Friday, August 30, 2013

Arsenal vs. Tottenham: The Defining Moments, Part IV: 1991-2013

August 10, 1991: For the first and only time, the Charity Shield -- the traditional season-opening exhibition between the defenders of the League title and the FA Cup, usually held at Wembley Stadium -- is a North London Derby. But it's not worth seeing, as Arsenal and Tottenham play to a turgid draw, 0-0. The word "turgid" was created for nil-nil draws, wasn't it?

February 22, 1992: For the last time under the name "Football League Division One," Arsenal and Tottenham play each other. It's at White Hart Lane, and it's a 1-1 draw.

Shortly after this, Nick Hornby's book Fever Pitch would be published. It is a memoir of his football fandom, mostly for Arsenal, but with his time at Cambridge University also including some good times at lower-division Cambridge United. In 1997, it was made into a film starring Colin Firth, playing Paul Ashworth, a fictionalized (or "fictionalised," as they'd spell it) version of Hornby, then an English teacher at a North London junior high school.

The book, and even more so the movie, would make Hornby (who has a non-speaking cameo as a schoolboy-league team coach opposing Firth's team about midway through the film) world famous. It would also, every bit as much as the international exposure that the growth of soccer coverage on television and the success of the team in the Arsene Wenger era, make the Arsenal brand grow, attracting millions of new followers around the world.

Suddenly, Arsenal no longer belonged just to Islington, or to North London, or to London, or to the South of England, or to England, or to Britain, or even to the British Isles (thanks to the late 1970s' "Irish Connection"). The Arsenal would come to belong to anyone who wanted to be a part of it.

Some Gooners think that this was a bad thing. Some think that it is a wonderful thing. As Hornby/Firth/Ashworth put it, "Perhaps it's something you can't understand unless you belong."

Just as the old New York Giants never had a book that made their 1950s teams as retroactively beloved as their arch-rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers, became with Roger Kahn's 1972 The Boys of Summer, Tottenham have never been immortalized (or "immortalised") by a book. Which is fine, because Tottenham fans are illiterate, and can't read, never mind write.  When they sang about Highbury, and now its replacement, the Emirates, as being a "library" (sort-of rhymes with "Highbury"), because they think it's too quiet (wait until Arsenal score on Spurs, and you'll see how loud the place can be), it begs the question: "How the fuck would a Tottenham fan know what the inside of a library sounds like!"

December 12, 1992: For the first time under the name "Premier League," Arsenal and Tottenham play each other. It's at White Hart Lane, and Spurs win, 1-0.

April 4, 1993: As it was 2 years earlier, Arsenal and Spurs play each other in an FA Cup Semifinal at Wembley. The result is different however, as neither Paul Gascoigne nor Gary Lineker is around to save Spurs.  Arsenal Captain Tony Adams heads in the game's only goal. The attendance is 76,263, not quite as big as the match 2 years earlier, but the 2nd-biggest in North London Derby history.

With the Pet Shop Boys having brought back the Village People's song "Go West," Gooners have begun to sing this game's final score: "One-nil to The Arsenal." And Arsenal, having already won the League Cup Final, go on to win the FA Cup Final, in what turns out to be the last replay of such a Final -- after this, games level at the end of extra time will go to penalties. Oddly, Arsenal beat the same team in each Final, Sheffield Wednesday -- just as Wednesday were the team Tottenham beat to clinch both of their League titles. This is the first time any English team has achieved the "Cup Double," winning both domestic cups.

May 11, 1993: Spurs get a measure of revenge for the Semifinal loss, beating Arsenal 3-1 at Highbury. Teddy Sheringham scores, and, in a career that will also take him to Manchester United, goes on to become one of the most hated opponents in Arsenal history (aside from those who played for Arsenal and then left for more money or more "ambition," like Ashley Cole, Emmanuel Adebayor, Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie).

In spite of their Cup Double, Arsenal finished only 10th in the first Premier League season, while Tottenham finished 8th. Can you imagine if Arsene Wenger had managed such a season? Or would the Wenger Out Brigade forgive it, because it came with trophies (that's plural)? At any rate, this game turns out to be the last time Tottenham would ever win at Highbury -- and the last time they would win away to Arsenal for 17 years and 6 months.

August 16, 1993: Ian Wright nails the lone tally in a 1-0 win at Highbury.

May 4, 1994: Arsenal defeat Italian club Parma 1-0 in Copenhagen, Denmark, to win the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. They have not won an European trophy since -- but that's still 10 years more recently than Tottenham's last European Trophy.

January 2, 1995: Tottenham win 1-0 at White Hart Lane, with Romanian defender Gheorge Popsecu, in his only season with the club, scoring the only goal.

Shortly thereafter, George Graham will be fired as Arsenal manager, for taking an illegal payment to bring a player to Arsenal. Note to any current and prospective managers: If you're going to risk throwing away your career, make the player you do it for a hell of a lot better than John Jensen.

Tottenham finish 7th, and Arsenal finish 12th -- their worst finish in 19 years. This is, to this day, the last time that Tottenham have finished ahead of Arsenal, the last season without a St. Totteringham's Day, the last time that Spurs fans could truthfully claim, at least in terms of League standards, that their club is better than Arsenal. How long has it been, Paul Ashworth? "Eighteen fucking years!"

May 10, 1995: As holders, Arsenal were again entered into the Cup Winners' Cup, even though they had failed to defend the FA Cup in 1994. With Stewart Houston as caretaker manager following Graham's sacking, they again reach the Final. The match, against Spanish club Real Zaragoza at the Parc des Princes in Paris, goes to extra time, and it looks like it will go to penalties when, in the 119th minute (out of 120 plus stoppage time), Zaragoza's Turkish midfielder Mohammed Ali Amar, a.k.a. "Nayim," hits a 45-yard lob shot that sails over Arsenal goalie David Seaman's head and into the net, giving Zaragoza a 2-1 win.

Nayim played for Tottenham from 1988 to 1993. To this day, Tottenham fans sing Nayim's name -- well, his nom de football, anyway -- to mock Arsenal. What they fail to understand is that Nayim's cup-winning goal didn't have a damned thing to do with Tottenham. It would be as if they sang the name of Trevor Brooking after his diving header beat Arsenal to win the 1980 FA Cup for West Ham. Or Ryan Giggs after his late goal beat Arsenal to win the 1999 FA Cup Semifinal for Manchester United. Or Sol Campbell to taunt Gooners after Sol helped a team win The Double in 2002. Of course, that team was... Ah, but we're getting ahead of ourselves.

November 24, 1996: It rains all game long on Highbury for Arsene Wenger's first North London Derby as Arsenal manager, but in the 88th minute, Tony Adams blasts a shot from outside the penalty area and brings some sunshine to Gooners, giving Arsenal a 2-1 lead.

Shortly thereafter, one of the most amazing plays ever happens. Ian Wright gets the ball on the east touchline, and, bugged by Spurs defender Clive Wilson -- whose stupid tackle in the box led to Wright scoring a penalty earlier -- puts on a display of footwork that doesn't seem possible outside of cartoons.  Wilson tries for about 5 seconds to get the ball away from Wrighty's magic feet, but, finally, Wrighty decides he's had enough of Wilson's shit, and maneuvers (or "manoeuvers") away from him, and sends an almighty cross all the way across the pitch to the new darling of the Highbury faithful, Dutch striker Dennis Bergkamp. Bergkamp puts on a great move to fake out a defender, and drills home the insurance goal.  Arsenal win, 3-1.

Arsenal finish 3rd in Wenger's first season, their highest finish in 6 years. And then, in 1997-98, despite only getting 1-1 and 0-0 draws against Spurs, Arsenal win The Double.  Now Arsenal had 2 Doubles to Spurs' 1 -- and that 1 was 37 years ago.

November 14, 1998: A sight neither Gooners nor Spurs fans ever thought they'd see: Not only is George Graham out of exile from management, but he's managing against Arsenal -- for Tottenham! Just as Gooners normally chant "(name of manager's) Red-White Army!" Tottenham fans chant "(name of manager's) Blue-White Army!" This time, since he was such an Arsenal legend, they can't bring themselves to chant the name "George Graham," so it's "Man in a Raincoat's Blue-White Army!" The game ends in a 0-0 draw.

March 21, 1999: Tottenham beat Leicester City -- the team they beat to win The Double 38 years earlier -- 1-0 on a stoppage-time goal by Allan Nielsen. (What is it with Graham and midfielders from Denmark?) This gives Spurs the League Cup, their first trophy in 8 years. Graham has now won the League Cup in his first season managing each of the North London teams. This is also the only trophy that centreback Sol Campbell, currently Tottenham's captain, would win with the club.

November 7, 1999: Tottenham beat Arsenal 2-1 at White Hart Lane. They will not win another League game against Arsenal for 10 years and 3 months -- a stretch of 22 games.

March 31, 2001: The teams and their fans gather at Highbury for a League match. A few days earlier, Graham had been sacked by Tottenham's new owners. Spurs fans were delighted, for, in spite of him getting them the only trophy they would win between 1991 and 2008, they hated him.  They hated him for his playing style, for (despite his attacking nature as a player) his insistence on a defense-first philosophy. But, mostly, they hated him for being an Arsenal legend. (Funny, Arsenal fans never had the converse problem with Herbert Chapman. Or Terry Neill. Or Pat Jennings. Or Willie Young. Or Sol Campbell.)

The cry was, "We want our Tottenham back!" (Sound familiar?) They wanted what had been called, in the years of Glenn Hoddle and Gary Mabbutt, of Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa, of Paul Gascoigne and Chris Waddle, of FA Cups and a UEFA Cup, "champagne football." And who was hired as the new manager? Why, none other than Hoddle, who had notoriously, spectacularly failed as England manager. But Spurs fans didn't care: They had "their Tottenham" back!

In the middle of the night before the game, David Rocastle, one of the great Arsenal midfielders of all time, died of lymphoma at the age of just 33. (He'd been retired for 2 years, and away from Arsenal for 9.) So, as if the fact that the game was a Derby, and the recent sacking of Graham, hadn't given the atmosphere enough of an emotional charge, now there was genuine tragedy. There were still men on the Arsenal squad who had been teammates of his: Goalkeeper David Seaman; defenders Tony Adams, Lee Dixon and Martin Keown; and midfielder Ray Parlour.

It was feared by many that Spurs fans would choose to not respect the moment of silence for "Rocky" -- or even that they would mock his death. They did not: They showed class and remained silent. And when the referee blew the whistle to end the minute, both sets of fans roared.

Perhaps because of the overhang of Rocky's death, the game never really got going. Robert Pires, Arsenal's new left winger, French by birth (but half-Spanish, half-Portuguese by ancestry), a man who would later be quoted in an interview as saying, "Every footballer is a son of a bitch," put on what the BBC's John Motson (who always pronounced the name wrong, as "Pih-REZ" instead of the correct "PEER-ez") called, "Nice trick, nice shot!" and opened the scoring. Arsenal would win it, 2-0.

But, as with the New York Yankees after they returned from Thurman Munson's funeral in 1979 to win a nationally-televised game, it may have been the only time fans walked away from Highbury in tears after an Arsenal win.

April 8, 2001: The clubs were paired in an FA Cup Semifinal, to be held on neutral grand at Old Trafford outside Manchester. (Since Wembley ws being demolished and rebuilt, and the FA and League Cup Finals were already being held at the largest remaining stadium in Britain, the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, the FA didn't want this game to also be held outside England, so they went to the largest remaining stadium in England, the home of Man United.)

Tottenham fans were singing, "The year ends in one!" Tottenham had won the FA Cup in 1901, 1921, 1961, 1981 and 1991; the League in 1951 and 1961; and the League Cup in 1971. Indeed, not since 1941 had a year ending in a 1 passed without Tottenham winning a trophy -- really, 1931, since 1941 was a war year with no League play. They especially pointed out that Tottenham had beaten Arsenal in the FA Cup Semifinal in 1991, 10 years earlier. I guess the morons forgot that Arsenal had won the League in 1931, 1971 and 1991; and the FA Cup in 1971.

Gary Doherty opened the scoring in the 13th minute, but Patrick Vieira leveled the score in the 33rd.  In the 73rd, Pires, who would seem to make a career out of scoring on Spurs (and also Southampton, hardly an Arsenal rival), put in a Sylvain Wiltord cross for an easy score. Arsenal won, 2-1, and Tim Sherwood, who grew up as an Arsenal fan but was playing as a midfielder for Tottenham at the time, said that Arsenal should have scored “seven or eight” on that day. Thus ended the "Year ends in one" nonsense -- at least for another 10 years.

To the tune of "Volare," people who didn't like Tottenham would sing of Sherwood, who is said to have grown up as an Arsenal fan:

Tim Sherwood, whoa!
Tim Sherwood, whoa!
He comes from Boreham Wood!
He ain't no fucking good!

Arsenal would lose the Final to Liverpool in Cardiff, leading 1-0 on a Freddie Ljungberg goal before Michael Owen scored both Scouse goals.  As for Spurs, in that Semifinal, Captain Sol Campbell got a yellow card.  He and Spurs management had been feuding, and apparently he and Hoddle didn't get along.

July 3, 2001: After he had rejected all overtures by Spurs, and from European giants Barcelona, Internazionale of Milan and Bayern Munich, Sol Campbell signs with Arsenal. Spurs' captain was now the rock of Arsenal's defense, ready to replace the aging Adams.

Tottenham fans were livid, turning as red as their rivals' shirts.  Not with embarrassment, as they should have, but with rage.

November 17, 2001: The teams meet for the first time since the Campbell move, at Highbury. The game ends in a 1-1 draw, not especially interesting. The interesting part is the debut, not just of Campbell against Spurs, but of a Spurs fans' song:

Sol, Sol, wherever you may be
You're on the verge of lunacy!
We don't give a fuck
if you're hanging from a tree!
Judas cunt with HIV!


Putting aside the usage of the F-word and the C-word, two of the uglier words in the English language: In 5 lines, Spurs fans managed to invoke mental illness, racism (the prospect of a black man being lynched) and homophobia (the reference to AIDS, and plenty of rumors, or "rumours," that Sol is gay, although he has since married).
This chant would be used by Spurs fans against Sol for the rest of his career, including on September 28, 2008, when, with Sol by then playing for Portsmouth against Tottenham, 4 Spurs fans were banned from White Hart Lane for life, their season tickets revoked, for singing that song.

May 8, 2002: Arsenal beat Man United 1-0 at Old Trafford, on a second-half goal by Wiltord. What does this have to do with Tottenham? Well, just 4 days earlier -- breaking their own record of 5 days between the 2 trophies in 1971 -- Arsenal had won the FA Cup, defeating Chelsea in Cardiff on a pair of fantastic goals, one by Parlour, one by Ljungberg -- and this game clinched the Premiership title, giving Arsenal their 3rd Double. It also meant that they had won the League at United's Old Trafford, and Liverpool's Anfield, and Tottenham's White Hart Lane.

Even more, it meant that Sol Campbell had gone from 9 years at Tottenham with only a League Cup to show for it, to winning The Double with Arsenal in his first season with them. A new song was launched, to the tune of "The Entertainer" (a.k.a. the theme from the film The Sting):

Double, Double, Double!
Sol Campbell has won The Double!
And The Scum from The Lane
have won fuck-all again
and Sol Campbell has won The Double!

Sol Campbell and friends.

November 16, 2002: After Simon Davies made 2 stupid harsh challenges to get himself sent off with a second yellow in only the 27th minute, with Arsenal already 1-0 up at Highbury, Thierry Henry made a 75-yard charge down the east touchline and scored a sensational solo goal. He then ran down the west touchline to join the Gooners in cheering on his goal, and kept right on running to the Spurs fans situated in the southeast corner, and did a kneeslide, as they showed him middle fingers, V-signs and wanker signs. It did not matter: Henry was better than any striker, better than any player, Tottenham fans have ever been able to claim as their own.

Arsenal won the match, 3-0, and would go on to win the FA Cup with Pires scoring the only goal in the Final against his other favorite (or "favourite") team to beat, Southampton; but would miss another Double thanks to a late loss vs. Leeds, giving the title to Man United.

November 8, 2003: Tottenham take an early 1-0 lead thanks to a goal by Darren Anderton -- who missed so many games due to injury that his nickname was "Sicknote" -- but a Pires screamer and a wildly deflected shot by Ljungberg give Arsenal a 2-1 win. This was early in the most successful League season any British club has ever known.  Late in it...

April 25, 2004: On a Sunday afternoon, Chelsea's defeat in the early game meant that Arsenal needed only a draw to clinch the Premier League title at White Hart Lane. They jumped at the chance, with Vieira (in only the 3rd minute of the game) and Pires (in the 35th) each scoring a beauty. But Jamie Redknapp -- whose father Harry would later cause Arsenal some trouble as a manager -- hit a screamer of his own. In stoppage time, there was a dive in the box, and referee Mark Halsey stupidly (or corruptly?) awarded a penalty.  Robbie Keane took it, and it was 2-2.

Before the game, Wenger had told his players that, if they got the point they needed, they should not celebrate on the pitch, but rather wait until they were in the dressing room. But, as Henry later said, after the equaliser, the Spurs fans "celebrated like they won the World Cup Final." (As a part of the France team that did just that in 1998, he would know.) Play resumed, and when Halsey almost immediately blew his whistle, the Gunners basically said, "Fuck it, we're the Champions," and partied along with the Arsenal fans who'd made the 4 1/2-mile trip up the Seven Sisters Road to celebrate.  The song, dating back to 1971, went up:

We won the League (We won the League)
at White Hart Lane! (at White Hart Lane!)
We won the League at White Hart Lane!
We won the League at the Shithole!
We won the League at White Hart Lane!

Arsenal had already crashed out of the FA Cup in the Semifinal against Man United and the Champions League in the Quarterfinal against Chelsea. But they would finish the season unbeaten in League play, something that hadn't been done since the first League season, 1888-89 -- 115 years. And when Preston North End did that, it was a 22-game season.  This was 38.  Or, as was said at the time, "Played 38, won 26, drawn 12, lost exactly none!"

So not only had Arsenal now won the League at White Hart Lane as many times as Tottenham had won it there -- as many times as Tottenham had won it anywhere -- but they'd come up with an unmatched achievement in English football.  Tottenham have never done it. Nor have Liverpool, nor Man United, nor Chelsea, nor any other club, since the (much shorter) 1888-89 season and Preston North End. Just The Arsenal.

They would run their streak of unbeaten matches in the League to an all-time record 49, before a Wayne Rooney dive would give Man United a dubious penalty and a dubious win at Old Trafford the following October 24.

November 23, 2004: The teams meet for the first time since Arsenal's clincher the previous April, and it is the highest-scoring game in North London Derby history. Or, to put it another way: Tottenham scored 4 goals, at home, against Arsenal... and lost.  Arsenal won, 5-4. Pires scored again -- and he didn't even start!

May 21, 2005: After a horrible game in which Man United pressed them all day long, but they held on, Arsenal beat United on penalty kicks, 5-4, to win the FA Cup in Cardiff. Jens Lehmann made a stop on Paul Scholes to make the difference. The final kick, which won the Cup for Arsenal, was made by Captain Patrick Vieira. It was his last act on the pitch for Arsenal, as his contract ran out and he left the club.

This remains the last time Arsenal have won a trophy -- as nearly everyone else, especially Tottenham fans, likes to remind Gooners.

September 9, 2005: The film Green Street premieres. Elijah Wood stars as Matt Buckner, a student expelled from Harvard after being framed for drug possession. So he flies off to London to spend a semester with his sister Shannon (Claire Forlani) and her British husband Steve Dunham (Marc Warren). His brother-in-law was once "the Major," the top boy (leader) of the Green Street Elite, a hooligan firm associated with East London club West Ham United, based on the real-life Inter-City Firm (whose real-life former top boy, Cass Pennant, is now an actor and film producer and has a cameo, as, ironically, a police officer).

Steve's younger brother Pete is the current top boy, and is played by Charlie Hunnam -- in real life, a Newcastle native who now stars on Sons of Anarchy, where, as Jax Teller, a leader in a motorcycle, gang, he has much longer hair than a traditionally close-cropped football hooligan. (He'd previously played Nathan Maloney in the original British version of Queer As Folk.)

The film opens with the GSE in a tube station, across the tracks from a united of Tottenham's Y-- Army, which should not be in the East End. Pete yells across, "Mate, Tottenham's due north. Are you lost? Or just fucking stupid?" They're Tottenham fans, so either is possible. They run upstairs, and the Hammers fans live up to their name, and nail the Spuds.

Later, after Pete takes Matt to West Ham's match against Birmingham City (the Hammers win, and Pete is swept up in the atmosphere of the match), a fight breaks out between the GSE and the Brummies' Zulu Army, and the GSE barely saves Matt's life. Pete explains firms to Matt, and delivers the greatest line in the history of movies. No, not this...

Matt: What are you talkin' about, "Baseball is a girl's game"? The Red Sox has a guy that pitches the ball over 90 miles per hour!
Pete: Who cares? All that means is that he can have a wank faster than you.

As good as that is. This is the greatest line in the history of movies:

Every football team in Europe's got a firm. Some have two. [Matt gives him a blank look] Christ, I forgot how clueless you Yanks are. All you've seen of us is the stadium riots on TV, innit? Come on.

See, West Ham football is mediocre. But our firm is top-notch, and everyone knows it. The GSE: Green Street Elite. Arsenal? Great football, shit firm. The Gooners. Tottenham? Shit football, AND a shit firm! The Yids, they're called. I actually put their main lad through a phone box window the other day. 

Tell it like it is, son.

Then Pete tells Matt about West Ham's arch-rivals, Millwall, with their firm, known in real life as the Bushwhackers. "Where to even fucking begin with Millwall?"

Matt: So, it's like the Yankees and the Red Sox.
Pete: More like the Israelis and the Palestinians.

And he wasn't kidding. Those two firms have killed each other's members in the past. It's not as bad as it was, with all the measures the police and the government have taken to identify and arrest hooligans. But as recently as a League Cup match in 2010, they went at it again.

May 7, 2006: One does not simply discuss the history of the Arsenal-Tottenham rivarly without talking about this day. It is folly.

Arsenal had their best European Cup/Champions League campaign ever, reaching the Final. That Final, still the closest Arsenal have ever come to winning the European Cup (the Champions League format kept the name for the trophy), was the last appearance in Arsenal's colours for Campbell, Pires, Dennis Bergkamp, and, controversially, for left back Ashley Cole, who had grown up as an Arsenal fan and in Arsenal's youth system, but had been "tapped up" by London rivals Chelsea, and went to them due to new owner Roman Abramovich's spending spree, which had gotten Chelsea the 2005 and '06 Premiership titles. Cole has been known as "Cashley" ever since.

But the 2005-06 season was the end of an era for another reason: It was the last season for the Arsenal Stadium, a.k.a. Highbury. The new Emirates Stadium -- some call it The Emirates, some by the area's former name Ashburton Grove, some cheekily call it New Highbury -- was going up, 500 yards away, and would open in the summer. Arsenal wanted very badly to end the last game at Highbury with a win.

But it wasn't just sentiment: Arsenal went into the season's League finale in 5th place, with Tottenham in 4th. All Spurs had to do in their game, away to West Ham, was match Arsenal's performance at home to Wigan Athletic, on that final day of the Premiership season, and it would be Spurs in the 2006-07 Champions League, with Arsenal "relegated" to the UEFA Cup -- unless, of course, Arsenal could win the CL Final.

The night before, Tottenham manager Martin Jol had secluded his players at a hotel, the Marriott Canary Wharf, in London's financial district, a.k.a. The City. This is not unusual: Many managers do things like this, even before home games. American football head coaches, in both the professional and the collegiate ranks, also do this. The players would have a nice dinner the night before the game, and get a good night's sleep, and would have a nice short bus ride to the stadium, all away from the prying of fans and the media.

What did Scottish poet Robert Burns say? Translated into modern common English, "The best-laid plans of mice and men often go astray." (Somewhat appropriate, since, early in the film version of Fever Pitch, Colin Firth's character is shown teaching John Steinbeck's novel that takes its name from that quote, Of Mice and Men.)

In the middle of the night, 10 Spurs players woke up, vomiting, and/or having diarrhea (or "diarrhoea"): Keane, Edgar Davids, Michael Carrick, Aaron Lennon, Michael Dawson, Lee Barnard, Calum Davenport, Teemu Tainio, Lee Young-Pyo and Radek Cerny. (Lennon and Dawson are the only ones still with Tottenham 7 years later, while Tainio would later play for the New York Red Bulls of MLS, including in a summer 2010 friendly with Spurs as the visiting team.)

Someone decided to blame the lasagne they'd eaten for dinner that night, and after the whole thing was over, some Spurs fans started a conspiracy theory (shades of their delusions about 1919) that the Marriott chef was an Arsenal fan and had purposely poisoned the Spurs players! It became known as Lasagne-gate.

In the morning, several Spurs players were still, uh, indisposed. So club chairman Daniel Levy called the League office, and asked League chairman Richard Scudamore to postpone the game. Nothing doing: With 1 League game to go, all teams were to play their games at the same time, 3:00 PM. (This was a change from past policy, to avoid teams whose League place had already been decided from laying down on the job, thus giving gamblers some easy pickings and paying customers a less than honest performance.)

Levy protested: They had sick players. Can't the game be postponed until tomorrow? Or even until tonight, just to give us a few more hours to recover? Scudamore asked if Spurs had 11 players who could play. Well, yes, but... Then the game would go on. If Spurs wanted to postpone, they could refuse to play, but an inquiry would be held, and Spurs would likely lose that appeal, and the penalty for refusing to play would be a deduction of points, which would make a win in the rescheduled match meaningless.

For the record, West Ham officials were willing to accept a postponement, so long as it wasn't too close to the following Saturday, when they were to play Liverpool in the FA Cup Final (which Liverpool went on to win.) Unlike Spurs, West Ham were not threatened with a points deduction for going along with the postponement (which makes sense, since it wasn't their idea). But the police were afraid of what extra time to drink that day would do, considering the reputation that both Spurs' and the Hammers' fans had for hooliganism, including against each other. (A fight between West Ham and Spurs firms opened the film Green Street.) So they said they would allow the game to start no later than 5:00 -- an extra 2 hours, not much of a help for the last 2 players who still needed rehydration, Carrick and Lennon.

In the end, the game kicked off on time, at 3:00, and only one of the affected players, backup goalkeeper Cerny, did not make it into the game, although Carrick had to be subbed off after 63 minutes, Lee (for fellow affectee Barnard) in the 78th, and Tainio (for fellow affectee Davenport) in the 87th.

That season was Wigan's first-ever season in the Premiership, and they had achieved midtable respectability, finishing 10th. An Arsenal win shouldn't have been assumed, but it was well possible. West Ham were about Wigan's equal, finishing 9th, and were hosting Spurs -- hence the Canary Wharf hotel, not far from the Hammers' Boleyn Ground, a.k.a. Upton Park.

Pires scored the Highbury opener, and, for the last time at that ground, the song "One-nil to The Arsenal" was sung -- by both Arsenal fans at Highbury and West Ham fans, learning by radio and text message, at Upton Park.

But Wigan struck back, and led 2-1.  Spurs fans, getting calls and messages on their mobile phones, found out, and were ecstatic. And when Jermaine Defoe scored in the 35th to match Darren Fletcher's goal for the Hammers in the 10th, meaning Spurs were looking at a draw while Arsenal were losing, it looked like it would be Spurs' day.

It wasn't. Henry scored a hat trick, tallying in the 35th, the 56th, and in the 76th with a penalty that was the last goal ever scored in the ground's 93-year history. Feeling the history, after putting the ball in the net, instead of launching a ghastly celebration, he bent down and kissed the grass. (In a weird coincidence, the first hat trick at Highbury, in 1914, was scored by an Arsenal player named Harry King, and the last by Thierry Henry -- Henry King, and a man called "King Henry.")

And West Ham came from behind, and won 2-1 on a goal in the 80th minute by Yossi Benayoun, a midfielder from Israel. That's right, on this day, the Jews were against Tottenham! (Benayoun, the greatest player his country has yet produced, would later join Arsenal. More about that later.)

Arsenal finished 4th, 2 points ahead of Tottenham, and qualified for the Champions League; Tottenham, finishing 5th, went to the UEFA Cup.

The supposedly offending lasagne was sent to a laboratory, and tested. As it turned out, there was nothing wrong with it, at least not medically. The virus that spread among the Spurs players was real, but it had nothing to do with food. Still, Spurs fans blame that lasagne, and the chef that served it. Just like the Yankees-Red Sox "Curse of the Bambino," the lasagne contagion never really existed, but it has taken on a life of its own, because the afflicted team's fans believed it. And so, to spite them, ever since, Arsenal fans have sung, to "Volare":

Lasagne, whoa!
Lasagne, whoa!
We laughed ourselves to bits

when Tottenham got the shits!

Which matches another Arsenal chant. I don't know how far back it goes, but it was already in place in early 2007:

Q: What do you think of Tottenham?
A: Shit!
Q: What do you think of shit?
A: Tottenham!
Q: Thank you!
A: That's all right! We hate Tottenham and we hate Tottenham! We hate Tottenham and we hate Tottenham! We hate Tottenham and we hate Tottenham! We are the Tottenham haters! (Usually followed by a variation on the Y-word.)

May 17, 2006: At the Stade de France outside Paris, Arsenal lose the Champions League Final to Barcelona, 2-1. Sol Campbell became the first player ever to score in a Champions League Final for a London team, but goalie Jens Lehmann was sent off for a risky challenge. Wenger sent the shaky Manuel Almunia (later to be mocked by Gooners as "The Clown") into goal, and, having to take off an outfield player, removed Pires at a time when goals would seem to be at a premium. Sol's goal gave Arsenal a 2nd-half lead, but it didn't last, with Samuel Eto'o and Juliano Belletti scoring on the backup Almunia to give Barcelona the title.

As I said, this was the last game in Arsenal's colours for Bergkamp, Pires, Campbell and Cole. And, with the club moving into the Emirates at the same time, it's also seen by many as the day the great Arsenal team of the last few years went off the rails. In the years since, Arsenal have reached the Semifinals of the CL once, the Quarterfinals twice, the FA Cup Semifinals once, and 2 League Cup Finals, but haven't won any of them, and have not finished higher than 3rd in the League. The vast sums of money spent by Chelsea and the Manchester teams has not been matched by Wenger, and as the number of "years since Arsenal won a trophy" has mounted, some Gooners have demanded that Wenger "Spend some fucking money!"

They don't get it: As Tottenham have proven, it's not how much you spend, it's how wisely.

December 2, 2006: The teams meet at the Emirates for the first time. Arsenal win, 3-0.

January 24, 2007: The teams meet at White Hart Lane in a League Cup Semifinal 1st leg. Spurs take a 2-0 lead, partly thanks to an own goal by Julio Baptista, a Brazilian forward on loan from Real Madrid. But he redeems himself: "The Beast" scores twice, and Arsenal fans sing, to the tune of "Go West" (the same song used for "One-nil to The Arsenal" and "Stand up, if you hate Tottnum"), "Two-nil, and you fucked it up!" The game ends 2-2, and goes to the Emirates with Arsenal needing only to have a 1-0 net win on the night to advance to the Final.

January 31, 2007: With "The Lasagne Song" and "Two-nil, and you fucked it up" ringing down from the brand-new stands at the Emirates, the 2nd leg ends 1-1, 3-3 on aggregate, and extra time is required. But Arsenal win it 3-1, making it 5-3 on aggregate, and advance to the Final. Had Tottenham merely won their home leg 2-1, they would have advanced to the Final.

But Chelsea beat Arsenal in the Final -- despite Abou Diaby accidentally kicking Chelsea's despicable centreback and captain John Terry in the face and knocking him out -- and, following Arsenal doing it in 1993 and Liverpool in 2001, win the Cup Double. The main reason Chelsea won the Final is that their manager, Jose Mourinho, had started his usual starting XI, while Wenger had started mainly his younger players, to give them experience in a knockout competition, thinking this would "blood" them for stronger competitions like the Premiership and the Champions League.

January 22, 2008: With Wenger again starting "the kids," following a 1-1 draw in the 1st leg at the Emirates, again the League Cup Semifinal comes to White Hart Lane. This one, though, is no contest, as Tottenham, mainly starting their starters against "Arsene Wenger High School," win 5-1.

Spurs would soon release a DVD of this game, titled The Perfect Game.  A, It was starters against reserves. B, How can it be perfect if you let in a goal? Morons.

February 24, 2008: Tottenham beat Chelsea 2-1 to win the League Cup at the new Wembley Stadium. Although Didier Drogba, a.k.a. "Dogbreath," another of the most hated opponents Arsenal have ever had due to his goals against them and his obvious and unrepentant diving, opened the scoring, Tottenham got a penalty that was buried by Dimitar Berbatov, the Vulgarian Bulgarian, and the game went to extra time. Jonathan Woodgate, a defender, scored the winner in the 94th minute.

This is the last trophy that Tottenham have won.  Arsenal would lose the League Cup Final in 2011, and Spurs fans haven't let us forget it, bringing up the Arsenal trophy drought again. Of course, if Arsenal had won that game, Spurs fans would remind us that we haven't won a major trophy since 2005 -- but that would mean Spurs haven't won a major trophy since 1991.

Moral of the story: If you care that much about the League Cup, then you don't support a big club -- or, at the least, you are not a fan worthy of a big club. In an age when the top 4 teams in England get to the Champions League, it's fine for that trophy to be celebrated by teams like Leicester City (2000), Blackburn Rovers (2002), Middlesbrough (2004), Birmingham City (2011) and Swansea City (2013) -- and Tottenham (1999 and 2008). But did Chelsea make a big deal out of it when they won it in 2005 and '07? Did Man United when they won it in 2006, '09 and '10? Did Liverpool when they won it in 2001, '03 and '12? (Well, the last one, they did, kind of.)

Also, if Arsenal were to win a trophy in this 2013-14 season, and Tottenham not, do you think the English media, which takes a pernicious glee in pointing out Arsenal's trophy drought, would go out of their way to say that Tottenham, by that point, have not won a trophy in 6 years, as they did for Arsenal in 2012? Not a bloody chance.

October 29, 2008: Tottenham take early leads of 1-0 and 2-1 at the Emirates, but Arsenal lead 4-2 in the 88th minute. And blow it. Jermaine Jenas scores in the 88th, and, with more stoppage time given than necessary, Aaron Lennon scores in the 94th. It's a 4-4 draw.

Within 12 hours, before the last chorus of "Four-two, and you fucked it up!" can stop ringing around North London, Tottenham release a DVD of this match. That's right, they released a video of a draw. True, Arsenal celebrated a draw at White Hart Lane in 2004, but that was for winning the League. What did Spurs get out of this draw? Not bragging rights: They still hadn't won a League game against Arsenal in 9 years.

Because they're both young black Englishmen who play on the right wing, Lennon (from Leeds) Arsenal's Theo Walcott (from the Stanmore section of London) often get compared. Tottenham fans call Walcott "a shit Aaron Lennon." No, Lennon is a shit Aaron Lennon.

February 8, 2009: How many Tottenham players does it take to beat 10 Arsenal players at White Hart Lane? Apparently, more than 12.

Emmanuel Eboue gets sent off with a second yellow card in the 37th minute -- admittedly, for a bad challenge, but his first yellow was bogus -- and referee Mike Dean, not for the first time and certainly not for the last, continues the game with the apparent purpose of screwing Arsenal over. But the game ends 0-0, and even with 12 vs. 10 and home-field advantage, Tottenham couldn't win -- or even score.

October 31, 2009: It's Halloween, and this game scared the shit out of Tottenham fans.  And that takes a lot of scaring, because Tottenham fans are full of shit.

The game is scoreless until the 43rd minute, when Robin van Persie scores for Arsenal. It takes about 40 seconds to restart the game, and almost immediately, Cesc Fabregas takes the kickoff, gets through Spurs' defense like a hot knife through butter, and scores. 45 seconds of hell!

Spurs had nothing for the rest of the game, and Arsenal won, 3-0. This game is treasured by Gooners, even though both Fabregas (in August 2011) and van Persie (in July 2012) would whine their way off the team. Cesc has largely been forgiven for his treachery by Gooners, but RVP, or "the Dutch skunk" as the author of Arseblog has dubbed him, has not been forgiven. (Like Ashley Cole, he also gets called "Judas.")

April 14, 2010: All good things must come to an end, and on this day, 2 good things do: Arsenal's chances of winning the Premier League (which will be compounded soon by a game remembered as "The Wigan Capitulation") and Arsenal's 22-game League unbeaten streak against The Scum. Goals by diving Welsh ape Gareth Bale and substitute Danny Rose (not to be confused with the Woody Allen film Broadway Danny Rose -- that film is good) give Spurs a 2-1 win at The Lane.

Harry Redknapp, a former West Ham player whose financial dirty dealings as manager had previously caused financial crises and relegations for Bournemouth, West Ham, Southampton and Portsmouth (twice), had restored Spurs to something resembling glory.

Arsenal would finish 3rd in this season, Tottenham 4th -- meaning Spurs qualified for the Champions League (previously the European Cup) for the first time since they last won the League... 49 years earlier.

July 22, 2010: Tottenham make an off-season tour of North America. Included in this was the New York Football Challenge, a series of games played at the brand-new Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, home of the New York Red Bulls, who had recently signed former Arsenal superstar Thierry Henry. Also invited were Manchester City and, due to the strong Portuguese influence in the Newark/Harrison/Kearny area, Sporting Clube de Portugal, a.k.a. Sporting Lisbon.

Naturally, Henry scored for the Red Bulls. He is proud of saying he never playing in a losing game against Tottenham. Unfortunately, that's not quite true, though it is for competitive matches. Hans Backe, then the Red Bulls' manager, replaced Henry and some other starters for the second half, and Tottenham won, 2-1.

July 25, 2010: Three days later, the event concluded with a doubleheader, and I was at this one -- meaning I saw Tottenham play live before I ever saw Arsenal play live. And let me tell you, until you have seen Harry Redknapp wearing shorts, you have never truly suffered.

In the first game, Tottenham blew 1-0 and 2-1 leads, and Sporting, who had beaten Man City 2 days earlier, forged a 2-2 draw. In the second game, the Red Bulls beat Man City, 2-1.

I sat in the South Ward, on the lower level. Wearing a red 1970s replica Arsenal shirt amid a sea of Red Bulls home whites and road blues, I stuck out like a sore thumb. Adebayor was with Man City at the time, and, remembering how he'd whined his way out of Arsenal a year earlier, and how he'd treated Arsenal and its fans since, I really gave him what-for. After a missed City shot, we were perhaps 50 feet apart, and he had this look on his face, as if to say, "What the hell? Who knows me here?" Then he saw my shirt, and the look changed to one that said, "Fucking Gooners, I can't get away from them anywhere!"

The Sporting fans, in the upper deck behind me, were fantastic. The City fans, across the stadium in the northeast corner of the upper deck, also behaved themselves. The Spurs fans were another matter. They were in the upper deck of the southeast corner, practically on top of me. And it was on this day that I saw just what a bunch of cunts they are.

It's not that, first verrrry slowly, they sang, "Oh... when... the... Spurrrrrrrrs... go marching in... " and then sped it up like they had injected speed. But they used the Y-word for themselves over and over again, apparently oblivious to the fact that American Jews (including, by one-quarter ancestry, yours truly) consider that to be the anti-Semitic equivalent of the N-word.

It got worse. Arsenal fans like to sing, to the tune of "Winter Wonderland," about "walking in a Wenger Wonderland." Because of Wenger's penchant for signing and playing very young players, including teenagers who are not yet ready, Tottenham fans have rewritten that song, and they sang it that day:

There's only one Arsene Wenger
There's only one Arsene Wenger
With a packet of sweets
and a cheeky little smile
Arsene Wenger is a paedophile!

This has been adopted elsewhere: Man United fans, to "La Donna e Mobile," have sung at Arsene, "Sit down, you paedophile!" (The English not only spell "pedophile" differently, but pronounce it "PEE-doh," instead of "PEH-doh.")

The charge, of course, has absolutely no evidence. Besides, it was Tottenham who had a manager who was then under indictment for a felony! Redknapp had been charged with tax evasion. (One of the things I yelled at Spurs that day was, "Hey Harry: The Queen wants her money!")

Of course, they sang, to "Go West," "Stand up, if you hate Arsenal!" At another point, they sang, "Who's that wanker over there?" I looked up, pointed to myself -- the closest fan to them wearing Arsenal gear -- and said, "Me?" It was only later, on the bus heading home, that I realized they were singing about Henry. Had they known I was singing the song about "the wanky Tottenham Hotspur" going to Rome to see the Pope, they might have meant me. (Another thing I realized on the bus ride home was that I forgot to sing "The Lasagne Song." But I unleashed pretty much every other anti-Spurs song in my, uh, arsenal.)

Anyway, Sporting Lisbon won the Challenge trophy, edging Tottenham on a tiebreaker. Two years later, Tottenham would come to North America again, and again I would be in the South Ward hoping to see the Red Bulls beat them. And, again, Backe would pull his starters at the half (this time not including Henry, who he didn't even start). And, again, the Red Bulls blew a 1-0 halftime lead to lose to The Scum, 2-1.

I have been in Shea Stadium, surrounded by 50,000 Met fans. I have been in Fenway Park, surrounded by 30,000 Red Sox fans. I have been in Madison Square Garden, surrounded by 15,000 Ranger fans. I have been in the Philadelphia Flyers' new arena (whatever the hell it's named this season), surrounded by 18,000 of them. Never have I been so sickened by opposing fans as I was upon hearing 2,000 Tottenham fans. "Scum," indeed. (To their credit, though, on neither occasion, 2010 or 2012, did I see them start a fight. I guess they didn't want to go to an American jail.)

September 21, 2010: It's only the 3rd Round, but another League Cup match is a North London Derby at White Hart Lane. It goes to extra time, in which Spurs' defense collapses, and Arsenal win, 4-1. Remembering the 5-1 match 2 1/2 years earlier, the visiting Gooners sing, to the tune of "Bread of Heaven":

Shall we make
Shall we make
Shall we make a DVD?

Shall we make a DVD?

A lot of Tottenham fans left early, and, to the tune of "La Donne e Mobile" from Rigoletto, Arsenal fans brought up the old standby, "Is there a fire drill?" (Tottenham fans are so stupid, they think Rigoletto is the manager of Inter Milan.)

November 20, 2010: For the first time since May '93, Spurs win away to Arsenal, 3-2, on goals by Bale, Younes Kaboul, and a dubious penalty taken by their Dutch midfielder, Rafael van der Vaart.

April 13, 2011: Once again, ignoring the fact that they won nothing -- or "won fuck-all," as would be said in England -- in 2001, Spurs fans brought up the "Year ends in one" bullshit, thinking that they might actually win the Premier League and the Champions League under Redknapp.

The year ending in one ended with no glory for the club whose greatest manager, Bill Nicholson, liked to say, "This game is about glory." They finished 5th in the League, and did not qualify for the CL again. And, on this date, in the second leg of the CL Quarterfinal, at home, Tottenham were beaten 1-0 by Real Madrid, which had beaten them 4-0 in the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Spurs fans relished the fact that, this season, they had gotten further in the CL than Arsenal had gotten. But whereas Arsenal had won 1-0 at Madrid in the Round of 16 in 2006 (the first English team ever to win there), Tottenham lost 1-0 to Madrid at home. No shame in that, but since Spurs fans measure themselves against Arsenal, their aggregate performance against Madrid (0-5) pales in comparison to Arsenal's 5 years earlier (1-0).

Late in the game, the Tottenham fans, knowing that the jig was up, started singing to the Madrid fans, to the tune of "Guantanamera," "Shit Barcelona, you're just a shit Barcelona!" Did the Madridistas get offended? Probably, but, showing that they'd done their homework, they came right back, singing in better English than the average Tottenham fan is capable of speaking, "Shit club near Arsenal, you're just a shit club near Arsenal!"

August 6, 2011: Riots break out all over England. The first of them, and, in terms of property damage, the worst of them, was in Tottenham. While White Hart Lane itself had been spared any damage, the surrounding area had not. As a result, when the League season began 2 weeks later, the Premier League suspended Spurs' season opener. This would have consequences later, as the fixture list piled up (partly due to a bad winter postponing some games).

Arsenal fans -- and fans of a few others teams, too -- would sing to the Spurs fans, to the tune of "Sloop John B":

You burned your own town.
You burned your own town!
You Tottenham bastards!
You burned your own town!

Tottenham isn't a town, it's a neighborhood (neighbourhood). But, yes, they burned their own town.

October 4, 2011: For the 3rd League game in a row, VDV scores for Spurs against Arsenal. This time, however, he blatantly cheats, deflecting the ball with his left arm, letting it drop to his feet, and scoring. Spurs take a 2-1 win at White Hart Lane, and Rafael becomes known in Arsenal lore as "Hand der Vaart."

February 26, 2012: Tottenham are 10 points ahead of Arsenal in the League, and Spurs fans have spent weeks reminding Gooners, in the words of message on the trains of the London Underground, to "Mind the gap." (In America, it's usually "Please watch the gap.") Arsenal need to win this Derby. They need a win. Real bad. They fall behind 2-0, including a goal by Emmanuel Adebayor, a forward who had whined his way out of Arsenal 3 years earlier and had been picked up by Spurs. (This makes him only the 2nd player ever to score for both sides of this rivalry, following Jimmy Robertson in 1970.) It looks really bad for Arsenal.

And the rout was on. Bacara Sagna, the braided right back who almost never scores, does so in the 40th. van Persie equalises in the 43rd. In the 2nd half, oft-injured midfielder Tomas Rosicky, a.k.a. "Little Mozart" (Mozart was Austrian, not Czech) gives Arsenal the lead in the 51st. And Walcott, showing he's not "a shit Aaron Lennon," scores in the 65th and the 68th, providing the final score of 5-2. Tottenham are shellshocked, and the Emirates parties like never before in, well, its brief 6-year history.

It's a win that, uh, spurs the Gunners on to make a great run-in, and Tottenham never recover.

May 13, 2012: In a reverse of 2006, Arsenal need to match Tottenham's performance on the final day of the League season to guarantee 4th place and a CL place for next season, but are away, while Tottenham are home. And, sure enough, Tottenham beat fellow London club Fulham, 1-0.

But, thanks to a goal by 2006 Spurs tormentor Yossi Benayoun, and a great late clearance by left back Kieran Gibbs, Arsenal beat Wigan, 3-2, and clinch 4th. The game is best remembered by Gooners for a moment in the dying minutes where Wenger, knowing the Gunners would not be in the 2012-13 CL with a draw, grimaces and drops his head into the lap of his assistant manager, former Arsenal Captain Pat Rice, who was in his last game before retirement from an active role with the club. (He was replaced by 1990s Arsenal centreback Steve Bould.) Wenger would, of course, rejoice at the final whistle, and Gooners with him.

Spurs fans, yet again, got their hearts broken. 2012 was the year singer Adele, a Tottenham native, would break out as a major star. She is known for singing songs of heartbreak, and she is a Spurs fan. Gee, do you think there's a connection?

Of course, this latest Spurs disaster wouldn't have happened if their fixture list hadn't been so congested, wearing their players down over the late winter and the spring. And that might not have happened if their first League game hadn't had to be rescheduled. And that wouldn't have happened if the Tottenham bastards hadn't "burned their own town." They screwed themselves, and they screwed their club. This was like the Chicago Cubs losing a Pennant because of Steve Bartman -- except Bartman was just one man doing something he was legally entitled to do. The rioters were hundreds of people committing actual crimes.

As the song went, to the tune of "She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain" (previously adapted for the England national side as "Ten German Bombers")...

There were 10 Tottenham points in the gap.
There were 10 Tottenham points in the gap.
There were 10 Tottenham points
10 Tottenham points
10 Tottenham points in the gap.
And the boys from The Arsenal took one down.
And the boys from The Arsenal took one down.
And the boys from The Arsenal
boys from The Arsenal
boys from The Arsenal took one down.

Until "There were no Tottenham points in the gap," concluding with...

Tottenham! Mind the gap!
Tottenham, Tottenham, mind the gap!

A couple of minutes after this game ended, Man City came from 2-1 down in stoppage time to beat Queens Park Rangers 3-2, and win the Premier League title, beating Man United on goal difference. Sergio Aguero scored the winner, doing for Man City what Michael Thomas had done for Arsenal in 1989 -- the only 2 times the League title has swung from one team to another in the apparent last minute of the last game of the season. (Ray Kennedy's goal in 1971 was very late, but in regular time.) Even people who don't like Man City were cheering this result, as it meant a trophyless season for Man U. It was also Man City's 1st League title in 43 years -- not as long as Tottenham, but pretty bad, and now done with.

Anyway, shortly thereafter, Redknapp resigned as Tottenham manager, later taking the job at QPR. He had recently been acquitted in his trial for tax evasion, his defense (defence) being that he couldn't read very well and didn't understand the documents with which he was presented. In other words, Tottenham's manager was functionally illiterate.

Which brings up the point that Tottenham fans, criticizing the home game atmosphere at Arsenal, used to call Highbury "the Library" (it does rhyme, sort of), and have given the nickname to the Emirates as well. Well, how the fuck would a Tottenham fan know what the inside of a library sounds like?

October 7, 2012: Tottenham, now managed by Andre Villas-Boas, who had managed FC Porto to the Portuguese league title in 2011, beat Aston Villa 2-0. But the visiting Villa fans sang, to the tune of "Sloop John B"...

Let me go home!
I wanna go home!
Tottenham's a shithole!
I wanna go home!


Aston Villa is located in Birmingham, in England's West Midlands. The old steel city, which gave its name to a steel city in Alabama (as did Sheffield and Leeds), is often regarded as a city beyond help, as England's answer to Detroit. And yet, these people were saying that Tottenham is a shithole. Which it is.

November 17, 2012: As the American baseball legend Yogi Berra said, "It's deja vu all over again." Adebayor opens the scoring at the Emirates, but then gets a straight red card for a monumentally stupid tackle on Santi Cazorla. Why is a forward making tackles anyway?

Arsenal pound away at 10-man Spurs, and Per Mertesacker (a 6-foot-6 centreback known to Arsenal fans as "the Big Fucking German," or the BFG for short), Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Cazorla make it 4-1, before a consolation goal from Bale makes it 4-2. Remembering the 2008 game that went from 4-2 to 4-4 after the 88th minute, some Gooners got nervous, but they held on, and a stoppage time goal from Walcott made it, once again, 5-2. Some fans called it "Groundhog Day," in reference to the Bill Murray film comedy.

March 3, 2013: Thanks to a Bale goal that was obviously offside, and a Lennon goal that occurred 10 seconds after a challenge that should have been a yellow card to Tottenham, Tottenham beat Arsenal at White Hart Lane, 2-1.

After the game, summing up for American network Fox Soccer Channel, Piers Morgan, an Englishman who hosts a nighttime show on CNN and claims to be an Arsenal fan, points out that Wenger has let many good players go in order to save money, and that Spurs are now 7 points ahead of Arsenal in the League, and says, "If Arsene Wenger has one ounce of honour left in him, he will resign immediately."

Wenger does not resign.

May 19, 2013: Arsenal have not lost since that match at The Lane, and, in another "Groundhog Day," simply have to match Tottenham's performance on the final day to ensure that they finish 4th and Tottenham 5th. Arsenal are away to Newcastle United, while Spurs are home to, oddly enough, Newcastle's arch-rivals, Sunderland.

Defender Laurent Koscielny scores in the 52nd minute, and it's One-nil to The Arsenal. Somehow, fans at The Lane get the message that Newcastle have equalised, and that all Tottenham have to do now is get one goal, and they will finish 4th. And they get that goal, from Bale -- who has essentially carried them, as they've gotten few goals from their other players. They beat Sunderland, 1-0. But Newcastle have not equalised, and Arsenal have won, 1-0.

Again, to the tune of "Sloop John B"...

It's happened again.
It's happened again!
Tottenham Hotspur
It's happened again!

"Have Newcastle equalized yet?" has become a Gooner catchphrase.

In addition, the Sunderland fans, as did the Aston Villa fans earlier in the season, sang, "Tottenham's a shithole, I wanna go home!" Sunderland, in England's North-East, is generally considered to be a very dreary place. And yet, these people were saying that Tottenham is a shithole. Which, as we've discussed, it is.

"Have Newcastle equalized yet?" has become a Gooner catchphrase.

September 1, 2013: Going into the game on Sunday, Arsenal have won 74 games between the teams, Tottenham 54, with 47 draws.

Kickoff is at 4:00 PM London time, 11:00 AM U.S. Eastern Time.

BEAT THE SCUM!

Arsenal vs. Tottenham: The Defining Moments, Part III: 1971-1991

May 3, 1971: Arsenal and Tottenham play each other on a Monday, the final League game of the season. Originally, the game was supposed to be on March 27, but Arsenal had advanced to the FA Cup Semifinal, which was scheduled for that day, and so the Derby was moved up.

Tottenham, already having had nearly a complete turnover from their 1961 Double side and even largely from their 1967 FA Cup winners, were locked into 3rd place, and had already won the League Cup that season, certainly a good year by almost anyone's standards.

For Arsenal, who had to be exhausted after playing a strong Stoke City team (featuring 1966 World Cup teamers Gordon Banks in goal and former Arsenal forward George Eastham) just 2 days earlier, it was like this: A win would allow them to win the League over Leeds by one single solitary point. A scoreless draw, 0-0, and they would be level with Leeds on points, and win the title on goal difference. A loss, and they would lose the title by 1 point. A draw of 1-1 or higher, and they would be level with Leeds on points, and lose the title on goal difference. A boring nothing-nothing tie (or "nil-nil draw," as they would say in England) would be wonderful; a 1-1 draw would be "Second place is the first loser" misery.

The match was played at White Hart Lane, and it may have been the biggest crowd that ever attempted to see a League game in England's history. The official attendance was 51,992, pretty much as many as could squeeze into The Lane in those days, but it's been said that another 50,000 or so were outside the ground, wanting to get in but unable to do so. As early as 6:00 AM -- pretty much all games started at 3:00 PM in those days -- fans were lining up to get in. And the vast majority of those outside the ground were Arsenal fans, known as Gooners in relation to the club nickname of Gunners. Inside, of course, the majority were Spurs fans, or Lilywhites for the team's white shirts, but ridiculed as "Spuds" by Gooners.

A 0-0 score, which Arsenal would gladly have taken, held into the 87th minute. The fans were going mental. Arsenal were about to win the League. And then... George Armstrong, whose normal post was on the right wing, was on the left wing, and he sent a left-footed cross into the six-yard box. Ray Kennedy, still 3 months away from his 20th birthday and closing his first full season of professional football, jumped, and headed the ball into the net. It was his 19th goal of the season, leading a very balanced team.

It was, as the song would later say, "One-nil to The Arsenal." But shortly after the Arsenal fans stopped roaring, a sinking feeling crept in: A 1-0 lead meant that a Tottenham equaliser would give Leeds the title. Hang on, Arsenal, hang on...

They did. And when the referee blew for full-time, the fans poured onto the pitch, however many Tottenham fans there were trying desperately to get out of the way. Although 27 fans were arrested that day, for trying to bring weapons into the stadium or for fighting, no serious injuries were reported.

But Arsenal manager Bertie Mee was nearly hurt. Club director Ken Friar -- now 79 years old and an employee of the club, in one capacity or another, for 67 years -- remembers being in the dressing room with the celebrating players, and a stadium steward said, "Mr. Mee, they'd like you to come out onto the pitch." Friar, knowing that the wildly celebrating fans were still out there, warned him, "Bertie, I've just come from there. I wouldn't go near it." Mee told Friar, 16 years his junior, "Young man, there is a time in one's career when one thinks of others." Twenty minutes later, Mee returned, his jacket gone, his watch gone, his cufflinks gone, his shirt torn, and, in a rare moment of profanity for him, yelling, "They're fucking mad!"

Arsenal had won the League at White Hart Lane. They had won the League at the home ground of their arch-rivals. To this day, they are the only English club that's ever done that. Going into the 2013-14 season, Manchester United have won the League 20 times, but never away to Manchester City -- or Liverpool. Liverpool have won the League 18 times, but never away to Everton -- or Man United.

May 8, 1971: Five days later -- certainly not the full 3 weeks that Tottenham got to prepare for their Final in 1961 -- Arsenal had the chance to get the other half of The Double. After a scoreless regulation, Liverpool got a goal from Steve Heighway, but Arsenal answered right back from a goal that appeared to be from George Graham. A replay later showed that it was Eddie Kelly who was the last Gunner to touch it. Substitutions had only been allowed since 1966-67, and Kelly thus became the first sub ever to score in an FA Cup Final.

A few minutes later, with his long hair flowing, Charlie George took a pass from John Radford, stood on the 18-yard line, and sent a net-seeking missile past Ray Clemence, and Arsenal had a 2-1 lead that held up. George's drop to the ground, lying on the Wembley grass with his arms up, became one of those iconic FA Cup Final moments.

Tottenham had seen Arsenal win 7 League titles and 3 FA Cups, but Tottenham could still claim to be the only English club to have won The Double in the 20th Century. No more: Arsenal had done The Double, and had won the League at Tottenham to do it. It was the ultimate indignity for Spurs.

And this is the true defining moment in the rivalry. This is where the true bitterness of Tottenham fans began. If they could no longer claim to be Britain's best team, or England's best team, or London's best team, or North London's best team, or the only team in the century to do The Double, then, what could they say?

* They whined (or "whinged") about "being true to their roots." Spurs had been playing at the same location since 1899 and the same neighborhood (or "neighbourhood," as it would be "spelt" in England) since 1882. In contrast, Arsenal had abandoned their roots in 1913, and crossed from South London to North London, which was always Tottenham's territory. (No: Arsenal crossed from Kent to the Islington section of North London, which was 4 1/2 miles from White Hart Lane, which was then in Middlesex -- not in London.)

* In connection with the preceding, they began to mock Arsenal as "Woolwich Arsenal." Which may have helped, as Arsenal won nothing in Woolwich. (Plumstead, actually.) There was the occasional minor trophy that no one cared about by the time Herbert Chapman came along, but Arsenal's highest League finish in the Woolwich/Plumstead years was 6th in 1909. (Never mind that Tottenham never finished as high as 6th in Division One until 1921.) And Woolwich Arsenal's longest run in the FA Cup was to the Semifinals in 1906 and 1907. (Tottenham had won that, in 1901.) Spurs fans began telling Gooners, "Fuck off back to Woolwich" and "North London is ours." The former was ridiculous, as, by 1971, Arsenal had been in Islington for 58 years; the latter had just become insane.

* They again brought up the lie that Arsenal had bribed their way into Division One in 1919, ignoring that there was evidence that Spurs had bribed their way into the League in 1908.

The thing is, Tottenham were a very good team in the early Seventies. They won the League Cup in 1971 and '73.  They reached the UEFA Cup Final in 1972 (beating fellow English club Wolverhampton Wanderers, a.k.a. Wolves) and '74 (losing to Netherlands club Feyenoord). And Arsenal's record during Bertie Mee's stewardship wasn't great: 1 League title in 1971, 1 2nd place finish in 1973, 1 Fairs (UEFA) Cup win in '70, 1 FA Cup win in 1971, 1 FA Cup Final defeat in 1972, 1 trip to the European Cup Quarterfinals in 1972 (losing to Johan Cruyff's mighty Ajax Amsterdam), and 2 League Cup Final defeats in 1968 and '69. In this same period, both Manchester clubs (City and United), both Liverpool clubs (Liverpool and Everton), and Leeds had records that were similar to, or better than, those of the North London clubs.

But as far as the North London clubs were concerned, Arsenal had won the League, the FA Cup, and The Double more recently than had Tottenham. And that burned the Spuds up. Big-time.

This was also the early days of football hooliganism. It had always been there, but it has been said to have begun when Man United clinched the League title away to West Ham on May 6, 1967, at which point the United fans tore up the East End. During the 1970s, pretty much every English club had a hooligan "firm." Some became legendary for their mischief: In London, the Chelsea Headhunters, West Ham's ICF (Inter-City Firm) and Millwall's Bushwhackers.

Supposedly, Tottenham had once been a Jewish neighborhood. So other clubs mocked Spurs fans with anti-Semitic slurs -- most often "Yid" or "Yiddo." (These are words that should never be used in America, and I use them only for demonstration purposes.) Spurs fans decided to turn the slurs around, and have often chanted "YIDS!" "YIDDOS!" or "YID ARMY!" And their firm became known as the Yid Army. For a reason probably lost to time, Arsenal's firm became known as The Herd.

In truth, the Y-- Army were full of shit. Many is the Arsenal, West Ham and Millwall fan who has claimed that, like the Chelsea Headhunters, the Spurs firm didn't fight well, and preferred to run than to stand their ground and fight as best they could. Or, worst of all, would plow into a pub a mile or so from the away ground, knock over a few chairs, break some glassware, wreck the decor, scare a few old men, women and children, walk out, head off to the game, and then later "claim a result." (I recently had this confirmed by an ex-Londoner living in Boston, who told me he's been an Arsenal fan since 1966.)

To this day, some Tottenham fans point with pride to the Y-- Army.  Some army: Iraq has a better one.

But as the Seventies wore on, and as the Eighties began, and hooligan violence got worse, so too did the verbal response. Fans would come into White Hart Lane and invoke the worst nightmare of the Jews, the Nazi Holocaust. Particularly Chelsea fans, with their links to the far-right National Front, would chant "Auschwitz!" and make hissing noises, simulating poison gas. West Ham fans were known to come into The Lane waving Palestinian flags, and would "bow toward Mecca" -- not that most of them would have accepted Muslims among their numbers at the time.

Many English fans look back on the 1970s and 1980s as the glory days of the game. But with hooligan violence, aging stadiums with appalling structural deficiencies and atrocious restrooms (unlike the U.S. there was no stadium building boom between 1953 and 1973), backward TV coverage (even as late as 1989, there were almost no League games on live TV, mainly on tape delay), and some ridiuclous fashions and hairstyles (on and off the pitch), it was not a very good time. Even if your team was winning.

And, after 1974, for the most part, neither North London club was winning.

December 9, 1972: This match at White Hart Lane was not a particularly historic game, but if you buy the DVD Arsenal: Classic Victories Over Spurs, this is the first game chronologically. But usual Captain Frank McLintock did not play in this game; the far less talented Jeff Blockley wears the Number 5 shirt. Nor is the iconic Charlie George in it, as Eddie Kelly wears Number 11. And another major member of the 1971 Double side is gone, as the acquisition of 1966 World Cup hero and 1970 Everton title-winner Alan Ball meant that George Graham vacated the Number 8 shirt in 1972. Tottenham also had a '66 World Cup winner in their side, former West Ham star Martin Peters

Tottenham (correctly) had an early goal disallowed for offside, and the first half ended scoreless. In the second half, the dangerous Martin Chivers just barely missed opening the scoring, sending a sizzling shot just wide of the goalpost to his left, which Bob Wilson could not deflect for Arsenal. Shortly thereafter, there was a scramble in front of the Spurs net, and Peter Storey headed in the first Arsenal goal.   defensive mixup -- Spurs thought Radford was going to pass to Storey, who was offside -- led to Radford seeing what was happening, and instead keeping the ball, dribbling past the confused defenders, approaching goalkeeper Pat Jennings, and sending the ball past him for a 2-0 Arsenal lead. Peters scored a late goal to cut it to 2-1, but that was as close as Spurs got.

April 14, 1973: The preceding match's return fixture is played at Highbury, and it's a 1-1 draw. This ends up hurting Arsenal: They finished 2nd in the 1972-73 season, falling 3 points short of Liverpool, despite a February win at Anfield. A March loss at home to defending Champions Derby, this draw, and draws in the next 2 games against Everton and Southampton deny them the title, in a season that concluded with a 6-1 drubbing by Leeds at Elland Road. Tottenham finished 8th, but won the League Cup.

After this season, Mee began to break up the Double side, which had disappointed its fans nearly as much as the 1960s Spurs side had ultimately disappointed its fans. Arsenal soon became weak, even irrelevant. But Spurs fans would not be able to enjoy it much, as their own squad would suffer.

May 29, 1974: Having drawn the home leg of the UEFA Cup Final 2-2, Tottenham went to Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and lost 2-0 to Feyenoord. The unhappiness of the result led to Tottenham fans rioting, and the club being indefinitely banned from European play.

Aside from the Heysel ban which banned all English teams for 5 seasons, Arsenal have never been banned from Europe. But this ban, which was lifted after 2 years, is a great stain on Spurs' history. Ever since, every fan in every country in Europe, even if they are not fluent in English, knows at least 3 words: "Fuck you, Tottenham!"

This should not to be confused with the Arsenal chant, based on "Come On You Spurs" (or "COYS") -- "Fuck Off You Spurs!" (or "FOYS") Tottenham may be the more popular club within England, but Arsenal, especially after the arrival of Arsene Wenger, became by far the more popular club in Europe.

May 7, 1977: Tottenham get clobbered 5-0 by Man City, ensuring their relegation from Division One. And so, 1977-78 remains the only season since 1948-49 that Arsenal and Tottenham have not faced each other in League play, and the only season since 1947-48 that they have not faced each other at all.

Years later, the concept of St. Totteringham's Day would be devised: The day each season when it becomes mathematically impossible for Spurs to finish ahead of Arsenal in the final standings (or "table," as they'd say in England). The day had not yet begun to be celebrated at this point, but Spurs' 0-0 draw vs. Stoke and Aresnal's 2-0 win over Coventry City made April 23 St. T's Day for 1977; Spurs' confirmation of relegation on May 7, 1977 made that day St. T's Day for 1978.

St. T's Day doesn't happen every season, of course -- but, through 2013, there have been 63 seasons when Arsenal finished ahead of Spurs, and 30 when Spurs have finished ahead of Arsenal; when both were in the same division, Arsenal lead 48 to 28.

December 23, 1978: Spurs spent just 1 season in Division Two before bouncing back up, and had obtained 2 members of the Argentina team that won the World Cup the previous summer: Osvaldo "Ossie" Ardiles and Ricardo "Ricky" Villa.

Arsenal, having tumbled down the table to 17th in 1976, had fired Mee, and had hired Terry Neill -- who had been Tottenham's manager, but had previously played as a centreback for Arsenal. The Gunners had reached the FA Cup Final in 1978, but lost to Ipswich Town.

Now, they were led by "The Irish Connection": Midfielder Liam Brady (still one of the most beloved players in Arsenal history), forward Frank Stapleton and centreback David O'Leary (who would go on to make more appearances for Arsenal than any other player, 722) were from the Republic of Ireland; manager Neill, right back and Captain Pat Rice (the only holdover from the 1971 Double side), left back Sammy Nelson and goalkeeper Pat Jennings were from Northern Ireland.

To make matters more interesting, Jennings had been Spurs' keeper from 1964 until their 1977 relegation, and in a fool move, they simply let him go. Centrebacks Steve Walford (who did not play in this game) and Willie Young (a Scotsman whose 6-foot-5 height led Gooners to sing, "We've got the biggest Willie in the land!") were also former Spurs players. It was 2 days before Christmas, and both sets of fans, 42,273 of them, walked into White Hart Lane loaded for bear.

But it was Arsenal fans who were saying, "Ho ho ho!" -- and very quickly. A blunder of a backpass enabled Alan Sunderland to score in the 43rd second -- not minute. Sunderland, a white Yorkshireman with an Afro any black man would have been proud to have, added another goal late in the first half.

The game totally came off the rails for Spurs in the second half. Just before the hour mark, Brady put on a dribbling clinic down the left wing, got to the six-yard line, and sent in a hellacious cross off his much-renowned left foot, and Stapleton put it in the Tottenham net with a diving header. By this point, the Arsenal fans were singing, "Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way! Oh what fun it is to see The Arsenal win away!"

About five minutes after that, there was a scramble in the penalty area, the ball came out of it, and Brady took the ball with a perfect (and clean) tackle. He followed up this great defensive play with a curling shot that had BBC sportscaster John Motson yelling, "Look at that! Oh, look at that! What a goal by Brady!" Sunderland finished his hat trick late in the game to forge a final score of 5-0, and Stapleton just missed making it 6-0 in stoppage time.

After the game, the Y-- Army decided to kick the shit out of anyone they saw in red -- even if they were just in the neighborhood and hadn't even been at the game. As if that would change the result of the most humiliating defeat Spurs had ever suffered -- aside, that is, from May 3, 1971.

Sunderland joined Ted Drake as the only Arsenal players to score 3 goals in a North London Derby match, and would end up scoring the winner in the 89th minute as Arsenal beat Manchester United 3-2 in the FA Cup Final -- the club's first trophy since the 1971 Double.

November 4, 1980: On the same day that Ronald Reagan was elected President of the United States, anyone who was both a member of the Democratic Party and an Arsenal fan (at this point, due to exposure to English soccer in the American media, there would have been very few) had another reason to be unhappy. Ardiles scored the only goal in a 1-0 Spurs win in the 4th Round of the League Cup. This was the first time since the 1941 London War Cup that Spurs had won a cup tie against Arsenal.

January 2, 1982: Having won the FA Cup in a replay against Manchester City the season before, Tottenham begin their defense of it in the 3rd Round, and defeat Arsenal 1-0 at White Hart Lane, on a goal by Garth Crooks. Spurs did, indeed, make it back-to-back Cups, beating another London club, Queens Park Rangers (QPR), in the Final.

May 23, 1984: Just as Arsenal won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1970 by taking a 2-legged Final on aggregate from Belgian club Anderlecht, so, too, did Tottenham take that tournament's successor, the UEFA Cup, from them.

Both legs ended 1-1, and so the White Hart Lane leg, saved by an 84th-minute tally by Graham Roberts, went to penalties. Roberts, Mark Falco, Gary Stevens and Steve Archibald made theirs for Spurs, while Anderlecht only made 3 out of their first 4. But when Danny Thomas (no relation to the great American entertainer of the same name) missed the final Spurs penalty, Spurs fans began to squirm. It was up to goalie Tony Parks to stop Anderlecht's Icelandic forward, Arnor Gudjohnsen. He did.

Tottenham had their 3rd European trophy -- a total Arsenal have yet to reach, and a particular point of pride for those bastards -- as if making the European Cup/Champions League only once in the last 51 years isn't much more significant than having won those trophies 30 years ago or more.

A far more interesting note is that the man who missed the final penalty was the father of Eidur Gudjohnsen, who would later play for Spurs, but is probably better known for playing for another London club, Chelsea, and also played for Bolton Wanderers and Barcelona, is now with Club Brugge (arch-rivals of his father's Anderlecht), and is probably the greatest player Iceland has ever produced, well ahead of his father.

May 29, 1985: Juventus of Turin, Italy defeat Liverpool 1-0 in the European Cup Final at Heysel Stadium, Brussels, Belgium. But the game should never have been played, as a scuffle between opposing fans led to Juve fans running, and crashing into a wall, which collapsed, and 39 fans were killed.

In the wake of the Heysel Disaster, as it came to be known, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) banned all English clubs from its competitions for 5 years, tacking a 6th year of punishment onto Liverpool. England as a national side could still compete in the 1986 and '90 World Cups, and the 1988 European Championships, but no English clubs could play in the European Cup, the UEFA Cup, the European Cup Winners' Cup, or smaller competitions like the Anglo-Italian Cup.

An interesting side effect of this is that it wasn't British clubs that were banned, it was English clubs, due to that country's reputation for hooliganism. As if other countries in Europe, including Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, all within the United Kingdom, didn't have them! So Glasgow-based Rangers told English players that they were still eligible to play in these European competitions, and they signed up a few, and this allowed them to end their Glasgow arch-rivals' Celtic's dominance of the Scottish game, and begin their own era of glory.

March 4, 1987: Arsenal and Tottenham have advanced to the Semifinal of the League Cup, and play each other. Tottenham won the Highbury leg 1-0, and were leading the Lane leg 1-0 when the public-address announcer said that tickets for the Final would be available at the ticket office after the game. That stirred up the Arsenal fans, and the Arsenal players, and they came from behind to win, 2-1, to draw the match 2-2 on aggregate. Instead of counting away goals, which would have given Arsenal a 2-1 win, the rules of the Cup at that time demanded a replay.  It would be held at White Hart Lane.

Since English clubs could not play for European trophies in the late 1980s, only 3 trophies were available to them: The League title, the FA Cup, and the League Cup. This gave the League Cup an importance that has since faded, especially with the expansion of the UEFA Champions League, formerly the European Cup, to include the top 4 Premier League teams. Today, if you think the League Cup is a "major trophy," almost by definition, you are not a "big club." That was not the case in 1987, and even if it wasn't a major trophy then, this was the Derby. You bet your arse that both teams wanted to win.

It should also be noted that Tottenham were well in the running for a domestic Treble: The League, the FA Cup, and the League Cup. Winning all 3 had never been done before, in the 26 years that it had been possible. This, coupled with the 1984 UEFA Cup and the 1981 and '82 FA Cups, meant that Tottenham were in a period of glory comparable to themselves in the 1960s, and to Arsenal in the 1930s, the late '40s and early '50s, and in the early '70s. Without question, Spurs were the leading club not just in London, but in the South of England, and only Liverpool and Everton were seriously challenging them for the title of the best team in the entire country (England, not Great Britain).

The first half ended scoreless. In the second half, Clive Allen, who had briefly been on Arsenal's books in 1980 before being sold, was now with Tottenham, and completed the oddity of scoring in 3 matches of a 2-legged tie -- indeed, in the 3 games, he had scored all of Spurs' goals. To make matters worse for Arsenal, their hard-drinking, hard-partying Scottish striker Charlie Nicholas was carried off injured.

Ironically, it was Champagne Charlie's substitute, Ian Allinson, who scored the equaliser. And then, in stoppage time, David Rocastle managed to poke out his left foot and put the ball into the Spurs net, past an aging Ray Clemence, who, with Liverpool, had let in Charlie George's FA Cup winner 16 years before.

Nicholas returned for the Final at Wembley, and scored both of Arsenal's goals as they came from behind to beat Liverpool, 2-1.

This capped the first season as manager for George Graham, the former Arsenal forward and midfielder. Ironically, his former teammate and best friend, Terry Venables, had been a finalist for the Arsenal job -- and would later be hired to helm Tottenham! (Arsenal fans would nickname him "Terry Vegetables.")

Graham had hired his 1971 Double side teammates Bob Wilson and Pat Rice as his assistants, and they were rebuilding The Arsenal from the "Boring, Boring Arsenal" that they'd been for most of the 1980s, following Terry Neill's breakup of the Liam Brady side (Neill was fired in 1983, and Don Howe led them for the next 3 years before resigning), and helping them to once again overtake Tottenham as the best team in London.

As for Spurs, they and their fans woke up on the morning of March 4 with a chance at all 3 domestic trophies. When they went to bed on the night of May 16, their season had concluded with them winning nothing: They had lost the League Cup Semifinal to their arch-rivals, they went into a tailspin and finished 16 points behind League Champions Everton, and on that May 16 they lost the FA Cup Final, to Coventry City, which had never before (and hasn't since) won a major trophy, on an own goal by one of their most popular players, Gary Mabbutt. Their only consolation is that they beat out Arsenal for 3rd, by just 1 point.

It was the end of an era for Spurs: By the time they won their next trophy, it would be with a lineup almost completely different from their 1981-84 trophy-winning sides. And the domestic Treble is still an achievement no team has notched. (When Arsenal became the first team to win both domestic cups in 1993, they finished 10th; Liverpool won the Cup Double in 2001 and finished 3rd; Chelsea won both cups in 2007 but finished 2nd.)

March 6, 1988: Arsenal win 2-1 at The Lane. Four of Spurs' last five goals against Arsenal had now been scored by Clive Allen.

September 10, 1988: A rare early-season Derby is played at The Lane. Arsenal win 3-2, but the most interesting occurrence of the game comes late and in Tottenham's favor (or "favour" as they'd spell it). Paul Gascoigne, the Gateshead native who'd starred for his "hometown" club Newcastle United (there is a Gateshead United), had chosen Tottenham over Manchester United, and in his first North London Derby appearance, charged the Arsenal net, and his right shoe came off. With only a white sock, "Gazza" sent the ball past Arsenal goalie John Lukic. "One shoe! He's only got one shoe!"

January 2, 1989: Gazza was injured for the return fixture, and while Arsenal weren't great, Spurs had nothing. Arsenal won 2-0, with Michael Thomas sealing the points late. This would foreshadow Thomas' goal in stoppage time in the last game of the season, away to Liverpool, that allowed Arsenal to beat Liverpool on tiebreakers and claim their first League title in 18 years. Tottenham had now been 28 years without a League title.

April 14, 1991: The FA Cup Semifinal was a North London Derby, and as Semifinals are always held at neutral sites -- both Highbury and White Hart Lane had previously hosted them, as had Aston Villa's Villa Park, Man City's Maine Road and Man United's Old Trafford -- the Semifinal is played at Wembley for the first time, attracting a crowd of 77,893, the biggest crowd a North London Derby has ever brought, and is ever likely to bring -- unless the clubs end up facing each other in another Semifinal or Final at the new Wembley with its 90,000 capacity.

This match is best remembered for Gascoigne's goal from a free kick, past Arsenal keeper David Seaman. Gary Lineker added 2 goals, and Spurs won, 3-1. Although Arsenal would go on to win the League again, Spurs would win the FA Cup by beating Nottingham Forest, and thus could claim, however lamely, that they were again "the Pride of North London."

But the Final would be overshadowed by one of the dumbest plays any footballer has ever made. Early in the game, Gascoigne, a raging alcoholic, a wife-beater, and an unrestrained party animal, but one of the most talented players of his generation, jumped and kicked Forest midfielder Garry Parker in the chest. Incredibly, he was let off with only a warning. But in the 14th minute, he laid a nasty tackle on Forest right back Gary Charles -- that's right, a midfielder doing that to a defender, not the other way around -- and, again, did not receive a yellow card, much less a straight red card. But he'd wrecked his knee, and came off in the 17th minute. Spurs won, 2-1, when Forest's Des Walker scored an own goal in extra time.

This would be the last major match for Brian Clough, the Forest manager who'd led Forest to the League Cup earlier in the season, and to the 1978 League title and the 1979 and '80 European Cups; and, before that, Forest's rivals, Derby County, to the 1972 League title and the Semifinal of the 1973 European Cup. Oddly, the FA Cup is a trophy he never won, with any club: This was the closest he came.

What was not widely known was that Spurs were losing money like crazy, and had already agreed to sell Gascoigne to Lazio of Rome. It would be over a year before he would make his first appearance for them, and his time in Italy was an injury-riddled, scandal-ridden disaster. How far he had fallen from being England's biggest star at the 1990 World Cup and the hero of Spurs' '91 FA Cup win.

He would come back to Britain and help Rangers win 2 Scottish titles, and have a brief flash of glory in the 1996 European Championships. But his drinking would get him bounced from club to club. Earlier in 2013, he was near death at a rehab clinic in Arizona, and the drying-out didn't take, as just last month, on July 21, he was charged with common assault and being drunk and disorderly, in connection with an incident at the Stevenage rail station. Like Man United legend George Best, no one will be surprised if Gazza ends up dead as a result of his drinking, well before old age (he is now 46, Best was 59).

Or, to put it another way: Tony Adams, Arsenal's Captain from 1988 to 2002, quit drinking and founded a rehab centre; Paul Gascoigne, Tottenham's biggest star of the last 40 years, got kicked out of that rehab centre.

But in 1991, Spurs fans were feeling quite full of themselves. So were Arsenal fans. Both clubs had some claim to glory. Something had to give.

The story concludes in Part IV.

Arsenal vs. Tottenham: The Defining Moments, Part II: 1920-1970

April 23, 1921: Tottenham win their 2nd major trophy, the FA Cup, defeating Wolverhampton Wanderers (a.k.a. Wolves) 1-0 in the Final at Stamford Bridge, home ground of West London club Chelsea. Local hero Jimmy Dimmock scored the only goal.

This would turn out to be the only major trophy Tottenham would win in a half-century span, from 1901 to 1951. "Big club"?

September 23, 1922: The clubs play an early-season match at White Hart Lane, and it was one of the most disgraceful displays in Arsenal history -- worthy of 1970s Leeds United, or more recent Manchester United and Barcelona squads. Indeed, this game would seem to confirm everything that Spurs fans believe about Arsenal.

Spurs' outside right (roughly the equivalent of a right winger in the modern era) Frederick "Fanny" Walden -- at 5-foot-2, the shortest player ever for the England national team -- left the game with an injury 20 minutes in. As substitutes weren't allowed until 1966, this left Spurs with 10 men for 70 minutes. There is no record stating that his injury was caused, willfully or otherwise, by an Arsenal player. But since Tottenham fans, even then, weren't exactly long on logic, they got angry.

A few minutes later, the intent to injure was undeniably underway. Arsenal's Arthur Hutchins fouled Spurs' Alex Lindsay, and for 5 minutes they were down to 9 men. At that, the Spurs crowd was justifiably angry. Bert Smith (no relation to later Tottenham star Bobby) got fouled, and they got angrier. Bert Bliss got hurt right before the half, and played the second half limping.

Reg Boreham broke the deadlock 5 minutes into the 2nd half. But, despite being 1-0 up on a team with, essentially, 9 1/2 me, the Gunners continued to play rough. Dimmock got hacked down by Frank Bradshaw. This was the era before yellow and red cards were used to discipline players, but the referee, listed in the game account only as "Mr. C. Austin," only had a few words with Bradshaw, rather than sending him off and (more or less) evening things out.

With 10 minutes left, Boreham scored again, and Arsenal led 2-0. But as Lindsay pulled one back, making it 2-1. At first, it appeared to have been ruled offside. But the Austin motioned that he was allowing it, and Arsenal goalkeeper Stephen Dunn, ignoring the fact that time had almost run out and an equalizer (equaliser) was incredibly unlikely, actually grabbed him and shook him. Today, that would be an automatic straight red card, likely a lengthy suspension, and villain status for all time. Austin let him stay on the pitch. Then Bert Smith, according to the later report, "used filthy language" in yelling at Arsenal's Alex Graham (no relation to later star and manager George), and Graham decked him. The Spurs fans began throwing things at the Arsenal players, and the police came onto the pitch to settle things down.

The Football Association actually appointed a commission to investigate this game. And, as was often the case in those days when neighbors (neighbours) played each other, the return fixture was not weeks or months later, but just 1 week later!

September 30, 1922: The teams met again at Highbury, and 55,000 came out, the biggest Arsenal home crowd of the season. They did not leave happy. The FA appointed the strictest referee of that era, a Mr. W.E. Russell, to oversee the proceedings, and nothing untoward happened. Peter McWilliam, improvising following the previous weekend's injuries, put together a Spurs side that beat Arsenal 2-0. At the final whistle, the opposing captains shook hands, and things were calm.

When the FA concluded their inquiry on October 5, Smith, Graham and Dunn were all suspended. While the North London rivals have had viciousness between their fans on a number of occasions since, the September 23, 1922 match remains by far the most violent encounter between the sets of players.

October 25, 1924: Jimmy Brain makes his first-team debut for Arsenal, and scores the only goal in a 1-0 derby win over Spurs at Highbury. He would go on to become the first player to score 100 goals for Arsenal.

August 29, 1925: After some lean years under the management of Leslie Knighton, including nearly getting relegated at the end of the preceding season, Arsenal play their first match under Herbert Chapman, a former Tottenham player (but not a very good one), who had built Yorkshire's Huddersfield Town into the first team that ever won 3 straight Football League titles.

Chapman started 7 of the previous season's usual starters, 3 players who hadn't seen much playing time the season before, and his big new signing, Sunderland star Charlie Buchan (who, before becoming a star for those Black Cats, had briefly played for Arsenal). The game, against Tottenham at White Hart Lane, didn't go so well for Arsenal, as Spurs won, 1-0, in front of a huge crowd of 53,183 fans. But Chapman must have liked what he saw from the previous year's 7 plus Buchan, and he began to tinker with the side a little more.

He also instituted what became known, due to its shape, as the W-M formation. Usually, teams had lined up with two fullbacks, three midfielders, and five forwards: A "2-3-5" formation. By moving a central midfielder back, creating the position of centreback, Chapman could move his left back and right back out, thus providing better coverage on defense (or "defence," as they'd say in England). By moving two forwards back, Chapman created a two-tired attack.

The W-M was a 3-2-2-3, and this, coupled with a change in the offside rule (though the W-M's creation had little to do with adapting to it), allowed Chapman to play certain players to their strength, scoring more goals and allowing fewer.

This formation would be copied all over Europe due to the success that Arsenal would have in the 1930s, and would be the preferred formation in England until the 1953 demolition of the Ferenc Puskas-led national side by Hungary at Wembley, which led to the more modern 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 formations. (Today, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger's preferred formation of 4-2-3-1 owes a little bit to the W-M.)

A team that had mostly the same players as the year before, plus one "marquee signing," went from nearly relegated in 1925 to 2nd place in 1926 -- the best finish in Arsenal's history, and the closest any London or quasi-London team (including Tottenham) had yet come to winning Division One.  "The Gunners" (nicknamed for their cannon badge, a nod to the old Royal Arsenal days) were on their way.

April 26, 1930: After losing their first appearance in the FA Cup Final in 1927, to Cardiff City (still the only team outside England to win it, and Scotland's Queen's Park is the only other non-English team to even appear in the Final), The Arsenal were back in it, and against Chapman's former side, Huddersfield Town, now managed by their former star inside forward Clem Stephenson. As a result, the two sides walked out onto the field (or "pitch," as they'd say in England) at London's Wembley Stadium together.  This became a tradition, and now it's done for every game, all over the world.

Alex James scored for Arsenal in the first half, and Jack Lambert (no relation to the legendary Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker of the same name) added a late insurance goal, and Arsenal won, 2-0, to win their first major trophy. They had won a few minor trophies, but the Cup was the big one.

April 11, 1931: Arsenal travel to Grimsby Town and win, 1-0, at Grimsby's Blundell Park, to clinch the League title for the first time. Indeed, they were the first London club ever to do it. Tottenham Hotspur had never done it -- and even if they had, at this point Tottenham was still in Middlesex, not in London.

With stars like James, Cliff Bastin, David Jack, Bob John, Eddie Hapgood, and later Ted Drake and Wilf Copping, Arsenal would go on to win the League again in 1933, '34, '35 and '38, and also take the FA Cup in 1936. Meanwhile, Tottenham would be relegated during the decade. Despite Chapman's death midway through the 1933-34 season, The Arsenal kept winning under new manager George Allison, and became the best team in Britain, and maybe the best team in Europe.

(We can't say for sure: There would be no European Cup until the 1955-56 season, but in late 1934 an England side with 7 Arsenal players, plus a 19-year-old but already quite wizardly Stoke star Stanley Matthews, beat Italy, which had recently won the World Cup, in a rough match in drenching rain at Highbury. So, at that point, it was reasonable to assume that, if the top team in Italy was Juventus, which contributed more players to the nominal World Champions -- England then thought the World Cup beneath itself, and did not compete in it until 1950 -- than any other team, then Arsenal were better, and were thus "the best team in the world.")

May 5, 1931: Arsenal and Tottenham play each other in the Final of the London FA Charity Cup, at Stamford Bridge. It's the Great Depression, and only 10,160 fans are listed as having paid the expense to see a meaningless exhibition.

If it was so meaningless, why do I mention it? Because it's the first time, and it remains the only time, that Arsenal and Tottenham have ever played each other in the final of any tournament. That, at the very least, has to be worth mentioning. Arsenal win it, 2-1.

In the ensuing off-season, Brain becomes the first major Arsenal player to cross the divide, as the Gunners sell him to Spurs. He appears, however, to not have had this held against him by Arsenal fans. He had scored 139 goals for Arsenal (a club record until surpassed by Bastin), but would score only 10 for Spurs.

October 20, 1934: Ted Drake, who had nearly signed for Tottenham as a teenager but was now in his first full season with Arsenal, scores 3 goals in a 5-1 win over Tottenham at White Hart Lane.  He is the first Arsenal player ever to score a hat trick against Spurs.  There has been only one other since.

Drake was just getting warmed up: A year later, he would tie a league record for most goals in a Division One match, tallying 7 against Aston Villa. No player has matched or beaten that since.

September 1, 1939: Nazi Germany invades Poland, World War II begins, and, with the 1939-40 season barely begun, the FA shut league competition down for the duration. Since the war ended on August 14, 1945, too late to start up a new Football League season (but not too late to start up a full 1945-46 season for the FA Cup), the game did not resume until the next season.

January 8, 1949: For the first time, a North London Derby is held in the FA Cup.  In a 3rd Round match at Highbury, Arsenal, defending League Champions, win, 3-0.

April 28, 1951: Tottenham beat Sheffield Wednesday (so named because the cricket club they were founded as played their matches on that day of the week), 1-0 at White Hart Lane, and win their first League title. It took them 43 years. Well, 32 seasons, if you don't count the ones that weren't played due to the World Wars.

It's not that Arsenal were in decline: They'd won the League in 1948, won the FA Cup in '50, would reach the Final again while just missing the League title in '52, and win the League again in '53. They were led by Captain Joe Mercer (who, by leading Manchester City to the 1968 title, would become the first man to win the League as both a player and a manager), Reg Lewis (who scored both goals in the 1950 Final), and the Compton brothers, Les and Denis, who were also esteemed cricketers.

mBut, in this particular season, Tottenham were better. The team, managed by Arthur Rowe and known for their style of play as "the Push and Run Spurs," included 2 future managing legends: Bill Nicholson (you'll be hearing his name again soon) and Alf Ramsey, who would lead Ipswich Town to the 1962 League title and England to the 1966 World Cup. Other stars included Ronnie Burgess and Ted Ditchburn.

September 29, 1951: The largest crowd in the history of North London Derbies to this point, 72,164, crams into Highbury to see a 1-1 draw. Tom Whittaker had become Arsenal's manager, and would nearly win the title and the Cup in 1952, and would win the League in 1953.

After that, however, both clubs would go into a down period. Between 1953 and 1971, Arsenal would only finish as high as 3rd once, in 1959. Tottenham would be even worse off: As age and decline beset Nicholson, Ramsey and the rest, Rowe's health became poor, and he had to retire in favor of Jimmy Anderson. Spurs were nearly relegated in 1956, then jumped back to 2nd in '57, but Anderson got sick as well, and Nicholson became manager. This is when Tottenham's greatest period began.

April 17, 1961: Tottenham win the League for the 2nd time, as the failed Bay of Pigs invasion gets underway in Cuba. Again, the clincher is at home at White Hart Lane, and again the opponent is Sheffield Wednesday. Spurs win, 2-1. Arsenal are 11th in the table, and not a factor for either the League title, the FA Cup, or the League Cup, which is run for the first time this season (although Arsenal won't enter it until 1965-66).

May 6, 1961: Tottenham defeat Leicester City, 2-0 at Wembley, and win the FA Cup for the first time in 40 years.  Even more, winning the League and the FA Cup gives Spurs "The Double" -- an achievement only done twice before: By Preston North End in the first League season of 1888-89 (an unbeaten League season that got them nicknamed the Invincibles), and by Aston Villa of Birmingham did in 1897.

Close calls between 1897 and 1961:

Won the League but lost the FA Cup Final: 1905 Newcastle United, 1913 Sunderland, 1957 Manchester United.

Won the FA Cup Final but finished 2nd in the League: 1904 Man City by 3 points, 1913 Aston Villa by 4 points (to the aforementioned Sunderland, so that's 2 near-misses in one season), 1948 Manchester United by 7 points, 1954 West Bromwich Albion by 4 points, 1960 Wolves the closest call yet, by 1 point.

Finished 2nd in the League and lost the FA Cup Final: 1928 Huddersfield by 2 points, 1932 Arsenal by 2 points, 1939 Wolves by 4 points.

By "doing The Double," Spurs were now the toast not just of London, but all of England.  And while Arsenal fans sing "You won the League in black and white," there is surviving film of the Cup Final in color (or "colour," as they'd say in England).

August 26, 1961: Tottenham beat Arsenal 4-3 at The Lane, and left winger (in position, I don't know about his politics) Terry Dyson becomes the first Spurs player to score 3 goals in a game against Arsenal. He remains the only one.

September 13, 1961: Tottenham become the first London team to play in the European Cup. Actually, no, they don't, as they are not in London, they are in Middlesex. They do, however, become the first team from the South of England to play in it. In a match played in Zabrze, Poland, Tottenham lose 4-2 to Gornik Zabrze.

The tournament had begun with the 1955-56 season, when Chelsea were coming off their first-ever League title, but they were ordered by the FA to decline an invitation to participate. Manchester United ignored the FA's demands, and had competed in the Cup in the 1957-58 season, making them the first English team to play in it. They got to the Quarterfinals, against Red Star in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia). But a plane crash after a refueling stop in Munich, Germany killed 22 people, including 8 United players, and injured 2 others badly enough to end their careers. This not only hurt United's trophy chances for a few years (though they still reached the '58 FA Cup Final), it is often considered the reason England did not win the World Cup in 1958 and 1962. (The fact that Garrincha, Didi, Nilton Santos and a young man known as Pele were starring for Brazil seems to be overlooked by the English.) It would take until 1967 for a British club to win it (Celtic, of Glasgow, Scotland) and 1968 for an English one (a rebuilt United).

September 20, 1961: Tottenham become the first London-area team to host a European Cup match. They make Gornik pay dearly for the defeat in Poland, winning 8-1, with Welsh winger Cliff Jones scoring 3 goals and forward Bobby Smith 2.

April 5, 1962: After losing the first leg of the European Cup Semifinal in Lisbon, Portugal to defending Champions Benfica, 3-1, Tottenham get a home leg, and 64,448 fans shoe-horn themselves into White Hart Lane. Smith scores, and Danny Blanchflower, the Northern Irish defender who was their Captain, converts a penalty, to give Spurs a 2-1 win. But Spurs lose 4-3 on aggregate.

To this day, there are Spurs fans -- as well as Spurs defender Dave Mackay, who has publicly said so -- who insist that Benfica cheated in those matches. Yeah, they cheated by having more experience, and having the great Mozambicquan star Eusebio in their ranks. Such people also say that Spurs would have defeated Real Madrid in the Final -- a Madrid side that featured Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo di Stefano. They figure they would have beaten Madrid in the Final because Benfica did.  Go home, you're drunk.

May 15, 1963: Tottenham -- as their fans never stop reminding us -- become the first British team to win any European trophy. Having again won the FA Cup in 1962, they were eligible to enter the European Cup Winners' Cup (a tournament that was canceled after the 1998-99 season). They win the Final over Atletico Madrid (not to be confused with Real Madrid), 5-1 at De Kuip, the home stadium of the Dutch giants Feyenoord in Rotterdam. This is easily their greatest moment in Rotterdam -- more troubling ones were to come.

Jimmy Greaves, their hotshot forward (obtained midway through the 1961-62 season, so he wasn't on the Double side), scores twice. So does the aforementioned Terry Dyson. The other goal is scored by forward John White.

Just a little over a year later, White would be killed by being struck by lightning.  He was only 27. Greaves would go on to one of the greatest playing careers any Englishman has ever had, but his life would be dogged by alcoholism. Like later Arsenal legends Tony Adams and Paul Merson, but unlike (thus far) later Spurs legend Paul Gascoigne and later Arsenal legend Kenny Sansom, he would famously dry out and become a spokesman for a clean lifestyle.

Tottenham fans were sure that their 1960s Spurs would surpass the achievements of the 1930s Gunners, but it just didn't happen. In 9 seasons, 1930 to 1938, Arsenal won 5 League titles and 2 FA Cups; in 7 seasons, 1961 to 1967, Spurs won 3 FA Cups and a Cup Winners' Cup, but only 1 League title.

April 1, 1965: The London Government Act 1963 takes effect, creating "Greater London." It includes the entire historic County of London, most of Middlesex, and parts of Essex, Kent, Surrey and Hertfordshire. The parts of Kent it brought into London included Arsenal's spiritual homes of Woolwich and Plumstead. The parts of Middlesex it brought into London included Tottenham. (The rest of Middlesex was put into Surrey, Hertfordshire and Berkshire.)

So, now, finally, Tottenham fans could truthfully say their team was in London. Nearly 82 years after Arsenal had officially arrived in the city.

And, for the moment, there was little doubt that Spurs were the best team in London. Yes, West Ham had won the FA Cup in 1964 and the Cup Winners' Cup in 1965, and Chelsea had improved significantly, and Arsenal had a lot of history. But Tottenham were, beyond much question, tops within the London area, and, indeed, in the South of England. Liverpool, Manchester United and Leeds United could, in the late 1960s, call themselves "the Pride of the North," but Tottenham were the Pride of the South. (Both Spurs and Arsenal have put the words "the Pride of the South" into songs, rhyming with how they hate the other team's fans, "'cause they are all mouth.")

Although, oddly, Spurs fans would continue to call themselves "the Pride of North London." Mainly as a swipe to their arch-rivals, 4 miles down the Seven Sisters Road. After all, as was said at the time, "Arsenal haven't won a trophy since before the Coronation." It was true: The last Arsenal trophy was the League title won on May 1, 1953, and Queen Elizabeth II was crowned a month later on June 2.

Indeed, with several years of stagnation, compared with the trophies of Spurs and the Hammers, and the glamour that was coming to Chelsea, Fulham (thanks to forward Johnny Haynes) and Queens Park Rangers (a.k.a. QPR), Arsenal were not only not one of the more popular clubs in London, but were becoming just about irrelevant.

That would change in the summer of 1966, when they dismissed Billy Wright (one of the best European players of the 1950s but a failure as a manager) and hired Bertie Mee -- their physiotherapist.

He would install Dave Sexton as assistant manager, and Sexton straightened out their attack. He left after that first season, 1966-67, for Chelsea, and would lead them to their first FA Cup in 1970, and their first European Trophy, the 1971 Cup Winners' Cup. He came close to leading QPR to pipping Liverpool for the League title in 1976, and in 1979 would manage Man United into the FA Cup Final, where they would lose to... ah, but we're getting ahead of ourselves.

Mee replaced Sexton with Don Howe, an Arsenal fullback who had been Captain in 1966 when he broke his leg in a game against Blackpool, ending his playing career. What Sexton did for the offense (or "offence" or "attack"), Howe did for the defense (or "defence"). Over the next 20 years, he would be one of the most important figures at Arsenal.

November 20, 1968: For the first time, Arsenal and Tottenham play each other in the League Cup.  In the first leg of the Semifinal, a match played at Highbury, Arsenal win, 1-0.

December 4, 1968: In the White Hart Lane leg of the League Cup Semifinal, Arsenal manage a 1-1 draw, taking the tie 2-1 on aggregate, and advancing to the Final. But the following March, they will lose the Final at Wembley Stadium to Swindon -- a Division Three team. Arsenal had lost the League Cup Final the year before, to Leeds United.

Losing a Wembley Final 1-0 to Don Revie's Leeds, which was already a very good team (and would go on to win the League in 1969), was understandable; but 3-1 to Swindon? The headlines blare, including "THE SHAME OF LONDON." And, again, the line went up: "Arsenal haven't won a trophy since the Coronation."

Years later, Howe related a story: Someone told him that the club should take down the team photos of the champions of the 1930s, and the Joe Mercer teams of 1948-53, because they were too intimidating to the current players, a reminder of what they hadn't done. Howe said, "No, we have to replace these photos, with photos of the current players with a cup in their hands, so they can be a pain in the backside to the next group that comes up."

April 28, 1970: Arsenal end the trophy drought at 17 years. (And you think 9 years is hard?) They beat Anderlecht, of Brussels, Belgium, 3-0 at Highbury, to win 4-3 on aggregate and take the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.

Two years later, the tournament would be renamed the UEFA Cup, and Tottenham would win it. To this day, their fans claim, "We are the first English team to win the UEFA Cup" -- even though, in 2010, the tournament became known as the Europa League.

But that's another Tottenham fans' lie: Arsenal had won it in 1970, so Spurs weren't even the first London team to win it.  Leeds had won it in 1968 and '71, and Newcastle had won it in '69 -- and that remains the Geordies' last major trophy (unless you want to count the now-defunct Intertoto Cup, which they won in 2006).

But despite winning the Fairs Cup, Arsenal finished 12th in the League. And they had lost the League Cup Final in back-to-back years. And oh how the Spurs fans (and everyone else in England) laughed at Arsenal.

In the 1970-71 season, the laughter would stop, as you'll see in Part III.