At Tottenham Hotspur, the 1882 fan movement aims to recapture the days when “how loud you sing and how passionate you became wasn’t dependent on how well the team was playing”. Spurs author and fan Martin Cloake talks to the fans organising at Spurs, and places them in a context of a tradition of independent supporter organisation at the club, and of a wider movement to re-imagine the future of football.
Since I started going to Spurs I’ve had a tendency to watch the crowd almost as much as the players. An element of what makes football attractive is the folk culture built up by the fans, and it’s on this ground that an interesting struggle is developing. The modern football business markets the passion of the fans as an essential part of what it calls the matchday experience, but there’s a tension underlying this. The game increasingly tries to shape and regulate the behaviour of the fans, and in doing so risks damaging the thing it values so much. In addition, more fans are becoming suspicious of attempts to sell a culture we created back to us in a sanitised form.
At Spurs, these issues come together at the point at which 1882 is operating. When I picked up on the movement I wanted to find out more, and contacted the team at The Fighting Cock. Since then we’ve talked a lot, exchanged lots of emails, recorded some podcasts and worked on a film. I wanted to capture the spirit of what 1882 was doing, but also to place it in the wider context of what fans across the game are doing as new currents of supporter organisation, new ways of showing support, spring up.
As I talked to the people involved, I was struck by some of the similarities between the current wave of activity and what I’d seen in the past. What was also clear was that much of the history of autonomous supporter activity at the club was not known to a new generation of support. So I thought it was important to set down and preserve this history, the story of the culture we created and which helps to define us.
The result is the ebook Sound of the crowd, written with the help and support of The Fighting Cock. It looks at what 1882 is and does, provides a historical perspective including an in-depth look at the battle for The Shelf in the 1980s, and asks how this all fits in with the growing Against Modern Football mood right across the game.
• Sound of the crowd is available as an ebook only on Amazon, Lulu and direct from Martin Cloake’s website.
The Fighting Cock is not making any money from sales of Sound of the Crowd. We’ve agreed with author Martin Cloak to donate our cut to partner charity The CALM who work to reduce male suicide.