Two weeks ago Hull City fans travelled to Huddersfield in a “bubble” imposed by West Yorkshire Police, an act from an authority that demonizes football fans through the restriction of movement, not dissimilar to the aim of the Football Spectators Act proposed by the Thatcher Government, whose reputation is currently being reinvented by rose-tinted recollections in the popular press in the past week; the polar opposite, for those lucky enough to have the opportunity, is to travel independently following your football club in Europe, venturing freely in a new city, before later socializing and joining a wider community in the stadium.
Tottenham Hotspur’s trip to Basel this week was a trip typical of the exciting European nights told in Glory Nights: Wankdorf to Wembley, with ticketing complications, a less than linear journey, friendly locals, cultural highlights and of course, drama only sport can deliver.
The English Premier League table doesn’t lie but the final tables in both the 2005-06 and last season stretched credibility when Spurs finished below Arsenal twice, despite looking much the better side for most of both terms, technically assured and in control of games in 05/06 and fluent, expansive and at times breathtaking in the last campaign. Points dropped through late goals were punished by a final day illness in 2006 and tactical errors in the final straight in 2012 allowed a West Brom goalkeeping performance so bad it defies belief, to have the final say. Ultimately those league placings twice cost Spurs Champions League Football, but strange how things work out; while the luck hasn’t been apparent on the pitch Tottenham’s European draws since 2006 have included a fixture at Sevilla that coincided with the city’s Semma Santa Festival, a tie against Hearts during the Edinburgh Festival, journeys to Belgium and Germany when the Christmas markets stalls were out and a trip to Udinese at the best time of the year to visit nearby Venice.
Spurs fans have had some great cultural bonuses in the last few years and coinciding with the Europa League Quarter-Final second leg, the city of Basel is currently hosting a Picasso retrospective built exclusively from the city’s public and private collections. Who knew? In the Kunstmusuem (a venue best spelt rather than pronounced when asking for directions), the exhibition shows Picasso the young talent, the storyteller, the freedom fighter and the master through etchings, sketches, portraits and layered paintings that show his versatility in styles through the ages. Continue reading…