So, are Spurs on their way to recreating their glory days? Is the top four now there for the clinching? In the first part of our opposing fans’ previews of Sunderland v Tottenham this Saturday, Bernie Kingsley*, chairman of the Tottenham Supporters’ Trust (pictured at Wembley last season), and David Sapsted**, lifelong supporter, top journalist and top man, reflect on what is left to do this season and how they think the top and bottom will look come May …
Which current Spurs players would have been fit to play in a Bill Nicholson side? Come back tomorrow – or just click this link – for Part Two …
Salut! Sunderland: Well placed at fourth: you must be pretty pleased with the way things are going.
Bernie: It’s been a good season but there’s a way to go yet. We Tottenham fans can always see trouble around the corner and the Evening Standard columnist and Spurs fan Matthew Norman summed it up last week by quoting from Michael Frayn’s Clockwise: it’s not the despair that does for you, it’s the hope. That said, we have done well and we are hopeful that it might all, for a change, go right …
Pleased, but not that pleased. I would feel an awful lot happier if we didn’t have Chelsea, Man U and Arsenal in successive games. Not the easiest run-in to the end of the season. At least, though, Harry has brought back much of the attacking flair Spurs have long been renowned for. Pity about the return of the defensive frailties that Spurs have also been long renowned for.
Most neutrals and all Sunderland fans considered us unlucky at White Hart Lane. But our recent mini-revival came to a thumping end at Anfield, so you presumably fancy the double.
Bernie: Continuing my theme, one is always nervous of games like this, especially going into it as we do having won five in a row. But with the three EPL games that follow being against the top three, we HAVE to win.
David:Sunderland has not been a happy hunting ground for us in recent years, so I’m never confident. The home game against your lot was one of the most dire I have seen at the Lane this season – we looked ragged in defence and that was at a time when we had some central defenders who were fit. Were I a betting man, I’d put money on a draw.
Spurs, once massive of course, have been in Arsenal’s shadow for many years. Given the intensity of North London rivalry, how hard has that been – and are you on the point of emerging from it?
Bernie: What’s with the “once massive”? We don’t like their shadow, but we’re used to it. Though we’ve won more trophies than them in the last five years and I reckon we’ve got a better chance of winning something than they have this season too. I’d really rather not talk about them.
Not yet we’re not. Buy maybe next season – my perennial prayer since the 60-61 season. With the likes of Bale, Huddlestone, Modric, Lennon (if he’s fit), Palacios (if he stays) and the just-signed Sandro, we should have the nucleus of a team capable of matching anyone. As for Arsenal…let’s just say that I’m still hopeful of their moving back to their true home in Woolwich.
Can we take any comfort from Defoe’s absence (except that at least Craig Gordon will stand a better chance of not being badly injured!)?
Bernie: JD could be fit, though I think Redknapp might keep him on the bench at the start. But with 17 different scorers this season and Pav bang in form no, you can’t.
The only comfort you can take from it is that it means Crouch will be on the field. Oh God…
What are your own greatest – and worst – memories of supporting Spurs?
Bernie: How long have you got? A Thursday night at Wembley in 1981 when some bloke called Villa bagged a pair is arguably still the greatest of all, though St Hotspur day 10 years later (Gazza beating the Arse in the semi-final), the penalty shoot out in the UEFA Cup final, beating Chelsea in the CCF two years ago, a UEFA Cup semi-final against AC Milan (Steve Perryman scored two crackers in a 2-1 win) all run it close … and maybe the best is yet to come. Worst? Losing 8-2 at Derby and 5-0 at Man City in our relegation season, or 2-1 at Bolton and 5-3 at home to Derby in extra time FA Cup replays, or some real humiliations in the 3rd round in the last decade or two. Plus of course various defeats by the Woolwich Nomads.
Well, the 9-1 win against Wigan this season wasn’t bad. But my best memories must be in the early sixties when the likes of Blanchflower, John White and Cliff Jones were weaving their magic. The worst memory? Apart from every season since then, probably the stunning goal that Ricky Villa scored in the 1981 Cup Final. Why? Because I was at the other end of Wembley and had forgotten my glasses so I didn’t see any of it.
Name this season’s top four in order, and the bottom three.
Bernie: Chelsea, Man U, them, us. Portsmouth, obviously, Burnley and Hull, though I’d rather West Ham replaced one of those two
Chelsea, Manchester Utd, Arsenal, Spurs (even though, in my heart of hearts, I don’t really believe it and fear that a Torres-led Liverpool might still do it). Going down – West Ham, Burnley and poor old Portsmouth.
* Bernie Kingsley on Bernie Kingsley: former co-producer of the currently inactive site Cock-a-Doodle-Doo, co-founder of TISA 20 years ago, present chairman of the Tottenham Supporters Trust, regular scourge of successive THFC chairmen! (Though I now get on OK with Daniel Levy.) Professionally I’m head of HR for a major property group (we own the Metro Centre among other things). I’ve been a regular at WHL for 43 years, now a season ticket holder in the North Stand Upper, been to every cup final and semi-final since 1971, missed about three north London derbies home or away in the same time and I regularly wonder why I do it.
** David Sapsted has worked for Yorkshire Post, The Times, Sunday Express, The Daily Telegraph and even Spitting Image during his journalistic and writing career. He is currently UK correspondent for The National, Abu Dhabi and is a lifelong Spurs fan.