The Banter Era: Looking Back at 6 Incidents That Proved Spurs Were the Spursiest Club Around

It's an expression we associate with embarrassment. With pain. With humiliation. With the agony of always getting almost there...but not quite. The expression I refer to is, of course, being Spursy.


Tottenham may have guaranteed Champions League qualification for the third time in three years this season, but their defeat to Manchester United in the semi-final of the FA Cup last month proved that there's still that little bit of 'Spursyness' that remains in Mauricio Pochettino's squad.


This is really a word which should be reserved for the most ludicrous cock-ups in recent Spurs history, the kind that could really only happen to us and nobody else. While many there are many examples of such bizarre and painful events to call upon, this list provides a glimpse at perhaps the greatest hits of the Spurs Banter Era. 


If you support a different team, take this opportunity to mercilessly poke fun at one of the banter clubs of the decade. If, like me, you are a long-suffering fan of Tottenham Hotspur, I have only this to say: I'm sorry.

1. 2001: The Judas Incident

Believe it or not, there was actually a time when Sol Campbell was loved by Spurs supporters.


The defender has been despised with such intensity for such a long time now that it often feels as though it's been this way forever. Yet, incredibly, there did in fact exist a time when Campbell felt the love of the White Hart Lane faithful - that is, until he ran down his contract and joined Arsenal on a free transfer.


Come on, Sol! Football players might be able to get away with drink-driving and adultery, but there are some lines you don't cross and joining your club's most hated rivals is most definitely one of them. 


Just looking at Campbell's smiling face as he shakes hands with Arsene Wenger is enough to send any Spurs fan into a fit of rage. No one's saying it was easy being a Spurs player in 2001 - let's face it, we weren't much good - but there is simply no excusing Campbell's behaviour.


He has spent his years since the transfer as public enemy number one in north London ever since. Ledley King was better, anyway.

2. 2006: Lasagne-Gate

A classic case of prime Spursyness, this food poisoning fiasco lives on in infamy to this very day in the memories of Premier League fans.


On the cusp of qualifying for the Champions League for the first time in their history, Spurs only needed to match Arsenal's result on the final day of the season to seal a top-four finish over their local rivals. Sounds simple enough, doesn't it? 


Guess again. The gods of fate (or an Arsenal-supporting chef, if you believe the rumours) had other ideas for Martin Jol's side.


A dodgy batch of lasagne left half the Spurs team suffering from food poisoning, with multiple players showing visible signs of illness even as they played. The result: Spurs lost the match 2-1, with Arsenal pipping them to fourth place at the death. 


Spurs still qualified for Europe for the first time in the Premier League era, but the club and supporters alike were left wondering what would have happened if the players had only chosen the veggie option. 


It would be four more years before Spurs got a taste of Champions League football.

3. 2008: The Juande Ramos Debacle

Brought in after news of Martin Jol's sacking broke at White Hart Lane in the middle of a UEFA Cup game against Getafe in October 2007 (a rather Spursy incident in itself), Ramos quickly established himself at Spurs by leading the club to the 2008 League Cup just four months later - including a stunning 5-1 win over Arsenal in the semi-final. 


This trophy - an extremely rare occurrence at Spurs - may have blindsided fans somewhat, as there was surprisingly little outcry at the club's disappointing league finish of 11th in the 2007/08 season. The worst, however, was yet to come.


Spurs were extremely busy in the transfer market over the summer of 2008, making a series of high-profile signings including Heurelho Gomes, Giovani dos Santos and David Bentley (stop laughing, they were exciting signings at the time). This dramatic overhaul, on top of a successful pre-season campaign which included a 5-1 victory over Roma, had Spurs fans thinking that the 2008/09 season might really be their year.


Oh, how wrong they were. Fast forward eight games into the season and Spurs had collected a miserable two points - a statistic Harry Redknapp was more than happy to trot out regularly as a media soundbite after he was drafted in to save the club from relegation. A decade has passed since the ignominy of the Ramos era, yet it remains another in a long list of times Spurs thought they'd broken into the big time only to have their dreams crushed. 


Shame.

4. 2012: The Great Redknapp Collapse & More Champions League Heartbreak

In spite of everything, it's important to remember that Spurs progressed a great deal under the stewardship of Harry Redknapp. After lifting the club out of the doldrums of the Ramos era, Redknapp inspired a remarkable turnaround for Spurs that resulted in Champions League qualification at the end of his second season in charge. 


The following season gifted Spurs fans with some of the greatest memories in the club's recent history, from Gareth Bale single-handedly tearing Inter a new one to Joe Jordan squaring up against Gennaro Gattuso on the touchline. Unfortunately, Spurs fans and their pitifully short memories tend to associate Redknapp's jowly face with the last few months of his reign - the period when it all came undone. 


One of the most exciting Spurs sides in living memory - including Luka Modric, Rafael van der Vaart and Emmanuel Adebayor during a rare spell in his career of him not being a complete belter - had such a strong first half of the 2011/12 season that Spurs seemed on the verge of mounting a genuine title challenge. Belief was sky-high around White Hart Lane - that is, until Fabio Capello stepped down as England boss.


His reputation at an all-time high following his exploits at Spurs, Redknapp became the bookies' favourite to take the reins of the national side at the end of the season. There's no doubt the manager's head was turned, and it soon began to show in his side's performances in the second half of the season. 


A dramatic loss of form saw Spurs throw away a ten-point lead over Arsenal to finish behind their rivals for yet another year. This embarrassment might have been overlooked by fans had Chelsea's shock Champions League win over Bayern Munich not prevented Spurs from qualifying for the tournament despite their top-four finish. Ask any Spurs fan where they were on the 19th of May 2012 - I promise you they'll remember. 


The night will doubtless go down as one of the darkest in Spurs' history. Redknapp was sacked shortly after and the England job was given to Roy Hodgson instead. Oh, how the mighty fall.

5. 2014: Tim Bloomin' Sherwood

Tim Sherwood. Tim bloomin' Sherwood. What can you even say about this guy? Following the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas when it became evident he could only manage teams with Gareth Bale in them, Sherwood was handed the vacant managerial position and given the task of guiding the club to a successful second half of the 2013/14 season.


What happened next can only be described as a travesty.


Nacer Chadli at centre-mid. Zeki Fryers at left-back. A centre-half pairing of Vlad Chiricheș and a fading Michael Dawson. This was Sherwoodball at its finest - a bizarre and tactically lacking mishmash of random team selections that saw Spurs play their most uninspiring football in years. 


What really drove the injustice home was that the club had been on the cusp of finding what they now have in Mauricio Pochettino: a tactically aware manager with a mind for the modern game, allowing the club to take its next steps forward. Sherwood's appointment dragged Spurs back to the dark ages, the days of 4-4-2 and Proper Football Men with no time for any namby-pamby spreadsheet nonsense. 


If that wasn't bad enough, Sherwood's awful man management soon saw him calling out his own players in the media, with some of the club's stalwarts such as Jan Vertonghen reportedly coming within an inch of leaving the club altogether. To quote the big man himself following a 4-0 defeat against Chelsea, it all went a bit Pete Tong, didn't it?


Fortunately for Spurs, chairman Daniel Levy soon saw the error of his ways and Sherwood was sacked at the end of the season in spite of inexplicably guiding Spurs to a sixth-placed finish ("59% win ratio, second to none" he crowed in one post-match interview). 


His replacement at Spurs was the promising young Southampton boss Pochettino - the rest, as they say, is history.

6. 2016: Third in a Two-Horse Race

The 2015/16 season was, overall, a very successful one for Spurs. Dele Alli burst onto the scene, Harry Kane proved he was more than just a one-season wonder by winning the Golden Boot and Spurs were the only team to provide any sort of competition for shock champions Leicester City.


Things were going well. Too well.


Just when we all thought the Spursy days were over, the Lilywhites set out to prove otherwise with one of the most abject end-of-season collapses in recent memory. Spurs took a miserable two points from their final four matches of the season, including the infamous 'Battle of the Bridge' in which Spurs threw away a two-goal lead against Chelsea to seal the title for Leicester.


The worst, however, was yet to come. After suffering a 2-1 defeat at home against Southampton, Tottenham went into the final game of the season needing a point away at relegated Newcastle to finish in second place. Spurs fans always know to expect the worst, but nothing could have prepared them for what was to come.


What should have been a routine win quickly turned into a disaster of nightmarish proportions as the Magpies handed Spurs a dismal 5-1 thrashing. The match also lives on in infamy as the one which spurred the decision to spend £30m on Moussa Sissoko, a player who has continued to confound and frustrate the Spurs community ever since.


The defeat against Newcastle saw Spurs finish below Arsenal for a 21st consecutive season when it had seemed almost impossible just a few weeks previously. All memory of Spurs' impressive campaign was quickly forgotten as the club once again became the laughing stock of the Premier League. With the club's reputation as serial bottlers, the collapse felt like an inevitability - everyone knew it was coming, it was simply a question of when.


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