When Henry James Clarke, Mayor of Islington, invited Woolwich Arsenal to Islington because of “a lack of quality soccer in the vicinity”, little did he know that one day, long in the future, through the expansion of London out to incorporate some of the Home Counties, that Tottenham Hotspur, of Middlesex, would technically become known as a London club until the creation of Greater London (and the London Borough of Haringey) in 1965.
It was a sad day indeed for Tottenham when Woolwich made the move north. Yet to listen to their bloviating nonsense about geography you would be forgiven for thinking that Arsenal were the only club to have ventured from their original ground. Only two ‘London’ (I use that denomination very loosely here) clubs have remained in the one ground since their inception; Dagenham and Redbridge, formed in 1992, and Chelsea, formed in 2003.
Rangers of Queen’s Park have played at more than 20 home grounds in their history. Charlton have racked up over 30 miles around south-east and east London. And of “crossing the river”, well guess what, poltroons? As well as Arsenal, Millwall, Fulham, and Charlton have all played their home matches either side of Mother Thames.
It must have really loosened their straightjacket back in the first North London Derby, a War Relief Fund friendly on 22nd August 1914 at White Hart Hovel. Arsenal were in Division Two at the time, and Tottenham in the Division One, yet we handed them their rear end on a silver platter 5-1. Then after World War 1, as any fule kno, the League hilariously voted to relegate Tottenham Hotspur in 1919, an example of democracy at its finest. So that’s why the mentally impaired of Middlesex despise us so very much.
The latest in the long line of the battles between urban sophistication and rural primitivism came this Sunday last. Upon the opening whistle Tottenham’s fans were invited to take a trip down memory lane to May of last year, when despite Hugo Lloris performing exceptionally well in the warm up, he proceeded to let in five goals from already-relegated Newcastle United to allow Arsenal, yet again, to finish above the in the league.
Chap wise, Monsieur Walcoué and Nobby Mandeville passed the nuts-in-hand-and-now-cough-please test but sadly Mr. Cousins was sent back to Matron. Harry the Helmet (Number 33), Harry Bell (24) and Alex Webbley (17) all made their way back into the XI, whilst on the enemy’s side failed laboratory experiment Harry Kane returned.
As one would expect, we began at a rip-roaring pace, with players rushing about pell mell. Tottenham pushed up the flanks with Rose finding old hotdog neck Kyle Walker early on. Spurs defended stoutly and in a manner you’d expect from a team managed by an Argentinian cheat. Sad to say but Middlesex had the whip hand over Arsenal for most of the first half. Flashes of threat came from Mr. Orwell, who poked one wide, and a moment later combined with Saunders, who laid one on for Mr. Webbley whose attempt went straight into Lloris’s daddles. Things were picking up though, and Mr. Wim-Wimmer, who still has not answered the enquiry about whether or not he has the keys to his pal’s BMW, bobbled an Orwell free kick straight into the goal. Wonderful and hilarious.
Into the second half then, and Mr. Dembele’s run was ended by a challenge by Mr. Costerley. A red? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Yet a penalty was given, and Mr. Kane made no mistake, wiping the dribble from his chin to send it straight down the centre for 1-1. Following that it could have gone either way but ended up honours even.
Have you seen the wondrous footage of the little lizard evading the attacks of dozens of snakes? Who did it remind you of? Correct. Our lightning right-back, Harry Bell, dancing past the tackles of our foes.
Run little Harry, run!