Tottenham till I die
A question was posed on a forum asking why you support who you support. Not highly original, I know, but it's always interesting to delve into the responses to see how other peoples allegiances were birthed.
Your answer ought to be geographically influenced, but commonly it's down to immediate family and on occasions, if you are devoid of having a dad (or mum) or siblings who are interested in the beautiful game you just pick whomever is top of the league. Which is why when I was a young lad everyone in London seemed to support Liverpool*.
*Two minutes silence for their current plight please people. Two minutes.
Of course, not everyone glory-hunts. And many live abroad and simply fall in love with the history or traditions of a club in another country, based on a game they've witnessed or a book they've read or the majesty of a shirt. I appreciate that not everyone is pre-selected.
I had the privilege (curse) of having a family of Spurs supporters around me. I was also born in Tottenham. Well actually, no I wasn't. A hospital on Tottenham Court Road. Well, actually the hospital was just a brisk walk from Tottenham Court Road. Nowhere near N17, but that's just a technicality. Tottenham Court Road, right? COYS.
My grandfather (God rest his soul) was a keen follower and frequenter of White Hart Lane during the 50's and 60's and my uncle, a fanatic during the 70's hardly missed a game. The latter, the one who influenced me and guided me into the light that is Lilywhite.
No rebellious I want to support someone else or I like their badge so I'm going to choose this lot instead - which wasn't uncommon, again, with people who had no given affiliations to a club when they were old enough to understand and make their selection. A successful team, usually defeating the local team as the winning option if they wished to fast-track themselves to the top tier. But plenty followed their hearts instead.
How some families managed to be split down the middle between two clubs always fascinated me. It's fragmentation that can never be resolved. My dad supports Spurs. My brother. My sister. My uncle's kids. We have no split. I did celebrate Trevor Brookings goal in the 1980 Cup final by running outside into the garden and attempting to head the ball into an imaginary net but that isn't confliction, it's a natural reaction. An acceptable lapse. A Newcastle supporting father and a Sunderland supporting son a story I remember hearing about. They hardly spoke, always fought. Football before family, always.
Reminds me of a bloke who stood in front of me in one of the East stand turnstiles back in the very early 90's. 1991 season I reckon, home to the scum. 0-0. Gooners waving their wallets at us from the Park Lane. Gazza almost scoring an own goal as I stood in the corner of the Shelf side in those cracking days of terraces. So this bloke in the queue had a Spurs and Arsenal badge on his jumper. A ridiculous paradox.
"I support both", he stated proudly.
The steward looked at me and I just blankly stared back. If you support two clubs, two rival clubs, then you've not quite grasped the concept, have you? It's like people who ask the question: Who's you favourite team? There is no place for favourite team in football. If you do it properly, you don't have a favourite team. You just have the one. A relationship for life. No break-up. Plenty of heartaches and headaches, and the two of you are together until your very last breath.
'Yeah, so, I really love Man U but I dig Real Madrid in their all white kit and also adore Wolves because they got a cool name. So Utd are my best, Madrid my second bestest and Wolves my third bestestest. If any of them play each other, I'd like a draw'
If you ever met someone who stated a resemblance of the above, I wouldn't look down on you if you smothered and buried him in a shallow grave in Epping forest. Favourite? There's no room for favouritism. Following the results of your local side, if you perhaps don't actually support your local side isn't betrayal. There are no affairs and no two-timing. 100% unequivocal commitment. You love your team, but you can have a soft spot for your local side. Bit like some Spurs fans I know who watch Barnet or Orient. They don't 'love' Barnet. They would practically (heavily metaphorically) die for Spurs.
However, every now and again we do get some Sol Campbells amongst us. Ooh.
My brother-in-law knew someone who, after a depressing Saturday at the Lane in a depressing season (I guess the mid-90's), and partly thanks to some peer-pressure from outside his group of friends, 'quit' supporting Spurs and not long after ended up an Arsenal fan. Quitting because your team lost? Spare a thought for supporters of clubs who never climb out of the lower tier divisions. The spirit of Benedict Arnold lives on with some.
I knew someone a few years back, a Hammers fan, who revealed he was a Spurs fan when he was a teenager but ended up following the Irons because his group of mates got involved with the ICF and he was more interested in the friendships and fighting than the football. It was, to him, more about being part of a group. A hooligan rather than standing on his own every Saturday at 3pm. Each to their own I guess.
My personal favourite (I'm using that word here because it's in context) has to be the story about these two blokes (in Leyton at the time), one of whom was completely disinterested in football and the other a West Ham fan. They both lusted after this one girl who was an Arsenal supporter. And both of them became gooners as a consequence to win her over. They both actually dated her, one after the other (she went out with one, dumped him then went out with the other one). The two blokes even had a punch up at one point outside the local pub. Heated stuff. The bloke who supported West Ham and defected for the sake of having her thighs wrapped round his back, paraded himself in a JVC shirt often without shame.
It's a bit like shitting yourself in public whilst wearing white trousers. You will never live it down. Nobody will forget the humiliation. The white trousers are bad enough, but the diarrhoea? It will define you forever. How could anyone look you in the eyes and take you seriously after something like that? You would automatically lose all credibility. For life. A few years later I spotted him back in a West Ham shirt. Pathetic.
You simply cannot disdain the fabric of football and the lack of its complexities relating to allegiances. It's quite simple. You choose your team and are bound to them for life. No get out clause. That's it.
As for me, I have an almost five month old baby daughter (I've managed to part name her after our beloved club - work it out yourselves) so getting her to follow the Spurs might be a difficult task if her mother pampers her with shopping trips, Jimmy Choos and Gucci handbags when she's old enough to succumb to the frivolous vanity driven past-times of womanhood. However, there is hope. When she was just two months old, she projectile vomited when Cesc Fabregas appeared on the tv during a Sky Sports News report. There's hope for my THFC family bloodline yet.
You've been reading the second part of Spooky's International Break diary journals.
Part one can be read here.