Sitting in my history class at my school in Lisson Grove I remember my teacher quoting Charles de Gaulle.
“France has lost the battle but it will not lose the war.” It’s a good quote that resonated with me due largely to its malleability.
De Gaulle could quite easily have been describing the relationship between Chelsea and Tottenham. Tottenham win the odd battle against Chelsea but the war is always won by Chelsea.
This feeling has become so significant over the years that there are a swathes of Tottenham fans who have more antipathy to Chelsea than they do Arsenal. Not since the Cockney Cup Final have they actually got one over on us.
There have been times when they thought they had won the battle, occasionally in glorious fashion, but the bragging rights were always had by The Blues.
There are countless examples to demonstrate this point. I won’t go into them all, I’ll just pick a few to demonstrate the point. Primarily because I was at the game with my dad, a personal favourite came in 2001.
Chelsea were winning 2-1 with practically no time left on the clock. Winning at White Hart Lane is a beautiful feeling and one that Chelsea fans had become very accustomed to over the years.
Turns out that Teddy Sheringham hadn’t read the script and scored in the 90th minute to force a draw. The ground erupted and Sheringham to his credit and my annoyance, went wild, right in front of us.
I was so deflated, my dad gave me that aggressive tap on the shoulder that over the years I had learned meant ‘sod this, we’re off’ and we headed to the exit as the Tottenham fans serenaded us with their annoyingly slow rendition of ‘Oh When The Spurs…’
We only made it as far as the stairwell because Marcel Desailly nicked a winner with the last kick of the game. It was unreal, I was bundled down the stairs and mayhem broke lose as Chelsea fans celebrated wildly in the away end at Tottenham. Again.
This gives us a nice insight into how our clubs are positioned, mid song they were cut off and we were again celebrating a win at the Lane.
One of the worst moments at that ground came when they beat us 5-1 in the League Cup semi-final. Gustavo Poyet unforgivably kissed the badge as he was substituted and Spurs were on their way to Wemb…Cardiff. A torturous affair.
A shift in power some might say? Well actually no, we played twice more that season, once in the FA Cup and once in the league three days apart. We won both encounters 4-0 and we sung ‘normal service is resumed’ for a full 45 minutes at their ground.
The jewel in the crown. This is just marvellous. 2012 is the perfect microcosm to capture the relationship between us and them.
Tottenham had had a good season, they fought hard and massively over-achieved under the stewardship of Harry Redknapp. They finished fourth, just a point behind Arsenal and had qualified for the Champions League.
Conversely, Chelsea had an uninspiring campaign, sacking Andre Villas-Boas along the way and finished the season in sixth place, below Newcastle.
It’s quite incredible that in such a tumultuous year for us we managed to batter them at Wembley and then simultaneously dump Tottenham into the Europa League and become London’s only club to ever win the Champions League. Almost makes you feel sorry for them.
The crazy thing about this article is these are just my top three; we haven’t spoken about us stopping them winning the league in 2016 or mentioned them winning 2-0 in the cup at Stamford Bridge only for us to get it back level and knock them out convincingly on their own ground.
Even the year when they broke a 28-year hoodoo and won a game at Stamford Bridge, it ended with them finishing the season empty-handed and Chelsea lifting the cup. We haven’t spoken about scoring six at White Hart Lane or or even four at Wembley in 2017.
Manchester United fans used to carry a banner that said: ‘Not Arrogant, Just Better’ we might need to get one made up for Wembley. Remember when they beat us 5-3 in the league on New Year’s Day? We won the league and beat them in the cup final.
Charles de Gaulle put it perfectly when he said: “Tottenham can win the odd battle, but Chelsea will always win the war.”