Fabrice Muamba's Collapse: The Class of Fans Shows the Heart of White Hart Lane

Frank Wagner@Fw1812Correspondent IMarch 19, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 17:  William Gallas of Tottenham Hotspur reacts as Fabrice Muamba of Bolton Wanderers lies injured on the pitch during the FA Cup Sixth Round match between Tottenham Hotspur and Bolton Wanderers at White Hart Lane on March 17, 2012 in London, England.  Fabrice Muamba suddenly collapsed and emergency services gave CPR treatment on the pitch, before taking him off on a stretcher, still unconscious.  The match was abandoned. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

In the midst of the harrowing scenes in North London on Saturday night, one couldn't help but feel the chills run up their spine.

Most of this feeling was the direct result of the concern any warm-blooded human felt for Fabrice Muamba, the 23-year-old Bolton midfielder who suddenly collapsed from an apparent cardiac arrest.

It was furthered by the distressed looks on the faces of the other players on the pitch. For me, this was typified by the shot of Rafael van der Vaart with his hands over his mouth while he either cried or forcibly held back tears.

But there was another moving component of those terrible scenes: the class and compassion showed by the Tottenham supporters at White Hart Lane.

To understand the implications of their actions, one must understand the situation in which the club found itself entering the match.

With Spurs' slump in full swing, the match was a great chance for them to find form before more Premier League matches (which are becoming increasingly important). Additionally, a replay would clutter Tottenham's schedule, a terrible prospect given their faltering grasp on a Champions League spot.

Given these factors, Spurs supporters must have been revved up for this match.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

Hence, it would have been understandable if, with an opposing player being down on the pitch receiving treatment, some people had started a bit of heckling.

Instead, the place went silent.

As the camera panned around the stands, people wearing Tottenham gear were shown with tears in their eyes, visibly upset or just staring at the pitch in a state of shock.

And then, after the situation had already carried on for minutes, the unthinkable happened: a crowd of 33,000 voiced as one in the chanting of an opposing player's name.

Now, as we can now see just how critical the nature of the incident had been, it is easy to look back and brush off the significance of the fans at the Lane—after all, what sane human would root against another as he fights for his life in front of them?

However, without the facts and with the protection of a mass of people around you, it would have been easy for people to continually shout insults or directives to get up.

The fact that this did not happen and that they even went so far the other way as to lead a chant of "Fabrice Muamba" certainly sent chills up my spine.

In the end, the actions of the fans becomes a footnote to the health of Muamba; of course, I do not want this article to take away from the thoughts and prayers going out to the young man.

Those fans that night, though, typified the human condition and the ability of the human spirit to rise above football.

In the throes of a terrible moment for everyone involved, the heart of White Hart Lane shone through.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.