Spurs 'Til I Die: New York-Based Fan On His Love For North London
This feature originally appeared on The Fighting Cock.
Last Christmas and New Years I traveled with my family and a large group of friends to a cabin in Upstate New York. We drank, we ate, we were merry, there was hiking, singing, laughing, games, and good fun all around.
But there was one thing that was a steady topic of conversation: the bewilderment that all of them felt by my need to wake up at 8AM to watch the Football on TV.
Over and over again I was asked “why football?” and “why Tottenham.” It’s a nearly impossible question to answer when you are an American being asked by other Americans that, like you, have all been raised on Baseball and the ‘other’ Football. Never mind the ‘Tottenham Question’ which for me has to include a treatise on what it means to be a ‘Jewish Team’ and how I don’t care about that, but how there is this bar that used to be around the corner from my house which was the official New York Spurs supporters bar, and how I was dragged there against my will, and something about marauding style, and Modric, Bale, Adebayor, Redknapp, etc, etc...
Usually their eyes glaze over around the eighth minute of explanation and I get to go back to punching the couch in disgust as we give the ball away, or yet another attack fizzles out.
But in truth, there is a much simpler reason why I’m Tottenham: that horrible game at the Emirates a few years ago. You know the one: 2-2 at the half, and then 3-2, and then 4, and then 5-2 as the whistle blew.
At the half I had stumbled, shell-shocked, into the street to stand with the smokers (I’d long quit but I still feel some sort of solidarity with the rest of my lung-destroying comrades). Next door to the Spurs Bar is an Arsenal Pub, as though it was the perfect scale recreation of North London in sleepy Brooklyn.
A lone Gooner stood outside smoking, while dozens poured out of the Spurs bar. He grinned an evil grin, then mumbled something about “there’s only one team in London” and then nervously went back inside the minute he saw the hate and fury on our faces. I thought then, as I do now, about the passion we felt, all 300 of us, packed into that bar craning our necks to see the game on screens that were way too small and way too old to handle the number of us. I thought then, as I do now, how the Arsenal bar was practically empty despite the shiny new HD screens that lined the wall behind the booze. I pictured then, as I do now, that that is how it is in North London — a place I’ve never been but a place I spend my weekends dwelling in, living as though on GMT despite being so many miles away.
As I watched our team turn glory into pain at the end of that game, the crowd began to sing. An arm was thrown around my shoulder “I’m Tottenham til I die, I’m Tottenham til I die, I know I am, I’m sure I am...”
I’ll admit, now, that my eyes teared up. And when the song changed to “Tottenham when I’m dead...” I knew it was true. I had no choice in the matter, the baptism by fire had been performed and there was no turning back.
In this time of great uncertainty at the Lane, in this time of upheaval and disappointment dressed in fading hope and desperate decision making, I think back to that game and smile. It is our losses that drape us in glory. It is our heartbreaks that bind us and keep us coming back, hoping, dreaming, of redemption. I was a fan before that loss, but I was Tottenham following it.
I write this now, for one simple reason:
We are midway through the season. We have booed, we have moaned, we have celebrated AVB and mourned him, we have winced at Sherwood, and ridiculed Adebayor, we have turned upon each other and eaten our shoes in protest of how far we have to walk.
Every day I wake up and count the days until Saturday or Sunday. Every day I think about the day that my 9 month old son will be old enough to finally understand that a team from North London has become his birthright. Every game that I tune into I swell with pride when I hear all of you sing, and all of you cheer and think about the day that I’ll join you all, hoarse and tired winning or losing singing our glorious songs.
So keep the faith Tottenham, if only because somewhere across the ocean we’re relying on you.