by Tony Attwood
Tottery Downs is a wild and wonderful place somewhere in the vicinity of north London. It is a place wherein teams of a certain ilk find themselves talking about taking a step up, joining the Champions League, and other such wild, wild, dreams, while in reality the dear old team is as often closer to taking a step down as it is to reaching for the clouds.
Of course dreaming of a better tomorrow is good, but dreaming of a better tomorrow that quite often not only doesn’t come, but actually turns out to be a long way from anything that can be achieved, is not so good.
Tottery Downs is one such point – a place where a club dreams of taking the step up, while it is actually much closer to relegation. Tottenham Hotspur are one team who have on occasion reached Tottery Downs (and indeed it is named after them), but they are not the only team to have been in that wilderness between hopes and fears.
Of course quite often it is not the supporters of the club who are to blame for this scenario, for it is the media, completely unable to face reality in the, err, face, make up wild and whacky stories about impending success, while the reality is exactly the opposite.
Indeed if anyone has invented Tottery Downs, it is the media.
Untold first mentioned Tottery Downs (although the name wasn’t used then) back in 2011, when Liverpool were talked up and up and up by some sections of the media, for having finished sixth in the league. Champions League, it was said, would be a shoe-in in 2011/12. The Championship soon after.
But in reality Liverpool had finished 2010/11 no less than 22 points behind the champions, but only 19 points above the relegation places. Of course it didn’t mean they couldn’t catch up, but it showed the huge gap between what the top four were achieving, and what the wanna-be’s could do.
As we now know 2011/12 far from providing a breakthrough was actually worse for Liverpool. That season they were 37 points off the top spot, but only 20 above relegation. Interestingly, during these seasons, Liverpool were not actually building a new stadium, although sometimes they said they were.
But as the name Tottery Downs suggests, the real focus of attention today is Tottenham Hotspur who at this very moment are actually in Tottery Downs being 24 points off relegation but 25 points away from the top of the league.
The last time Tottenham ended the season in Tottery Downs was 2009 when at the end of the season they were 39 points off the top club but only 17 points off relegation. But even that was an improvement on 2007/8 when they missed relegation by 10 points and winning the league by 41 points. Quite a lot really.
But even that was overtaken in 2003/4 in which Tottenham missed relegation by 12 points, and the title by 45 points.
Of course, Tottery Down is just a bit of fun and of no significance at all really, and I am sure that this season Tottenham will haul themselves away from Tottery Downs in the last few matches and push up the table.
But underlying this there is a point. The top of the league is in a process of drawing ever further away from clubs who from a league table position (say 6th) look as if they might be putting in a challenge. Sure, they are in the top third, sometimes even in the top quarter, but the gap to the top is, as the Tottery Downs listings show, far greater than the distance to relegation.
Today Tottenham are 25 points off relegation and 24 points off being number 1. Off course that doesn’t mean they are going to be relegated. But it does give a hint of the distance that clubs like Tottenham and Liverpool have to travel to make a sustained assault on winning the league.
And yes, rather obviously (since I publish Untold Arsenal) I am aware how long it is since Arsenal won the League. Not as long as Liverpool and Tottenham, but still a long old time. And yes, I know you don’t get a trophy for coming fourth (although you do get a lot of dosh). But my point is that being third and fourth over those seasons from 2006 onwards, has left us in touch with the top clubs. I think we have far less of a mountain to climb than some clubs to achieve our new championship. More a little hill in fact.
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