spurs hapoel tel aviv.
(photo credit: AP)
I am a Spurs supporter from my youth (a long time ago), having now lived in Israel for the past 21 years. The opportunity to see my beloved team live in action in Tel Aviv was heaven-sent. Well, it was 16 to 1 that the draw would work out the way it did - there must be some element of divine providence in that.
Hapoel Tel Aviv took the opportunity of making some money off me, and the many ex-pat Spurs supporters like me, by more than doubling the regular prices for tickets. This tactic backfired, as their own fans rebelled and the ground was only half full, with a very healthy contingent of away fans reveling in the chance to cheer on their heroes.
The atmosphere in the ground was distinctly carnival. Indigenous Spurs supporters dug out their old shirts: I saw a Klinsman shirt accompanied by a Sheringham one not far from a Ginola one, with one person sporting the name Tottenham emblazoned boldly across his chest in Hebrew.
The singing was different from what I was used to. The standard Israeli song "Siman tov, mazel tov" metamorphosed into "Siman tov, Berba tov." When a free kick was given to Hapoel instead of rightfully to Spurs, one wag suggested that the referee was a "homer," with the shout of "Referee, where's your tefillin?"
When the first goal finally came, the familiar shout of "You're not singing anymore" was lustily sung by the local Spurs supporters. If truth were told, I don't think they were singing that much before the goal, and I am doubtful whether they understood English. Perhaps we should have sung it in Hebrew.
The second goal was greeted with a chorus of "2 nil, 2 nil," which I think scanned better than its Hebrew equivalent - "shta'im efes."
The rest of the game was a bit of an anticlimax, the only high spot being when Darren Bent tried to play a one-two with the post instead of taking the easier option and scoring the third goal.
The ex-pats did receive their reward, however. Shouts of "England's number one" were greeted by a wave from Paul Robinson - much to the delight of the large number of the younger fans present - during one of the many periods when the ball was being passed backwards in midfield.
The game was over much too quickly. A good result, although a poor game. But it was a great atmosphere and a nostalgic evening. Roll on the next Spurs game.
Maybe Tel Aviv will be allotted the final one of these years, to coincide with Tottenham reaching it.
After all this is the land of miracles!
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