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Becoming What We Love To Hate About Arsenal

Some readers will have heard my ramblings on the excellent Fighting Cock podcast and I’ve promised them I’d pen a few words for about two years now. I’d like to take the opportunity to write a short article about a subject I feel very strongly about.

As regular listeners to the podcast will know, I’m a long standing season ticket holder in the Park Lane lower and over the past decade, have visited most away grounds with Spurs on numerous occasions. I’ve also been privileged to fulfil a great ambition and follow Spurs all over Europe.

In 2003, nearly ten years ago, I moved my season ticket from the Park Lane upper tier to Block 33, Park Lane lower. There were two reasons behind this. The first was to relocate so that I could sit with a couple of mates, despite compromising on the excellent view I had with my previous seat. The second was to be part of the action. I wanted to be where the atmosphere started. I wanted to be in that number.

It was a measure I took to counter balance the woeful displays we’d see on the pitch under the helm of Hoddle and later, David Pleat. It didn’t matter that I didn’t really enjoy watching Gary Doherty and Milenko Acimovic make Spurs look like a pub side. What mattered then was that I had a good laugh with my mates and our support drowned out the away fans (and the inevitable ‘Crazy In Love’ by Beyonce that would blare over the PA system at White Hart Lane as David Pleat shuffled nervously after a home defeat to Bolton.)

Our performances on the pitch improved under Jol, we marched back in to Europe before ‘Arry took us to the dizzying heights of the Champions League. The atmosphere at White Hart Lane mirrored our new found optimism – the night against Inter Milan stands out as the pinnacle. It was as if everyone in the stadium that evening found harmony. Those old around in 1984 reminded why they’d stuck with it. Those too young thinking, ‘finally, this is what I’ve waited for.’

But was that night the worst thing that’s happened to our club in recent years?
With success brings expectation. And with expectation, you get failures – a sense of disappointment that doesn’t exist with comfortably underachieving. That win against Inter Milan fed Spurs fans with an expectation that we could and should beat every team we face.

I’d noticed the lack of atmosphere throughout last season. The sense of expectation that we should be winning every home game bred nerves which in turn flattens the mood as nails are chewed to the bone. It was obvious that the fractious crowd was split; pro and anti Redknapp. Hardly conducive towards a unified support for the team, for the club.

The home games in the 2012-2013 seasons have been painful to attend. No more so than they were during the early 2000s, quite the opposite in fact – we get to watch Bale, undoubtedly the most exciting footballer in the Premier League. The impatience of the crowd, the tension that so evidently filters through to our players and the jeering is intolerable. For me, it ruins my day and my whole experience of attending games at White Hart Lane, whatever the final score.

So, why does this happen? Why do we do the one thing that, for many years, we have taken such great pleasure in berating our rivals for? Why do we treat our players and even more so, our manager, as enemies?

come on you spurs

The popular argument is that we all spend the cash that we work hard for, and a lot of it these days, watching people doing the job we’d all love to do and getting paid twice as much a week than most earn in a year. And it is because of this that the fans feel like the players owe them. Instead of turning up at the ground to get behind your team, fans go through the turnstiles and expect to be entertained and to get the result they want.

The most unlikely of people summarised this perfectly this week. A man who was hated by the majority in his early years at the club. In his ever eloquent way, Benoit Assou-Ekotto wrote on Twitter: “so dont support us! Com wotch and go bk at home…WHL is not a CINEMA! Fans com to support in BAd or GOOD moment( TRUE FANS)”

That’s exactly what we used to do and we’d enjoy it, whether we drew at home to Middlesbrough or lost at home to Manchester United. But how much did we love it and appreciate it when all that was rewarded by a win over Liverpool, Newcastle or more recently Arsenal and Chelsea?

At times, I wonder whether there is a greater fear of losing than there is a desire to win amongst some Tottenham fans. I speculate about the advent of social media playing a part in this. It’s now so easy to berate rival fans over their shortcomings in a way that we fear failure because we, as fans, are open to typed torture and feel vulnerable. Do our players feel the same?

The calls for Villas Boas to be sacked deserve a separate article, but to boo his substitutions at this stage is totally moronic behaviour. To boo and jeer our manager, our players or our team in general is completely counter-productive. It doesn’t make players try harder, it doesn’t make managers rethink their tactics and it doesn’t make our team win. Getting behind them does. It’s not difficult to see that.

White Hart Lane used to be feared by opposition players because of the atmosphere. Away fans hated coming to Tottenham because it was intimidating. During that period, our home form was excellent, even if the football wasn’t up to the standard we have come to expect over the past few seasons. Neither statement is true now.

We have become the Chelsea fans that we laughed at for pleading with Roman Abramovich to fire. Worst of all, we have become the Arsenal fans that we loved to hate because they booed the team off at half time, because they sat in silence for the rest of it and because they left early when they were 1-0 down at home.

Football is romanticised by fate and destiny. It is uncontrollable and, as fans, you are powerless to change that. You can’t pick the team, you can’t make William Gallas taller, nor Gareth Bale stick to the left wing. Football fans have one power and that is to influence the spirit of the players.

Just as we did that night against Inter Milan, unite, be one, be Tottenham Hotspur and love every minute of it. Tottenham chose you, but you choose to be with them when you go through the gates at White Hart Lane.

[author name=”Charlie Marks” avatar=”http://a0.twimg.com/profile_images/2366595060/1xur5u8l3rtqbce39yrp.jpeg” twitter=”cdmarks90″ website=”” tag=”charliemarks”]


All views and opinions expressed in this article are the views and opinions of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of The Fighting Cock. We offer a platform for fans to commit their views to text and voice their thoughts. Football is a passionate game and as long as the views stay within the parameters of what is acceptable, we encourage people to write, get involved and share their thoughts on the mighty Tottenham Hotspur.

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The Fighting Cock

Published on 7th November 2012

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18 Responses to Becoming What We Love To Hate About Arsenal

  1. jabba 07/11/2012 at 12:28 pm #

    tottenham didn’t choose us we chose THFC, tha’st the only thing wrong with your article! one life one love, THFC

    • Flav 07/11/2012 at 2:32 pm #

      Most people don’t remember when they started supporting their club. It’s an unconscious decision that is decided by something you’ve seen or felt in relation to Tottenham. Or you’ve been indoctrinated. Very few people actually one day say ‘I’m choosing Tottenham.’

      So, your club chooses you.

  2. Smoked Salmon 07/11/2012 at 12:30 pm #

    Absolutely true. 100% how I feel.

    This is why we must support movements like #1882.


  3. NickH 07/11/2012 at 12:39 pm #

    Brilliant article. Has made me think twice about my beratements in furture. I for one was a boo boy against Wigan, there are several good points made here that means I will keep my booing to myself (maybe late at night on my own and have a good cry into my pillow). Let’s get behind the team and make WHL a fortress once again. COYS!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Slice 07/11/2012 at 12:58 pm #

    you tottenham lot make me laugh, living in this self-grandiose bubble. I’m one of those Arsenal fans that can’t afford to get in these days so along with all the others I grew up watching The Arsenal with we watch it in the pub and sing our hearts out. I agree that our period of success has meant that a load of muppets flock to the ground and inhibit the atmosphere and it’s infuriating but I also know that if this standing reversed and the tables turned you’d all be saying “yeah well that’s what happens when you’re successful” blah blah.
    I’ve been to WHL many a time when apart from the odd song it’s been 90% seated with no response to our singing. I hear the same from West Ham and Chelsea fans.
    The infuriating thing is that our club didn’t have the foresight to give us a north bank and clock end, and thought it a good idea to stick mixed families next to the away fans.
    And no I don’t hate Spurs, i’ve more intelligence than that, but this mythical world you live in is a sense of entertainment and often fules the bile from supporters of almost every team I meet.
    Sometimes I find myself longin for us to be a team with lower expectations so that the Jonny come latelies do one, they lower the prices and get the vocal lads back. Alas, I fear the old adage “form is temporary, class is permanent” may just result in our 2 clubs forever being different beasts so enjoy your atmos and I’ll enjoy the pub.

    • Flav 07/11/2012 at 2:37 pm #

      The answer is don’t go, it’s all fucked?

    • JimB 07/11/2012 at 3:38 pm #

      Did you even read the article?

      The whole point is that it is (rightly) slagging off our own support – not living in some “self-grandiose (sic – I assume that you meant self-aggrandising) bubble”.

      Like Pavlov’s dogs, it seems, you just saw the opening words and immediately started salivating and frothing at the mouth and then launched into a silly, non sequitur of a rant. Well done.

  5. Leroy 07/11/2012 at 12:59 pm #

    Nail, hammer, head.

    I’m glad I don’t have a son/daughter yet, I’d hate to take him/her to his first game at the lane as things are currently (I’m talking about the booing, not the team). I wouldn’t blame him if he/her chose to support another team… Although I would still probably beat them.

  6. anti-Portuguese tactician 07/11/2012 at 1:01 pm #

    Absolute balderdash. When the fans see a player NOT trying or not putting in a shift, why should they cheer them on? Today’s players are a bunch of ‘powder puffs’ that start crying if anyone looks crooked at them. People like you booed ‘Hossam Ghaly’ and dared Redknapp to play him in a match, but that is all forgotten now when it doesn’t suit and the righteous decide an article to the plebs might show them how to behave. Tottenham is a football club with a future if it’s run properly. Nothing more, Nothing less. The fans ‘are who and what they are today’ for whatever reason. Why should you or anyone else keep on trying to control people who are adult and have every right to show their emotions in whatever way the wish as long as they are not breaking the law? A lot of the people are complaining and writing articles pontificating about others when they they have no authority to do so and should actually mind their own business.

    • JimB 07/11/2012 at 3:43 pm #

      When you’ve calmed down and become somewhat rational, you’ll hopefully realise that the author was merely expressing an opinion (just as you have).

      And it happens to be an opinion with which I fully agree.

  7. try 07/11/2012 at 1:11 pm #


  8. bizzleyid 07/11/2012 at 2:27 pm #

    Best spurs related article i’ve read. COYS

  9. Roger Brockbank 07/11/2012 at 2:43 pm #

    Totally agree with Mark’s comments. I too am a season ticket holder, formerly the Shelf, now the Park Lane.
    The negativity involved in booing is so counterproductive. we should be encouraging the boys to do better. Or am I being naive?
    Lets face it Spurs are a mid table team with delusions of being a champions league contenders based on what? One excellent season in the Champions league, when we could dream, otherwise the mean average of our attempts in the league (apart from the last 4 to 5 seasons) have been mediocre at best for sooooo long.
    We of course hate Arsenal, they are beyond words, but……. well Wenger has fashioned an admirable team with less money than we have squandered over the last 4 years. Yes they are a pale shadow of what they were in there pomp, but they still contrived to waltz past us….. (with a not great side by any means) and yet the sum of their parts was greater than all our stars, Bale Van de Vaart/Modric…ouch! Yes it hurt me to say that.
    So what to do? Accept that we are a middling team, that can excel, and do well and possibly if we get lucky finish in the top four, but at least get behind our team. AVB? Well the jury is still out on him, I guess, it does seem likely that he will be sacked if we do not make champions league, but lets not hasten is demise by booing his decisions, lets encourage the boys. Who knows they may surprise us. be hopeful , but do not expect wonders …….COYS!

  10. Cheshuntboy 07/11/2012 at 2:50 pm #

    It’s the self-righteousness, the smugness, the downright bovine stupidity of the AVB/Levy lovers (who are invariably also paid-up members of the ‘Cheer on the Lads regardless of how pathetic the performance is’ brigade) that really gets up my nose. They have decided who is, and who isn’t, a ‘real’ fan, and have decreed that Redknapp can be blamed for all the problems which beset WHL, while AVB and Levy are above criticism – AVB failed abysmally at Chelsea (and didn’t we all laugh!), and is taking Spurs down the same arid path – he should give up football and take up chess because he clearly doesn’t like freedom or flair – eleven Livermores would be his idea of perfection. As for Levy, he’s not in it for anything other than the money, and one trophy in eleven years is about all we can expect so long as he’s in charge.

    • JimB 07/11/2012 at 3:49 pm #

      It’s very telling that you should think that this debate is about self righteousness and smugness on the part of those who lament the ever diminishing lack of support for the team from the stands over the past few seasons. It’s equally telling that you should think that the debate is about Redknapp, Levy or AVB

      It shows that you have completely missed the point. What was it you were saying about “bovine stupidity”? To describe you thus would be an insult to cows.

  11. Martyn 07/11/2012 at 6:08 pm #

    At the top of this page it says “being silent isn’t being strong”. One could take that two ways but I’m choosing to use my own .. If you anti-boo lot don’t like the boo’s why not sing up so the boo’s can’t be heard?
    The fact is that you can’t out ign the boo’s because the booing is so loud.
    That means more people are making the boo noise than people who are willing to sing.
    That says to me that YOU anti-boo boys are in the minority so if anyone should shut up it is YOU! If you don’t like what is currently being done by the majority of paying fans you have a few options….
    1. Sing like your life depended on it in the hope that you may influence others and they also sing.
    2. Shut up, sit quietly and do your best to ignore what is happening around you.
    3. Stop going to the games so you don’t have to experience the negative atmosphere and let the people that have attended and paied bloody good money do whatever they want and DESERVE to do as paying individuals. (This is the option I took as you can’t fight the masses).

    There are probably other options like crying in a podcast or on a website about the current state of fan support but let’s get something clear…

    Arsenal fans were booing their team when things weren’t going well and it pushed them to become a great side that is respected around the world. Players want to play for them (until manshity or barca come calling but at least they played for them).

    Tottenham fans of old (I am included in this group) sang every week, at every game and at the top of their/our voices and Tottenham IS STIL A MEDIOCRE CLUB that only ever manages to attract great players through sheer luck OR paying ridiculous money in wages. Sometimes we get lucky and a player (like vertonghen) chooses to sign for us to avoid obvious competition for position with a friend/fellow countryman etc.. but that still qualifies as luck in my opinion.. Levy won’t pay the money and it seems we are out of luck. Players like vertonghen are few and far between.

    If the booing pushes levy et al to invest more or pushes the players we have to become competent then I am all for it. History PROVES that support for our team has gotten us no where. History has PROVEN to push arsenal to become more. Now the booing has stopped they are in decline. If their fans boo more I guarantee winger and the boared will invest again in a big way if only to quiet the fans.

    Lets just hope the boos at our club are as effective because the all the singing on MTV couldn’t inspire our club to greatness.

    I say all this with a heavy heart but some of you need to realise that fan discontent is better than supporting mediocrity week in week out.

    • Case 07/11/2012 at 6:30 pm #

      Just FYI the “being silent isn’t being strong” is an advert for a charity we support, nothing to do with Spurs.

    • JimB 07/11/2012 at 7:38 pm #

      The conclusions that you arrive at about the consequences of Arsenal fans’ boos and Spurs fans’ support are utterly, risibly spurious.

      Arsenal didn’t become one of Europe’s elite clubs because their fans booed. What idiocy! They became an elite club because they hired a brilliant manager who had an eye for spotting affordable but brilliant players.

      Do I really need to explain to you in detail why your Spurs conclusions are equally flawed?

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