Yesterday my childhood football team Tottenham Hotspur saw it’s magnificent 2010-2011 campaign begin a slow limp to a disappointing ending. This was an incredible year for the team, making the UEFA Champions League at the close of last season, narrowly qualifying for the group stage, going on an incredible run to finish top of the group and then knocking off AC Milan to get to the Quarter Final, one stage further than our fierce rivals, Arsenal. Along the way we have had some great victories and matches, including some incredible league derby games against Arsenal, and some scintillating attacking football from PFA Player of the year, Gareth Bale. Injuries, mistakes, an arid strike corps and a late, fatal dip in form have meant that the Champions League is all but out of reach for us for next season. Yesterday’s travesty at Chelsea, a game which the Blues won 2-1 on goals that were not goals at all (the ball HAS to cross the line, players HAVE to be onside in order for a goal to count, technically speaking) has sealed our fate. I was feeling a little melancholy about it this morning when I came across this lovely animation of Gareth Bale’s performances against Inter Milan this year, a true coming of age for a great footballer. Bale is a lovely young man, soft spoken, competitive and incredibly blessed with speed, stability and a superb talent for crossing the ball with his left foot. When he scores he makes a little heart with his fingers and runs straight to the fans.
He has been the best part of what has been, to be fair, a really fun season to follow, perhaps more fun even than the 1981 FA Cup year, when Hoddle, Ardilles and Villa thrilled my 12 year old heart. The old refrain now sounds…always next year.