The London rivalry between West Ham and Spurs was captured in the film Green Street, where the Hammers hooligans half kill their Spurs equivalents in a tube station fight.
You might find a flavour of it in Blog 41, describing where a group of us were very near the battling skinheads on the Upton Park terraces for the biggest ever crowd at the ground, in 1970.
Because my lad Rory is an Arsenal fan, we indulge in the easy banter of a Spurs loss being the next best thing to a win for our teams. But I don’t hate Spurs. I remember watching David Ginola tear West Ham apart on one occasion, and coming away full of admiration.
I used to find it tedious at Upton Park when the command to ‘Stand up, if you ‘ate Totnam’ was sung around the ground. Too parochial, and so miserably unambitious to measure the quality of a season by whether we beat the Spurs.
What has been almost unbearable is their poaching of some of our best players down the years: Martin Peters, Paul Allen, Michael Carrick, Jermain Defoe and Scott Parker spring to mind.
Sometime back in 2018, an episode of Eastenders summed up Tottenham Hotspur with the spite that would characterise many West Ham fans.
Arch-villain Stuart Highway was sitting on a park bench when a football rolled to his feet. Chasing it was Dennis Mitchell, son of local hood Phil. The ball had been signed by the Hammers first team. Stuart chatted with Dennis, appraising the signatures, and establishing that they were both claret and blue to the bone. “Suppose your mates over there support the Spurs?” asked Stuart.
“Remember this son. That lot might crow all day about their pedigree, but they ain’t won nothing really worth winning since black and white pictures was on the TV”.
An unreturnable serve. But then Tottenham fans suffer from the same limits on their ambition, with the daft delusion that beating Arsenal is all you need for a successful season.
In truth, they are a very fine team, and have been ever since Gareth Bale started to shine. In my humble opinion, they have been good enough to win the title for many of the past eight seasons, ever since Defoe couldn’t quite connect with a cross at the Etihad, and Spurs lost 3-2.
The attacking talent is immense. Kane, Son, Eriksen and Alli. What a foursome, almost unplayable at their peak. My dad thinks they are the best team in England, able to outplay both Manchester City and Liverpool.
Yet the team bottles it so often when the peaks are within reach. Drifting too easily out of the EFL and FA Cups this season. Same thing today, losing at Burnley 2-1 when a win would have taken them to within two points of the Premiership lead.
They are still in the Champions League, where they may have enough talent to beat everyone bar Barcelona. But have they got what it takes to go all the way? The backbone to accompany the self-belief? I would be chuffed for Pochettino, but can’t quite see it.