Thanks to that Croatian heartbreaker and those moody storm clouds brewing over N17, your departure has slipped by without hysterical headlines. And, wrongly, without too much mourning.
This is because, really, we barely knew you. For two years you were just the final name of the match day programme’s squad list, that ridiculous number 39 always slightly jarring. Of course, we’d occasionally catch wind of another doomed attempt to patch up that traitorous groin. There were those teasing training photos of you comparing alice bands with David Beckham. And that glorious 30 minute swansong at the San Siro. But football fans have short memories. And most of us refuse to recall the dark days. The fag end of Juande’s botched revolution. Harry’s whirlwind arrival and that miscast team’s clamber to safety.
But you stood tall long before we muttered darkly of 5th. During that uninterrupted spell of fitness, you were the perfect Ledley/Dawson hybrid. Rugged enough to rough us through the worst of it. A thoroughbred capable of “playing football’, as we stupidly say. And also, a brilliantly cynical defender. You knew when a wry trip of the heels was required to halt a frightful counter attack. Your battled-sharpened elbows always dangerous, but always out of the referee’s eyeline.
Of course, we’ll fondly remember your pinball League Cup winner against Chelsea, just five games into your Spurs stay. I’ll certainly remember the cruel promise your partnership with Ledley showed that day, a partnership to befall similar luck as the manager who signed you. But I’ll also remember your other Tottenham goal. Away at Hull on a bleak Monday night, balls deep into a relegation dogfight, you headed an 86th minute winner we ill deserved. But it re-energised our survival bid. And from that exact moment, we’ve not given relegation another moment's thought. We now fret about competing in Europe’s secondary showpiece competition. In no small thanks to your winner away at Hull.
So thanks, Woody. Not just for that day at Wembley in 2008. But for sorting that lily-livered team out. I’ll be gutted to see you trot out for Leeds, or another smart team that’ll take a chance on you this summer. But I’ll also be thrilled when I read that inevitable piece in the Sunday Times about your against-all-odds rejuvenation in around October.
Good luck. You'll always be a Spur.