As I remember it, we were on the Spurs special returning from Elland Road, Leeds. The team had just put in a goliath performance to come away with a 2-1 victory but the train was in a sombre, almost wake like mood. The fact that one side of the train had had its glass kindly removed by a very large and very angry group of Leeds supporters, using anything they could physically throw in our direction could, possibly had had something to do with it.
This sort of thing had become the norm and everyone was used to the attention we got on an away day special. Strangely though, the previous return journey a couple of weeks before was more like a carnival, which is still a bit confusing considering we got stuffed by Liverpool 7-0 – maybe the run around the streets on the way back to Lime Street station had lifted our spirits.
Anyway the train wasn’t going as fast as it usually would, and it meant that there probably wouldn’t be any other London based supporters hanging around the London train stations when we finally arrived home. But that didn’t stop the conversation getting round to the usual subject of who was likely to make up any welcoming committee. Would it be West Ham or Arsenal, both played at home that day and both regularly made their way to come and pay us a visit on our return. More than likely though it would be Chelsea, they would have chaperoned the Manchester City fans to the station and probably, then, wait around to have a friendly chat with us when we got there.
It didn’t really matter who it was, if anyone at all, we would try to do the same as we did after every away game, bow our heads and try and look like non-football supporters and make a hasty retreat before the badges we wore could be recognised. On the occasions that we were recognised we hoped we had the luxury of at least a set of train tracks and a platform, or an iron fence between us, so all we would endure would be the chorus of “Yiddos” and any other obscenities they could come up with that included “Yid” or “Yiddos”.
It was the same every journey. It was especially tiresome that while we could defend ourselves in most ways, there wasn’t much we could do about the verbal abuse and anti semitism. We had no comeback.
“What are we going to do about it? What can we do about it?” We’d ask each other all the time, and despite this no answer came. Until one day we hit it.
“Why don’t we take their fire from them?”
“What do you mean?”
“If we embraced the word “Yid” then we’d remove their firepower and leave them with nothing”
“Yeah, OK, but how do we do that?”
“We become ‘the Yids’”
The five of us in the carriage that day immediately started buzzing, coming up with different songs and chants to include the “Yid” word, before we realised it we had arrived and it was time to sneak around the back doors and alleys to avoid any hangers on there might be.
We are the Yids, we are the Yids, we are, we are, we are the Yids”, all five sang at the top of their lungs looking around for a bit of support from the other travellers.”
On the way to Kings Cross station we had a little practice, there was only three of us left as the other two came from different areas and caught different trains home, in a dark back street with no-one around we burst in to our first chorus of “We are the Yids.”
It was two weeks until our next away match, Manchester City. The chat between us on the train was all about becoming ‘Yids’. We all listened to each other’s versions of songs we had made up and tried to learn the words. It wasn’t really that difficult, most just had the word ‘Spurs’ switched to ‘Yid’.
This week we were in a carriage with four seats around a table and two lines of tables through the whole carriage, all around us had joined in or were listened to the chat with interest, to the extent that there was none of the usual three card brag for 10p a hand, everyone was interested.
One of the five was in a particularly good mood and led a chorus of “Everywhere We Go” as soon as we departed the train.
“We are the Yids, we are the Yids, we are, we are, we are the Yids”, all five sang at the top of their lungs looking around for a bit of support from the other travellers. Silence … still silence. Then a few glances in our direction, then one voice pipes up “What the f*”*k are you on about”? a brief explanation followed that we was going to embrace the term “Yid” as way of defence against the chants from other supporters. “Oh! OK then, ya reckon that’ll work do ya?” was the reply but nothing more was said.
We had a long chat on the train home about how we could “spread the word” on the next away day: Saturday, 7th October 1978
All we would endure would be the chorus of “Yiddos” and any other obscenities they could come up with that included “Yid” or “Yiddos”
We met as usual on the train, this time off to the Midlands. Whoever was first at the train would try and get a six seater carriage, success! One of the lads was a printer and he had printed about a dozen sheets of stickers. An orange sheet with black italics simply saying ‘I’M A YID’ and another sheet that simply said ‘YID’, these were distributed amongst us and operation ‘Shut their Gobs’ was under way.
On the walk to the ground nothing was sacred. Anything and everything that stayed still long enough got stickered, even dogs being walked on leashes. As high as we could place them on windows and road signs, on passing vehicles, especially buses. Everything got a sticker. When a group of spurs supporters got escorted around the pitch perimeter because they had accidentally gone in to the wrong end we could see one of them was someone we knew and he, and all of his mates had little orange stickers on their donkey jackets with the words ‘I’M A YID’ just under their Spurs badges.
By the time we played Derby in the next away fixture the fire had started to spread, chants of ‘Yiddos” rang out from the whole train as it departed the station, ‘Yiddos’ boomed out of the train windows whenever it slowed down enough or there was someone around to hear it and within a few weeks Arsenal had to come up with another chant all because “we are the Yids” and we’re proud of it. The rest as they say is history.
So, do I apologise for possibly being instrumental in creating the monster that is the Tottenham Yids? Do I apologise for defending my team and all my fellow supporters? Do I apologise for upsetting a few non-Spurs supporters who have nothing better to do than try and create wrong where there is none? Especially as it was their fellow supporters that contributed to the stance in the first place! Or do I just sit back with a certain amount of pride, and a massive grin on my face when I hear the words echoing around White Hart Lane, in my local pub on match day, when I see ‘T’ shirts with the word proudly displayed, when I see so many twitter accounts with the word included in people’s tags? Simply no.
I’m proud to be a Yid. I always will be.