Celebrating the game’s minutiae, one tiny fragment at a time
When Spurs threw away a two-goal lead against Arsenal earlier this season, there was little for away fans to celebrate. They eventually capitulated 5-2 at the Emirates, and gave their north London rivals the impetus to reverse a dire run of form. As it stands, Arsenal are now in the driving seat to claim third place in the Premier League, and the Champions League accoutrements that it brings.
There was, however, one shaft of light beaming through the gloom. When Scott Parker was sent off for a second booking after steaming into a tackle with Thomas Vermaelen, it capped off a miserable day for Spurs. The tackle, while not malicious, was fully deserving of censure, and symbolised a desperate day for his team.
Rather than trudging off in self-pity (the conventional method of walking off after a red card), Parker would momentarily remain on the pitch without complaint, to check on his fallen opponent, to ensure that the tackle didn’t inflict any significant damage. He then shook the player’s hand to show that there were no hard feelings.
While Spurs fans would be forgiven for not caring about such a gesture (indeed, it will be entirely forgotten if Arsenal do go on to claim third spot), it was a pleasure to witness as a neutral. All too often we hear the strained epithet “He’s not that sort of player”, the flimsy integrity of which can be summarised by this diagram:
With this in mind, in a game blighted by inflated egos, astronomical salaries and Adrian Chiles, it was good to see a rare moment of genuine sportsmanship, even if was borne of a moment of frustration.