The dreams of my beloved Tottenham Hotspur football club (Spurs) were over last night in an almost unthinkable dramatic manner. Needing a win against West Ham to cement their fourth spot in the English Premier League which guarantees them entry to Europe's most profitable competition, the Champions League, Spurs lost 2-1 in the end. To make matters worse, their biggest rival Arsenal won their last game to take the fourth spot.
Actually I feel the writing is on the wall even before Spurs kicked a ball at West Ham. BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson who frequently predicts a lost for Spurs but they win anyway, surprisingly decided to pick a win for them against West Ham. A sign of bad luck coming from him maybe. Then just before the game started, news came in that 10 of Spurs players suffered from food poisoning. The game was in doubt but it did go on after Premier League officials told Spurs that they cannot postpone the game. From ESPNsoccernet:
Michael Dawson, is generally a pale faced individual, yet he looked close to collapsing on a couple of occasions. Trying to stretch out his hamstring, the centre-back collapsed head first into the pitch at one point and with Spurs officials desperately trying to administer bottles of fluid to their stricken stars, it was clear that this was no scare story. From the moment referee Chris Foy blew his whistle for the first time, their efforts their biggest league game in almost 30 years were doomed.The Telegraph has a better account on what actually happened. From the Telegraph:
'I have never experienced anything like this in my career before,' stated Jol after the game. 'We have ended up finishing fifth, but this cannot be considered a fair situation. The Premier League said we could delay kick-off, but I wanted this match to be played on Monday. By then, the food poisoning would have been out of our system and we could have tried properly, but it wasn't to be.
At that moment, 10 first-team Tottenham players, including their leading scorer, Robbie Keane, and Michael Carrick were violently sick with food poisioning. For hours it seemed that Tottenham, who had a squad of 17, were not even sure they could field 11 players at West Ham. Indeed, when I arrived at Upton Park at 1.30pm, one Tottenham director told me: "We will have to field 10, have you got your boots?"I'm no sour grapes. A loss is a loss but do think about this. 10 of our players mysteriously struck with food poisoning before the most important game of the season and our rivals, Arsenal needing a victory to claim the fourth spot from us, manage to win their game. This defeat is so hard to swallow. If we had our players fit and healthy and lose out to West Ham, I think most Spurs fans will admit we are not good enough and we will give credit to Arsenal for taking the fourth spot on the very last day.
...Then, from about 1am, virtually Tottenham's entire team were violently sick: Davids, Tainio, Keane, Dawson, Carrick, Lennon, Cerny, the reserve goalkeeper, Davenport, Barnard and Lee. Carrick, the most ill, was hardly able to walk.
To say that someone (maybe one of those Arsenal fans) deliberately contaminated pre-match meal that was given to Spurs is a serious allegation but if this is true, then I pray that the guy who poisoned the meal has a lifetime of diarrhea. And as for Arsenal, I hope Barcelona kick their asses come the Champions League final next week. Man, I'm going to be sick.