15 May 2016

Who gives a toss about St. Totteringham's Day?

Okay, I'll admit it—it's all but impossible to resist the glee and the joy that came from Sunday's results, in which we not only smashed Aston Villa 4-0 again but also witnessed, absolutely gob-smacked, as Tottenham out-Tottenhammed themselves by losing to ten-man Toon 5-1. Three of those goals came after Newcastle lost Mitrović to a red-card in the 67th minute. I've been saying for weeks that Tottenham couldn't handle the pressure of being chased, but even I could not have foreseen this meltdown. While I'm sure that we've all tucked into a tidy celebratory dinner of lasagna chased down by a few Newcastle Brown Ales, I hope I'm not ruining the party by suggesting we have bigger fish to fry.

Before we get to landing that fish, let's do enjoy the meal. Tottenham set for itself no less than seven club records during this campaign:
  • Longest unbeaten run in the Prem since 1985.
  • Highest scorer in a calendar year (Kane with 27).
  • Most goals scored in a season since 1987.
  • Fewest goals conceded since 1906.
  • Fewest defeats since 1920.
  • Highest finish since 1990.
  • First Golden Boot winner since 1993.
Despite all of those milestones and a chance at reeling in the Cinderella-esque Leicester, Tottenham bottled it to such a degree that they dropped to third—after going up 0-2 at Stamford Bridge, Spurs went on to concede nine goals over 213 minutes to end the season, dropping eight points from three matches to slouch into third. And so we have our 21st consecutive St. Totteringham's Day to celebrate. A generation has now passed during which Arsenal has eclipsed Tottenham so thoroughly that one has to wonder if they'll ever emerge for the long shadow we cast. 

So what? 

Here's where I rain on the parade ever so slightly. We should not measure our own success or failure relative to Tottenham. Yes, I want to finish above them every single season, but that should not be a goal unto itself; it should be a byproduct of achieving other goals. Look at it this way: assume that we were both to finish midtable, out of European competitions. Would you rather win the FA Cup but finish below Tottenham or finish above Tottenham but win no silverware? It should be clear that silverware, not St. Totteringham's Day, is our goal. That little holiday was invented in 2002—and there's no silverware involved. Over time, as our ability to win actual silverware waned, finishing above Tottenham (and in fourth place) became a balm for other ills. Having not won any actual silverware since 2005, we had to find succour in securing superiority over those Spuds.

This season's finish does ask me to split a hair or two, so bear with me. I love the fact that we finished in second. That's our highest finish since 2005. That, more than anything else, is what I celebrate. Yes, I wish we could have won the Prem, especially in a season in which Chelsea, Liverpool, Man U, and Man City ranged from comedic to shambolic. To have finished above Tottenham is fun enough for those who want to take the piss, but that's secondary—ancillary, even—to our purposes.

Long story short, this weekend's results were legendary, the kind of weekend with which we'll regale ourselves for years to come. After all, it's not often that one finds oneself chasing Tottenham into the final weekend, needing them to drop points against an already-relegated and soon-to-be-shorthanded squad, only to see them implode infamously. However, the real glory comes not from finishing above Tottenham but in finishing second—that those are one and the same is again a secondary consideration!