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There is no 1882

10 min read
by The Fighting Cock

I do so fondly remember that cold September evening 16 years ago. It was an introduction to something special, an introduction I would never quite fully understand for months afterwards – an introduction that, frankly, didn’t really make sense! For here, was I, a young 17 year old who hated football… walking through the turnstiles […]

I do so fondly remember that cold September evening 16 years ago. It was an introduction to something special, an introduction I would never quite fully understand for months afterwards – an introduction that, frankly, didn’t really make sense! For here, was I, a young 17 year old who hated football… walking through the turnstiles of a Premiership football club!

Why did I hate football? Well, because unlike most of the kids who liked it I was bullied at school tended to avoid having to play sports with the bullies like the plague. I was bullied because I had little confidence and the few times our teachers would encourage us too play the game in physical education lessons I was truly awful, again, in part due to my reluctance to play with the cool kids and their footballing knowledge. My father was not a football fan and I couldn’t go home and talk to him about it or ask advice. In short, I associated football with pain and shame.

Despite my miserable school years I was forced, as many working class lads were, to go out to earn when I started my A Levels. It was the most nervous time of my life. I liked nothing more than hiding away in my bedroom watching TV. The thought of meeting and working with all these strangers was terrifying, but I had little choice. Well, as it would happen it changed my life in more than one way.

We all make friends along the way, and this was no different. I made multiple friends. But one particular lad at my new workplace was a football fan, and not just any football fan but a follower of Tottenham Hotspur. Curiously I had avoided all things to do with the beautiful game up until that summer and the positivity that had been generated by Euro 96. It was, after that Gareth Southgate missed penalty, that I heard the sentence “meh, enough of England, now back to Tottenham”.

Through all my life changes, there has been Tottenham Hotspur. Nothing else in my life has been so universally shared , maintained and ever present.

Of course I had heard of Spurs, in fact cousins of my father’s had been rabid fans. But that’s about as far as my knowledge went. Nonetheless, my new found work friend needed someone to go to matches with as his father was bowing out. I was desperate to break free of being the unpopular bullied kid so I agreed to go with him to keep my new friendships flourishing…and so there I was, on 25th September 1996, walking through the turnstiles of White Hart Lane. The club was playing Preston North End in the Coca Cola Cup.

Do you know what? As I sat there it became really apparent just how little I knew about the game. I didn’t even know the offside rule. But there was something a little bit special about the September evening…something that well outlived that evening. There were songs. There was positivity. There were bright lights and excitement. There were the players, getting ready to do their part. To this day I cannot put my finger on it, but there was a magic about the place that made it through the skin of someone as adverse to football as you could find.

That season my new White Hart Lane companion would seek to go to as many matches as possible – and I was his match buddy. In truth, after the first game it became more and more appealing to go to matches. I learned about football, and learned what it was to support a club and, dammit, I learned that lilywhite and blue was, without doubt, the finest football kit in the league (even if it was made by Pony)!! We went to match after match that year and it cost me almost all of the money I had earned!

The 1996-1997 season came to an end and my workmate and I went our separate ways as we both neared the end of our A levels and looked towards the future. But, as I stood watching the team doing a lap of honour, with the likes of Teddy, Sinton, Ruel Fox, Anderton and, yes, Campbell, I realised I was indoctrinated. I was part of Tottenham Hotspur.

That season would start a constant in my life that became Spurs, a constant that was often more about the club that it was football. It was the magic of the support, the feel of joy as you walked into the stadium and the sheer desire to see your lads win for you, whether they were world class or worthy of a non-league side. It was that feeling of getting close to a heart attack as a famous victory was near, or the despair of a hard fought loss.

Truth is though; I never became a season ticket holder. I couldn’t. My parents couldn’t afford it and neither could I. I had started a career in law and had to study at the same time. I could only go to the Lane as often as I could afford. Sometimes it would be 15 times a season, sometimes only 3-4. As I got older there was a mortgage was due to be paid and a woman to fund, but the club was and has always remained a constant. Through all my life changes, there has been Tottenham Hotspur. Nothing else in my life has been so universally shared , maintained and ever present. I have been to the Lane with everyone, almost every friend I have ever had, colleagues of every job, clients, girlfriends and even the friends of girlfriends! There was no taking the magic of White Hart Lane away from me and it was something to introduce to others.

So here we are today, in 2012, off of the back of some of the best seasons of Spurs that many Tottenham fans have seen. Oh the magic of finally seeing us in the Champion’s League, and of proving ourselves as a club who means business. I had waited so long to see that. But was it too much too soon?

1882 Maribor

Truth is that I fear the success of recent years has proven a double edged sword for my beloved club. One, perhaps, that has drawn the highest of expectations from some of the most unlikely of sources. We all savoured the Harry Redknapp years, despite many of us being frustrated at his all too frequent courting of the media. But some fans, young and old, very much took it for granted. It was not Tottenham Hotspur doing well, but rather an expected progression. A progression that they were entitled to and one that they had waited patiently for over countless years. Well, they finally had their just desserts.

Thing is, supporting a football club is not about just desserts. Those of us who have followed Spurs for any number of years know about false dawns. We know about disappointments. We know about being the underdogs. Yet I fear in the modern era of relative success some fans have lost sight of this….and the worst part of it is that some of these fans are not new fans or those who have been to the Lane once or twice, but rather season ticket holders or those who have followed the club for anything up to multiple decades.

A disturbing snobbery has begun amongst some of the most hardened supporters. It is snobbery relating to the right to have an opinion. A snobbery that says that unless you are a hardcore supporter who can afford every game home and away, you don’t qualify to have a view on the club. It is, perhaps, no coincidence that those who now boo the club at matches seem to frequent this group of people.

So here we are, today, with movements like 1882, a movement that should be championed for bringing true support. Yes, that’s right, support. In my view you can be a fan and not a supporter, but if you are a supporter you are always a fan. The 1882 movement is about standing up to those who expect success and remembering back to the day what it was all about offering support whatever happened. I am pleased to have been, and will continue to be, a part of it.

The sad thing though is that for all the good intention, movements like 1882 are ultimately a distraction and sadly a very telling commentary on the state of fandom. They are a distraction from what we all ultimately are. We are supporters of the institution of Tottenham Hotspur. If we feel the fire in our veins for the glory game it really doesn’t matter if you have never been to White Hart Lane or you have been to hundreds of games over 20 years. It is that fire for the club that makes you Spurs. If you have even once felt your heart pound during a match then you are part of the club.

I do not particularly like people who boo, especially when they do so with high expectation. But if they feel like they are entitled to do so, so be it. What I do not like, though, is that a distasteful subsection of these boo boys have decided that they are the final, and only, voice of the club. They mock movements like 1882 and declare that those of us without the time or funds to go every week home and away are nobodies. They do this to justify their right to complain, boo and sit there silently through a match. They then express resentment over movements like 1882, and possibly because it highlights their own lack of support. In a way 1882 has, unfortunately, highlighted a division in the fan base, and one that gives cause for much concern.

In my view you can be a fan and not a supporter, but if you are a supporter you are always a fan. The 1882 movement is about standing up to those who expect success and remembering back to the day what it was all about offering support whatever happened.

The reality is that there is no 1882 movement. There are no divisions, but only fans. It is whether or not you want to be a supporter as well as a fan that defines you. It does not matter where you are from, how often you go, how much you spend or how many away trips you go on, if you have felt your heart pounding then you are Spurs. But we all have supported the club at one point or another, as otherwise how could we all be fans? Surely that means we are all as one? We all fight for the same cause?

For those who boo but still feel the fire, I beg this of you, realise that supporting the club is not about expecting success, it’s tagging along for the journey, wherever it may take us. We are all Tottenham. It doesn’t matter who the manager is, or the players or who runs the club. It is our emotional attachment that drives us. Our hearts. We are all one unit. We always will be. Our duty is to support in whatever form we can, not create divisions and resentment among our own ranks.

That is why, in truth, the 1882 movement does not exist. We are just one chunk of the overall support, not a separate unit. We all have the same objective, to see our boys go out and beat the other lot, not sitting there waiting to die of boredom, to paraphrase a great man. Well, that’s where our support as fans comes in. Let’s do what we can to see that our boys do it and do it in style. That means being there for the club through thick and thin, not giving up when it’s not all going to plan.

We are one big family and must come together as such, for we are Tottenham, Super Tottenham, we are Tottenham…from the Lane.

[author name=”Smoked Salmon” avatar=”https://twimg0-a.akamaihd.net/profile_images/2182273663/565114_689825377_742792189_n.jpg” twitter=”barryweir” tag=”SmokedSalmon[/linequote]

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.

13 Comments

  1. wiltshirespur
    03/12/2012 @ 3:30 pm

    I agree with the premise but I have never heard our away fans boo this season, or even especially complain. In fact I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every away game I’ve been to this season, despite the result, which is more than I can say for home games, where the atmosphere has been, as you say, poisonous. so, in my opinion, this idea that it is snobbery from the ‘hardcore’ is, I think, incorrect and harsh on our fans who travel to away games and are, in fact, exceptional supporters of the team. Therefore, this leads me to believe that it is elements of our home support that boo, and whine and create a disapointing atmosphere.

  2. Smoked Salmon
    03/12/2012 @ 3:33 pm

    @Wiltshirespur, I did say some and not all hardcore supporters. I am by no means saying it is reflective of alll hardcore supporters, but the problems seems to be there among a percentage.

  3. jurgen
    03/12/2012 @ 3:55 pm

    Firstly working class kids play football in council estates and concrete cages from as old as they can kick a football and secondly they don’t go to university to study law! And their all racists, chavs, pikeys, little englanders according to the new age middle class football fan which is causing this poisonous atmosphere u speak of. From salt of the earth to scum of the earth

  4. S-P
    03/12/2012 @ 4:00 pm

    I agree.

    The problem isn’t that fans believe they have a right to complain – they do.
    The problem is that with the informataion overload of general life swamping football, and the general culture of cpmplaining about everything and having patience for nothing, the home fans, in particular, truly believ ethey know better than Daniel Levy who to appoint as Head Coach, and better than the new Head Coach, AVB, on every single aspect of his job.

    This is ridiculous, and what makes it more so is that a change of regime automatically makes a transtion period, we also lost three top players, and have had between 4 and 7 1st team players absent for every game, and, in less than a third of a season, we have played 5 of last seasons top six (we makle up the six), 5 of them away – surely disproportionate – and yet are now 4th, on the same points as Chelsea in 3rd (who spent more than a medium sized country’s GDP in the Summer transfer window. Well, yeah, that’s loads of cause to complain.

    Sad to say that goes back to creating divisions in the fan base, because I cannot help thinking it is ridiculous. But the point I have made over-and-over again, which si the point of the author, is that my first year of Spurs-Dom we were relegated. I was nine, coming on ten, and had no notion that we would win automatic promotion – I had a notion only that I should support the team because that was what supporters did. And did I spend the season in the second tier bemoaning how dreadful it was? No! I spent the season watching the precocious talent that was GHodd emerging and it was memorable. It doesn’t matter if I want a particular manager, I support them when they are appointed, as wanting them to fail is wanting the club to fail, and I don’t understand how anyone who claims to be a supporter could actually want that. Hell, I even wanted the Man in a Raincoat tobe a massive success.

  5. Smoked Salmon
    03/12/2012 @ 4:30 pm

    @Jurgen. I am a working class kid. My father was a cabbie. I only studying law because I worked hard to do something with my life. I didn’t even go to university but rather had yto do it while working in order to afford it. My apologies if that makes me too posh for you and not good enough to be a fan.

  6. Ramsingh
    03/12/2012 @ 4:46 pm

    I love the 1882 events as it removes the divide in fans and just shows me the famous ‘Tottenham Atmosphere’
    I haven’t been supporting Spurs all that long (2007) so I’ve only been ‘on the high’ of top 5 finishes, but I can’t understand the mentality people have that are booing if we’re drawing a few ‘easy games’, I’m not saying the non-booing fans don’t get fed up or bored, but we just vent on Internet message boards ;-)

  7. jurgen
    03/12/2012 @ 5:05 pm

    I didn’t say it don’t mean your a good fan I was just making a point about the divisions being caused even within a single club because of the REAL snobbery of people looking down at football fans like in society with these new pc fans making out if u dont agree with them then your just.a clueless knucklehead. I agree with got post and actually had a season ticket during them dark days of ruel fox to nicola berti, gross Francis etc and actually gave it up because when I came back from oz after 2 years saw how much atmospheres were changing in football. U can’t blame people for being annoyed at being so close to 3rd place and possibly pulling away from arsenal and chelsea to then yet again take 2 steps back because levy is obsessed with this continental set up which ain’t worked the two times we’ve tried it before, I like avb and said from the start of the season I won’t criticize him at all because as far as we know he ain’t even got a say on players brought in, for us to make the transition from arry (which I was delighted that he went) the easiest and most seamless it had to be moyes which was the most frustrating thing for me

    • S-P
      03/12/2012 @ 5:27 pm

      I grew up on a (rather notorious) council estate and played football in concrete cages. My father climbed the insides of steelwork chimneys for a bread-line wage for a living. I more-or-less dropped out of school when I was thirteen. I used to be a welder. When I was made redundant, a friend persuaded me to go back to school, and, starteing with GCSE’s, I did, eventually go to University (twice, for two different subjects, neither of which was law – and hoping to do so again).

      What a strangely blinkered view you have.

      The fans really causing the divisions ARE those who cause a poisonous atmosphere at a ridiculously early stage in a new Head coach’s career. What makes it worse is hiding behind the ‘I’ve got my own opinion and you are loking down on me for having it’ argument. We ‘are’ allowed an opinion, but, sorry, when someone holds a ridiculously niave, knee-jerk opinion and refuses to consider anyone else’s opinion (which might make them change their ridiculously niave, knee-jerk opinion), I am entitled to hold an opinion that the former opinion is ludicrous,and to voice my opinion – are you denying me the right to hold my opinion?

  8. jurgen
    03/12/2012 @ 6:36 pm

    S p- u wasn’t even talking to u and said I agree with the article so don’t know what your on about to be honest

    • S-P
      03/12/2012 @ 10:25 pm

      I know who you were and weren’t talking to.
      I replied to you as you claimed that ‘working class kids don’t go to University (to sudy law)’. That affects me directly as I am very Working Class, not just in were I grew up or the work that my parents did, but in the work (and, at times, lack of) I did and yet have been to University twice. Thought that it was obvious why I commented on your post.

  9. jurgen
    03/12/2012 @ 11:07 pm

    Yeah well fair play to ya for doin well for yourself and even more so for not forgetting who u are and where u come from unlike too many people these days

    • S-P
      04/12/2012 @ 12:03 am

      Oh…ta :)

  10. IKnowAlanGilzean
    11/12/2012 @ 11:35 am

    Interesting post, thanks Smoked Salmon.

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