The 2013-14 season was not the best of times to be a West Ham United fan.
You may remember it as the season when Sam Allardyce’s team lost 5-0 to Nottingham Forest and 6-0 to Manchester City in the space of four days, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
It’s also the season in which they managed to lose twice to a Crystal Palace team that scored 33 goals all season, while the Hammers’ own top scorer, Kevin Nolan, ended the season with only five more goals than red cards (seven to two, if you’re counting).
With that in mind, it would be very embarrassing if another team managed to lose three times to them over the course of the campaign. You might, indeed, call it Spursy.
Tottenham weren’t at their best in 2013-14, but they were better than West Ham by quite a distance. At least in theory.
Andre Villas-Boas had lifted them to a record points total the season before and, while the loss of Gareth Bale over the summer hit them hard, this was still very much a top-half team while West Ham very much could not be described in such terms.
To lose to West Ham once would be forgivable, seeing as the previous season’s games had been relatively close (3-1 and 3-2 wins for Spurs). And, while Spurs remained strong before the September meeting with 13 points from six games, their visitors had just five points – and just four goals – from the same number of fixtures.
Allardyce’s team had scored a grand total of 0 goals in their three away games, so obviously they ran away with a 3-0 victory. We got all kinds of goal, too – Winston Reid scoring after the ball rebounded off a team-mate, Ricardo Vaz Tê scoring with a rebound off his own body after hitting his first shot directly at Hugo Lloris, and Ravel Morrison running half the length of the field to score a stunning solo goal.
None of these players could score the same goal again: Morrison’s was a once in a lifetime thing, Vaz Tê couldn’t possibly have planned that kind of richochet, and Reid? Well, he hasn’t even played a club game in 18 months and hasn’t scored a goal of any kind since 2016.
Luckily for Spurs, the League Cup quarter-final in December gave them a chance to make amends.
They did just that when Emmanuel Adebayor smashed home a volley to put them ahead at White Hart Lane, and then… they did very much not that.
Spurs had even changed managers just days before, Villas-Boas losing his job after a 5-0 loss at home to Liverpool and Tim Sherwood taking temporary charge. It wasn’t enough, however, to lift the most bizarre of curses.
Matt Jarvis equalised, with his first away goal in 14 months. Then, with five minutes remaining, up stepped Modibo Maïga. That’s right, the same Modibo Maïga who, despite being a ‘striker’, had been on a run of 19 games without a goal. No wonder the reaction of the West Ham players was part joy, part embarrassment.
Spurs picked up a bit of form under Sherwood, at least, while West Ham went the other way to the point that Allardyce’s job seemed in the balance on a near-weekly basis.
In May, the Hammers were on a run of seven defeats from nine, with one of the exceptions coming in the form of a narrow home win over Hull after which the team was booed off after winning. In short, not great.
Spurs were benefitting from the breakthrough of a young striker named Harry Kane, while West Ham’s squad didn’t really believe in youth after Allardyce threw several teenagers to the wolves at Forest and froze out Morrison, the one bright spark of the early part of the season.
The opener, naturally was a Kane own goal, as he flicked an Andy Carroll header out of the reach of Lloris. The second came from Stewart Downing, a man who had gone more than a year without finding the net. His previous goal? For Liverpool, in March 2013, against… Tottenham.
In the 25 games either side of the 2013-14 season, West Ham beat Tottenham just five times. Three for three in the interim? Well, that’s just careless.