Another year passes and leaves us with infinite memories. Football witnessed many historic events this year; including the retirements of some of the very best. However, for Tottenham Hotspur it has been another rollercoaster ride; full of mountainous highs and extreme lows.
The year began with a 3-1 home win over Reading with goals from Michael Dawson, Emmanuel Adebayor and Clint Dempsey. We built on our superb form from December 2012 and went on a long unbeaten run into mid-March. Until it all went spiralling down, again.
However, for fans of the club the year will belong to one man and one man only – Gareth Bale. The emergence of the Welshman in Andre Villas-Boas’ new tactical approach saw the former left-back become one of the most sought after players in world football and finally brought his name into sentences including Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. He began the year scoring for fun and continued to do so even after his world record move to Spanish giants, Real Madrid after a three month long transfer saga – capturing the attention of the entire world and gifting Spurs with seven new players.
We as Spurs fans enjoyed some incredible memories across the course of 2013 and choosing the best ones would be extremely difficult. But here are my own top five memories of 2013 that will remain with me when I look back on this very Spurs-y year:
5. Lyon – In the Europa League Round of 32 tie last season, we faced two tricky games against Olympique Lyonnais of France. I was fortunate to attend the home tie and witness three absolutely phenomenal goals. Just before half-time, talisman Gareth Bale took aim from 35 yards and placed his free kick beyond the stretching Remi Vercoutre. After the break, Lyon’s 19 year old left back, Samuel Umtiti, drove a half volley into the top corner of a helpless Brad Friedel’s net. It was an absolutely exquisite strike – one that would not look out of place in a Champions League final. With the game seemingly likely to end in a draw, Spurs were awarded a free kick in stoppage time and up stepped Gareth Bale, again, to slam home and give Spurs an advantage to take to France. The return leg was a less exciting game and Lyon went ahead after 17 minutes through a Maxime Gonalons header – a lesser quality goal to the three in London a week earlier. The tie was coming to an end and Lyon, seemingly comfortable, were heading through on away goals. Spurs missed chances through Gareth Bale and Clint Dempsey and seemed to be heading out until in stoppage time when Mousa Dembele took aim from 20 yards out and rifled the ball past the Lyon keeper and sent the travelling Spurs contingent into cloud nine. Four incredible goals over 180 minutes – a treat for all fans.
4. Manchester United (Home) – After beating Sir Alex Ferguson’s side at Old Trafford in September, United travelled to White Hart Lane to face two battles – Spurs and the snow. The weather was atrocious yet fans turned up in full voice and saw Robin van Persie give the away side the lead in the first half. Before the goal, Spurs had seen the better of the game and the goal was against the run of play. After the goal, Spurs piled pressure on United – supplying wave after wave of attack. However, this was not rewarded until the dying embers of the game when Aaron Lennon squared to Clint Dempsey to slide home a much deserved equaliser and send Spurs fans into bedlam and producing one of the finest images of the season. Villas-Boas’ tactically astute mind had outwitted Sir Alex Ferguson twice in one season. Amateur? I think not.
3. Arsenal (Home) – After being thrashed at The Emirates, Spurs and Villas-Boas were out for revenge and so they did. Goals from Gareth Bale, as always, and Aaron Lennon saw us overcome our bitter rivals in a fiercely fought battle. This win should have all but sealed our top four finish but a typical Tottenham demise after this game saw us slip down to 5th and miss out on the Champions League.
2. Manchester City (Home) – We found ourselves one down almost immediately as the then-Champions exposed our backline and ex-Arsenal man Samir Nasri slotted home. We pressed and pressed until we were rewarded just after the hour mark. An exquisite pass from Gareth Bale left Clint Dempsey with the job of sliding home an equaliser which kicked off a seven minute frenzy. Minutes later, Lewis Holtby played in Jermain Defoe and the turnaround was complete. However, the Lilywhites weren’t quite finished yet. A perfectly timed through ball from Tom Huddlestone split the Sky Blues’ defence and Gareth Bale ran onto the ball and chipped over Joe Hart and sprinted to the fans, understandably roaring in delight. An excellent game, three superb goals and very impressive character were witnessed by the 36,000 inside White Hart Lane that afternoon.
1. Finally, West Ham (Away) – A game that will be remembered for one moment of magic in the dying embers. Spurs took the lead in the first quarter of the game through *do I need to say* Gareth Bale after he skipped past two defenders and finished low into the corner of the net. However, West Ham equalised through an Andy Carroll penalty later in the half. After the break, the home side took a shock lead through Joe Cole, who duly showed his joy and caused a bubbling atmosphere inside Upton Park. However, Spurs equalised after a free kick bounced around in the box and was stabbed home by Gylfi Sigurdsson, giving Spurs hope of a win. That win was complete in the 89th minute when “he” scored again. After running half the length of the pitch, being fouled and receiving the ball back, Gareth Bale slammed home an inch perfect winner past a helpless Jussi Jaaskelainen. He showed his appreciation for his manager’s faith in him by running over to hug the young Portuguese man, causing a pile up of Spurs players. Memories.
These were just five of the best moments of the year. However, being a Spurs fan isn’t always happy days. This year we bid farewell to Gareth Bale, who moved to Real Madrid and also parted ways with manager Andre Villas-Boas after three humiliating defeats caused Daniel Levy to jump ship. However, Tottenham wouldn’t be Tottenham without the suffering or pain and in the end, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Thank you again Tottenham for this year of wonderful memories and may we enjoy more success – and less misery – in 2014. Until then…
Writing started off as a hobby and has slowly developed into an aspiration for the future. I’d like to thank Ben McAleer for allowing me to write on his blog before starting this up. Thanks to Declan Wiseman for helping me get started on WordPress and for his ever kind evaluation of my pieces. Finally, I’d like to thank all the readers for your time and support in reading and sharing my pieces. To have 7,000 views in 7 months of blogging was something I’d never imagined when I thought of starting up and it is truly humbling to read some of the feedback I get here and on my Twitter page. Please continue to read, share and comment on my pieces as that is what keeps me motivated. I apologise if I have offended anyone or said something wrong in my first 26 articles, it was never my intention. Happy New Year and Come On You Spurs!