Date: 23rd January 2020 at 10:38am
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To pinch one of Eddie Hearn’s catchphrases for a title to this article came to me as I sat down to write this piece about an away day at Spurs in 2020, at the new Tottenham Stadium.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about or who Eddie Hearn is then it’s probably a little lost on you. Hearn is a boxing promoter who has embraced social media like few others in his or any other sport, for that matter. This has meant that with his London accent and numerous quotes and soundbites that he has become a regular for Meme and Gif creation. Check out @NoContext Hearn for more.

Anyway,  I digress. Spurs. Away.

This was the hottest ticket in town for the travelling Canary faithful when the fixtures were announced last summer. There was no way that everyone who wanted to go would be able to get one but Vital Norwich got lucky.

I went with LeeBoz and a colleague of his, James and his mate, Fraser who had both also got lucky with the ticketing. LeeBoz offered to drive and we set off at about 3pm after meeting James and Fraser at Thickthorn services. The journey was easy, as was the conversation mostly surrounding football.

“Who will stay, who will go?” when we get relegated was a big topic, as was talk of pints filling up from the bottom at the new Spurs stadium. A little tip for future reference, the hole at the bottom, don’t put your finger in it or you’ll have lager all over your boots – it didn’t happen to us but drink your overpriced beer first and play with the glass afterwards.

We arrived in Haringey about 5pm and parked on a pre-booked driveway, which for me, always takes the worry away from parking on a football away day. The walk was 20 minutes to the ground past the endless small convenience shops that proliferate these London high streets, whichever part of the capital you visit.

As we got closer, we started to see signs in pub windows saying “HOME FANS ONLY”, which is pretty standard. James and Fraser went into a Home pub near the ground called the “Brickmakers Arms” while Lee and I walked on looking for a pub to sit down in and have a bite to eat.

We came across the “Bluecoats Arms” which was advertising a “Best Burger 2018″ award outside on a sandwich board, so we nipped in, got a table near a huge TV screen with highlights of Chelsea v Arsenal and ordered two “Royale with cheese” and a couple of pints.

It was very civilised. Nice atmosphere, the punters and staff were friendly, burgers were very good and footy was on the screen – happy days.

I get that not everyone wants that sort of thing but we’re both nearly fifty and we did. James and Fraser told us later that The Brickmakers was playing Chas & Dave and lots of old Spurs songs on the jukebox – “a right knees up,” he said.

Getting into the stadium an hour or so later was fine. It is enormous though and takes ages to walk around. We finally got to Gate 11 and were searched on the way in. There is a ring of steel bollards around the stadium, presumably to stop Terrorist attacks involving vehicles and there are metal detectors to walk through. Our tickets were checked twice before we finally got inside.

The amazing “bottom up” pints were all most people seemed to be talking about at the bar in what is, it must be said, a terrific place to watch football. It cost, depending on which report you believe, somewhere between £750-850 million pounds, which is staggering. Inside though it is incredible. The capacity is around 62,000 and four giant screens are high above, two at each end, not that they ever showed a Norwich replay, mind.

When you compare this place with it’s surroundings and weigh up the cost/salaries of the footballers on show, factor in the amounts of money they earn and then look at the people walking around outside in the surrounding streets, it is an obscene amount of money, underlining the disparity of wealth in our society.

Er, hem, anyway, back to the football.

The game itself saw a first half where Norwich were hemmed in for long periods, unable to beat the Spurs high pressure game. Alex Tettey and Kenny McLean were given little time on the ball and Tettey especially was often pressured into making mistakes. When City did get the ball, they pinged it about looking for an opening with Cantwell finding Pukki at the end of one lovely piece of play that put the Finn in on goal but he fired wide.

Cantwell was later guilty of overplaying in a dangerous area and he lost the ball, which was quickly recycled to Aurier, who’s low cross was poked home by Dele (Alli) as he now likes to be called. It was frustrating but that can happen with young players. Having said that, a similar thing had happened moments before, only Hanley was able to clear that one.

In the second half, City were the better side and made Spurs look very average. They were always a threat on the counter with their pace, Son, Lamela, Moura etc but when City finally equalised, it was deservedly so.

A burst forward by the excellent Max Aarons saw him found by Ondrej Duda and then pulled down in the box by Ryan Sessegnon, who Max had the beating of all night. After the usual five minute wait (it felt like that) for VAR, Pukki stepped up and slotted his second penalty in two games.

As ever, there was a feeling of “can I celebrate or not?” for both the award of the penalty and the goal itself. VAR is killing the experience in the stadium for fans and I hate it.

In front of us, I should add, half the row had gone into the concourse at half time and just didn’t come back out. They suddenly appeared though after the penalty was scored. I heard them say to someone that they’d been drinking at the bar and watching it on a screen.

Seriously?! What’s the point  of coming, lads?

As you know, Spurs got a winner but it was something of a fluke. Dele’s shot from the angle was blocked by Zimmermann’s out-stretched leg and looped over Tim Krul to the back post where Son nodded it in from about one yard out.

It was undeserved but exactly the sort of thing that happens when you’re rock bottom of the league. For the record, Spurs were poor, I described them as “average” above but I was being overly kind. They were fortunate they weren’t playing a team with the tools to threaten them more because if they had been up against Liverpool or Man City here then they would’ve shipped four or five.

Jose Mourinho has a big job on his hands and unless he’s given a lot of money to spend, then history tells me that he’ll fail.

Norwich missed Emi Buendia and Ben Godfrey, especially Emi. Lukas Rupp replaced him on the night and he was decent enough but lacks the skills of Buendia. He is obviously irreplaceable in our side, which is pretty clear when he isn’t playing. Rupp looked solid enough and was a willing runner, playing wide right and late on, centrally. He was unfortunate not to get a first goal as well with a couple of shots, the last of which in the second half was deflected just wide with Hugo Lloris stranded.

Man of the Match?

Max Aarons

Max Aarons

Todd Cantwell

Todd Cantwell

Sam Byram

Sam Byram

We came away with nothing and put in yet another performance that deserved so much more. We are clearly competitive in this league but haven’t quite reached the levels required to beat teams like Spurs, even, as here, when they are struggling. Buendia and Godfrey could well have made the difference.

It’s hard to accept but that’s where we are.

The drive home was foggy but we still got back to Norwich by midnight – thank you, LeeBoz.


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