On the morning of Thursday 22nd November, I woke up to the news (along with many other Spurs fans) that our fans had been attacked in Rome, resulting in many getting injured and one even being stabbed, putting him in hospital meaning he would miss the game he paid hundreds of pounds to see. I […]
Among the Thugs
On the morning of Thursday 22nd November, I woke up to the news (along with many other Spurs fans) that our fans had been attacked in Rome, resulting in many getting injured and one even being stabbed, putting him in hospital meaning he would miss the game he paid hundreds of pounds to see.
I began to hear rumours of West Ham fans also being involved in other attacks against Spurs fans out in Rome. It seemed they were ‘teaming up’ with Lazio’s famous Ultras to get to us, given that it is a lot easier in Italy than here in London.
I also quickly began hearing from people who were actually there, confirming it to be true. I dismissed it, not wanting to be to believe anything I heard. I just simply moved on to Sunday’s game against West Ham.
The game came around and I got the train (joined by my brother and two of his mates, both West Ham fans) to Liverpool Street station, arriving at about 2:20pm. The second we got off the train all we could hear were chants of ‘Lazio Lazio!’ and other more obvious West Ham songs.
As we walked further down the platform I was greeted by a sight by a sight I can only imagine was common in 70s, 80s or 90s. More than 100 West Ham fans, jumping up and down, beer flying everywhere, surrounded by police (talk about a Cup Final day out).
Suddenly, a policeman shouted ‘Okay, Move!’ and the barriers were opened. The West Ham fans poured out; storming towards the train I’d just got off. The majority were what looked like West Ham’s Youth Firm, or an element of it. I guess aged 15 and above, dressed in the standard Stone Island, CP Company and Lyle & Scott clobber. Of course there were plenty of adult men too, but the majority were kids.
Bottles and beer were flying everywhere, and as they walked to the train, ‘we’ll be running around Tottenham’ started. I won’t write the whole song out as I think you all know it already, but just in case, it ends with ‘you f***** jew’. As they made their way to the train, we were being shoved aside as they stormed past. I saw it was going to White Hart Lane and decided (stupidly) we should get on. So we walked towards the front, where it was less crowded, treading carefully over all the broken glass.
During the commotion directed at the Bell & Hare pub, I whispered to the policewoman next to me ‘We need to get out, we’re Spurs’
On the journey, the singing continued.‘Lazio Lazio Lazio!’ ‘Viva Lazio!Lazio! Viva Lazio!’ (Which makes no sense, given that ‘Viva’ is Spanish and Lazio are an Italian team, not to mention that it’s ‘Forza Lazio’ but still). There were also more songs about Spurs and our fans. Probably the worst I heard at that point was ‘always look out for Ities carrying knives’, to the tune of ‘Always Look on The Bright Side of Life’ by ‘Monty Python’.
At this point I should probably mention I never wear colours to games, and neither does my brother. Funnily enough I’d warned the West Ham fans we were with not to wear colours either but it seemed they were safer in them. So I just sat quietly with my brother, in disbelief. Eventually, after what seemed an hour, we got to Seven Sisters station, two stops before White Hart Lane
All the Spurs fans on the platform were told by the police to sit towards the front of the train. At this point, about five or so men (not kids this time, although I can only account for my carriage, which was by far the least crowded and rowdy), started making gas noises, on top of the abuse coming from the rest of the train. I should also mention that there were about six policemen on this carriage, one even standing right next to the men, who didn’t say a thing.
The next stop was Bruce Grove station, and it was at this point I realised that this is where the Away fans are escorted from, and that me and my brother didn’t have any option but to keep quiet and just go with them. What were we going to do? Say ‘Sorry, we’re Spurs?’ The police said the train wasn’t going any further, and all the West Ham fans got off, with us among them.
So it seemed the hell was going to continue. We arrived at about 2:30. Bruce Grove station is a good 15-20 minute walk from the stadium, and we kept being told to slow down! We were kept inside the station for a while, and eventually we began moving. There must have been well over 100 West Ham being shuttled on one side of the road. To our left was the pavement and shops, plus a line of policemen and women, and to our right, another line of policemen and women, also including police vans that kept everyone to one side of the road.
As we walked, more chants were heard, about Lazio, and about Spurs fans being stabbed. One man (not a kid) even had an Italy flag. It was during this journey I saw the first Nazi salutes of the day, which happened on more than one occasion. Again, all clearly witnessed by police. The West Ham fans also taunted and abused everyone they passed on the street, shouting ‘dirty jew’, ‘dirty yid’, ‘we pay your benefits’ and more.
At one point, five black men were standing outside a shop and the abuse began, with everyone chanting ‘we pay your benefits’. Understandably, one got especially angry and began shouting abuse back, walking forward, at which point a load of West Ham fans started getting a bit excited and jumping up and down. The police had to calm the man down and ushered him inside.
We walked past a couple of Spurs cafes/bars, eventually coming to the Bell & Hare pub (which is a big Spurs boozer by the away fan’s entrance to the ground). Again the abuse started, with police having to keep the West Ham fans in the escort (although if I’m honest it really was just ‘jumping about a bit’ and if someone really wanted to break through, they could have easily done so.)
We arrived at White Hart Lane and I realised if I didn’t act now we would be pretty stuck. During the commotion directed at the Bell & Hare pub, I whispered to the policewoman next to me ‘We need to get out, we’re Spurs’. I couldn’t believe it when she laughed and replied ‘Yeah, of course you are!’ I had to get out my phone and show her my background (a Spurs photo), to which she looked shocked and said ‘you’ll have to speak to him’ and pointed to another policeman. It was getting too late so I grabbed my brother and we both slipped out as some West Ham fans went into the ground and others shouted at the pub (easy as pie).
I stood outside the Park Lane end for a while and some Spurs fans (who I guessed had just come from the pub) started singing (you guessed it, non-offensive) songs. There was a bit of back and forth and a few punches where I think some fans got to each other but it was over quickly.
During the game, I sat about 8 seats away from the West Ham fans. There was more singing about Lazio than there was in support of their own club. Again kids were witnessed doing Nazi salutes (footage was even on TV), and more offensive chanting. ‘Can we stab you every week’ was sung rung out in the lower tier, but the worst was yet to come. A pathetic flare was lit, which I think resulted in one or two fans being ejected. How they were allowed in with it I don’t know, they should have all been searched.
Bottles and beer were flying everywhere, and as they walked to the train, ‘we’ll be running around Tottenham’ started.
At half time, a boy no older than 16 was Nazi saluting at us, in front of police and stewards (who did nothing to stop him). Then, at some point in the second half, admittedly a smaller section, but enough to be heard loud and clear by not only me, but journalists in another stand, started chanting ‘Adolf Hitler, he’s coming for you!’ and at 2-0 down both the top and bottom tiers of the Away section were singing ‘Lazio’ songs (which is NOT a minority as stated by many).
Sure some of the songs were sung by a minority in the grand scheme of things. Compared to 2000 people, a few hundred is a minority. But it’s not an extreme minority like 10-15 people. It was well into the 100’s.
Being trapped with the West Ham fans for so long, knowing I couldn’t get out worried me. I feared it would get to the point where I had to make it known I was Spurs to get out. Unfortunately that would probably have ended with me and my brother in hospital, but luckily it didn’t get to that point.
Looking around, seeing and hearing the words and actions of these people, made me realise just how lucky I am to be a Spurs fan. For me there’s so many different things that make me proud to be a Tottenham Hotspur supporter. One of which is that I’ve never seen a Nazi salute, or heard a chant referencing Adolf Hitler! But more importantly, the genuine feeling of passion for our own club, (as opposed to hating a race) helped get me through.
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