The Old Lady and the Spaniel

Football spawns the most curious of superstitions. Left sock before right, right boot before left, shirt put on in the tunnel not the dressing room ... as for the fans, the same parking spot, the lucky pants or in the case of Spurs season 2016/17: a pre-match slug of whiskey and the petting of a bomb sniffing spaniel!


And so it was that I strolled calmly in to the Lane last night pretty relaxed and confident.

In truth that confidence stemmed just as much from the fact that bar Lamela, Pochettino had a full-strength squad to select from - crucially that meant both Rose and Walker as well as Hugo, Toby, Jan and Eric. It also stemmed from an unshakable belief that the so called 'Battle of the Bridge' at the end of last season will turn out to have been a pivotal moment in the evolution of Pochettino's young side.

That was the night that the press say we 'lost' the title to Leicester - of course that is nonsense, it was never ours to lose. And the critical blow in the pursuit of Leicester came at home to West Brom. Actually what happened that May night in west London was an emergence of a Spurs side that would no longer be bullied or intimidated. This group of Spurs players, collectively, are as prepared to get down and dirty as they are to play the game the Spurs way. As with every defeat under Pochettino, he and the team learn, and learn quickly - and it's noticeable that since that evening the side has played with much greater emotional control - controlled rather than headless aggression. So yes, I was strangely calm and confident before the game for legitimate and rationale football reason. The spaniel stroking was simply the icing on top of the confidence cake!

The case of the whisky and the spaniel is not my predilection by the way, it belongs to a good friend one of those with whom or perhaps because of whom, going to games has become so woven in to the fabric of who I am. He's had a rough month - the passing of his father causing him to travel thousands of miles back to the UK to take care of arrangements. The festive football provided him with much needed respite, surrounding by the tribal familiar and the emergence of the most curious of superstitions (which by the way has a 100 per cent win record!).

As he and I walked to the ground having found and petted the obliging canine, we gazed at the ever more monstrous steel and concrete of the new ground - now like a giant jaw poised to clamp itself around the Old Lady before consuming her at the end of the season. But for now White Hart Lane remains, and last night she was packed and raucous, the wooden flooring of the East Upper vibrating under the stamping of feet each time the lilywhites poured forward.

If this was the last game under the lights at the Lane, it was a fine send off.

Jonathan Adelman is a season-ticket holder at Spurs, and also co-manages North London Raiders B in the MGBSFL

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