Why Spurs?

32

I was chatting with some friends recently when the subject of how we ended up following our respective teams came up.

You see, my friends are a motley bunch in terms of their backgrounds and occupations, but their choice of football clubs is far more prosaic. Predictably, clubs such as Man United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs are all supported, but this group was in the main brought up and lives within the M25 and home counties.

This got me thinking, how did I end up a Spurs fan? What transpired some 24 years ago in a suburban junior school playground that means to this day I am a proud Lilywhite, rather than a Red Devil, a Kopite or, heaven forfend, a Gooner or a Blue?

I was a relatively late starter in terms of following football. It wasn’t until I reached the age of nine or ten that I started to develop a real interest in the game. This initial reticence could be attributed to the fact that my dad and older brother weren’t fans of any particular team other than England. I consider this to have been an advantage; unencumbered by family patronage or loyalties, I was able to plough my own furrow.

As a schoolboy growing up in Hendon, northwest London, I was told you should always support your local club. It wasn’t clear at the time if this was to be taken literally. Was I supposed to conduct research and deduce a list of local clubs and calculate exact distances from my parents’ home?  Or was I meant to accept the diktat in a looser sense and pick the nearest decent professional or top tier club?

Naturally, the capital boasts an abundance of professional football teams, particularly north of the river. As such, I could easily have ended up an Arsenal, Barnet, Brentford, Chelsea, Fulham, Leyton Orient, QPR, or even a West Ham fan – I still shudder at the thought. Gladly for me though, the fates were in my favour on the auspicious day I finally declared my allegiance to the Lilywhite half of the Great Divide.

Back in the halcyon days of the 1989-90 season the football landscape was quite different to the norm we know today. Liverpool, very much the dominant force in English football, went on to beat Aston Villa to the First Division title. Spurs finished third due in part to top scorer Gary Lineker’s goals. Arsenal, the previous season’s champions, finished fourth ahead of Chelsea, the winners of the Full Members Cup, whatever that was. Manchester United won the F.A. Cup, giving the then un-knighted Alex Ferguson his first English trophy, but they ended the season in a lowly 13th position. Nottingham Forest lifted the League Cup and finished ninth.

Being an impressionable boy, I was easily swayed by the overtures of my schoolmates who were a mixture of Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs fans. Truth be told, I came very close to opting for Liverpool who had amassed an impressive haul of English and European trophies throughout the 1980s. However, not being a London team, I refrained.

The vast majority of my classmates supported Arsenal, so you would imagine they’d have been the obvious choice. However, my junior school nemesis was a Gooner and this put me right off! Coincidentally, this situation was replicated at my secondary school. To this day, I find most Arsenal fans to be pretty objectionable (except for my boss Steve, of course, in case he’s reading).

The person solely responsible for my becoming a Spurs fan was my best mate at junior school, Adam (who is sadly no longer with us). He was completely insistent that I support the club and wore me down. But before I was permitted to pledge allegiance to Tottenham Hotspur, I was required to undertake an initiation, and no, it wasn’t a circumcision! Rather, it was committing to memory and reciting the full 1989-90 squad list.

And so, after an evening’s revision, I duly managed to reel off a long list of surnames, some of which must have seemed quite unusual, and possibly exotic, to a nine-year-old boy from suburban Hendon: Thorstvedt, Stevens, Mabbutt, Fenwick, Bergsson, Samways, Howells, Gascoigne, Allen, Lineker, Nayim, Walsh, Sedgley, Thomas, Edinburgh, Tuttle, Moran, Hendon, Moncur, Van Den Hauwe, Houghton, and the Polston brothers.

Having successfully completed the task, Adam presented me with a Spurs woolly hat and a matching set of wrist sweatbands and with them the die was cast. The rest, as they say, is history.

But what about my mates mentioned earlier? What’s their story?

My best mate Nick grew up in Winchmore Hill but is a Liverpool fan. The reason? John Barnes. It is as simple as that.

Kathryn is a Manchester United fan, but – like me – she grew up in Hendon. Her defence? Her father is from Lancashire and her three older brothers are all fanatics. As such, she had absolutely no choice in the matter.

My brother-in-law, James, is also from the north west. He’s followed a number of teams over the years. He started out an Everton fan, but was persuaded by his friends to follow Liverpool instead. However, his attention was later drawn to an improving Blackburn side and the goals of Alan Shearer. Later still, he fell for Middlesbrough having met the club’s diminutive Brazilian star player, Juninho. Alas, Craig Hignett was not the main draw. Eventually, though, James was drawn back to the blue side of Merseyside courtesy of Kevin Campbell and the goals he scored to save the Toffees from relegation in 1999.

My wife, Libby, though now a Spurs fan, once supported Aston Villa because she liked the club’s shirt and at one time she possessed a signed photograph of Dean Saunders.

Paul hails from Middlesbrough and that’s the team he supports. Paul explained that coming from that region, there was no way he could have followed any other team.

Lastly, Ben grew up in Enfield and supports Arsenal, following in the footsteps of the entirety of his dad’s side of the family, who are all from Hackney originally. He used to be a ball boy at Highbury and once had to have a head wound stitched up after being caught by Philippe Albert’s studs.

What is clear from my own example and that of my friends is that the factors influencing our choice of club vary from the predictable (geography, family, peer pressure), to the more obscure (club colours, the attractiveness of a certain player), or else it’s simply the pursuit of glory.

But what is it exactly that keeps us following our beloved teams? Some fans may never experience the sheer joy of seeing their team win a piece of silverware. For others fans it’s been an excruciatingly long wait, whilst for the lucky ones it’s become routine.

There must surely be a common thread. What keeps all fans addicted in equal measure to the agony and ecstasy?

It’s hope.

Hope is the one thing that sustains us through the interminable close season break. It’s hope that causes us to frantically refresh the scores on our mobile phones. It’s hope that leads us to believe we’ll grab a late equaliser or a winner in the dying minutes of a game. And it’s hope that keeps us believing that, even though it’s not happened since before the introduction of colour TV, this season it’ll be different and we’ll bring the title back to White Hart Lane.

It may well have been plain old serendipity, but I’m glad my powers of recall enabled me to become a Spurs fan back in ‘89. Surely no other team is so expert at keeping us fans glued to the edge of our seats with hope?

COYS

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32 COMMENTS

  1. I really cant stand it when people pre judge peoples personalities on what football team they support. Yes football is great, but im not sure whether i support tottenham or arsenal really decideds how i morally and socially behave, other than in a football situation. Get over it mate, well done on picking a football team, I usually find people objectionable because they are just that. I dont base it on what football team they like

  2. I was born a Spurs fan as my mum and dad are both Spurs fans. However one day when flicking through a sticker album (premier league 95 so I would of been 6) I had a similar opinion to your wife Libby, I saw the Chelsea badge and kit and really liked it. With that in mind I turned to my dad and said "Dad I want to support Chelsea, I like there kit" in which he replied "You can support Chelsea, but you'll never be my son, I'll never buy you a shirt or take you to a game, Christmas would be cancelled and as for birthdays kiss them goodbye".

    Obviously there was a few choice words in between but 19 years later I'm still a Spurs fan and glad.

    COYS

    • So EVERY supporter of EVERY club sit there, doesn't matter if they have no ties to Spurs in anyway or what they rivals are doing, think why do Spurs fans become supporters of the club. Whoever you support your the biggest muppet of them all.

  3. @sam – I am over it, trust me. The remark regarding objectionable Arsenal fans was a slight dig in the ribs to my Gooner supporting mates. Where's the fun in club rivalry if you can't dish out and take some stick?!

    • Fair enough if i misinterpreted what was a playful dig. Its just a pet hate of mine when people make decisions on people because of what colour shirt they wear. Its definitely important to dish out stick and the likes, just doesnt make a person is all

  4. Well done on your first article Kevin. I especially liked the paragraph on "hope"; it's hope that sustains our affiliation to our various clubs (mine being Man City).

    The following lines made me chuckle:

    "I consider this to have been an advantage; unencumbered by family patronage or loyalties, I was able to plough my own furrow."

    "My wife, Libby, though now a Spurs fan, once supported Aston Villa because she liked the club’s shirt and at one time she possessed a signed photograph of Dean Saunders." – We all have to start somewhere!

    Looking forward to the next article.

  5. As an Aussie kid growing up in Melbourne Australia during the early 60's there were a lot of English migrant children at the local schools supporting Liverpool.Arsenal,Chelsea Man United etc.etc.,and they would ask me "what football team" did i follow and i would answer with my VFL Australian Rules side Geelong.

    They would say no no, we mean real football of which i knew absolutely nothing about at that time so i looked in the paper at the results and at that time Spurs were going very well with Jimmy Greaves and the like and i thought that Tottenham Hotspur sounded like a very cool name and have supported them ever since.

  6. Nice piece of writing. My reasons are almost exactly the same, just 10 years earlier. Ardiles, Hoddle and Perryman. Too good not to choose. The Gooners at my primary school were pr!cks too so being the contrary type, Spurs were the obvious choice in every way. I have quite a few Gooner mates these days despite my early experiences. They're a bit thick though.

  7. Love your article. Well I am a Gunner, and as one said, a person shouldn’t be judged based on the club he supports. Fans of arsenal and spurs have always been at each other’s neck. It just tells how passionate they are. But there are extremes. I love d bit about hope….. That is what makes d difference….I wish spurs the best in the coming season. GUNNERZ FOR LIFE

    • @jehi I'm glad you enjoyed my article. I hope you realised that the Gooner jibes were purely meant in jest. You're absolutely right. Rivalry and harmless banter is essential to the game. I echo sentiments and wish Arsenal every success for next season, so long as it's not at the expense of Spurs…again!

  8. Sono rimasto folgorato e innamorato degli "SPURS"nel 1983….e da allora il mio amore per questa squdra e sempre piu' cresciuto….come on you spurs

    • @piervittorio miatton Vi ringrazio di cuore per la vostra gentile risposta. Non capita spesso che io ricevo i messaggi in italiano. Spero che questa traduzione ha funzionato! Vieni ti Spurs!

  9. jimmy greaves did it for me, and here i am 45 years later and a proud spurs fan since, can't live without them, coys.

    • Have to agree with you was 7 when i started supporting Spurs , beat Chelsea in Cup Final that year and it Jimmy Greaves who was the man then

  10. As I live and was born in Cape Town, South Africa there was no geographic decisions to be made. My dad and brother are huge Chelsea fans but I had a big rivalry with my brother and was determined to be against him. Nobody of my friends supported spurs so I decided to be different and have never looked back. My favourite teacher inspired me to be a spurs supporter

  11. I'm American so its a miracle I support 'soccer' in the first place. The first match I ever watched was Man United away to Chelsea in 08 I believe. I was fascinated by the skill and grace that oozed from the game. Football was art in motion and I was hooked. I considered my self a United fan but over the next year or so I was never captivated or consumed by a passion for the club. I watched any and every game that cameon in the states . Then came the champions league ties with inter. Gareth Bales devastating runs up the flank, modric's sublime creativity through the middle, Dawson's passion. I knew I was watching a team that had every desire to attack and score, that stuck it to the opposition with fire and passion

  12. I started supporting Spurs just after I started watching football (WC 2010). I was at a birthday party of a friend in a restaurant and I saw a match of Spurs against Aston Villa where Van der Vaart scored two goals. From that moment on I new Tottenham was the right club for me. I felt like there was a piece of me in the club. I now love them even more then my home team Ajax.

  13. 1972, my best friends big brother arrived home from England with a heavenly white shirt on his person, being only 7 years of age and just starting to get interested in football I asked " what team is that" and his reply was "Super Spurs". Well that was it for me. I have been a die hard fan since that day and have lived through the highs and lows of following the Spurs and I am proud to say so is my son. We travel over from Ireland at least once a year and its a fantastic experiance each time. Cant wait for the new stadium when we will be challenging for the title every year. COYS

    • @Fran Donnelly I think the new stadium will have a profoundly positive affect on the team. The Spurs faithful make WHL pretty intimidating for opposition at the best of times, so imagine what it'll be like with c25,000 more. Also, the extra revenue from gate receipts, merchandise, and the rest, will help to bank roll the team. I really can't wait until we break ground on the new development. Just hope it doesn't end up with a stupid name, like Aurasma Arena. Whatever it gets called, it'll still be known as WHL.

  14. Although born in St. Thomas's Hospital (making me a Cockney-West Ham fans are NOT Cockneys as it is St Mary le Bow Church in Cheapside which qualifies you NOT Bow in the East End) my parents lived and were born in Tottenham – my paternal grandmother being born in Park Lane !! My first real memories of the Lillywhites are my father taking me to Tottenham Hgh Road (just about where the riots started a couple of years ago!) to see them on an open-top bus showing off the cups after they did the double, the year after the FACup and then the Cup Winners Cup in1963. I also lived only about mile and half away from the ground and could hear what was going on from my back garden! So it's only ever been the Liilywhites for me – how could it be anything else! I supported them as a teenager, and again later on as a season -ticket holder on the old shelf! Although now living in Herefordshire I always follow them on tv or computer Could we have a friendly aganst Hereford next year please?

    • I'm pretty sure that on a really clear day the noise from WHL will carry as far as Leominster, but if the conditions are perfect, the Emirates faithful can just about be heard in Highbury Fields. ;-)

      • I live near Ross-on-Wye so have had to resort to going to watch Gloucester rugby, as that is really only first class sport around here, but as you say, on a clear day I often think I can hear the roar of the crowd from WHL ! Or perhaps it's the wind in the trees! (lots of them around here!) At least it gets further than the Hammers' bubbles!!

  15. Good article, Kevin.
    Although I'm not sure that my own allegiance to Sutton United gives me any credibility at all! ;-)
    I, too, liked the paragraph about hope.

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