My story may not be as emotional or connected as some of the other fans within our club. I am a fairly young supporter, but a proud one. I just wanted to express my emotions before the weekend about how much this club and the Lane means to me.
I was raised outside the UK and started following Tottenham in the 2010/11 season. I was around fifteen at that time. From where I come from, prior to that season, and even for the next few years, only Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea were the recognized clubs in England with established fan bases around. Manchester United and Arsenal were the more widely supported clubs though. Hence, in attempts to follow the Premier League, I watched a lot of Liverpool, since my father and my older brother were United supporters and I craved for some household rivalry. The only reason I truly followed them was for a handful number of players (Alonso, Torres and a couple others), and once they left, I had no attachment to the club whatsoever. That’s what happens when you’re an international fan; you are limited to what you feel about the club. Of course, when the club wins or loses, you would have the same emotions as any other fan would, but it just didn’t feel right. I never had the passion which I saw other fans and supporters have, and certainly didn’t have that attachment which I really craved for. Since this was a period before “football twitter” was actually a thing worldwide, I couldn’t connect with the fans as well, never to understand what it really meant to be a “supporter”.
I stopped following any particular team then and just watched football as a neutral until my brother introduced me to the glorious 4-3 game against Inter Milan. I remember watching the highlights on youtube, over, and over, and over again. That Gareth Bale run, three almost identical goals, that willingness to stay in the game, never give up, it just was unbelievable. I started reading more into a club I had no previous knowledge whatsoever, whose game I probably watched once on the telly but could hardly remember about. A club whose motto around the stadium was “To Dare Is To Do”. A club were known for their style and achieving the unachievable whilst amongst giants, whose most famous manager loved it so much that he made it a part of his life. It just seemed…different.
Fast forward to 2012, the year I understood what it was truly to be a Tottenham fan. We lost to Arsenal 5-2, a game I can never forget. It instilled the rivalry and made me realise the true meaning of being a Tottenham fan back then, the pain and Spursy moments which you just had to and have to expect even when you least expect them. By now I was a fairly active fan and learned everything I could about this club. I was fortunate enough to get enrolled to a University in Manchester which meant I would have a chance to watch Spurs live, get to be around supporters for the first time and be a part of that. I would be lying if I said it’s something people for outside England or any other place in Europe dream of, to see their team live and be a part of the supporters.
The first Tottenham game I got to watch was against Manchester City at the Etihad stadium. 11th November 2012. We lost 2-1. Regardless of the scoreline, I remember that game as a win. We sing our hearts out. I remember being seated up close near the corner flag, Spurs wore the half black and grey third kit for that season. The first time I witnessed the “Oh when the Spurs” chant in person and the chills I felt under my skin. It was beautiful.
My first visit to the Lane was prior to this, 29th October 2012. It was an open day training event and I just happened to be free. This was my first time alone in London. Not knowing how to get around, I landed up at Tottenham Hale station. I felt lost. I asked for directions and just walked straight down where I was told the stadium would be. It was nearly a thirty minutes’ walk. Over a halfway through, I could see it. I was never this excited to see a stadium. I had been the Old Trafford and the Etihad prior to this, but however big or menacing they looked at first; they didn’t give me the same feeling. My first game at White Hart Lane was against Crystal Palace a year later. A 1-0 victory and not the ideal first game anyone would’ve wanted.
My favorite game I’ve watched at the Lane was a 3-2 win against Swansea City on 28th February 2015. I was seated right next to their supporters and it was MADNESS. Other than the goals, more than the game I can remember us versus them in the stands. It was a vocal fantasy for those couple of blocks, which in the end was cheered and respected by both sets of fans. The only other time I had that much fun in the stands was while seated in Block 35 for a Europa League game. From the first minute to the last, it was wild. I lost my voice and I’d definitely do that again if I could.
My last visit to the Lane was against Burnley this season. A 2-1 win, a rather stressful one. We were one goal down but once we equalised, the sense of belief was felt. It’s something I noticed that was growing since the season before, yet before that, it was more of fear. I’ve always visited a game at White Hart Lane alone but the togetherness during the games is what made me feel at a place I belonged.
The mentality that the team and the club overall we have now is unbelievable. In these last five years, I didn’t expect the club to grow so rapidly. I signed up for the experience of being a Tottenham fan, to feel the good and bad of football, to support the club that if even at its lowest knowing is giving its all to push for its fans. Knowing our greatest rivals had the upper edge for nearly two decades. Knowing we were taken out from our best assets and fought our way back the right way. Knowing our glorious history of being the first is what is to be proud of and something I’d want to see repeated in my lifetime. For me, the moment you step into the Lane, you remember all of this; you remember what it is to be a Tottenham Hotspur supporter. Whether you’ve supporter the club for less than a year, or more than thirty, if you have the same emotions the moment you step into the game, especially at home, you know that’s the right club for you. There’s been a lot of debate this season amongst fans itself that who is a true supporter and who isn’t, it doesn’t matter, as long as you know you’re aligned with the club and the fans, and accept what the club has to offer to you personally.
I am looking forward to the new stadium; it’s a new chapter for the club and for us, the supporters. But one thing it won’t be able to replicate is the atmosphere, the prematch buzz, and the glorious celebrations with the fans and players. If we manage to carry out that same unity into the new stadium and bring in that charm of our past, embracing it, we’ll be able to make the new White Hart Lane a fortress, and home for all of us.
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