We’re saying farewell to the Lane this weekend so in today’s Hoddle let’s talk about our favorite matches from our old, beloved home. Here’s my list:
Gallas Off the Line
Spurs came into their second round second leg Champions League tie with Milan up 1-0 thanks to a late Peter Crouch goal at the San Siro. I would show you video of the goal but you’ll enjoy it more if I just show you Tiziano Crudelli reacting to the goal:
That said, Spurs had to hold the lead against Zlatan-led Milan knowing that a single Milan goal would cancel out their tie-breaker advantage and force Spurs to score against a stout Milan defense marshaled by Alessandro Nesta and Thiago Silva if they were to win.
Not only that, they would play a weakened side as both Gareth Bale and Ledley King were relegated to the bench, not fit enough to start. This was the Spurs squad to face Milan:
Corluka, Dawson, Gallas, Assou-Ekotto
Lennon, Modric, Sandro, Pienaar
Van der Vaart
Milan countered with this:
Abate, Nesta, Thiago Silva, Jankulovski
Pato, Seedorf, Robinho
Let’s say that a different way: A Tottenham squad that featured a keeper currently playing for Watford, past-his-prime William Gallas, Steven Pienaar, and Vedran freaking Corluka beat a Milan team that featured Nesta, Seedorf, and Ibrahimovic and whose supporting cast included Thiago Silva, Alexandre Pato, and Robinho.
Yeah, it was 0-0, but William Gallas’s first-half goalline clearance had me just about dead before we had even reached the half hour mark. I’m not sure there will ever be a 0-0 result I am more pleased by than this one.
Who’s Name is Harry Kane?
It’s this game y’all:
So the funny thing about this list as I made it is that I realized this is the only Poche game on here. I have one AVB game, three ‘Arry games, and one Poche. I’m not sure why—we’ve had plenty of nice wins at the Lane under Poche. But I think by the time Poche came around I had become more immersed in Spurs fandom and had acquired more of the typical Spurs fan neuroses. (I did not have to work hard to develop these as I am also a Phoenix Suns fan and the only reason Suns fans aren’t like Tottenham fans is they freaking live in Phoenix and who really cares what happens to a basketball team? I, however, am a Suns fan living in Nebraska SO I CARE VERY VERY MUCH. ALSO ROBERT HORRY IS A PUNK AND THE NBA SHOULD NEVER HAVE SUSPENDED AMARE AND BORIS. OH, AND BRUCE BOWEN IS A TERRIBLE PERSON.)
Anyway, I think acquiring those neuroses was kinda the equivalent of growing up and finding that the little childlike things that used to delight you don’t transport you as they once did. Besides this one, the only other Poche game that I considered for this list was Spurs 5, Chelsea 3. But ultimately I could not put that one higher than a very very solid six.
That said, this match was special. We’d been getting trashed by Arsenal during AVB’s last year/Sherwood’s disaster. Even some of the final Redknapp derbies had been bad. Then in year one under Poche we limped through the fixtures, never losing, but also not looking very Spurs-like. Then this game happened. Harry Kane scored a brace. We won 2-1. I remember it was a 6:30 AM start time for me so I had gotten up early to watch. A friend of my wife’s arrived around 8am, minutes after Harry scored his winner, and found me running laps around the downstairs by myself in my Tottenham pajamas. It was awkward but I so so so did not care. We had beaten Arsenal. We had finally beaten Arsenal.
Comeback Against Manchester City
This is one that I expect will be more controversial, but I’m standing by it: Spurs 3, City 1. City had been a bogey team of ours for years. We’d lost so many dumb games to them, the worst of which had been relatively recent—the Balotelli stamp game—when we set up against them at the Lane late in AVB’s first season with our Champions League quest on life support.
Samir Nasri scored in the first half because of course Samir Nasri scored in the first half. Then for a good bit of the second half I watched miserably as we sputtered and stumbled and looked like falling to a 1-0 defeat.
Then Gareth Bale made one of the more impressive passes I’ve seen, a perfectly hit outside-of-the-boot pass that split the City defense and found Clint Dempsey basically just hanging out at the far post. Deuce tapped it in and we were level.
Oh, important detail: My daughter was six months old for this game. My wife was upstairs napping and I was holding Davy who was sleeping in my arms as I watched. When Dempsey scored, I held it together. I had Davy in the crook of my right arm so I did some pretty enthusiastic fist pumps and that was all.
Then Defoe scored.
I soothed her. She went back to sleep.
Then, dammit, Gareth scored.
I screamed again, but louder.
Davy cried, but louder.
My wife woke up to the sound of Davy screaming and me going “I’m sorry baby girl I’m sorry baby girl” over and over and over.
You know what?
Totally worth it. (Sorry, Davy.)
Yeah, I know, the campaign farted out in the end and we finished fifth and Gareth was sold in the summer. But beating City and beating them in the way we did was spectacular. (It also didn’t hurt that this game temporarily boosted my in hindsight extremely dumb “T-Hudd will fix our midfield” theory.)
Taxi for Maicon
I mean of course, right? I started following Spurs in the fall of 2009 after watching the Confederations Cup the summer of that year and getting totally hooked. (The USMNT win against Spain clinched it for me.) This was one of the first games I watched beginning-to-end where I saw a single player just trash another team on their own. By the end of the match I was laughing like a drunk mad scientist every time Gareth got the ball on the wing. It was just so inevitable.
Ok Maicon: I have the ball. I’m going to run at you with the ball. I’m going to poke the ball past you. I’m going to outrun you to get the ball. I’m going to whip in a cross that will produce a dangerous scoring chance. The fans will sing “Taxi for Maicon.” Go.
I think the best bit was when Pav came on in the second half and got a goal. By that time I knew enough about soccer to know that Pav had kinda gone to crap by that point in his Spurs tenure. So when he got on the scoresheet I spent the next five minutes giggling and hoping Gareth would get the ball again.
The other thing that made this game fun is that the first 30 minutes or so were pretty tense. Inter were the defending champs, they’d thrashed us in the early stages at the San Siro, etc. But by midway through the second half it was obvious that we had the fixture in hand as long as nothing dramatic happened. So it kinda was the full soccer fan experience—starting with being miserably nervous and ending with “oh yeah we got this hey can we score another?”
Danny Rose Goal
What else could it be? DANNY ROSE ON HIS PREMIER LEAGUE DEBUT.
This was my first season supporting Spurs. I knew nothing.
I did not realize, going into the game, how miserable our recent record against Arsenal was. I also did not realize that if we wanted Champions League we basically had to pull off three straight absurd wins over Arsenal, Chelsea, and then at Manchester City.
Basically, I didn’t know enough to be miserable. I just knew Arsenal: Very Bad. So I sat down in the basement of the house I lived in during my senior year of college and watched the game. The commentators said something about this youngster named Danny Rose getting his first start. Then the goal happened.
I almost didn’t catch it when it happened in real-time. I was watching, but when the corner was punched clear, I looked away for a second. By the time I looked back, the ball was headed toward goal.
Then I saw the replay and started to freak out a little. I had not followed the team super closely that year and hadn’t watched much Premier League besides Spurs either. So I hadn’t seen a lot of amazing goals. But even I knew that Rose volley was special.
One other thing about this game: Gomes does not get enough credit for this result. He absolutely stood on his head late in the game. By full-time we had basically no business getting the win after the chances we gave up in the second half. But, somehow, we still got the win. Gomes is the main reason why, even if this game is always going to be known as The Danny Rose Game.
So what’s your top five? Curious to hear what y’all come up with!