It’s quite hard going on a 13-year journey with one goal in mind and then getting to the end of that road and realising you’ve failed. ‘Quite hard’ is actually a huge understatement but if I told you how I really felt, the flood gates would open and this blog would be blotchy.
I’m talking about football (the only time I get emotional) and the art of brainwashing your child into supporting the team you’ve always loved. I fell in love with Tottenham Hotspur in 1981. People say to me, ‘how can you support a London team, if you weren’t born in London?’ My response is always the same. I fell in love with my wife, not because she was born in New Zealand, where I was born but because I fell in love with her. It’s a hard thing to explain; you just do. It just happens.
The same thing happened with my beloved Spurs. I was sort of seeing Nottingham Forest but we had nothing in common and I was never comfortable with the colour red. It’s too red. That all changed in 1981. I was getting beaten up at my judo class, when someone I overheard was talking about the FA Cup, which was going out on the radio at the time. I heard one of the boys say, ‘Tottenham Hotspur,’ and my heart skipped a beat. They sounded sexy. A week later, I watched them beat Man. City 3-2 in the replay, in one of the all-time classic FA Cup finals and that was that. I was gone. Head over heels and committed for the rest of my life.
My boy arrived 32 years later. Within a month of his birth, I put him in a Spurs baby grower. He was delighted. Or it may have been wind. For the first two or three years, he took little interest in football. It was mainly toy cars and Ben 10. Then he started to take note of my obsession and slowly but surely started to love in love with the beautiful game.
I took him to his first game at White Hart Lane to watch Spurs, we won and he was hooked. I was so happy, I spent £40 after the game on a shirt for him. In my mind, that was it. We were father and son, supporting the same team, which for any father is the best thing that can EVER happen in your life, EVER. Even during those forthcoming difficult teenage years, we would still have that bond, that connection, through football.
And then disaster struck. Spurs had a really bad season. As in, worse than usual. Chelsea, Tottenham’s great rivals, were flying. My boy liked winners and so he went for them. I cried. I thought about calling the adoption agency. My wife stopped me but I was hurting. Hurting like I’ve never hurt before.
And then the following season, Chelsea were really bad and Spurs were good. He came back and it was beautiful. And then the next season, as in this current one, he changed his mind again and decided he wanted to support Brighton. I suspect his school mates got to him. But actually, Brighton are a team on the up and he was born and raised here, so I’m OK with this. Actually, I’m secretly a little bit proud of him.
So I failed at brainwashing him but actually it could have been a lot worse.
It could have been Chelsea.