North London Hattrick
The Day the hate came by BardiTFC
It means more by WindyCOYS
The Walking Dead by Spooky
There was an article I read in The Spur fanzine many years ago that spoke about the rivalry between Spurs and Arsenal being the purest of all the derby games. The essence of this thought is that the clash is solely about football. No landlord disputes where one local club is birthed from another. No political undertones or employment grievances. No religion or social class wars to add complexities to something that should really play out with simplicity.
Tottenham Hotspur hate Arsenal because they are Arsenal and we hate them because history fuels us to do so. They hate us too. Although as I’m unable to place myself in the mind of a gooner (something not too dissimilar to losing your individuality and humanity and becoming part of a collective dystopian conciousness masquerading as utopia) I can only imagine their hatred is one of insecurity and self-loathing because everything they’ve ever done has happened without soul. The one they momentarily owned, they took off us.
You might suggest that there’s a geographical reason for the dislike – much like local towns or cites that sit near to each other. That’s always going to play a part but that connection that ignites true rivalry has to go beyond a couple of postcodes. West Ham United aren’t that far off from our patch but along with the likes of Chelsea they are both afterthoughts compared to the neighbours up the road with the ghastly red and white scarves and narcissistic statues.
I’ve been here before. I’ve written about ‘the history’ and many like to point out that something that happened in the last century should no longer be relevant. Along with the suggestion that modern day supporters should not be made accountable for chapters in a clubs past that have been practically lost in the depths of football folklore. Time does that. It devalues the importance of an event or incident simply because we do not have a connection to it. It belongs to a forgotten generation.
New generations of supporters will not care for these original building blocks because their club is how built on more recent memories.
Does that mean the folklore it’s null and void?
The folklore remains factual. They began life as Woolwich, playing next to sewage works in Plumstead. Yes, I’m referring to how they should have gone out of existence. Yes, I’m referring to their desperate attempt to merge with Fulham or settle anywhere they could. This is a football club that died and was resuscitated by the ills of bribery and corruption. The birth of the truly definitive franchise, an opportunity to make money because the legacy of its former self could never be reborn in its rightful home in South London.
Now none of this, you might dare to argue, has a thing to do with the actual football. It’s a business that crafted a new identity bang in the heart land of another club that presided there already. The fix that saw Arsenal promoted into the top flight above others more worthy was shambolically transparent. Add to it the assimilation of this brand new lease of life in North London that saw Gillespie Road renamed and locals turning up to see the new team. Locals that would have frequented other local clubs prior to the new arrival.
Football was still in its infancy. A number of clubs moved location, changed their name. But this drastically? With such emphasis on the necessity to make money? Woolwich Arsenal no longer exist and in some way I don’t have a problem with that football club. They died in their grave only for greed to dig them back up out of the ground, reanimating through the bloodline of pestilence. A zombie creation, reaching out to take a bite out of anything that moved until finally spreading their disease at the other end of the Seven Sisters.
The new club retained half its name and the core if its immediate future fan-base would be the only supporters that could possibly gravitate towards them. Supporters with no identity. No soul. The walking dead.
Fast-track and you’ll see these foundations have dominated their culture since those supposedly insignificant events. Their mental fragility. For years accepting of boring mundane football worshipping the result above the performance. The Fever Pitch generation. The broken children that were so blessed with the transformation of the clubs style and on the field philosophy they still haven’t realised that Arsene Wenger has redefined them into caricatures of himself – from the players mindset to those in the stands. An army of supports so obsessed with how they are perceived to the outside because they’re forever seeking validation.
You’ll still asking what any of this has got to do with football. Why is it the purest of derby games? I’ve answered that already. Read it all back.
It’s because a football club is the supporter.
Today where the modern fans is often treated like a customer reference number, we can only focus on the representatives of any given opposing side. With Arsenal, their supporters – even those that don’t have a memory for anything that happened before Wenger – they remain the personification of all their misgivings.
This is about football because there is no religion or social class or political agendas. It’s about football because football is tribal and we know who we are and what makes us Tottenham. We’re Tottenham because hating them is an absolutely unavoidable trait programmed deep in our DNA. We are proud of the hatred. We relish it. It’s all encompassing and more so because so many of them belittle the rivalry with patronising slaps of the back.
It’s about the football because the only genuine validity that Arsenal supporters have that allows them to embrace the delicate emotive fabric of identity only exists because they have no choice to hate us back. Without that they have nothing. They are nothing.
Had Woolwich Arsenal been left six feet under, we’d still be singing North London is Ours. They only sing today because of the club at the other end of the Seven Sisters.