The Everton fans were not really up for this match in the first half, which was understandable given that their team had even less to play for than Tottenham. As a result, the typical away fan chants directed at indifferent home support were aired during the opening exchanges, which was often met with sarcastic waves from the Everton fans that were immediately adjacent to us. When Erik Lamela got the ball past Tim Howard around the 15th minute but Howard was able to retrieve the ball before it crossed the line, the Tottenham fans started to celebrate as if they had scored. When it was apparent that they hadn’t, the adjacent Everton fans derided us with the classic jeers that typically accompany such moments. As it was the first real noise that they had made, the Tottenham fans replied with a chant of “We forgot that you were here” and later on in the match “where’s your famous atmosphere!”
Despite starting Nabil Bentaleb at left-back, Tottenham played very well in the first half and went ahead through a Harry Kane header on 24 minutes. Almost immediately after the goal was scored, the Goodison Park scoreboard started showing scores from the out of town matches and when “Stoke 1-0 Liverpool” showed up the away end went wild. A Tottenham win coupled with Liverpool failing to win meant that Spurs would finish fifth. A fifth place finish would mean tangible progression from last season and as a result the fans started to get extremely excited. “We’re all going on a European Tour” to the tune of “Yellow Submarine” rang out from all corners of the away end, which was surprising given that quite a few Tottenham supporters have come out and argued that finishing outside of the Europa League places is the best option for the club long-term. True supporters don’t see it that way, however, and want to see their team win as often as possible and finish as high as possible in the table. As half-time approached the Spurs support started to wane as Everton started to get into the game and missed a couple of very good chances. When Ross Barkley shot over at one point, the Tottenham fans started chanting “you’re just a sh*t Aaron Lennon” at him. Given that Lennon was loaned out because he was frozen out of the first team at Tottenham was essentially a double insult to Barkley. Also, it seemed as though every time the out of town scoreboard was shown Stoke had continued to increase their lead against Liverpool, which was always met by some cheers by both sets of fans. By half-time I was exhausted, it was by far the most singing I had ever done at a match.
At half-time the Everton FA Youth Cup winning team of 1965 was welcomed back onto the pitch, which I found a little odd given that it was 50 years ago and those Under-18 players were now 68 but oh well. Also, the PA announcer read the out of town scoreboard for all the fans, and when he got to the bottom and read out “Stoke 5 Liverpool 0” the entire stadium roared and a couple of stewards who were guarding the away end started laughing hysterically. When the second half kicked off the home fans finally started to make some significant noise as their team dominated the first five minutes of the second half. Things eventually returned to equilibrium and the action on the pitch during the second half was very even. Moussa Dembele was substituted off very early in the second half and before leaving the pitch did a full 180 and turned around to applaud the visiting supporters, which made me wonder if that was the last time I will ever see him play in a Tottenham Hotspur shirt. At around the 68 mark, the Tottenham fans, who had been comparatively silent during the beginning of the second half, started to wake out of their slumber and the songs started to flow again. There was a fan two rows behind me who tried (and somewhat failed) to come up with new songs on the fly. The only one that reasonably caught on was “you can keep Lennon, we want Mirallas” but even that did not really get off the ground. When Mirallas, a player who has been linked with a move to Spurs, was subbed off the Tottenham fans comically started chanting “Yiddo” at him as he walked off the pitch.
The closing stages of the match were an opportunity for the fans to exhibit their amazing support one final time and they did not pass up the opportunity. Many renditions of “Oh When the Spurs” were sung as well many renditions of “Everywhere we go.” There were even times when both the upper and lower tiers sang disjointed versions of “Oh When the Spurs,” where the upper tier would be up to the fast part of the song while the lower tier would still be singing the slower part. “We’re all going on a European tour” also continued to feature prominently in the away end during the closing stages. I was having so much fun singing for my beloved Tottenham that I was hoping that the match would never end and the players would continue playing all night. The noise created was amazing, the best I have ever seen at a Tottenham away match by quite a distance, which was incredible given the indifference given to the match in the build up.
The first sign that the end was near was in the 84th minute was when Harry Kane got substituted off for Andros Townsend. This led to the singing of the chant that I heard oh so many times this season and has become almost synonymous with Tottenham Hotspur’s season, “He’s one of our own, he’s one of our own, HARRY KANE!!!! He’s one of our own.” It was a fitting way to send out a player who went from a virtual nobody in August to the face of a franchise. He scored in the first Tottenham match that I went to this season (a 2-0 League Cup win over Brighton in October), he scored in my last and he scored in so many in between. Kane was the shining light on a season that could have gone so differently if it were not for his sudden rise. That it would be the last time I would see Harry Kane in the flesh (in the near future) was sinking in. I don’t think I have ever been more excited at a sporting event than I was when he equalized against Chelsea on New Year’s Day. His equalizer at the death against West Ham, his double at Loftus Road and his hat trick against Leicester were other memorable moments that I was fortunate enough to be able to witness firsthand this season. He created so many memories for me that I will cherish for a long, long time.
Nevertheless, the match continued and Everton supporter’s were presented with an emotional moment when Sylvain Distin, who is 37 years old and leaving the club at the end of the season, was substituted on to a standing ovation from the other 37,000 people at Goodison Park. The Everton fans started filing out almost immediately after this, which prompted a chant of “Is there a fire drill?” from the travelling Tottenham supporters. When the fourth official signalled that there was only going to be three minutes of stoppage time I was initially happy that Spurs only had to defend their slender 1-0 lead for three minutes, but then I was very sad that my incredible journey of supporting Tottenham this season was approaching its end. The volume from the away end continued to increase throughout stoppage time, but unfortunately the referee had to bring the match to an end.
The scenes after the match could only be described as surreal. The fans continued to sing vociferously as the players started to make their way over to the away end. When we started singing, “we love you Tottenham we do, we love you Tottenham we do, we love you Tottenham we do! Oh Tottenham we love you!” my emotions got the better of me and I actually started crying. Most soccer chants that are sung are sung only because the tune is catchy. Tottenham are not “by far the greatest team the world has ever seen” and I do not ever condone kicking his “f*cking head in,” but when I sing, “We love you Tottenham,” I actually mean it. And as I stood on my seat in the away end at Goodison Park, I just let all my passion and emotion out for the club that I have adopted as my own. On a day where I learned all about the Beatles and listened to many of their songs that pertained to love, I was able to unite with my love, Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. The singing continued as the players got closer to the away end and the chants of “Yiddo” were heard and Hugo Lloris threw his goalkeepers shirt into the away end. The singing continued for at least five minutes after the match. The passion and verve displayed towards the players after finishing fifth, short of our yearly target of top four, was truly bone chilling. I can only imagine what the scenes would be like if we won a cup or finished in the top four.
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