Dave Davies, Patrick McEnroe and Tottenham Hotspur
Jim Pollard tries to exorcise mental anguish by writing about it.
Spurs are having a blip - at least, the club’s supporters desperately hope it’s a blip. In the last three games they’ve failed to score in 90 minutes of turgid cup football against Stevenage (the sporting equivalent of losing a by-election to the Loonies), thrown away a two goal lead in a humiliating capitulation at rivals Arsenal and been thrashed at home by Manchester United thanks to kindergarten defending in a game they largely dominated.
With a normal team, you might say their hopes for the season are back in the balance. But Spurs don’t just shoot themselves in the foot, they mortar half their leg off. Who knows in what disaster the present ‘blip’ will end.
And of course, it’s the defeat at Arsenal that really hurts. More than ever. Arsenal have always been a better-run club with better players, better managers, more supporters and more money. Down the years the gap has widened. In recent years never have Spurs had more than one or two players in their team who would get into the Arsenal team and frequently we’ve had none. But this season it looked a little different - Bale, Parker and Modric on fire at Spurs, Nasri and Fabregas gone from Arsenal. But no. Not just the same outcome but an absolute massacre - football reimagined as the Battle of Mons.
Was Peter Cook a loser?
So - and this is the point of this article appearing on malehealth - once again my psyche has to cope with this. You could say I ought to have got used to it. But does a child ever get used to being bullied, beaten up or abused? And the thing that often keeps me awake at night (yes, pathetic, isn’t it?) after a ritual humiliation is that it must be our fault - the supporters.
Why? Because in the 40 years I’ve been a Spurs fan, the players have changed, the managers have changed, the owners have changed, the pitch has changed, the prices have changed(!) and in Arsenal’s case the ground has changed. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the fans. It must be us. We’re not good enough fans. We don’t know how to shout properly. Yes, that’s it, Spurs fans are all losers. Then you remember that Peter Cook, arguably the funniest man ever, was a Spurs fan. Was he a loser? Well, it was Dudley Moore who made it in Hollywood.
At four in the morning, it’s a short journey from it’s the fans’ fault to it’s my fault. You find yourself seriously thinking that you’re the reason for the abject failure. You’re a useless bloke with no talent or brains who writes crap so obviously your football team is rubbish too. At worst, you’re to blame. Spurs are rubbish because you - crap football incarnate (who once let in 16 goals in a schoolboy game) - support them. At best, you’re lamenting your bad luck and poor decision-making. Your childhood choice to support Spurs becomes just the first very bad decision in a life of very bad decisions. The odd good goal or beautiful pass is not enough - like a couple of good sentences in a crap book. You failure. (Yes, Spurs are not the team to support if you have history of depression and low self-esteem.)
Dads and brothers
It hurts. It may be childish and pathetic and it is but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt. And it's not just me. But why does it hurt so much? By any objective criteria, as I’ve written before in Going Football Cold Turkey, Spurs are not a rubbish team. They’re currently third in the league. And even on the worst case scenario (I’ll be honest, I thought at the start of the season that Spurs would finish fifth or sixth and I still do), they’ll finish the season above all but a handful of teams. They (try to) play good football and are sublime at times. Most sides would kill for that.
The answer was on radio four. (Not a sentence you write very often.) I heard the sons of Alan Coren and John Peel. They’re both mightily talented and are lucky enough to do jobs most of us would love. Giles Coren is paid to be funny, Tom Ravenscroft to play records. The trouble is that they’re in the same business as their now deceased dads who were both - this word is overused but appropriate in both these cases - legends. It’s a tough ask. But for Giles and Tom, at least, there is hope. Dad’s not around now and they can try to make names for themselves. They can emerge from the shadows. No such chance for Spurs. Arsenal will always be our contempories.
Which got me thinking that perhaps supporting Spurs is more like having a more successful brother. It’s being Patrick McEnroe or Dave Davies.
Tennis-player Patrick won 16 titles including the doubles at the 1989 French Open and captained his country in the Davis Cup. Had he been British he’d have been a feted and much-loved number one. As it was, he wasn’t even the best player in his family. Forever in the shadow of the mercurial genius John, these days, most people - even tennis fans - have not even heard of him.
Loving Arsenal fans
Dave Davies was the lead guitarist in The Kinks, one of the greatest British groups of all time, a band that have never lost their credibility like The Stones, their cool like The Beatles or their hearing like The Who. But Dave’s brother is Ray, a once-in-a-generation songwriting genius and the prime mover behind The Kinks.
Again, most blokes would love to make a living in the way of Patrick or Dave - both are incredibly good at what they do and very successful. I don’t know either of them but I do know they’ve had ‘issues’ with their brothers and that being second-rate compared to them has made it far harder for them to enjoy their success. I wonder if they also know a bit about low self-esteem.
The proximity of the clubs is such that we see Arsenal fans all the time. We like them, we love them, some of us live with them. Very fraternal. And that thrashing at the Emirates felt very much like coming home a cocky little kid and being put in your place by your olders and betters. Yep, I’m going to read Kink by Dave Davies. It might help me cope with being a Tottenham supporter.
Page created on March 5th, 2012
Page updated on March 6th, 2012