Stratford. It’s been discussed to death, then gets resuscitated and has the life sucked out of it once more before being dragged out of its shallow grave and throttled for just around the hundredth time. For some, it's a brutal interrogation. For others an itch that can be easily scratched.
It’s unlikely to change any time soon. Even with Boris rubber stamping the N17 project. I'll ignore the finer details of the various approval stages and clarity on funding until a later time when we know more. And I'll humour the prospect of East London because Levy believes its plausible even though others would suggest it would never be allowed to happen.
Humour on we go.
Spurs fans are split over the arguments for and against moving. Financially and in terms of progress, moving there makes sense if you take into account the avoidance of huge potentially crippling debt. A new chapter, same club, new area. The identity of the club is the fans so no matter where we stand or sing there won't be too much bother, right?
Well, no possibly wrong. Because philosophically it irks many of us considering the abuse aimed at Arsenal for their nomadic journey from South London to North London, renaming Gillespie Road etc etc. Football for many transcends corporate hospitality.
Let's have a sing-a-long...
"North London is ours North London is oooooooours, **** off back to Woolwich, North London is ours" - sang to the tune of Beach Boys / Sloop John B
...for how much longer we'll have to wait and see.
Might be just five miles down the road from N17 (doesn't look far at all when viewed on google maps) the traditionalists do not want to lose what they define as the clubs identify which is something that over time can quite possibly happen. Hypothetically, the next generation or two of Spurs fans will be born into a club that resides in East London and may well never know anything different. The sentiment here is – we are Tottenham. And the very essence of any club is where the club is even if most of us travel into the area and don't actually live there.
If West Ham left their current location the same identity make over would happen to them over time. Upton Park sits in an unwelcoming area which still provides character and provokes an atmosphere. At least it does when we visit. Although that might still happen if they moved into the Olympic Stadium and we visited Stratford instead. But I'll hazard a guess that it will be far less moody. In fact it wont be the same thing at all. But then going to the Emirates rather than Highbury hasn't changed the match-day buzz and hatred. But then they haven't actually moved out of their squat attachment area. Just up the road into a new swamp.
Is five miles East up the road?
These types of non-associations to revenue increase intricateness are the anchors to our tribal instincts. It's the stuff some would render irrelevant to progression and ample for sacrifice. Time and its annoying way of changing stuff, the interfering SOB. Football is forever changing and compared to the 1980's it's changed massively from terraces to CCTV to all seaters to family sections and executive boxes.
And this is where it gets messy. People’s perception of what defines a club is varied from one to the next. Traditionalists versus new agers. Tottenham’s history will never be in doubt. That can never be altered and will always be spoken about and remembered and past on from father to son. But the unity of fans at our club still remains strong and I hardly feel like I'm detached from the majority (even though there are plenty of head-shaking moments).
So, five miles? Okay, so you don't need to live or be born in Tottenham to claim the supporting bloodline so the new agers will argue that it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things and that the club and the fans are far stronger in spirit than a location/area and it's geographical importance. So if the Spurs landscape was to change then it would be no different to what has happened with Arsenal. You know, that thing with Arsenal. You know it right? The thing with the south and the move and renaming and stuff.
I personally have no idea if anyone in Woolwich or South London support or perceive Arsenal as their club considering they’ve moved. I doubt it. It's been along time. I do know Spurs and one or two others were not happy with them shifting desperately into North London. And it sort of turns my stomach to think that had they remained in South London, would all of their North London based fans have supported...nah, let’s not go there.
What about the national stadium? Wembley is North London, right? It's not been discussed as an option for ages because it's not an option. If we did move there – would you be happy with it? Geographically you would argue that Stratford is closer to our current home, so back to the question of whether we are all getting dizzy over the semantics of location and the name of said location?
We’re Tottenham, we’re North London, we sing it in songs, we remind our neighbours about it – in fact it’s the reason our neighbours are rivals and enemies. Perhaps if we moved to Stratford, in thirty years time, West Ham will be considered our main rivals (easy there Spammers, it's still 30 years off and it's theoretical so stick the champagne back into the ice bucket) because of the bitterness caused by moving onto their patch. Whilst over in North London, Arsenal are sat there on their own, Billy-no-mates. Doubtful of course that many many decades of hatred would be dismissed because of a five mile move. But one or two new songs will be birthed, for and against, by our fans and rival fans. And over time, priorities of hatred will probably change. But then we shouldn't be defining ourselves on who hates us. Who cares? But the point is - the club (five miles or not) will change at various fundamental levels which are dismissive to some but imperative to others.
These (dare I say) little things are important to many and outweigh the current obsessions with financial clout and branding and this relentless objective to expand and turn into footballing beast. Which is hardly a little thing. We need a 60,000 (more or less) ground.
Am I doing a good job of illustrating confliction of the soul?
I don’t think Stratford will be handed over to us if we wanted it any ways. I'd be shocked. Riots on the streets and such. Levy planting a flag on the site of the Olympic Stadium whilst chased by Sullivan and Gold and Brady who are throwing jellied eels and mash in his direction, foaming at mouth.
Haringey are blatantly taking the mick, as you would expect, with Levy in terms of using us to regenerate the area with our money as they appear to have no available monies to do the job themselves. Politics at play. Feasibility it seems on paper is winning the battle to remain ahead of matters of the heart. £460M is potentially crippling, as mentioned many times already - by fans and club.
And the club has to move forward, because it's not certain we can do it standing still?
So what do we do?
I don’t know.
What I do know is; there is an immediate necessity to reshape the club’s progression to maximise revenue in-order to remain competitive and appease the thousands waiting for season ticket availability and fans who wish to hold onto the past with what makes it special to be a Tottenham fan who do not want the foundations dug up and replaced with new building blocks of identity. We fear change. And those little things discussed surrounding rivalries, generational associations and geographic history - they matter.
Unfortunately suggestions that we should re-look at perhaps slowly rebuilding WHL, a stand at a time, are not considered viable. And remaining at a standstill would equate to stagnation.
This should not feel like being stuck between a rock and a hard place.
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