As I made my way to the Ajax semi-final game, at the Johan Cruyff Arena, my thoughts were to glory and the final.
The match was quickly upon us, but by the time the first half was ending our thoughts were very far away from the final, as we were 3-0 down on aggregate. Our dreams at that moment were being crushed. In the break, we chatted about miracles, possibilities and our dreams being shattered. Then the second half came, and we were transported to a totally different match, to a totally different world with a totally different Spurs team.
Moura scored, but was that enough? Moura scored again, and we were in it. But the minutes were creeping down to the final seconds. Surely it was all over, we thought. Surely we couldn’t pull a rabbit out of the hat, or was that a Cockerel out of the fire?
We thought we saw the referee slowly – as if in a dream – putting his whistle to his mouth, but then suddenly, and miraculously, Moura got a third and the stadium suddenly erupted. From the Ajax side total mortification, they couldn’t believe what they saw… from us it was like a volcano erupting. We hugged, high fives, kissed, all in total euphoria. Even ecstasy and no drugs were in sight. Then for a brief second, our thought turned to VAR, but only for a second. The Ajax players suddenly flopped like ragdolls to the ground, our players run to one central figure, Moura. They jumped for joy before leaping on our hat-trick hero. We went from zero to zillion in the wink of an eye.
After all the jubilations and the stadium starting to clear of Ajax supporters, we were forced to stay behind for an hour, which was probably a good thing as we needed our adrenaline to settle. In the meantime Pochettino, players, coaching staff, Levy and others came out to applaud us, we hailed them, and there was probably no dry eyes in the stadium.
I felt privileged to be at that match, in more ways than one. Tickets were at a minimum for that game, but saying that the touts and online sites where selling tickets (from “supporters” who preferred cash over loyalty) for as little as £3,000. Personally, you could offer me the earth, and the majority of fans the same, but they/ I wouldn’t give up our tickets.
After that historical encounter, we came down to earth, with our last game of the season, against Everton at our new stadium.
My thoughts for that match was that we might not be focused enough, because of our momentous encounter with Ajax. I thought, after we trounced Everton (6-2) over the Christmas period, that they would come at us, and therefore we could be in for a whipping. Instead, we got our second draw of the season in the league (Arsenal was the only other team to draw with us). That match turned out to be a wet squid. But that draw was enough to put us back into the Champions League for another season. At least we left the stadium in good spirits (and not just the intoxicating type).
Some parts of season 2019/20 were horrific and frustrating, but thanks to the comedy acts of United and Arsenal we managed to slip no further than fourth. Chelsea finally got their act together and slithered above us.
What the end of season 2018/2019 taught us was that we needed to buy and replenish in the summer. But for now, our thoughts were a lot closer.
After the final game of the season (when it was all done and dusted) we applied for that special gold-dust Final ticket. We waited with bated breath until we were notified that some of us had been the lucky ones, while others were, sadly, the losers. Some of the lucky ones decided to sell the losers down the river by selling on their tickets for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Those that wanted to keep theirs regarded that no matter what was in that pot their pot of gold was in their hands.
Once we were notified that we had been lucky, we were then told that we would have to make a trip to our sacred ground at Tottenham to collect these precious tickets. For me, it was an hour and a half travel, while others, it was a lot longer.
While all this was in the process, the airfares and hotels hit the stratosphere squeezing the honest fan between a rock and a hard place. I booked my ticket while I was in Amsterdam, before even knowing whether I got a ticket or not. If I had waited, I probably would have seen my costs doubled. I will be going with SportsOptions (who I have travelled with before), a 24-hour trip (no hotel) and back the next day. Even if I didn’t get a ticket I would have wanted to be there to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the night, on that historical occasion; as thousands of fans who haven’t got a ticket will do. But I did get one!
My prediction; Liverpool will be favourites (as was City & Ajax), and don’t forget that Liverpool beat us twice in the league. But on the night none of that will count (remember City, who had won the triple, also beat us three times, but still couldn’t leapfrog us to get to the Semi-Final of the Champions League). We will win, probably after a rocky start, but we will win. As for goals, it will be close. We will see something like 2-1 or 3-2 in our favour. On the day it will have nothing to do with form, but luck and those that will take their chances. If history has taught us anything, it is that nothing can be ruled out. The victor will go to those that Dare to Do.
A side note of my trip to London to pick up my ticket (including a Metro free ticket). After getting my ticket, I made my way to the Spurs shop to buy a T-shirt. There were a few people in there, all purchasing some treasured item. One of those buyers, and with his wife, was… wait for it… Ricky Villa. I did a double take, approached him, shook his hand and then got my photo taken with him. I remember when he and Ossie Ardiles joined our club, and that brilliant goal Villa scored against Manchester City in the FA Cup Final replay (yes, I was there). What a fantastic ending to an exciting day.
On my way back to my car (which was at Sainsbury’s, which is next to the ticket office) I was approached by two touts, offering to buy my ticket for thousands of pounds. I did ask them if they had managed to buy any, and their reply was in the positive. I also noticed that they had bundles of cash on their person. Obviously a few have sold their soul to the devil. I walked away with my ticket firmly clutched to my chest.
From there to Hanna’s for something to eat (she was working from home on that day). Finally getting home at 5ish (I had left home at 9 am).
For those that are going out to Madrid (with or without a ticket), I’ll see you out there. For those that are watching at the Stadium or on TV: enjoy!
Come On You Spurs!
By Glenn Renshaw