With Christmas approaching fast I was reminded this week of the famous Christmas poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” which later became more famously known as “Twas The Night Before Christmas”. It was reputedly written by Clement Clarke Moore who was an American professor of Divinity and Biblical Learning in New York in the early nineteenth century, although it is still debated as to whether or not he actually wrote it.
Last season when I wrote a regular column in the fanzine Over Land and Sea, I was inspired to try to emulate his writing suitably adapted for the Chelsea game, which we won 2-1. You remember the one where Mourinho was still in charge and sent off at half-time. There was a picture of a forlorn looking Chelsea manager (although for not much longer after the game) standing in the directors’ box area as his side were comprehensively beaten with goals from Zarate and substitute Carroll. It seems a long time ago now, but it was only just over a year ago. The poem actually ended with the 2-1 prediction for the game, which won me some money on the day when I placed a small wager at 16/1.
I also included the poem in my book, Goodbye Upton Park, Hello Stratford, which incidentally is available in paperback or Kindle on Amazon. So if you are looking for a Christmas present for a West Ham fan, and don’t want to shell out megabucks for a piece of the Upton Park turf in a glass case, or a plastic seat from the Betway stand, then look no further. I have been a regular at Upton Park for almost sixty years, and the book chronicles the last famous season there.
Anyway, as we won the game, I was once again motivated to write a similar poem for the visit of Everton. We drew that game, so my record of adapting this famous poem was an unbeaten one. In view of the potential difficulty of this week’s visit to White Hart Lane, I decided to try once again, and the resulting effort of my preview to the game is below.
‘Twas the night before Tottenham when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring not even a mouse;
In our last game, the visit of Stoke;
Another home draw, the table’s no joke;
In seventeenth place, after Adrian’s error;
We need some more points, we must play much better;
The game’s at the Lane, with tough games to come;
Just one year ago, they ‘Kaned’ us 4-1;
Revenge came in March, our tactics were clever;
We beat them 1-0 with Antonio’s header;
Going for the title, it was really absurd;
They faded away, and fell down to third;
This season unbeaten, a close title race;
But too many draws, they’re down in fifth place;
Our record at their place is generally poor;
But remember ’81, when Psycho scored four;
In 2013 we were close to the bottom;
We went there twice, you can’t have forgotten;
Morrison’s goal was one of the best;
Vaz Te and Reid, you know the rest;
And then in the League Cup there was never a doubt;
A Maiga header, and Tottenham were out;
93-94 was not our best season;
A very poor start was part of the reason;
They beat us at our place, 3-1 was the score;
But when we went there we managed four;
About ten years ago, I remember it well;
Last game of the season and we gave them hell;
They were close to the top and well in the reckoning;
A win against us, and Europe was beckoning;
They stayed at the Marriott, their pre-match hotel;
But a dodgy lasagne had left them unwell;
Carl Fletcher scored first, Defoe made it 1-1;
But then up popped Yossi, and Tottenham were done.
Kane has been injured, he’s been in the wars;
But Son has come in and sometimes he scores;
But now Kane is back, there’s no time for flapping;
With Walker and Rose, full backs overlapping;
Eriksen and Lamela are always a danger,
And Dele Alli can be a game changer;
Lloris is in goal, the keeper for France,
I’ve looked at the odds, they give us no chance;
Our season so far, a brief aberration?
I wonder if Bilic will change the formation?
Lanzini and Payet have not been their best;
And Tottenham away will be quite a test;
We need to start quickly, incisive and fast,
Be first to the ball, and not be the last;
Play a high tempo, and keep up the pace;
Hustle and chase, and look for a space;
I know they’re our neighbours, but there’s no love lost;
We must raise our game or lose to our cost;
The optimist in me says go for the kill,
Obiang to score and we’ll win it one-nil.