What may turn out to be the last General Meeting of the Tottenham and Portsmouth Joint Old Boys Association for some time passed off peacefully enough, with Mr. Harry Redknapp presiding. The main item of business was the laying to rest of the Portsmouth Premier Division Branch and the confirmation of the Tottenham Branch as serious contenders for the honour of representing the Association in Europe next season.
Apologies were received from several members who's injuries prevented attendance including Mr.Jermain Defoe and Mr Kevin, Prince, Boateng.. Other items on the agenda included the position of Mr. James O'Hara in relation to the impending trip to Wembley. The Rule Book on this matter is still under scrutiny and a decision referred back under ' Points of Order' by the Joint Chairman to the Rules Committee. The Meeting was also billed as a Dress Rehearsal for this prestigious Cup tie.
If this was indeed what it was then they will have problems filling it: Wembley that is, not the cup although that depends on how big the cup is. Perhaps the intimacy of the managers and the two sets of players and the gravity of the situation made this more restrained than was strictly healthy. Not quite incestuous but like watching your parents engaged in the final practical arrangements for providing you with a little brother or sister.
Fittingly two Portsmouth Old Boys acted as gravediggers and scored the goals that sent their previous colleagues ever closer to the big hole in the ground. Unusually for such a Meeting two Members of the Portsmouth branch were stretchered off though the proceedings were essentially without incident. There were several notable absentees who had played for both clubs and there are at least two players who have had the distinction of playing for Tottenham, then Portsmouth, and then Tottenham again.
In the circumstance what might have been a fraught Meeting was conducted with decorum. Business was concluded with as little fuss or even exertion as possible: the Tottenham branch received three points; no serious injuries; Palacios, clutching his nine yellows, was rested; a youngster bloodied; our fifth league clean sheet running for the second time this season,and the Branch is now clear in 4th.
The game was played in a suitably funereal atmosphere, due to the Portsmouth's Branch current financial situation. Occasionally fleeting spectres could be observed flying about amongst the Yew trees, mainly Bale and Walker who are too young to show the proper respect. They rushed through the graveyard, trampling on graves, smashing flower vases and setting up both of the ghouls (sorry). Ah youth: its wasted on the young.
Captain Dawson went off with an achilles problem but reports suggest that this was precautionary. To lose one centre-half is a misfortune; to lose two smacks of carelessness; to lose three is criminally negligent. Kaboul will stand ready to replace him at Sunderland but he is cup-tied for the semi final.
In the event the Portsmouth Branch were not as overwhelmed by the occasion as most pundits predicted. However given our close ties we showed them the requisite consideration for a club that is in such Dire Straights. Which reminds me of their prescient lyrics 'Get your money for nothing and your chicks for free'. Mr O'Hara opined that he sometimes didn't get his money at all and that his 'chick' was very high maintenance and certainly not 'free'. Well not in everysense of the word.
It was a plain pine box sort of do: no plumed black horses, glass hearses, brass bands or top hatted attendants. Just a workmanlike couple of goals, a header from close in by Crouch and a neat Kranjcar flick after a blocked Modric shot. We could have had a couple more: Crouch and Huddlestone rattled the woodwork but we needed Gomes to be alert at the start as they made a couple of early chances.
Then it was all back to Harry's gaff for the wake where no doubt the shared reminiscences flowed and Harry was forced over the vol-au-vents to gently decline Avram's request for Mr. O'Hara to be allowed to play at Wembley. The Rules Committee Chairman urged on by a Mr. Daniel Levy had clearly whispered in Mr. Redknapp's ear. 'Tell him rules is rules Mr Grant: would be more than my job's worth to permit such an event as much as I would like to'.
The players are not showing signs of tension yet, rather the opposite, unlike some of the fans, who booed the team off the pitch at half time against Fulham. We didn't even play that badly. Not even delusional fans can believe that their self indulgent booing inspired the boys to turn it on in the second half against Fulham. Carrots lads, not sticks as any donkey will confirm and this lot are thoroughbreds.
Perhaps they think that we are entitled to win every game now and that if we don't make 4th or win the cup then this season has been a failure. Whatever happens now this has been the best season for some years. We have done it the 'Tottenham' way; no jostling the referee, diving, moaning about the injustices after the game, blaming injuries and played some sparkling football along the way.. Harry maintains a certain downbeat dignity in both victory and defeat which to me is in the best traditions of the club.
The real bonus for us in qualifying for the Champions' League would be that Lennon, Bale, Modric, Palacios and others are unlikely to be tempted away and we can start next season with more or less the same squad, and Harry of course, and continue to build.
Any other Business? Sunderland on Saturday is the most pressing This is the last of the clearly 'winnable' games before we face Arsenal, Chelsea and Man.Utd in succession. With possibly the most testing run-in we hope to be well clear of the chasing pack before then. At least for the moment it's in our own hands. We just have to win our remaining seven games and we are there.