Morning fellow Positivistas from a grey Norfolk, under three hours to go before Mr Atkinson peeps and the North London derby roars into life, and we know that this lunchtime’s game will have more roar than a dark cave of peckish polar bears don’t we ?
I have attended, seen on the box, listened to on the wireless and seen described in smoke signals more than 100 games between us and our neighbours.
Most in the last twenty years I have approached, I admit, with a tinge of pity for the opponent. Many have been akin to a hospital visit undertaken out of duty rather than genuine affection. A reluctant obligation to attend upon an old and ailing acquaintance, of weak constitution and down on their luck, again. A few words of encouragement and condolence, a small bag of grapes, then back out to retrieve the car and relief that I did not waste my pennies on a full hour of parking.
At other times, once or twice, when Tottingham have arrived on the crest of a good run, or our own form has been a little wobbly there has been a genuine twist of concern, of sincere worry that the ‘rivalry’ of which their fans speak so often is real. The realisation that they could, they really might, beat us.
And today, as I compose myself for the contest, I find my mood drifting toward that second, frown inducing state. That today we face a genuinely capable football team, able to produce a quality of movement and accuracy of shooting and passing that we will have to perform at our best to counter and overcome. Our ‘best’ is enough to defeat them on any ground on any day. Less than our best however and the home side can hurt us.
Form wise there is little to choose. Both sides come into the game on the back of good results over the last five games, including for the neighbours a delightful televised cuffing of the Portuguese vagrant, and our own disposal of the reigning PL champions on their own turf. Just two points and a few goals part us in the table, a fair reflection for both of the season in which at times the football has been excellent, but occasionally the machine has jolted out of gear and three points flung away. Home advantage in theory assists Spuds, but in truth they have fans even more fickle than our own dear bin-baggers.
A huge amount of today’s game will be decided in the mind. I think it is a day in which the side that keeps its head, that does not panic and lose concentration if a setback occurs, that does not get whipped into a frenzy, that is patient in their approach to 95 minutes of the full contest will prevail. I have in mind our younger players here, Hector, Francis, and those for whom a NLD will be a new experience like David.
So the theme for today and the acquisition of three points is as follows;
“ The best way out is always through” as the little fellow in the opening picture often says.
I am sure we shall speak later.