Ian Morley

Spurs are a side all about glory but rarely greatness — nothing much has changed over the last 60 years

A Spurs fan on Maimonides, his prayers for success in a Madrid shul, and whether God is a Spurs fan

June 02, 2019 13:13

Even though Maimonides was born in Spain over 900 years before Spurs got to their first Champions League final in Madrid, he was so far sighted that he predicted this in his Guide for the Perplexed.

Trying to find rational explanations in the texts and reconciling Aristotelian philosophy with the Bible must have seemed like a rational cakewalk when compared to finding yourself 3-0 down to Ajax away from home with 35 minutes left — and yet somehow, we still managed to win and get to the final.

I was there too, in the Spanish capital with friends and some family, to the match.

Is the result pre-destined and based entirely on superstitious nonsense, like what shirt I choose to wear? Or will it be based on the skill, technique, sweat, luck and sheer desire to win by one set of 11 men over another?

Only God knew. And, as he is a Spurs fan, it was surely our destiny. Ratione perfectus est. The logic is perfect! Nevertheless, I went to shul in Madrid on Friday night to pray and cover all the options.

On Saturday, the friendly atmosphere and banter was building all day in Madrid. My attempt at culture — visiting the Velasquez exhibition — was thwarted by the magic of humanity: I sat in a bar by the Opera and met some by arrangement and others by chance.

An older man for Tottenham now living in the US. No ticket, just visiting his daughter and granddaughter. A couple from Poland decked out in Liverpool red — we spoke via Google Translate. A lovely couple from Lancashire who had won their tickets in a competition. We talked for hours and I persuaded them to back Spurs.

It has been purgatory growing up as a Spurs fan. For a brief period in the 1960s we were the best side in the country and maybe Europe, and they were my local team. Just three bus rides from Mill Hill for the joy of watching Dave Mackay and Jimmy Greaves. 

We are a side all about glory but rarely about greatness. Nothing much has changed over the last 60 years.

I have indoctrinated my own sons. Why I should I suffer alone, after all? Soon they will do the same with my grandchildren. Liam, Gretta and Zoe are yet to see a game, while my new grandson is on the way. Maybe they will all live long enough to experience such a moment again. Will I?

In a bar with friends and family in high anticipation, we heard the anthem of the Liverpool fans singing You’ll Never Walk Alone — a song written by a Jew — while the mostly Jewish fans in my group sing back Glory, Glory Hallelujah, a Christian song from the times of the US Civil War.

The emotion in the glorious Atletico Madrid stadium was testosterone-driven. There were a few women, one with my group, but the passion is held by all irrespective of sex.

In a Champions League final you do not come second. You lose. The binary nature of such things is so extreme. You feel the collective emotion of the fans around you, draining into the ground, and yet we continued singing, even though the cause was lost.

No one wanted to stay to see the victors lift the cup. With heads bowed and energy sated, we drooped out in a long trail, all replaying the game in hushed conversations.

Why was Kane on from the start when he wasn’t fit? How could the ref have awarded such a dubious penalty in the first minute to ruin the game? Why were our forwards so poor? How much will Real Madrid pay for Eriksen before they discover how limited he is?

And so it goes on. Trooping back into town, we were crestfallen as all the Liverpool fans continued to celebrate into the night.

Unable to sleep, I listened to my gym mate Anthony Joshua fighting from New York. Another loss.

And tonight I have a Jewish Quiz Supper at Stanmore Reform tonight. I can’t take three losses in 24 hours.

Life can be very cruel at times.

June 02, 2019 13:13

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive