it deserves .. Its not just another bit of silver ware .. its a European cup competition ..a cup that would sit proudly at the Lane.
This is Tottenham Hotspur FC ... my club..our club...till we die !!

Sep 20, 2012 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterrockinelvis

I think the greater problem, Mr Solidificate, was the complete dearth of rotation and canny substitution that rendered the key players knackered, not the games. Other teams played more games and more players more often. Harry had his favourites and his outcasts, and never the two should meet. Back AVB, back the players and dare to do. COYS.

Sep 20, 2012 at 1:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterDr Oyvind

very good point from Solidificate on the FA cup, obvioulsy the lack of depth and the lack of rotation undid us last season.

reason to win the UEFA.....'cos woolwich have never won a European trophy...came close once.


Sep 20, 2012 at 2:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterBK

I think the Europa cup has gone up a class the last few seasons ive heard of a lot of the teams unlike years ago when it was ,,who is that team?? and where do they play ??.I think im right but the 2 Spanish teams in it last year were outstanding and i think could have won the champs league itself if in ,,was it Athletico that stuffed Man U and Chelsea and i mean slaughted them .Some things that put me off are the amount of games ,16 is it ?? and also i keep on hearing even if you make it to the final you hardly make a cent ,which is just wrong all round .I hope we do well and at least it will be a bit more practise to perfect A.V.Bs team selections and formations and get some more youngsters in volved for this game though not to many Lazio are far from shit and a win would be good .COYS

Sep 20, 2012 at 2:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterEdinburghSpur

Cups without money in them tend to be half empty...

Sep 20, 2012 at 2:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterSolidificate

Nice and romantic, but football has changed so much since the 80's and early 90's . In order to win cups and stay in the top 4 you need two teams. In order to afford two teams of sufficient quality you need the 60,000 crowd and Champions League revenues, unless you are a cuckoo club like Chelski or Sheik City. Even then, you can't always do it (Bad People v Birmingham City anyone?). So I'm afraid Harry was right, get into the top 4 regularly, get the new stadium THEN you can fight on all fronts. Until then, pick your battles, and for us it has to be the league position. And I was there when Gazza scored against the Bad People and it was fantastic, but head has to rule heart for the time being.

Sep 20, 2012 at 2:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterBob

Only an irrelevant with football matters person would insist that Spurs didn't finish third last season because their involvement in the final stages of the FA cup!

Sep 20, 2012 at 3:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterIoanX

The Europa League is only TWO more games than the CL, admittedly in the Feb/March period when the season is just cranking up but all the same just two extra matches. It's a bit of a myth that you play hundreds of games etc.

Sep 20, 2012 at 3:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterJH

Looking at your headline "Remembering Love Lost" took me in a different direction to your article. In the loss of Berbatov, Modric and Van de Vart we lost 3 world class players. Like all lost loves the beauty of their presence will be remembered despite the bitterness of the way they were lost (although maybe VDV went with grace). For me seeing such great players at my club was a real pleasure. Hopefully AVB and Levy will bring us more in the future.

Sep 20, 2012 at 4:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Because we've changed managers so many times over since the great Keith Burkinshaw's reign our squad turnover is apparently 24% more than the nearest other club City since the premier league started. This means there are a hell of a lot of ex spurs players (and managers) strewn all over the world! I think if we want to keep these world class players it isn't money so much or trophies but stable management and a well defined future pathway of development. Lets stick with AVB for as long as takes because he's got a long term strategy. These days that is in itself a good thing.

Sep 20, 2012 at 4:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterSolidificate

With Lloris, Ade, Caulker, Dawson, Carroll, Livermore, Jenas, et al slavering for a game I can't help but think that these cup ties are a godsend to a team like us. We have options and we need to keep the supporting cast interested and happy. Right now we have the squad to challenge on all fronts and it would be insane not to go for it all. As injuries accrue and the possible downside of playing players we need on Saturday becomes a factor, that is when decisions will have to be made and priorities stated. Right now we should be in them to win them ALL!


Sep 20, 2012 at 4:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterCaterham7

First team in the uk to win the Europa, a bit of history - yeah i like that - lets go for it

Sep 20, 2012 at 6:59 PM | Unregistered Commentercdm

Lloris, Walker, Vertonghen, Caulker, Naughton, Sandro, Dembele, Lennon, Dempsey, Bale, Defoe

subs: Cudicini, Gallas, Dawson, Huddlestone, Sigurdsson, Townsend, Mason

Sep 20, 2012 at 7:18 PM | Registered Commenterspooky

Interesting. Chosen to go for nearly a full strength team. I guess from the point of view of getting wins under our belt it makes sense.

Sep 20, 2012 at 10:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterJC

Good performance, rubbish ref and racist Lazio fans.
The police and stewards did nothing even though it was in front of them.

Sep 20, 2012 at 11:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterDD

Yeah, I thought we looked good. We wuz robbed.

Sep 21, 2012 at 12:39 AM | Unregistered Commenternycyid

Indeed another stellar performance, - we are on the way !
Keep the faith

Sep 21, 2012 at 3:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan

Today's team didn't have a brain. I'm afraid this "chicken-with-the-head-cut-off" run will become a norm. No ideas and no playmaker(s); only ordinary midfielders. Say what you want, but 5 Dembeles and 5 Dempseys cannot replace Modders. Little Carroll could have played better than either of the two over-rated newcomers. Hope Mr. Scrooge has noticed it too, and gets us a decent playmaker in January.

Sep 21, 2012 at 3:41 AM | Unregistered Commenterbeetleblues

Yes there was somethuing missing. it was almost like we did not have a strike force. There was nothing central in front of their goal. Either we need a top striker or a midfielder who can create chances for Defoe plus whoever.

Sep 21, 2012 at 4:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Nice work Spooks, respect.

We're relevant now, we matter.. we are no longer a tragic punchline. We are Tottenham Hotspur once more- that's the single most important building block on which to build any future success.

George Graham and Juande Ramos got the silverware, but it was Martin Jol and Harry who gave us our club back.

Sep 21, 2012 at 4:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterSonOfSkeletor

'We woz robbed'

We're always being robbed! If TOTTENHAM were a human it would have more police incident forms than sense!

Sep 21, 2012 at 7:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterWisky Tom

I thought Spurs played well. Lazio was not very interested in playing football and their game plan seem to consist of fouling any one that got past them. Spurs scoring two goals against a team playing like that in encouraging and Lennon and Dafoe continue to make good runs.

Sep 21, 2012 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid G

2 goals? i must have dozed off...

Best news ive heard al day.... saw the kicking and scratching though....terrible. Good job we dont have to play them every week isnt it? Dafor looked great too. Running up and down is definitely his forte, i cud of watched him all night, if i hadnt of been on night nurse

Sep 21, 2012 at 3:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterctrl-alt-delete

Nice seeing Lloris with the shirt. We've been expecting a goalie like him for ages...

Sep 21, 2012 at 7:39 PM | Unregistered Commenteroz

We need a Gaza. All top spurs teams have had them. I've said before, Gaza, ossie, Hoddle, modric. We need the gem in the middle of the park, one who can unlock the defence, one with the killer pass.

Sep 21, 2012 at 8:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterHotspurs

Please spare a thought for the Kiwomya family tonight ,and friends of ours. The son of former Arsenal, QPR and Ipswich Town footballer Chris Kiwomya suddenly died last night. He was only seven!

Sep 21, 2012 at 8:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterHotspurs

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