I’m 53 years old and have been supporting and watching Spurs since the late 60’s. I cannot remember the first time I heard use of the term ‘Yid’ either directed at me as a Spurs fan, or sung by Spurs supporters. It was sometime back in the bad old days for football, the 1970s. It was probably the 77-78 season as that was when I started going to just about every game, home and away. Back then I had no idea what that term meant. I don’t even recall when I became aware of the meaning of ‘Yid’ and the historic connotations associated with it.
In the 70s I lived and worked in Winchester and I still work there now. I don’t have any Jewish origins, so I really do not know what it is really like to hear that word, whether used in offensive terms or as a defensive mechanism, is aimed at your face. I’m not Jewish. Actually I’m very fortunate in that I cannot recall ever being subjected to verbal abuse of any kind, apart from the odd remark in jest by mates as I’m about two stone overweight.
Peter Herbert and his Society of Black Lawyers re-ignited the long running debate last week over the use of the term. We are fortunate to live in a society where free speech and expression is widely encouraged. Peter Herbert is well within his rights to express his opinion and concern over the use of the term and to highlight White Hart Lane as the place where it is mostly used. I was extremely pleased when both Spurs, as a club, and the Metropolitan Police issued their statements defending the supporters and the use of the term in the context in which it is used.
Unfortunately, no one has come up with a solution to this problem. Herbert has generally highlighted Spurs fans as the common cause of the issue, when actually they have just fired back at the smoking gun of Arsenal, Chelsea, West Ham and a few others. We, as Spurs fans, have a right to defend ourselves. But do we defend ourselves too much? The argument for using the term as a ‘call to arms’ is less strong when we sing ‘Yid Army’ to Wigan fans, to Southampton fans, to Reading fans. But we do.
I went to St Marys a couple of weeks ago and found myself singing those very words alongside my 22 year old son. This after taking a conscious decision several months ago not to sing those songs following comments on The Fighting Cock forum. But I still sang. I don’t know why, but I know I felt like I belonged. If the root cause of the issue was addressed and supporters of other teams stopped the offensive chanting, would we as Spurs fans stop singing those songs? Somehow, I don’t think so.
The argument for using the term as a 'call to arms' is less strong when we sing 'Yid Army' to Wigan fans, to Southampton fans, to Reading fans. But we do.
I am fairly active on Twitter, following a large number of Spurs fans. I do feel uncomfortable when I see other Spurs fans that have the term Yid in their username. Maybe because they may interact with the wider Twitter community who don’t necessarily understand why that word is in their username. I also feel uncomfortable when I see users on the forum that have the term Yid in their username. But it doesn’t stop me interacting with any of them, on Twitter or the forum. They are a part of us. Each and every one of us is Spurs.