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Lillywhite

CockrelOne of my first ever memories of being here in the USA – in my first week – back in May of 2006 was listening to us lose 2-1 to West Ham on the last day of the season, and slip out of that coveted fourth-place champions league spot into fifth, and to have those dastardley Woolwich Wanderers take our place instead.

Of course I say listen, but I wasn’t listening to it at all. I was on the BBC sports webpages on my laptop, pressing F5 every few seconds watching the updates of the scores come in. (Whilst individual games auto-refresh every 2 minutes, the live text page for all games doesn’t. Why, BBC … Why?)

So my world changed. No more Sky Sports News to have on in the background on a Saturday afternoon. No Five Live Extra on my DAB, no Sunday Times the morning after over a bacon sarny for breakfast. No tabloid style reporting on the train into work on a Monday morning with the Sun’s Goals! supplement, reading all about it again in a rather more coarse fashion. No banter with my football obsessed colleagues Ciaran & Tim about the games at the weekend. And of course – most missed – no more Match of the Day.

But that was the end of the football season, and the start of three months of a football-less world, so I didn’t have to think about … until come August and the start of the new season, I suddenly found that I had to adapt to my new chosen home country, and establish a new routine of getting my football fix.

God bless the internet. Even when the BBC 5 Live site is sneaky enough to detect that your IP address is not a UK based one, and “Sorry, but this content is not available in your country” is displayed on your screen all-too-frequently, there are ways around it.

BBC London for example, aren’t so stringent on the checking of your worldy location, and you could often listen in to streamed commentary games. TalkSport also does not seem to care where in the world you are, and they became a good staple diet for general football chitchat. I started to trawl YouTube for personally uploaded and BBC-TV ripped video clips. I discovered SopCast – a website that lets you stream live TV of all major soccer games, but with varying degrees of success – so I often just found that BitTorrent and UKnova came to my rescue for getting my weekly dose of MOTD.

The time difference also adds an interesting slant. Being five hours behind, it’s great on a Saturday because you can get up at the weekend, and have a leisurely not-get-dressed-that-fast and take-your-time-eating-breakfast kind of morning, whilst idling away on the internet ‘watching’ the football which kicks off here at 10am, instead of 3pm.

But then I would often forget about midweek European games. 7.45pm kick off GMT meant 2.45pm here – a time when I was always at work, busy, and I would be shocked with myself when later I remembered there’s been a game on a Thursday afternoon, and I’d completely forgotten to check the scores. Shit.

But I’m still removed. I’m still ‘here’. And being ‘there’ means that ultimate football bloke moment of supping a pint of proper bitter beer with your mates and celebrating your teams latest win donwn the pub (or, in Spur’s case .. lament your latest lost) and have a nice sense of camaraderie, was gone.

So I had to establish a new routine. One that works when you’re 4,000 miles away from the action, following everything online. And by doing so it made me realise that in a very odd way, I could start to remember specific games more than I did back home when coverage was so widespread, you made less of an effort to follow along and were therefore less focused.

Actually, that’s not entirely true because a few years ago when I went to eight weddings in one year, I always found myself sitting down at the reception sending text messages to friends not at the wedding asking for score updates – because most of the wedding’s were on Saturday afternoons. It got to the point where on my wedding list page, I update it with the Tottenham score that took place that day.

A few weeks back here on this blog, I did a post about my favourite TV show. How much I love that programme, the emotion it stirs and how much it means to me. But when I go back and read that post, it often falls a little flat on my eyes because I still don’t think it conveys the point I was trying to get across. So I’ll try and do it now, but with the footy instead.

If I go back and watch a certain episode of Doctor Who now, it will remind me of a certain time and a certain place and certain people here in the America. I will recall the highs and lows that I had that week, if I was happy or not with my life here, If I’d had a fight that day – or the best sex ever – and it will be linked to that show. When I got back now (as I often do) and watch old episodes on my computer, it takes me right back to that Tuesday in 2006, or that rainy Sunday afternoon in 2007 and bring back the memory of the time that was going on. My passion for that programme got linked to passion and emotion in my real life.

And I can see now that that’s what’s also happening now with my beloved Tottenham.

For instance, I will never ever be able to forget the weekend that we won the Carling Cup 2-1 against Chelsea earlier this year – tainted by the fact that just three days prior my wife told me that she was ending it. That’s a fairly unforgettable week, as weeks tend to go.

Spurs winning a match can make or break your entire day. A long arduous four hour drive back from some tedious hick down deep in the north of South Carolina earlier this year was made totally bearable by the constant text updates I got telling us of our 5-1 romp over Ar*enal on the way to the Carling Cup Final. It’s a memory irrevocably linked, as I can remember where I was and who I was with that day.

It doesn’t always make you happy though. On my 35th Birthday last year, I was wandering around the town of Wilmington in North Carolina, utterly homesick (the last time, interestingly enough that I was) and desperate to be back in England to celebrate my birthday – and the fact that I was checking someone’s iPhone watching us hammer Derby 4-0 at home did little to raise my mood. Strange.

Spurs ShowSo I’ve developed my own little world here – my own way of following my team. Completely removed to the set of mates I had back in England that I could talk about it with, or go to White Hart Lane, or just banter about football generally with people that I worked with at the BBC. It’s all internet and online based now. Just me, my computer, oh … and a certain podcast.

In a bar last week here, the dude serving picked up on the fact that I was English, from London, and asked what team I ‘pulled for’. [Note to Americans: This is a terrible phrase to use when talking about British Football. You support a team, not pull for one, ok?] but I did not talk to him. I ended the conversation as soon as I could. I was not going to have the conversation with someone (as he told me) who was a Liverpool fan.

Because two week ago we were bottom of the league, winless, completely devoid of confidence and I’d resgined myself to the fact that we were most likely going to be relegated this season, down one division which last happened to us back in the 1970’s. And it was depressing.

And when that happens – I only want to talk about football with people that know how I feel – fellow Spurs fans, and I don’t know any here. (Actually I used to work with one, but we both quit the place where we both worked and haven’t been in touch since).

Some people have commented to me in the past that they find it strange that I don’t talk about my passion for my team on my website or my blog – and it’s true – I don’t. And the reason is, is that I like to share that passion with other proper football fans, and – if possibe – fellow Spurs people.

And by listening to this podcast, I now have a strange defining memory. I drive a lot every day up and down the same stretch of road, and more often than not I listen to the Spurs podcast several times a week on that journey. A podcast which did not exist three years ago when I was back in the UK. And so one day … when I am home in England (and presuming it is still running), I will be listening to it there, and all it will do is remind me of the comforting feeling that it gave me, as I went about on my travel here. I can almost imagine that I’m there sitting with them in a pub, and they’re there saying exactly what’s on my mind week after week, and it gives you just that little bit of hope that even if you’re team are completely shit, then you’ve got some people that you can share with just how shit it is. And I like that.

So where are we? Oh, that’s right. This week. When this happened …

on Saturday evening just gone, something crappy happened to me that made me go home in a sulk. But when I got back I found I had an email from a friend telling me that we’d just got a new manager. And the next day with new found confidence and optimism from the new appointment, we won a game. Amazing! I even got my Spurs shirt out of my cupboard and considered wearing it with some sort of pride again. And then … we played Arsenal last night – a game we’re still expected to lose, to our big North London rivals, and sure enough .. with ten minutes to go we’re losing 4-2.

I have go to the toilet (my bladder was internally shouting at me to do so), and so I break away from watching the updates on screen and go and relieve myself. When I come back to my computer four minutes later, my finger hovers over the F5 button, and I actually think to myself “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we’d scored two goals and got a draw right at the death”, but of course – such miracles never happen, and that would be preposterous.

And then I pressed F5, and I saw this:

And I literally jumped for joy, screamed like a loony out of my chair and started dancing around my room (helped by the fact that I had the new Killers song “Human” on LOUD repeat whilst all this was going on) and the world became a beautiful, beautiful place all over again, and I knew then just one simple point in an eight goal thriller against the Ar*e would be a defenitive moment on this season, and a memory of this week, right now, what I was doing and where I’m planning to go from here. And I really really like that.

And people say it’s just a game. Honestly, you have no idea.

15 responses to “Lillywhite”

  1. Michael says:

    That’s great, I was beginning to wonder whether Spurs would ever turn it around. This coming weekend you might have some thing to talk about with that Liverpool fan. Really loyal fans the life blood of every sport, they live and relive all the highs and the lows. I for one are happy to hear that you are no longer homesick, and the the Spurs are finally on their way to recovery.

    Michael The Netherlands

  2. G's Mum says:

    I’m speechless, how did I breed such a lunatic! Enjoy the moment Geoff, ‘cos there’s not much else in England to jump up and down about. Totally irrelevant question: if you could vote in the USA election, which one would it be?

  3. Paul Anthony says:

    Hey Geoff
    If you want to watch live Premier League footie, visit http://www.myp2p.eu and find the game you want to watch. It’s great for late nights and the office and I’ll be watching Chelsea whup Sunderland this afternoon from my favourite armchair.

    Love the posts BTW. More please. With video! Can we put in requests for you to go and film?

    P

  4. G's Mum says:

    Jon says, ‘have you checked the results today’! You should be smiling.

  5. Ben French says:

    Bet you wish you could talk to that Liverpool fan now…..COYS!

  6. Paul Webb says:

    As The Toon is my second team the only thing that I have to say on the matter is: oh bollocks.

  7. geofftech says:

    heh… love the FanZone video!!

    yes, a nice 2-1 win over Liverpool took us off the bottom of the table… only for later results to send us back down there again. mind you, only 3 points (1 wind) seperate the bottom seven teams, and only 6 points (two wins) seperate 7th place and 20th place. the season is long… and i can now sleep at night sensing we will not be relegated…

  8. Chelley says:

    Haven’t had a chance to read any blogs lately so bit late in seeing this post – but as a Spurs fan I had to comment! What a fantastic turn around to the season – and that 4-4 draw was quite something, not to mention the games since.
    I went for a drive the other night to see how the old White Hart Lane was doing – and I only moved from north to east London last year – nothing like across the atlantic! Quite a few changes afoot, but it was good to see Spurs on everything… now I live in the West Ham zone!

  9. And you think I ramble. 🙂

  10. Thomas Magnusson says:

    Hmm, getting excited about a draw must say all about spurs start of the season.

  11. Chelley says:

    Given how often (not) we beat Arsenal and given the start we’ve had to the season, I’d say that that 4-4 draw was pretty great – especially to come back from 2 down! And we’ve beaten Liverpool twice (not going to mention the Fulham match!). I think that makes the world a pretty good place!

  12. geofftech says:

    Couldn’t agree more Thomas! We had a /pitiful/ start to the season, and we were going down as far as i was concerned. the fact is a few weeks ago, we would have lost 4-0 to arsenal, but instead we matched them and drew 4-4! flippin AMAZING. and i love it.

    Fulham match was a blip! We’ll beat Blackburn this weekend, and head right back up the table…

  13. Chelley says:

    The best bit that night was being with a load of Arsenal supporters and watching their faces from 4-2 to 4-3 to 4-4. Beautiful!!

  14. Katie says:

    Hi Geoff, not sure if it’s me you’re referring to as the ex-colleague, but I do pop in here from time to time to see what you’re up to.

    Can’t really describe what it’s like to be a Spurs fan at the moment… just floating in a bubble that I keep expecting to burst but it doesn’t. Happy times, eh!!

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