As a child, I was never particularly interested in football. All the loud pubs, confusing rules and friends shouting at each other over who’s Match Attax cards were better simply put me off of the sport. However, as I got older I became increasingly more intrigued; to the point where I asked my uncle if he’d take me to a game to watch my local team play. How could I forget the name, “Tottenham Hotspur”, my father had ranted and raved about Spurs ever since I could remember. It is tradition for one to support the team which their family supported, a sort of meme within our DNA as football fans to honour our team both geographically and inherently. White Hart Lane is a 10 minute train journey from my house, and so my uncle took me to find my roots at the home of Tottenham Hotspur.
I’d seen stadiums before on the TV; glimpses of concerts and football games that never quite drew me away from other activities. I had seen Wembley Stadium on trips around London, the giant arch never failing to catch my eye, but White Hart Lane had a different air to it. To physically walk into the stadium for the first time is a somewhat spiritual experience, chanting and singing echoing through the large corridors and out into the cold north London air, like the battle cries of some ancient tribe. And for the first time, I was captivated by this, and eagerly dragged my uncle to the source of the noise. As we walked up the stairs into the light of day, the roar of the crowd and the cold air hit me like a wave, and my eyes adjusted to the sight of the pitch. I must’ve seen it on the television hundreds of times before that first encounter, but something about being there clicked inside of me as I rushed to my seat. Suddenly, names I had only ever heard my friends and family gossiping about became faces of the men that walked out to thunderous applause and cheers. The names of players being read out by a booming voice over a loudspeaker, met instantly by cheers and chants for each one of them, worshipped like deities.
It took me a while to understand the rules and regulations of football, my uncle meticulously running me through each action as it occurred. But the euphoria of the game had taken me, and lasted from the very second I stepped out into the light to when I went to bed that night. I was hooked, and was back the following week for the next instalment of that great team, my team.
That first visit was followed by more visits, watching my team of the TV, and buying my first shirt with Berbatov proudly embroidered on the back. Week by week I gradually became more versed in the “Spurs way”, how we played and how we should play. Looking back over the years with DVD’s, books and videos, I learned the Tottenham Hotspur philosophy – making football more than scoring goals and not conceding. The Spurs way is an art form, the way the game should be played, with technical finesse and individual flair in order to entertain the fans and scare the opposition. I learned Tottenham were and had been a force to be reckoned with, attempting to carry the tradition of stylish football with them to this very day.
In nearly 10 years of being a devout Tottenham Hotspur fan, I haven’t seen the height of our time as a club. These days I can merely watch replays on the internet of the likes of Gascoigne, Sheringham and Hoddle blessing White Hart Lane with a grace that was hard to come by. The closest we’ve come in recent years to the “glory glory” days was our stint in the Champions League, with electric performances from players like Modric, Bale, and Van der Vaart helping us to finish top of our group and reach the quarter finals in what was the greatest year of my living memory.
A lot has changed for us over the years, Ownership, Managers, Players and form. But there are remains of greatness in the bones of Tottenham Hotspur, a greatness that each fan clings to when they go to their home at White Hart Lane. The fans will always turn up and sing their hearts out, their faith in the philosophy that makes football great remains and the belief that the days of grandeur and glory will return to The Lane. The demand for progression and achievement rings in the ears of young fans the moment they walk out to see that beautiful green grass, and the thousands of faces all chanting “Glory, glory Tottenham Hotspur!” These words are embedded in me now and my chants now merge with the rest of the ensemble. But I will never forget that first visit, my first encounter with the biggest family I could ever be a part of; the Spurs family.
And that is the reason I love Tottenham Hotspur. Managers, players, owners and competitions come and go, but the remaining factor that will forever live within White Hart Lane is the spirit of Tottenham which resides in every single fan that comes to a game, watches eagerly on a screen, or huddles next to a radio. The spirit of Tottenham is undying, and although greatness comes and goes, we remain. Always expectant, always loyal, Tottenham ‘till we die.