Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Hero Needed

‘Come On You Spurs’ – Give Us A Hero!

The lyrics of Paper Lace’s 1974 anti-war song, ‘Billy Don’t Be a Hero’ remind us of the great loss of life brought about by war and the grief brought upon family and friends. A young woman is distraught that her fiancé chooses to leave the area with an Army contingent passing through the town, and go with them to fight. She laments,

"Billy, don't be a hero! Don't be a fool with your life!
"Billy, don't be a hero! Come back and make me your wife!"
And as Billy started to go, she said, "Keep your pretty head low!"
"Billy, don't be a hero! Come back to me!"

The song goes on to describe how Billy is killed in action in a pitched battle after volunteering to ride out and seek reinforcements. In the end, the woman throws away the regret letter notifying her of Billy's "heroic" death.

Football is only a game and the heroics achieved over ninety minutes on the pitch are as nothing compared to the bravery of soldiers prepared to give their lives in the line of duty – but on Wednesday evening as Spurs make their second visit to the Emirates Stadium – the one thing their game is crying out for is a hero to keep his head high and while all around are feeling the pressure, he will come through and show his true worth to the team. It’s a long, long time since Spurs have had a player who has risen to the occasion and produced an outstanding display against all the odds and when it has really mattered.

The top teams have players who are all capable of producing top-class performances when it really matters. The current Liverpool team doesn’t stand comparison with the teams of previous generations but they have won the FA Cup, the League Cup, the UEFA Cup and the biggest prize of all, the Champions League. Why? They have Steven Gerrard who has time and time again risen to the occasion, produced an outstanding performance when everything has been going against Liverpool and pulled them through – the Champions League Final, three down at half-time, in last season’s FA Cup Liverpool could have gone out in the opening round at Palace but for Gerrard and then in the Final itself, two outstanding goals with the spectacular goal at the death to snatch victory from West Ham and take the game into extra-time and eventual success. In fact, such was his influence on Liverpool winning the Final that the DVD for the Final is called ‘The Gerrard Final!’

The major difference between Spurs and Liverpool at the moment is one player who can produce amazing performances which lift the players around him and produce results above what they deserve. If only Spurs could find such a player but with their pay structure at the club they’ll never get a player of Gerrard’s caliber. However, at the moment there is a great need for one of the current players to step forward and take that mantle and make themselves a hero and what better place to do it than the Emirates Stadium – they would become an instant ‘Legend’, remembered for years to come.

In summing up last week’s 1st Leg match a radio commentator stated that at two nil Spurs had a great chance but by the end it had gone. There was an opportunity to really put one over Arsenal and make the 2nd Leg academic but it wasn’t taken. The departure of Berbatov with injury changed the game but there were enough experienced players on the Spurs’ team who should have been able to take control and dominate the game for Spurs but they didn’t and it cost them dearly – they bottled it.

Now at 2-2 for the second game on Wednesday, Spurs have it all to do. With the away goals against them Spurs can’t let the game drift and hold on to what they’ve got because in terms of reaching the Final at the moment they don’t have anything. Spurs will need to be positive against probably the Arsenal young team who will greater experience among the re-enforcements, waiting to be called upon if necessary. This is where Spurs need every player totally committed to the cause but sometimes even that isn’t enough. There have been numerous occasions in recent seasons when Spurs have given it everything, put up a fighting, gutsy performance but lost to a late goal or some other hard-luck story. To take that step to the Carling Cup Final it will need a player to really shine – be dominant, take the goal scoring chances that are presented – we’ve had enough of being the nearly team, the unlucky losers, it’s time for Spurs to strike out for glory.

Spurs have had players in the past who achieved such heights – Gascoigne and his contribution in the 1991 FA Cup being almost single-handedly responsible for getting Spurs to the Final and nobody will forget that semi-final goal! A decade earlier, Ricky Villa in the FA Cup semi-final at Highbury and then in the Final replay he was able to shake off the disappointment of the first game and scored the goals to bring the FA Cup to Tottenham. Graham Roberts in the UEFA Cup Final when all looked lost led from the front, scored the equaliser and stepped up to dispatch the first penalty in the nerve-wracking penalty shoot-out. If supporter message-boards had been around in Martin Chivers’ day he would have been criticised endlessly but in big games, he produced the goals – two in the League Cup final of 1971 and another ‘double’ against Wolves in the UEFA Cup semi-final. Jimmy Greaves, Dave Mackay, Teddy Sheringham and Jurgen Klinsmann, 1994 FA Cup semi-final excluded, were all able to show their worth – we need a player of that ilk in the team today.

Who will raise their game and take that chance to be the ‘star’ and become a hero?
If Spurs win, all eleven players will be heroes but there is a need for someone to up their performance when it really matters and inspire those around them to greater heights. It’s all very well to score the goals against Southend or Villa, or to perform lesser teams - it keeps all of us happy, but when the trophies are being handed out the question that has to be asked is, ‘Where were your goals against the best?’

The top players have that star quality and will do it in the vitally important games. Spurs’ need for a new hero on Wednesday is critical. Step forward and take that opportunity now. Robinson, Chimbonda, Dawson, Rocha, Lee, Lennon, Jenas, Zokora, Malbranque, Defdoe, Keane or whoever is selected, your chance to be immortalised in the history of Tottenham Hotspur awaits you.


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