TERRACE TALK: Tottenham - A feeling of a win narrowly avoided for Spurs

Winter draws on. And to be fair, most Spurs fans would have taken that before the game. And the measure of a North London Derby is how you feel after the game. In the pubs of north London, the feeling was that we narrowly avoided a win.

The trouble with a NLD is that every fan wakes up nervous and hating it, but also knowing we wouldn’t have it any other way.

So you arrive with those contradictions, but wishing you could want it more than the other lot want it, but not as much as the other lot don’t.

Beers early at Kings Cross beforehand, some left in the pub watching, the rest of us on the way. We are Tottenham. From the Lane.

Arrival. All ok but robocops on the way in, no edge yet between the fans. Yet.

In the ground, a beer and a song on the concourse. Or two. 

Kick off. The realisation that we are probably louder than that lot. But also that we are in the middle of the away end. Singing.

Urging them on. Harry Kane starting. Delle injured. A back three. What does it mean? For 30 minutes, a proper tussle. The form book out the window.

That great derby cliché. Singing our hearts out for the lads. Just like a library.

To and fro. The edge still there. Clattenberg his usual erratic self. Physical contact on a red shirt a foul. The other way? Not so much. Abuse traded but the game grips. No quarter given.

The singing proves we are the best away fans in the league.

Approaching half time and hearts in mouths. It could go either way. Them on top. Hold on til half time please.

A ball comes over. Wimmer rises. Wimmer. We’ve wondered why he hasn’t started. A header. It’s in. In our own goal. For fuck’s sake! 

The whistle. Half time. To the concourse. Chewing over the ebb and flow. Some depressed and thinking our run of nothing is set to get worse.

A queue at the away refreshments. Somehow, the fact that 3,000 away fans have bought tickets weeks in advance has escaped the planning genius of a club in the self proclaimed best league on the planet. 

Because there is no food left. Apart from, purely coincidentally obviously, the most expensive item.

And no booze. Because it’s not the rugby or the cricket when drunken behaviour would be merely ’high jinks’. So booze is banned. For our own protection. It’s a premium sporting experience.

An £8.80 coffee and hot dog with over-stewed onions later and we are back out. A crafty snack – almost certainly. Spurs are on the front foot. 

The two songs offered briefly by the home support just before half time seem to have exhausted them. The away section cranks up the old classics. Glory glory hallelujah.

Dembele. Hacked down in the box. Protests from a team that has dived at the merest hint of a challenge all afternoon. Kane tells Son ’taking it thank you very much.’ He scores.

Clattenberg notices it has gone over the line. Never let it be said we don’t notice when there’s been improvement.

Madness in the away end. We roar them on. The banners around the ground seem limp. Rhode Island, Malta, Malaysia, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, Italy gooners - all wanting a result.

But not as fiercely as Spurs from North London. Perhaps a controversial point to make in these post Brexit, post factual, post reason times but also indication of what a local derby means locally.

Onwards and onwards. Challenges to whether this is a library get louder. As do the groans from self-entitled Arsenal fans at every misplaced step. 

Intensity increases and Spurs are on the front foot. But anyone can still snatch it.

The whistle comes inconsequentially. A draw. Both sets of fans would take that.  The away contingent more disappointed. We clap them off because a corner has been turned. An international break. A meander home. A beer or four and a debrief.

This was The Derby. There’s another one coming soon.

*Martin Cloake is co-author of ’A People’s History of Tottenham Hotspur’


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