FA Carling Premiership, 26/12/99
I've seen some teams
By Mr and Mrs Martin Blanc
First, apologies. I'd begun writing a report on the Everton game when for some reason my particularly sharp-nibbed pen left the paper and I found myself gouging out a succession of deep holes in my arm - to take away the pain of the cigarette burns dating from Selhurst Park, my doctor thinks now. So, fresh out of hospital, I'm dictating this to my lovely wife, who accompanied me to the game at White Hart Lane today (since I'm not allowed out by myself any more, at least where the Golden Boys are concerned).
We were parked at the top of the South stand, where they make you sit down in the back row so you don't obscure the advertising boards, and tell you off for putting your feet on the seats in front of you. Oh yes, They Are Premier League. Using her powerful binoculars to examine them closely, my angel didn't fancy the Horns from the run-around. No, we're not the prettiest bunch, I was saying to Martin while they were warming up. Although the David Beckham lookalike wasn't bad - he's the one who shouldn't have been in the team, right, darling? And as for the sexy Frenchman in the stands, Bono, is it? In his lush overcoat and swanky scarf - Darling, I know they're good binoculars, but if you're going to conform to every female cliché known to mankind, Ian's not going to print this. Sorry.
Anyway, what do you remember about the game, sweetheart? Game, what game? Oh Jesus...I remember they looked like they weren't trying. There was a great atmosphere, but they weren't marking their opponents, and when they did get the ball they kicked it into empty space because there was nobody there....See, boys, she's pretty astute, Mrs Blanc.
So, what we endured were: the usual second-team falling-over-each-other antics; numerous attempted passes that needed no binoculars to see coming; all the presence of John Inman once any of us was on the ball; and a newfound apparent total inability to...Yes, darling? No, that's it. Just an apparent total inability, too. The first four minutes warranted more highlights for Spurs than we mustered in the next forty-one.
But the fans were very loyal. The worse we were doing, the more we sang. That's getting boring too, dear. I loved that chant, Sheep Fell Over. Yeah, we're going to raise funds for new players by collecting them all on one CD, entitled "We're Gonna Win 4-3/5-4/6-5* (delete as applicable)". Catchy. So, inexplicable team selection apart, the first half sailed by in a stinking white mist that had nothing to do with Xmas. In fact, Spurs seemed to have drawn inspiration from the Old Testament instead - our defence parted like the Red frigging Sea every time the ball crossed the halfway line. He's getting cross now, poor boy, I think he's going to start looking for scapegoats. Robbo has now decided to work on his attacking game, but rather than augmenting his fierce defensive approach, it seems to have totally replaced it. Mark Williams had the sort of disgraceful game that ought to make GT consider playing him up front or not playing him at all. Alec did what he could, but that seems to be less and less with every game. The rest of the gang pushed it about as they normally do, Johnno once again excepted: Tommy Smith running at Sol Campbell like a terrier, and having as much chance of keeping the ball as a terrier would; Ngonge displaying his ego and nothing else; and then in the second half, Foley having a fantastic game by his standards (one shot on target, one shimmy executed without falling down); the list is fourteen long. But I'm not typing any more. Do you have a last word for your readers before I put you back in your jacket, Martin?
I'd just like to thank my wife. She and I, we're a team. We've had our ups and downs, our bad runs, our losses of confidence. We've had to contend with injuries (not always self-inflicted...), and crap refereeing. And we signed a new player, eleven weeks old now, and a fantastic set of lungs on her. And night feeding, don't get me started. So I know all about teamwork. I've seen some teams this season. And the Hornets are not one of them.