Wed 23 August 2006

"There is nothing like a Game..."

[“...Nothing in the world...”]

Tottenham Hotspur 2 – 0 Sheffield United
Written by Smart

So the first home game of the season has been and gone – and there is simply nothing like it.

But before the match, some tough decisions had to be made – Chips or a Donkey Burger? The queue out of the chip shop door meant only one thing – Burger. Besides, what man can resist the aroma of fried onions that seems to hang in the air?

Near the ground, a coach carrying the travelling away supporters has taken a wrong turn and beached itself across one of the low kerb like barriers across the road. In an attempt to raise the coach a bit, the coach is emptied of its passengers. No luck.

After the burger, its into the pub to see some old faces that I haven’t seen since the end of last season – so that’s two months. Spirits are high, optimism is low. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this game...” was the over used phrase of the evening. I myself predicted a 1-1 draw.

Then the magnetic pull of the referees whistle empties the pub in a matter of moments – its time to take your seats, ladies and gentleman.

The anticipation is growing, the tension is mounting. Walking up the steps from the confines of the under stadium food area, then its out into the daylight. The muffled audio tape sound in an instant flicks into Dolby surround 5.1. Through the clouds of smoke – “Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be…” Hopefully not ‘Disappointed’.

However, that cannot beat seeing rest of the stadium, the thousands of expectant fans, and the players coming out onto the billiard table of a surface. Its a sensory overload - Im buzzing with excitement already.

The opening games of the season are also usually complimented with fine summer-like weather. Not tonight however. Dark clouds gather overhead, fuelling the pessimism around.

After losing your opening game of the Premiership campaign, the best thing to do is get an early goal. Step up, Dimitar Berbatov. After some magical ball skills by the young apprentice Aaron Lennon (I swear the ball was up his sleeve at one point), he pulls a low cross out of the hat, putting the goal on a plate for Berbatov. One-nil after 7 minutes – you could sense the relief around the ground.

Robbie Keane is in a class of his own, Lennon assisting him admirably, Tainio and Berbatov are enjoying themselves – the second goal is coming. Berbatov heads a ball down into the path of the on-running Jenas, who lifts the ball over Kenny’s hand to make it 2 goals with only 17 minutes on the clock. Game over already.

Sheffield United pleasantly surprised me. We were expecting a bruising encounter with fouls galore. To their credit, that wasn’t the game plan at all. Some nice touches, moments of pressure and some good moves were also nice to watch, and only added to the entertainment of the match. It takes two to Tango. Apparently.

It would be nice however, with all the replica shirts about, if Sheffield United could give the latest kit to Keith Gillespie, who for some reason was playing in last seasons strip. Perhaps he isn’t one of those people who ‘must have’ the latest fashions? Perhaps he picked it up cheap in the club sale?

On leaving the ground, comments such as “Business as usual” and “That’s more like it” fill the air. The dark clouds above have dispersed. It didn’t rain. The pessimism has gone.

For now.

Going home, I go past the travelling away coach. It isn’t stuck on the kerb barrier anymore. Its now jacked up onto a huge recovery vehicle, with people looking rather concerned at the underside.

I hope they had AA Relay Plus.

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