I was talking to a West Ham supporter a few weekends ago. He told me he hates Spurs fans (what a shocker) because we always want more than what we have. He cited how many of us didn't want Harry Redknapp and after the progressive success he achieved with our rise to Champions League football we wanted him out and replaced with a better more advanced coach (well some of us did). I asked him what he meant and why desiring something more was such an irritation to him.
"You didn't have it before, he gave you it, and you cry over something that was out of your reach".
The point he's making, I guess, is practically identical to the one Redknapp made. We've never had it so good. The West Ham supporter didn't see it as an issue that we blew a ten point lead because we've never had such a lead over Arsenal before so we should accept (gleefully) that we were even in such a position. That's when I laughed. Out loud. If I had any fireworks in my back pockets I would have set them off at about that point in our discussion for added effect.
I told him he just illustrated the difference between the two sets of fans (us and them). Although both pride themselves on a certain style of football and football player and that this tradition is very much the building block of our identities that doesn't mean we can't aspire for more. That we can't want for more. Tottenham fans have always been accused of dreaming, yet give or take a long and winding road coupled by the odd drama here or there, our dreams tend to come true. That's the fuel that drives the club forward rather than simply accepting any given harsh reality and never believing you'll shift out of it from mediocrity to magic. I told my 'mate' in claret and blue that the mantra of 'as good as it gets' is better suited to a club that is eternally apologetic for its failures.
Although it's fair to say the pressure of wanting success has broken the supportive spirits of some of our more fickle faithful, we still aspire to see the Tottenham traditions play out and we still dream of glory glory nights. Why shouldn't we? It's our club. It's identity is our identity.
"I don't measure the way I support Tottenham by the standards you set supporting your own club"
...I told him.
During those dark seasons in mid-table, we still supported the team and sang our hearts out but we all wanted consistency and sustained challenges. No doubt the fallacy at the time was the fact we were never truly in a position to challenge for that. Flattered to deceive every year, one transitional season after another. Always believing the hype, always spending the money but never actually making progress. We were nowhere near the monopoly that began to dominate domestic football and we were soon left behind whilst they (the 'top four') grew stronger with the support of Sky. We weren't even punching above our weight. Not even throwing a punch. But we kept believing, be it with a certain element of fanciful day dreams because it wasn't really until the Jol era that progress was made and the first cracks in that monopoly began to appear. But there was still work to be done. The club and the supporters never stopped aiming high. Had we sat back and accepted it, then we'd still be sat in a culture of comfort.
"Stand still, and you're more likely to be pushed over", I stated.
He asked what my point was.
"Your football club is what you make of it", I replied.
What does he make of his own club? Hard to tell without resorting to stereotypes. He thinks Spurs v West Ham is bigger than Spurs v Arsenal - but then there's a fair few that feel the same (I guess in the same way Chelsea hump our leg). I cited the fact that he's happy to see his club yo-yo because that's what they do, from Championship to Premier League, back and forth. He agreed. I then cited that it wasn't that long ago they used us as a measurement of success, something they tend to do when they're up and not down. Didn't their owners state they wouldn't sell players to a rival club? He asked what my point was. I told him I didn't have a point to make. Just an observation. They talk about us all the time. We talk about them every couple of seasons when our paths usually cross.
The conversation (the football part of it, we did discuss other matters) ended with him stating his hatred for Spurs (our supporters) and how he hates us more than anything and that finishing above us is all that matters. I told him that's exactly what my point was if there was one to be made. Defining their identity by our existence.
I guess its good to be loved. I say loved but there's a fine line between that and hate. And boy do they hate us. Probably because of articles like this.
I'd churn out more if I had the time.
This Saturday Gary Mabbutt will be signing copies of Julie Welch's 'The Biography of Tottenham' and 'Glory Glory Nights' by Martin Cloake and Adam Powley along with the updated edition of the 'Spurs Miscellany' at Waterstones in:
Walthamstow from 11am - 12pm
Enfield at 1pm
Click here for more info.