Raphael Harris takes a look at what made a boy from Brazil fall for Tottenham.
Growing up in a country where Tottenham Hotspur’s reputation is fairly limited, it’s not rare to get questioned on why one would even consider supporting the North London team.
Well, why not support Spurs?
“They don’t win any trophies.”
Ah. That short and famous little answer that speaks volumes about one’s understanding of the meaning of football. I frequently feel like explaining, but the truth is the explanation is a bit too long and complex for a regular day-to-day chat – so I’ve decided to write about it, the importance of being Spurs.
It’s true. Tottenham haven’t exactly been prolific in the trophy department in recent years. So why does its fanbase continuously grow despite this frustrating silverware record?
Because Tottenham Hotspur’s ultimate objective isn’t silverware.
Winning trophies is a goal set by football clubs – and Tottenham isn’t one. Tottenham is a philosophy, a culture.
The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It is nothing of the kind. The game is about glory
Bill Nicholson, Spurs’ most successful and most famous manager, took charge of the club in 1958. His aim was not to win silverware, but to create an idea and a style that would consequently transform Tottenham into a prolific and title-winning side.
“The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It is nothing of the kind. The game is about glory, it is about doing things in style and with a flourish, about going out and beating the lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom.”
This quote belongs to the legendary ex-Spurs player, Danny Blanchflower, who witnessed and aided Bill Nicholson in building the Tottenham revolution – and he couldn’t have described it any better.
Nicholson’s project was extremely successful. And I’m not talking about the eleven trophies he brought to White Hart Lane during his managerial tenure, I’m talking about his legacy: every Spurs supporter is born and bred into Bill Nic’s culture, which has now become synonymous to anything associated with Tottenham Hotspur.
So how does this relate to my personal experience as a Spurs fan living abroad?
It’s not easy to be in this position. I can’t just walk round the corner and have a chat with a local cabbie about yesterday’s match. The matches aren’t always broadcasted on television. If I want to go to the stadium, it’s just the five thousand miles on an eleven hour flight.
The thing is, though, my passion for Tottenham isn’t altered in the slightest by these problems. Why?
This is where Nicholson’s legacy comes in. Old Bill created something far more solid and lasting than any silverware a football club could win: an identity.
I may be physically distant from my club, but that doesn’t mean I feel less of a part of it. My spine still manages to tingle every time I hear our numbers belting out chant after chant with fervorous passion. I miss White Hart Lane as much as a twenty-year season ticket holder does.
every Spurs supporter is born and bred into Bill Nic’s culture, which has now become synonymous to anything associated with Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham is a family. Strangers from all across the globe will treat each other with utmost respect and kindness as a result of our passion and identification with the Spurs culture.
Be it in Brazil, Belgium, Baltimore, Beijing or Barcelona, we are all Yids. And we carry North London in our Lilywhite hearts, vowing to keep and expand our club’s legacy and history.
It’s an exciting time to be a Tottenham supporter, especially because Mauricio Pochettino and Daniel Levy are driving our team in the same direction that old Bill Nic did back in the day. Their work naturally reignites the identification sentiment amongst supporters all over the world, and they haven’t brought a single trophy home as of yet.
We play with style, we sing loud, we follow our club religiously across England and Europe. We make ourselves known wherever we go.
We are supporters of different nationalities, colours, ethnicities, races and cultural background, but we are all united in spirit and heart despite physical distance and any other complicating factors.
We are Tottenham Hotspur – and this is why it’s so important, to me and to all of our supporters, to be part of the club.