Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tottenham's Joy of Winning the Cup 1

Cup Success at Home and in Europe

Tottenham Hotspur Football Club's heritage is based on the success brought to the club through winning Cup competitions in one hundred and twenty nine years of history.  It is those successes that saw the club become known as a "Cup' team and which supporters remember with enthusiasm - that feeling of having been there the 'Day Tottenham Won the Cup' - such experiences will never be forgotten. 

Juande Ramos Celebrates with the Carling Cup at Wembley
Today football is so much about the Premier League and the Champions League that any other competition is dismissed an unimportant or a 'nuisance'.  However, for those clubs who aren't going to win either competition this focus is rather misguided.  Yes, there is the money involved in Champions League qualification but if it isn't re-invested in strengthening the team year on year with 'class' players then the football has become irrelevant and the football club has just become a money making concern for the already wealthy owners.

Football is about winning matches and ultimately winning trophies.  The current complaint about Arsene Wenger is that, in spite of playing Champions League football every year,  Arsenal haven't won a trophy for six years.  They've had all the advantages of playing in the Champions League but haven't been able to retain their star players because they haven't won any medals to show their grandchildren in years to come and have demand a transfer to a club with ambition.

Tottenham battled unsuccessfully to achieve qualification for European football for many years.  Managers were lambasted for failing to get into Europe but under Martin Jol that ambition was finally finally achieved and supporters enjoyed their European experiences.  Two years ago the team successfully qualified for the Champions League and brought us many memorable experiences in the competition last year before finally being eliminated by Real Madrid.  The games against the two Milan clubs will never be forgotten and the whole experience will long be remembered by Tottenham supporters around the world.  However, the success achieved in those games was in the end futile because the ultimate prize was missed.  Those victories eventually led to defeat, elimination from the competition and disappointment.

This season the European experience is designated as the Europa League but Harry Redknapp dismisses it as a 'nuisance', a 'killer' and a distraction from his goal of qualification for the Champions League by finishing fourth in the Premier League or perhaps third.  It's very unlikely that Spurs will finish any higher, I'd love to be proved wrong.  So Tottenham's aim is to be satisfied with failure to win a trophy and many supporters are in agreement with that objective, seeing the Champions League as the only worthwhile goal for the club and so dismiss serious participation in the Europa League or any other Cup competition.  The dismissal of the Cup competitions by clubs of all sizes is now common place and been accepted by the authorities as the norm.

However, there are many other supporters who disagree with this blinkered view of football.  They regard Cup competitions as being there to be won and provide them with triumphant days at Wembley - like the days they've experienced in the past when Tottenham won FA Cups and League Cups or were victorious in European competitions.

It was fantastic when Spurs defeated Chelsea 5 - 1 at White Hart Lane in the second leg of the semi-final of the Worthington Cup in 2002 but in the end it was a meaningless success as the ultimate prize was lost to Blackburn Rovers in the Final at Cardiff.  By concentrating all our energy on qualification for the Champions League this is what we are subscribing to year after year - the acceptance of failure, simply because we're not going to win the Champions League.

There's also an assumption that being in the Champions League will attract better players but that didn't happen with our involvement in the competition last year - Van der Vaart doesn't count, he was a last minute, opportunist deal without any planning or foresight by Tottenham.

Steve Perryman 1981 FA Cup
The real joy for supporters comes from winning trophies - the exhilaration, the memories, the celebrations are never forgotten. Supporters love to tell of being there on The 'Day Tottenham Won the Cup' and Danny Blanchflower or Steve Perryman lifted the trophy.

FA Cup Winners (8): 1901, 1921, 1961, 1962, 1967, 1981, 1982, 1991

League Cup Winners (4): 1971, 1973, 1999, 2008

European Cup Winners Cup Winners (1): 1963

UEFA Cup Winners (2): 1972, 1984

Supporters have stories to tell about being at those Finals or watching them on television.  Players are remembered at Spurs for their contribution to those successes - Sandy Brown, Jimmy Dimmock, Terry Dyson, Martin Chivers, Tony Parks, Ralph Coates, Ricky Villa, Jonathan Woodgate, Allan Nielsen to name just a few.  By regarding the Cup competitions, including the Europa League, as an irrelevance we are depriving ourselves of wonderful, memorable occasions like those that have passed before in the glorious history of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.


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