The Game is The Game

March 12, 2011 — by John Lally1

The Baltimore Waterway
So that's where you keep the sugar

**WARNING** – This article – teased a long time ago here – contains spoilers for all 5 seasons of The Wire. If you haven’t watched The Wire yet, go to; buy the complete set, watch all 60 hours, then read this. You’ll thank me for it (probably more for having seen The Wire than for this article, but still).

Non-Spurs Fan: “If you know they’re going to end up disappointing and frustrating you, why do you keep supporting them?

Me: “Got to. This Tottenham, man

As my wife would attest, I have a special way of watching Tottenham’s games – leaned forward, literally on the edge of my seat, with a nervous look on my face and the occasional nail being bitten – similar to how I used to sit in  the Paxton Road end of White Hart Lane, now transferred to our sofa in Brooklyn.  The only other thing that has brought me to this viewing position, this physical display of angst, nervousness and sense of impending doom, was the greatest television show ever made, The Wire.

Each season of The Wire is set up very much like one for Tottenham Hotspur: first you have to get used to a new cast of characters and squad members; the story of the season then unfolds with various highs and lows; the penulitmate act brings some type of heartbreak and you then lick your wounds, wrap up and look to see where it will go next year.

Ever Expanding/Changing Cast

The Wire was unique in the way it approached it’s story telling with such a large number of characters – introducing many new ones through the years and trusting that the audience would keep up. In the same way, many a time I’d arrive at White Hart Lane one January and have to try and figure out who the Japanese player wearing number 4 in our midfield was (turns out it was Kazuyuki Toda…no, I have no idea what happened to him either).   Take a look at the major characters introduced through the five years of The Wire (listed as when they became involved in the plots not based on first appearance, cf. Prop Joe is in Season 1 but his significance becomes more apparent from Season 3 onwards), and the players who signed for Tottenham in that same time period (2002-2008)

Tottenham: (2002) Redknapp, Acimovic, Blondel, Ricketts, Hirschfield, Keane. (2003) Toda, Postiga, Zamora, Mabizela, Kanoute, Dalmat, Konchesky. (2004) Brown, Defoe, Robinson, Fulop, Defendi, Mendes, Sean Davis, Leigh Mills, Reto Ziegler, Erik Edman, Timothee Atouba, Naybet, Edson Silva, Pamarot, Carrick, Davenport.  (2005) Mido, Hallfredsson, El Hamadaoui, Radek Cerny, Dawson, Andy Reid, Stalteri, Lennon, Huddlestone, Tainio, Routledge, Young-Pyo Lee, Rasiak, Jenas, Davids.  (2006) Danny Murphy, Ghaly, Berbatov, Assou-Ekotto, Zakora, Dervitte, Malbranque, Chimbonda. (2007) Rocha, Alnwick, Bale, Taarabt, Bent, Kaboul, Rose, Boateng, Gunter. (2008) Woodgate, Hutton, Gilberto, Modric, Dos Santos, Gomes, Bostock, Bentley, Pavlyuchenko, Corluka.


Spurs Triumphant at the Emirates

November 20, 2010 — by John Lally3

Someone is getting his drink on tonight

Maybe this is how it has to happen.  Maybe you have to plumb the depths before you can scale the mountain.  Maybe this was our game-changing moment, just as the Red Sox coming back from 3 games down against their biggest rivals in 2004 changed everything.

All I know was that at half time, I was ready to throw in the towel – two nil down, bloody typical Tottenham.  We hadn’t played particularly badly, just individual mistakes had cost us.  Assou-Ekotto not following through all the way to the ball going out of play allowed Nasri to open the scoring.  Then a break away from Arsenal resulted in their second, when a still winded Alan Hutton (who’d been taken out by Clichy when Spurs were pushing forward) failed to close his man down and Chamakh was given an easy chance to double the home team’s lead.  Allowing Arsenal to take a 2-0 lead was one thing, that the second came from Chamakh, a man who looked like he had no confidence with the ball at his feet and appeared to be wearing a full on Snuggie under his shirt, left me completely despondent.

But then, everything changed.  It all started with Defoe coming on at half time.  Spurs have really missed his pace and direct style of play while he’s been out injured, and his presence gave them a whole new outlet for attacks.  The first goal was a result of that directness, the short Defoe winning a headed flick on to guide the path to the brilliant Van der Vaart, who deftly set up Bale who finished nicely.  The equaliser came after a free kick on the edge of the box was handled by Fabregas in the wall who, despite his claims to the contrary, had raised his arm well above his head to block the shot, giving away a penalty which Van der Vaart converted.  After that, it looked like Spurs might throw it away again as they sat back too far allowing Arsenal to attack.  All through this game, Fabregas was given far too much time and space in the middle of the pitch, and time and again it looked like he would punish Spurs.  Gomes did well to turn a shot from him around the post, and then Tottenham again got away with leaving players unmarked as Koscielny headed over from 5 yards out.  Inevitably, it was Van der Vaart who again set up the winner, his free kick perfectly measured to Kaboul, who headed into the far corner.

And that was it, Spurs finally won at Arsenal, and away at one of the “Big 4” of Liverpool, Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal.  17 years and 68 league games away from the Lane against those opponents without a win, numbers I’d heard far too many times in recent days, all banished with a come-from-behind win.  Hopefully, this will push us on to better league form and we can get back into the Champions’ League place.  Maybe next time we go to Stamford Bridge, Anfield, Old Trafford or the Emirates, we’ll have more confidence and look to attack from the outset.  But whatever happens after this, I’ll enjoy today. I’ll enjoy the win over our arch nemesis.

Is that the Pacific Ocean I can see…?


It’s lucky for Spurs when the year ends in 1…

August 13, 2010 — by John Lally2

Or at least it used to be.  By the end of this season, it will be 20 years since Chas ‘n’ Dave wrote those lyrics.  Since then, there has been very little for Spurs fans to cheer about.  Prior to the formation of the Premier League, Tottenham were considered one of the “Big 5” clubs (along with Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Everton) and had a strong cup tradition.

The “Year ending in 1” superstition came from FA Cup wins in 1901, 1921, 1981 and 1991; the League in 1951; and the magic year of 1961 when Tottenham were the first club in the 20th century to win the League and Cup double.  May 2011 will see the 50th anniversary of this achievement and 20 years of mediocrity with just a couple of League Cup wins in that time.  This year brings a potential Champions’ League campaign, a tough fight in the league to cement our place in the top 4 and, with any luck, good cup runs alongside it.  However, we’ve had optimism before and Spurs fans all over will fear the worst while hoping for the best.  A Tottenham season has long been akin to a George Pelecanos scripted episode of The Wire; no matter how you feel at the beginning, you just knew that it would end with heart wrenching misery.   But no more…right?! Can we dare to hope?