Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea 6th November 2023
I travelled to London full of hope that we could achieve a result against Chelsea. We had shown over the previous 10 matches, a newfound resilience and discipline not seen for some years. This was a new, exciting Spurs side that shouldn’t have carried any of the baggage from previous encounters. This included the now infamous ‘Battle of The Bridge’. Only a couple of players remaining from that bruising, destructive, crazy match including a benched Eric Dier and our Captain – Sonny!
I attempted to soften the pre-match butterflies in my stomach with a pint or two at the Market Place. A catch up with friends equally excited in anticipation of an entertaining match with a positive outcome. Our confidence gained from Spurs beating esteemed teams like Manchester United and more recently Liverpool, building an impressive unbeaten run. The likes of which we hadn’t seen since the early 60’s.
This match could have gone either way but none of us anticipated how it would eventually play out.
The fanfare that preceded the game was one of the best I’ve witnessed at the new stadium. Previous players and heroes (honored through a numbering system) displayed on the four screens to an accompanying light show and dance version of The Verve’s – Bitter Sweet Symphony . It gave me goosebumps! The trumpeter played – Oh when the Spurs! Then players, staff and fans fell silent as one to remember our fallen.
A great start by Spurs, on the front foot, we scored! The scene was set for another exciting night under the lights and hopefully victory.
Now we all know the script by now. The term ‘Spursy’ wasn’t attached to our great club without justification. So, when the very long VAR decisions started to disrupt our rhythm and our wonderful, but hot-headed, Argentina International (Cuti Romero) decided two footed tackles were better than one. Well, we kind of knew what would follow. Although the inevitable dismissal came as a shock, the loss of another defender (Udogie) due to another rash challenge caused much despair and consternation in equal measure.
Spurs appetite for self-destruction was back with a vengeance.
Now with 9 men on the field the whole dynamic changed from exciting, attacking football to survival. Playing with 10 men is difficult enough. With 9 men – almost impossible! Especially against the quality of our opposition. As the horror show continued there were more unwelcome surprises left up the sleeve. Micky VdV and Madders left the field injured. The boards were raised with Dier and Royal entered the field of play. Our central defensive partnership had a familiar feel. One we thought was consigned to the past and now likely to be the short term future as more injuries took their toll.
Halloween was supposed to be the last day of October – not the 6th of November!
With the loss of personnel we fully expected a cricket score. The embarrassment of a 6 or 7 goal drubbing at the hands of one of our fiercest rivals our greatest fear.
What proceeded was nothing short of an incredibly brave performance. Every man chipping in to try and hold back wave after wave of Chelsea attacks. We had our chances and there was even a disallowed goal from Eric Dier. That was some strike by the way!
In the end, it was all too much. As the final whistle blew, Fans stood shoulder to shoulder in applause and admiration for the tremendous effort and guile shown by the group.
As the exhausted players and Manager headed towards the crowd to show their appreciation of the amazing support, It was clear the bond was stronger than ever.
Despite the 1-4 loss – this was a performance to be proud of.
We march on to Wolves (A).
Up the Spurs!