In my junior school there were only two games you ever really played. One was pretending to be The Goonies and the other was daring Robert Priddy to poo in a series of increasingly brazen places – the last and most unsettling of these being in his own Reebok Pump trainers.
So there’s something rather heartening about seeing a Premier League team adopt my own youthful approach to playtime. Tottenham Hotspur have, of course, been propelled to fifth in the Premier League through the efforts of their own band of young adventurers. The White Hart Lane Goonies if you like.
Leading the gang is Harry Kane – looking like the kind of 1920s gentlemen explorer that vanishes in the Peruvian rainforest trying to prove to the fellows at the club that you can teach a silverback gorilla to make a spiffing Gin Fizz.
At first his goal scoring exploits in the Europa Cup, the Eric Djemba Djemba of European competitions, earned a reaction that can most accurately be described as ‘bless.’ But the goals began to arrive with such variety and regularity that the questions about whether he could do it in the league were soon replaced with demands that he should be given a go.
The poor fools who were showered in scorn, spittle and moist fragments of Hula Hoops for suggesting he was ‘the new Alan Shearer’ are now walking about as if they’ve just tea-bagged Dumbledore. And, fanciful as that claim still seems, Kane and Shearer’s records at 21 are remarkably similar for both club and at Under 21s level.
Alongside Harry, Chief Goonie, are a young midfield pairing whose path to the first team had seemed as congested as Michael Owen’s interestingly shaped radish collection. Nevertheless Ryan Mason (23) and Nabil Bentaleb (20) have shown the tenacity, composure and energy to thrust them to a level beyond their expensively assembled colleagues. What’s more, they’ve shown a commitment to Mauricio Pochettino’s way of driving the game in a way that probably gives £17 million Paulinho an asthma attack.
What’s most remarkable about their emergence is that following Daniel Levy’s great big £100 million bukkake last summer it seemed only a matter of time before all three would be looking for new clubs. But as each of the expensive new signings fell apart like Harry Redknapp’s sense of professional responsibility/knee ligaments, it was the Goonies, with 9 loan clubs between them, who stepped in and stepped up.
It does make you wonder what this Spurs team would look like now had previous managers shown Pochettino’s (and to an extent Tim Sherwood’s) faith in the youth system. In the Premier League alone promising young Spurs prospects like Jake Livermore and Steve Caulker have been moved on, while the likes of Tom Carroll and Alex Pritchard are rattling around the loan system like a Chocolate Orange in a washing machine. And how much attention should we pay to the fact that in his four loan spells Harry Kane was never once prolific in front of goal?
Of course, the narrative of mercenary, money grabbing foreigners being usurped by the honest, hungry ‘kids’ is a bit of stretch. For every Capoue, Soldado and Chiricheș there’s still a Lloris, Eriksen and Vertonghen helping to drive this rapidly progressing Tottenham team up the table.
But it’s the Goonies of the Lane who deserve the attention, and of course the manager who had the conviction to put them at the heart of his vision for the club. And for those who are disappointed by Spurs being anything other than typically hilarious, I can only imagine what this period of relative success must feel like. I’d suspect it’s something like discovering two small child’s turds in your expensive 90s high-tops.
Can Kane and co Spur their side to an away win against Manchester United?