I Hate Tottenham Hotspur: A Confession

When I turned thirty I had what can only be described as the early onset of a post-quarter-life-midlife-crisis. I was consumed by the desire to do something kerr-ay-zee, so I took myself down to the local tattoo parlour on the eve of the 2008/9 season and booked myself in for an hour or so of self-inflicted skin-scratching, pricking, searing pain. On my right shoulder now resides a cockerel balanced on top of a football. It’s there forever. Forever, ever? Forever. And I hate it and love it in equal measure. It’s there now as a permanent reminder with its ink-stained durability, of the despairing futility that being a supporter of a football club brings. It’s a nihilistic pursuit, with little if any reward. Because like Spurs, I cannot ever erase it. It’s part of me now, for better or for worse.

What a fool I must have been to even subtitle a Dispatch in December Why Spurs Will Win The Premier League. Why didn’t anyone stop me? It was inevitable that a capitulation would happen but like a doe-eyed teenaged girl with an idiotic notion that Justin Bieber is only singing for her, I truly believed that this was the year that Spurs finally went and won the damned thing.

Wherever Spurs finish in the league, this season, like no other I remember, will forever be recalled with the melancholic sigh of what could have been. We were ten points clear of Arsenal at one stage. Breathing down the Manchester clubs’ necks after Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s thunderbolt against Everton in January. I even had the foolhardy temerity to tell my best friend (a Man United fan) that I would have to call an untimely end to his stag weekend (which I am currently on), because I would have to get down to White Hart Lane to participate in the celebrations. He’s finding all this highly amusing.

Since that fateful day in February when Fabio quit and Harry was acquitted, I’ve sat back and watched in horror as Spurs’ season shrivelled up with the terrifying rapidity of a dastardly Nazi in Raiders of the Lost Ark. The home defeat to Norwich was embarrassing in its toothlessness, the horrorshow that was the North London derby was humiliating but it was the ease with which Chelsea nonchalantly brushed Spurs aside in the FA Cup semi-final that brought on one of the most despairing maladies that I have ever experienced in my years supporting Spurs. It just proved that life doesn’t always reward the good guys. If life was fair, why then has John Terry ended his season lifting the Cup? It could be even worse next week. I’ve wanted this season to end for a long time now, unable to bear watching Spurs limp across the finishing line; a shadow of the team they were in December.

I do realise I’m having a little whine but Spurs really let their fans down this season. Which begs the question why do we keep coming back for more when we know how the song goes? Like David Bowie says, we’ve “heard it ten times or more”. Does a football club genuinely possess character traits that are as immutable as DNA strands? Are Spurs forever doomed to be “flakey”, to use Gary Neville’s description of them?

As an entity, Tottenham Hotspur Football Club is not a physically breathing organic being. So why, does it continue to make the same mistakes, provide its fans with the same pain, every season? It’s the same as when people get emotional about sending a car they’ve had for twenty years to the scrapyard. Or when fictional characters such as Holden Caulfield or Elizabeth Bennett are talked about by their admirers as if they had inhabited the world at some point in history. Why are these notions and institutions afforded such human qualities?

We support football clubs because they are a projection of ourselves. They embody both our hopes and fears and when they fall short of our high expectations we can’t help but feel saddened by this. Our teams remind us that we are fallible, imperfect, inconsistent and farcical; often all these traits simultaneously. But just because I have this perception of Spurs, it does not necessarily mean that another fellow fan sees Spurs through the same prism of resignation. Football clubs mean different things to different people.

In many respects, it’s much like a marriage. My wife is hands-down the most eloquent, intelligent, creative person I have ever known. I on the other hand, am lazy. I don’t like doing the housework. I have a phobia of picking up telephones. And I have yet to pass my driving test. Of course, she has her own flaws but that’s not my point. The point is that she has always believed in the best of me and although I may not always meet those expectations, she supports me in everything I do. Just like why we keep going back to our clubs in the hope that one day, they may just get it right. Just ask those long-suffering Manchester City fans watching their team on the brink of greatness or the Blackburn supporters who’ll renew their season tickets regardless of the farce that is Venky’s ownership of the club.

I could have chosen any club to support and any person to marry. But I didn’t. And I don’t regret either, despite the trials and tribulations that we inevitably will experience. Because when it’s good, those moments are more than exquisite. And they’re addictive.

The day after I got the tattoo done, Spurs went to the Stadium of Light and lost to Sunderland. That should have served as fair warning. Just as the lasagne episode of 2006 should have. Or any other heartbreaking failure Spurs have served up as the years have passed. The thing is though, when you love something so much, you know there’s always that beautiful Kodak moment just around the corner. And there’s always next season, right? Just don’t EVER let me write another Dispatch on it. I’m sure Mrs T will keep me grounded on that front.

Further reading: I Heart Manchester United: A Confession 

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11 Responses to I Hate Tottenham Hotspur: A Confession

  1. Vic May 13, 2012 at 10:15 am #

    Brilliantly portrays what supporting a team is all about.
    I constantly ask myself, “Why should I care about 11 blokes kicking a pig’s bladder?” “What difference to my life will it make whether they win, lose or draw?” “What is this thing called Spurs? It doesn’t breathe, it doesn’t even know I exist.”

    But fact is I DO care and I hate myself for it. For putting myself through so much unnecessary pain for so little joy.

    Every time they let me down I tell myself, and others, “That’s it! I’ve had enough! The season’s over for me. No more!” What an immense waste of breathe that is. My wife and family don’t even listen anymore, they know I’ll be back log a faithful old dog panting at its master’s feet waiting to be kicked.

  2. Boomtownchav May 13, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    I love the last paragraph!!!! That is me, that is my wife, that is so spot on. Please Harry and co to the vets for me as I’ve just signed up for another season of pain.

  3. Next bus to Woolwich! May 13, 2012 at 11:16 am #

    I agree totally with the article and the posts above,I too have decided or tried to pack it all in this season.Whilst age has taught me to be not such a pain in the arse anymore as I was when I was younger,it still hurts when we get beaten,not so much beaten as have our pants taken down and spanked,that’s the heartbreaking thing.

    I think why I have questioned my devotion this season to Spurs is not so much the way the team have let us down,and they have to a certain extent that points advantage was huge,it’s the dodgy refereeing decisions that seem to be made over the last few seasons with no sign of abating,like a wave of bad karma that seems to consume us.It seems to be corrupt for me as we don’t even get an apology for it,and there seems to be no accountability from the FA or the respective bodies.
    All in all I questioning the unfairness of it and it’s that rankles,I can just about handle being beaten into submission,as long as we put up a FIGHT,but to be cheated out of something and in such an underhand manner,it’s that which annoys.

  4. Savagenick May 13, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    Awesome blog – considered the spurs tattoo myself a few times, getting one would most likely be like being a supporter of them; costs a bit, hurts while getting it and for a while afterwards and you’re never 100% happy with it…

    In regards to the “personality” of a club – I’ve always thought that there are so many people involved in one that despite changes in owner, board, manager or players there are always a decent number of people (including the fans) through which the intangible traits and attitudes of the club can be inherited. If an important member of the club is brought in who goes against the grain they have to be successful or they won’t last long (and in some cases that doesn’t matter anyway) for fear of “muddying the genepool” – Sam Allardyce always seems to be a perfect example of this. That said, it’s completely possible that people could be brought in deliberately to change the DNA of a club in order to move them forward, Martinez at Swansea is the most recent one that comes to mind.

    Time to watch the last game of the season while hiding behind my hands…

  5. Jordan's Teeth May 13, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

    Truth is, this season was our chance.
    We blew it.
    The Arse, the Chavs, even Liverfool, will not have such bad seasons again.
    Our best ever prem season…and we still finished below them. That was their worst ever season right?

    In august I would’ve thought 4th was a dream. now, I’m gutted because I know next season will be same old same old.

    • steve May 14, 2012 at 5:42 am #

      Their worst ever season? Where did you get that from? You only need to go back to last season for a lower points total – and that was hardly a one-off. They’ve actually finished with less points in EIGHT of the previous 19 seasons.

      Don’t believe everything them smug gooner morons say.

  6. Stuart May 14, 2012 at 6:38 am #

    You don’t live in the real world do you. Nobody in their right mind thought Tottenham would win the Premier League, 3rd yes, but win, wake up.

    We have finished 1 place lower than we should have. Next season Chelsea win finish in the top 4 if they play their proper team and we will have to try and displace Arsenal.

    We have achieved what we set out to achieve, a top 4 finish. At the start of the season you would have taken that.

  7. MrTinkles May 14, 2012 at 7:46 am #

    Good one – as always mate!
    I love your musing on how a football club can seem to have a real organic living quality.
    Of course, I know this cannot be so but it sometimes seems so much like it that I wonder if there is a yet to be discovered branch of psychology that is relevant (perhaps Issac Azimov’s “psychohistory” does work for smaller groups when they happen to be football clubs) and explains how we seem capable of “behaving” in the same way so damn often. Surely such a behaviour suggests life?
    Another characteristic of sentience is the ability to frustrate and yet inspire love…and that is why I shall be back believing next September…as will you…
    Come on Bayern!!!

  8. joel priest May 15, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

    I think us north londoners will forever be in the will we won’t we predicament! Our seasons are almost in reverse to the point where wenger is hailing 3rd place his greatest achievement. Some would laugh at that but if you look at the facts its not far off.

    We never spend big, always play squad players and yet still we have ended up a head of the big spending clubs such as spurs, liverpool and chelsea.

    I will hold my hands up and admit I was furious with wenger come october and called for his head. But time, and a few good results is a great healer.

    Great read mr T once again!

  9. Kevin McDougall May 16, 2012 at 7:00 am #

    I wholeheartedly agree with the title of this post ;-)

    I’d still be happy with a top 4 finish Greg. Yes, expectations were raised and Spurs played some of the best football for a period but that’s the ebb and flow of football. You can still look forward with optimism for next year and build build build and be happy that the golden period of this month gave you enough points to stay in the top 4.

    @joel – You are right, it’s like Arsenal season was the reverse of Tottenham’s in that you had a terrible patch were you played some of the worst football – out of character for Arsenal. Without that period you could have been serious contenders, RVP’s performances this year should have been enough to carry any club to the championship. Greatest season/poor season? I think the jury is still out on that one.

    As for Chelsea. Lowest finish in the Abramovich era, unstable direction and leadership. Is it time for Chelsea fans to start asking questions about our owner and the way he runs the club? I’m pretty sure there be a queue from Stamford bridge to Harrods of potential new owners if Roman decided to sell up. All we want is a little stability.

  10. joel priest May 18, 2012 at 6:52 am #

    Kev I would take the fa cup and champions league final over our season! I am forever being reminded how our cupboard is bare by friends (although take not utd fans I will be enjoying mocking you for the next 12 months!). I think di matteo is the key for you guys, someone young, fresh, at thome at the club and loved by all. He has some potentially world class players such as ramires, lukaku etc. So once the old guard are replaced I think it will be title time again for you guys.

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