Beating Spurs is always especially sweet for this overseas Charlton fan given that I was brought up in Enfield, Middx firmly in the heart of Spurs country. The fact that we have now avoided defeat in six consecutive games pleases me even more, though our record of conceding four goals three times at the Valley in the same fixture, is sadly a useful response for those Spurs-supporting mates that I love winding up.
Perhaps what pleases me the most is the unparalleled ability of their fans to believe that they remain a 'big five' club despite having failed to make any impact on English football for over a decade. Indeed as I write this blog, the football-loving fans of Burnley turned out in their droves to watch the mighty Spurs visit Turf Moor (only 10,000 actually - Ed.). Infact, more fans turned out for the visit of Ipswich on Saturday. And these fans knew that Spurs would bring their first team (since they remain one of the few teams that bothers to take this competition seriously). It's safe to assume that more than 10,000 would have turned out to watch Liverpool or Man Utd reserves than the Spurs first team. "Big club? My a*se", as one Royle may have commented (not Joe).
I wonder at what point Spurs fans will realise the football bandwagon has moved on and they are not on it? The former 'big five' included Everton I recall, but their fans don't seem to retain the same delusions of grandeur.....perhaps it's a London thing? Meanwhile, just across North London, the mighty Arsenal move onward and upward. Indeed, one could have made a case that at the time of Denis Bergkamp's move to Arsenal (which arguably marked the start of their progress), Spurs and Arsenal were broadly equivalent in terms of size and expectations. He was bought by Bruce Rioch after all. Yet less than a decade later, Spurs can't fill their stadium for a home league game whilst the 'Emirates' stadium takes shape next to Highbury. You have to laugh. A decade of mismanagement......Ardiles, Gross, Francis, Graham, Hoddle, Pleat, Levy, Sugar.....and what about some of those fine players that have graced White Hart Lane? Redknapp, Poyet, Edinburgh, Sherwood, Taricco, Keller, Thatcher......not occasional squad players these.....regulars all of them. Quite how they managed to persuade the likes of Defoe and Robinson to jeapordise their careers remains a mystery to me. Fortunately the chances are they won't stick around.
The attempt to impress fans by bringing in Santini has backfired horribly. The club had little choice but to offer the job to Martin Jol having spent the summer defending the wisdom of a three-pronged managerial structure, and the personnel therein. He may succeed of course. But how long will the board give him given that he wasn't their first choice by definition? How will fans react then and who would take the poisoned chalice of the Spurs job? Martin O'Neill?! Not a chance.
One of my most realistic Spurs-supporting mates describes the club as 'rotten to the core' (he long ago gave up his season ticket) - it's the most apt description I have heard. Managerial turnover, supporter unrest, average players.....Leeds were no different in 2003/4 and their fate is well-known. When Charlton fans moan about their board or manager (this fan included), it's worth remembering how bad it could be.