John Bostock – where did it all go wrong?

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John Bostock

For those looking to keep tabs on the fortunes of our youngsters at White Hart Lane, you don’t have to go very far to find out how they’re all getting on.

Most Spurs fans’ timelines are choc-a-bloc with Tweets detailing how our fantastic U21 side have been coping with life in the rather tediously titled ‘Professional Development League’ and beyond.

Furthermore, the mainstream coverage that the NextGen tournament has attained – in which our boys sadly went out of at the hands of Sporting Lisbon last night in a spirited 5-3 defeat – has ensured a lot more of us are suddenly a hell of a lot more knowledgeable when it comes to the future that’s coming through the ranks.

Yet there is one younger player on the books in N17, whose absence from the consciousness of the wider Tottenham support feels depressingly palpable.

Far from playing in last night’s 5-3 NextGen defeat or even lacing his boots up to train with the rest of the Development Squad at Spurs’ Enfield HQ this morning, John Bostock will have been spending today looking to prove to Toronto FC manager Ryan Nelsen that he deserves a starting berth in the weekend’s game against LA Galaxy.

Indeed, where as at 21-years-old, the greater English footballing public might well have once expected young Bostock to be pushing on towards a starting berth both for club and country, the former Crystal Palace midfielder is instead spending his fifth season at Spurs out in the wilderness in the MLS. And what’s more, he’s probably likely to leave the club this summer without clocking up a single minute of league action for us, either.

Now on what is his fifth loan-deal with the club, one-time Spurs defender Ryan Nelsen – now of course the manager of the recently established Canadian outfit – seemed to confirm the impending expiration of his contract with the club, by telling The Canadian Press: “He’s a Tottenham player until July…and then he comes over to us.”

Before we start getting snobbish with our footballing counterparts across the Atlantic, it’s worth noting that there’s nothing wrong with going to ply your trade in the States. Indeed, during his second match against Montreal Impact, Bostock found himself lining up against one Alessandro Nesta and lining up crosses for a certain Robert Earnshaw in attack.

Using the legendary Nesta as a yardstick is of course grossly disproportionate, but where as Earnshaw enjoyed a good decade within English football, tasting the glory of the Premier League along the way, our Bostock’s career seems to have gone over to the MLS before it even started in this country.

Yet his hopes haven’t been robbed by the curse of injury, like so many talented youngsters’ in the game are. Neither were they confounded by a Billy-big-bollocks attitude, like we’ve seen with the Ravel Morrisons of this world. For Bostock, it seems it’s simply just never happened.

Often with cases such a Bostock’s, very rarely is the narrative one without a spot of self-destruction and given the amount of publicity his transfer attained at the time, perhaps many of us find it easier to believe he was just a bit of a prat, rather than the fact it simply didn’t work out.

But Bostock’s tale hasn’t been one scarred by brash nights out and a taste for the high life. Yes he was paid a little better than you average 16-year-old, but as a devout Christian and one that married as a teenager, you don’t get the impression that he was out pissing it all up the wall a la Michael Johnson.

Listening to him speak in interviews over the years, it’s felt incredibly difficult to not buy into the sincerity of a lad who has always insisted that he’s ‘just wanted to play.’ And for the most part of the Harry Redknapp era, he was very rarely allowed to do that.

There were a few grumblings about his occasional moaning in not beign able to seek a route to the first-team and this quite rightly gave some supporters the hump, especially when some of his more talented peers – Gareth Bale included – simply kept schtum and worked their socks off when the chips were down.

Although ultimately, perhaps our expectations around Bostock were fuelled by hype, rather than measured logic. Hindsight’s a wonderful thing, but some of the assumptions coming out of a mere four very mixed performances for Crystal Palace, were astonishingly overzealous and for as much promise as he showed at youth level, he hadn’t played anywhere near enough football to suggest a fruitful career at any level – let alone in the Premier League – were guaranteed.

A victim of our scattergun loan system, while some – most notably Steven Caulker – may have prospered, many, including Dean Parrett, Jonathan Obika and Simon Dawkins, most certainly have not. Andros Townsend may now be prospering at QPR, but it’s taken Spurs a staggering nine loan moves to get to this stage and more of his stints away from the club have arguably been a hindrance, rather than a success. Indeed regardless of whether Bostock was desisted to make it, the club might not necessarily have done all it could to help him.

Should Bostock leave Spurs at the end of the season, it will be a bitterly disappointing tale for all involved. But for both club and supporters, there’s plenty for us to learn from a player whose time at Tottenham was besieged by hype and neglected of opportunity. Either way, we should all wish him well, in whatever happens in his footballing future.



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