This week, Steff, Milo and James look back at the 1-1 draw against Liverpool at Anfield (where there was no shamen anybody in what was a Royal performance), and try to stay calm and non-hyperbolic as the biggest NLD ever looms on the horizon. We also look at why Newcastle are a force to be reckoned with, and how Dele could get us back into the CL. Missing all this would be naughty naughty verrry naughty, so 3-2-1…
This week your The Game Is About Glory team of Steff, Milo, Ricky and Gareth bask in the pressure of this squeaky bum run in, analyses the 3-1 win over Leicester, deliberates the wild sophisticate that is Oliver Skipp and celebrates Ricky’s daughter seeing making her first ever trip to a game and seeing THAT goal. All this and we touch on what a Tight Fit it’s getting to be in the top 4…just got to win away, a win away at Anfield this Sunday, right?!
This week, Milo, Steff and Gareth discuss the return to standards and expectations at Spurs in the wake of the Liverpool match, plus we try to figure out whether football should stay or go during the Covid spike. We also pay light homage to the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body, at the same time covering our tragic exit from the Europa Conference League.
This week, Milo, Gareth and Steff investigate the legend that is Eric Dier – centre-half, midfielder, horticulturalist and occasional desert nomad, as we explore why FIVE successive Tottenham managers have found him indispensable. We will also take a look at the current Covid issues both at Spurs and in the game, and you’ll soon understand which filmmakers got it wrong by not making their classics into musicals.
FA Cup Quarter-Final, Anfield, March 11th 1995
Liverpool 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2
(Fowler – 39) (Sheringham 44, Klinsmann 89)
Attendance – 39,592
Referee – Martin Bodenham
My first marriage was about to end.
It had been a rough couple of years, and these were the final few months as we worked out how to finish it.
I was not in a great place.
I needed something huge to happen, a boost, a bolt of hope from eternally dark grey skies.
On paper, an FA Cup quarter-final at Liverpool was not it…
…I did the journey alone, meeting an old Liverpudlian friend Brian and his Dad on Merseyside. They’d invited me for a pre-match lunch at theirs, and I gratefully accepted.
I needed the away day to start as early as possible.
I needed something.
I got an early train from Euston to Lime St, a bag of nerves both excited and, well, nervous.
About the game.
About my life.
About the game again.
I brought my sports Walkman and loaded it with the Oasis debut Definitely Maybe, an album I was in love with it, in particular the song “Columbia” which had a driving, circular riff of incalculable might. It was, despite the hits, my favourite.
As the train whistled through the likes of Nuneaton and Tamworth, I found myself not just playing the album repeatedly, but specifically “Columbia”. My spine shook. My skin tingled. Klinsmann, Sheringham, Barmby, Anderton, I needed them to do it today, I ached for it, I needed light, happiness, a sign that life would be alright, and I needed my lifelong partner Tottenham Hotspur Football Club to deliver it today. And the more I played “Columbia”, the more I became convinced that they would not let me down, despite nearly a decade to the contrary, every spin generating a deeper sense of unfathomable belief.
As the train pulled into Lime St Station, I was literally vibrating with electricity. It was on. It was going to happen. Surely they wouldn’t let me down in my hour of need, surely they’d find a way. I got the taxi to Brian’s, and had a fine lunch with him and his family at a house not too far from Anfield as I remember. Truth be told, I don’t recall a whole lot about the meal because my head was manically focused on getting into the ground.
As is the way in the cup, we had the whole end.
I was half-way up just to the right of centre behind the goal, and for some reason, I found myself engaged in a passionate exchange of sign language with a Liverpool supporter in the main stand to my right, seated a little along the touchline from the corner flag. When they went one up, it was as though the crowd around us both receded to fade, he was 20ft tall and throwing me a finger and wanker sign. My body shook with anger and adrenaline. It was nearly insufferable. My life was a fucking mess and now this, this! I could barely tolerate the swirling sea of Koppites staring back at us, laughing and seemingly taunting, from behind the opposite goal.
On the stroke of half-time, David Howells played a good ball inside to Klinsmann. He seemed to have got the ball caught in his feet, yet turned his back to goal smoothly and saw Sheringham on his left, striding into the right-hand channel. A perfect square pass, into Teddy’s stride, and Sheringham curled a delicious shot from 25 yards around James’ despairing dive, gently kissing the inside of the post as it went in.
Sign-language plus, and a roar of delight at the sheer beauty of Sheringham’s finish. He stood in a near sumo-crouch, pumping his arms, drinking the moment as well he deserved to. It was brilliant! I cannot remember what half-time was about, but I know that my life suddenly seemed a whole lot better again, that maybe it was going to happen after all, that maybe they wouldn’t let me down.
The second-half was tense. I think we were on top but I cannot remember for sure. I do know that as we approached the 89th minute, I thought we’d probably hold out for a draw and replay, not quite what I’d hoped and prayed for, not quite what a dozen plus spins of “Columbia” had said would happen, but at least we wouldn’t lose.
A throw-in got cleared, the ball landed at Anderton’s feet, he threaded a pass to Sheringham who had his back to goal but produced the deftest of flicks to the empty left-hand channel and from nowhere, Klinsmann was onto it, racing into the box, bearing down on James before placing it firmly into the bottom right-hand corner.
PANDEMONIUM! LEAPING! BRUISES ON LEGS BANGING THEM INTO SEATS! JUMPING ON SEATS! TUMBLING DOWN ROWS! HUGGING EVERYONE IN SIGHT! SCREAMING SHOUTING WITH TEARS IN MY EYES, LOOKING TO THE SKIES AND THANKING THANKING THANKING EVERY-FUCKING-THING, but most of all, THANKING TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR, JURGEN KLINSMANN, TEDDY SHERINGHAM, GERRY FRANCIS, ALL OF THEM THE BEAUTIFUL BASTARDS, because in my greatest hour of need, at the moment in my life where I genuinely needed their sign, THEY HAD NOT LET ME DOWN!
I remember the Liverpool supporters on the Kop applauding at the end of the match, and soon after I walked, literally shaking, outside to wait across the Anfield Road for Brian and his Dad. I hid my scarf, fearing that any utterance of joy would result in trouble. If I thought I’d been buzzing before, you could’ve wired the city with my energy at that moment.
I saw them both appear through the waves of Liverpool supporters.
Brian’s Dad waved from about 20ft, and loudly said, “Well done the Spurs, well played, go on lad, let it out!”
And I did.
I screamed at the top of my voice, punching the air with both fists, happiness, relief, more joy, so many emotions spewing uncontrollably out.
He smiled broadly.
I write this now, I will never ever forget that most human of gestures.
It remains an utterly unforgettable away day, a deliverance of faith, hope and love which I can still access at any time by listening to “Columbia” and watching those goals again, an instant time machine back to the day I actually prayed for Tottenham Hotspur to deliver, to the day they dutifully did…praise be for that.
This is a little different to a normal episode, a look back at the month of February and taking a more considered view of how it went. The regular pods are an immediate reaction to a game. This is an attempt to be more reflective and look at the bigger picture. This is something that we are planning to do every month, so let’s hope it works!
In the heat of the post-Liverpool moment, cool heads, calm observations and the very occasional rant will provide sanity, salve and a giggle in this The Game Is About Glory post-match special. No knees were bruised in this recording…honest!