Football NewsFriday 4th November 2016

Very Specific Football Question No.51: Will Tottenham have to wait 100 years to win at Wembley?

Very Specific Football Question No.51: Will Tottenham have to wait 100 years to win at Wembley?

As one famous sporting curse ended last night, with the Chicago Cubs winning their first baseball World Series title for 108 years, another was just revving up a gear.

Tottenham’s toothless Champions League defeat to Bayer Leverkusen was their sixth straight loss at the national stadium, making it eight years and counting since they last won a game there - that being the 2-1 win against Chelsea in the 2008 league cup final.

The baseball hex, known as the Curse of the Billy Goat, was allegedly placed on the Cubs in 1945 (already 37 years into their dry spell) by a man who had been ejected from the team’s stadium because the bad smell of his companion at the game (a goat) was upsetting other fans.

But what’s Tottenham’s excuse?

Their poor run of form at Wembley, in an otherwise glorious period for the club under Mauricio Pochettino, has sparked speculation that the north Londoners have also fallen victim to witchcraft.

The source is currently unclear, but one wonders whether the dastardly deed occurred on the day of Spurs’ last Wembley victory, and whether someone from Chelsea is responsible.

A look through the Blues’ teamsheet that day reveals several potential candidates for this treachery.

John Terry is the obvious one - placing an evil curse on a rival club sounds like exactly the kind of thing he’d do, given the opportunity - while you also wouldn’t rule out the likes of Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka or Michael Ballack. Basically all of Chelsea’s 2008 cup final team are suspects except Shaun Wright-Phillips, who has always seemed like a nice boy.

The curse may also have been delivered from the stands, with Chelsea having more than their fair share of odious supporters, raising the chilling possibility that Jeremy Clarkson or Tom Lovejoy somehow used their powers for ill on that fateful day.

None of this quite adds up though, because lots of teams have beaten Chelsea over the years without suffering a brutal retaliation, so maybe the cause of the curse is closer to home.

Former Tottenham manager Juande Ramos is a funny one. Despite the fact that he left the club “bottom of the league with just two points from eight games” - a statistic his successor Harry Redknapp continues to repeat in media interviews to this day - he was actually the last man who brought silverware to White Hart Lane with that Carling Cup win.

Juande Ramos

Could it be that the much-maligned Spanish tactician, riled by Redknapp’s continual public criticism of his tenure, sought the advice of witch doctors on the matter?

When you think about it, there are actually thousands of people who might bear a grudge against Spurs, from Arsenal fans to Roberto Soldado to Paolo Tramezzani.

Pochettino has dismissed all suggestions that his side are the victims of a malicious supernatural attack, instead attempting to explain the successive home defeats using football logic and facts.

“You cannot blame Wembley. The problem was that we did not show our quality. Maybe it is taking my players time to manage the Premier League and Champions League – the two toughest competitions in the world,“ said the Argentine.

Perhaps, but Spurs don’t seem to have struggled so much in their Champions League away games, in which they remain unbeaten.

Meanwhile, at Wembley, against Monaco and Leverkusen they appeared jaded, lethargic and - in some cases - as if all the footballing ability had been sucked out of them. For example, if a curse is indeed to blame, then it transpires that Mousa Sissoko has a very low resistance to voodoo.

Could witchcraft really have prevented the French midfielder from finding a team-mate with any of his passes against Bayer?

The answer is probably not, but we just don’t know. And until the curse is broken, the speculation will continue.

There were probably plenty of Chicago Cubs fans who laughed at the idea of the Billy Goat Curse back in ‘45.

And where were they when the side finally won the World Series 71 years later? That’s right - dead.

But let’s not end it on that note. Let’s instead all remember the happier times of Jonathan Woodgate’s sublime winning goal against Chelsea at Wembley in 2008.

Tottenham will of course taste those Wembley glory days again. Eight years of the curse are already down, just 100 to go!

Follow @darlingkevin on Twitter


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