Tribalism is rife within football. Rose-tinted glasses skewering views, honest and measured debate about the game hampered by a misguided sense of “loyalty”, parades pissed on simply because the club in question is a rival unworthy of any form of measured acclaim.
Ask any Spurs fan and they’ll proffer the same answer. Important victories — or a draw in last night’s case — met with the same bilious response from enemy factions: “wHaT hAve TheY wOn?” or “aNoThEr TrOpHY fOr ThEir CaBiNeT”. (Insert SpongeBob SquarePants meme at your own accord.)
The morning after the night before in Barcelona had only two possibilities. Defeat in the Catalan capital would signal a war cry for the Twitter trolls hiding in their dark, dingy caves; the likes of @LacaLuscious and @AubaBoom bestowing the “banter” in 240 characters or less at how their great foes were unable to overcome “Barca’s B team”.
But things went a little differently last night. Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham selected Door B, and so the can of worms was prized open from the opposite end. Defeat avoided, Champions League qualification achieved: the floodgates now open to the same, predictable tosh of how Tottenham had won nothing and were celebrating a draw in the Nou Camp — against Barca’s B team, no less — as if they had won the Champions League proper. We can’t win, it seems. But we’re not alone.
This desire to extinguish the impressiveness of a result through the mocking of celebrations is a growing cancer within modern football — and one not utilised uniquely by detractors of Tottenham. A Wolves fan found his tweet go viral at the weekend after questioning why Newcastle supporters — as well as other Midland clubs — had ridiculed the away end for celebrating a 94-minute winner as “if they had won the league”.
His argument was that if you can’t celebrate a last-minute goal as a fan, what’s the point? And he is right. If delirious joy and manic revelries are only reserved for the team who wins the league/cup outright, the remaining teams and its followers may as well pack up and call it a day. (The European Super League beckons.
And it’s with this we head back to Barcelona. There’s no trophy for earning a 1-1 draw away at the Spanish champions, but why shouldn’t Spurs be allowed to bask in what they’ve achieved?
They were minutes away from being eliminated from the Champions League. They played one of the greatest team’s in world football — one that featured Coutinho, Rakitic, Busquets, Dembélé and Messi over the 90 — at their own game. They did it after being 1-0 down after eight minutes. They did it with four players who had come through the club’s academy.
It’s the type of result and performance rival fans would no doubt eulogise over it had come from their own beloved institution. And it’s a notion reflected in the criticism of Harry “tap-in merchant” Kane and Mauricio “what’s he won?” Pochettino. If these two were to ply their trade further south of the Seven Sisters Road they would undoubtedly be idolised in exactly the same fashion as they are in N17.
Of course, this is the very nature of football fandom — there’s no naivety here. But surely there has to be a point where common sense prevails at the expense of banter-fuelled inanity; where to not disregard a rival’s achievement/performance doesn’t make you any less of a fan of your club.
That day may soon come. But until then we’ll happily take it. “When’s the Barcelona 1-1 Tottenham DVD out?” we hear them say. That, like being the only London club with Champions League football this season, is something we only can take pride in.
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