Hugo is writhing in agony. He’s in the net – as is the ball. Within 3 minutes of kickoff, an innocuous-looking cross floated in from the left. It’s straight at the goalkeeper. Hugo jumps for a comfortable catch. He drops the ball, falls backward, and the Brighton forward nips in unchallenged to head it into the net.
Henry leaps to his feet cheering. He can’t believe his beloved Albion, having lost 6 league games in a row, have taken the lead against the mighty Spurs after 3 minutes. A few moments of nervousness in case VAR wipes out the goal. But then the replay of the incident on the big screen shows no infringement and the goal stands. More cheering and delight from the home fans and the Amex stadium is alive with waving blue and white scarves.
Sitting next to Henry, I get to my feet slowly to see what’s happened. Hugo is now receiving medical attention. A long delay before he’s carried off on a stretcher, and replaced by our substitute goalkeeper. I feel sick – not for the injury but because things seem to be going downhill for Spurs. Sure enough, we concede 2 more goals, fail to score, and play without motivation or quality against a side we were expected to beat comfortably. Only later do we discover that Hugo has dislocated his elbow, and will be out of action for several months. A miserable week for our goalkeeper and captain, after giving away a goal last Saturday and then conceding 7 against Bayern on Tuesday.
Why do I do it to myself? Why invest so much emotional energy in a football club?
My friend Terry is a season ticket holder at Brighton and got me the ticket as a present for my 70th birthday a few weeks ago. I was thrilled to get it. I don’t get to many games and really looked forward to seeing Spurs play live. A day out with the Seagulls.
As I sat between Terry and Henry, surrounded by Brighton fans, my main concern had been to make sure I didn’t jump up and cheer when Spurs scored, and incur the wrath of their fans. No need to worry on that score (excuse the weak pun). Nothing for a Spurs fan to cheer in that game. When Brighton scored their third, a really good goal this time, and Terry and Henry leapt to their feet again, I also stood up (a little more slowly) and clapped. It was an effort to join in with the celebrations, but from what I had seen the Brighton fans were OK, and Terry and Henry had treated me well, so I tried to be happy for them. I did draw the line at joining in with the chants of ‘we want seven’ and ‘you’re getting sacked in the morning.’
After the game I thought to myself I must try to apply a little mindfulness to my Spurs habit. But now it’s Tuesday and I find myself browsing for any stories about Spurs. Will Poch be sacked? What are the players saying on social media? Any new transfer rumours? How are my fellow sufferers coping?
Maybe writing a blog post will help …