Through my involvement with Arlington Spurs, an official Tottenham supporters club in Northern Virginia, I get to learn the stories of how people came to support Spurs. Some were indoctrinated before they realized they had a choice in the matter by English (or anglophile) relatives, some randomly chose Spurs as their team during late-night games of FIFA, and some simply got a taste for the game and wanted a team that didn’t come with accusations of glory hunting.
Here are some of the reasons I have heard from fans on this side of the Atlantic that explain their love for Tottenham, the pride of London.
1) Is he going to have a crack? He is you know.
Spurs fans of a certain age remember this iconic commentary like they remember their address. Typing the words immediately conjures up images of Gazza, six weeks post-hernia operation and sporting an unfashionable (even for the 90s) cereal-bowl haircut, facing David Seaman from 35yards out. We all know who won that contest.
Those gorgeous Hummel kits with the chevrons on the sleeve represent an era that stand out for Spurs for so many reasons. A club in financial turmoil, transitioning between the trophy-laden 80’s and Sky Sports’ sanitization of football, creaking under the weight of history as the love affair with the FA Cup – in a year ending in “1” – continued. Not many members of Arlington Spurs were fans at this time, but thanks to YouTube and nostalgia social-media channels they’ve all seen Lineker, Mabbutt, et al victorious in that semi-final and the subsequent final and you’d be surprised how many reference *that* free-kick when talking about why they chose Spurs.
2) Taxi for Maicon
For some time, one man was the primary reason for our growing stateside fanbase. The emergence of Gareth Bale coincided with NBC realizing there was an audience for premier league matches, and the publicity machine went into overdrive with Gareth’s face – and left foot – at the centre. Some fans say his San Siro hattrick or the return game at White Hart Lane was the moment they found their team, while others became fully COYS thanks to his near-weekly wondergoals that papered over his teammates’ lackadaisical efforts during the strange AVB era. Some just saw his smiling face and weird ‘finger-heart’ celebration and thought, “that’s for me”.
3) National pride
Nothing draws Americans to the Premier League like the opportunity to cheer for their fellow countrymen. And while this may sound like a slight, it genuinely isn’t. The sight of Clint Dempsey scoring his first goal – a winner away at Man Utd – and going Nacogdoches-crazy was a joy to behold, made even better by the explosion of joy and pride from the Spurs-supporting Americans watching in our “home” pub. However, their passion is not just down to Texas’ favourite son wearing our colours. In the B.C. years (Before Clint), there was someone from these shores who had already brought a legion of fans to N17 – the OG of bald American goalkeepers, Kasey Keller, and the skin-tight Kappa shirt that was the precursor to today’s modern figure-hugging offering.
The Under Armour years were peak TottenhAmerica. A perfect storm of Dempsey and Brad Friedel being regular starters, Gareth Bale reaching “billboard-in-Times-Square” level of fame, and the birth of Ted Lasso and his magnificent moustache led to a swell in fans across the country. Wearing the famous cockerel with pride on kits and clothing from all eras (shirts from the best-forgotten Adidas seasons always make me smile), they join in with songs and share facts that I’d long forgotten but they’ve newly learnt, showing that you don’t need to have been born in North London to love our wonderful club. Just passion, sense of humour, and enough hope to keep you coming back.
4) Are you not entertained?
Most Spurs fans are self-aware enough to admit our trophy cabinet hasn’t exactly been overflowing lately, Audi cups aside. But that doesn’t matter – we watch for entertainment, excitement, to make memories. And this is my final thought – people watch Spurs because of our legacy of developing and attracting exciting players that get you off your seat (looking at you, Messrs Kane, Deki, Richarlson and Son).
Whether it was the elegance of Hoddle, Waddle and Ardiles in arguably the best ever Tottenham kit; David Ginola reaping havoc down the wing and lifting the league cup in an untucked, collarless Pony shirt; or Jurgen Klinsmann in the iconic (and my personal favourite) Umbro shirt, Tottenham is synonymous with playing football the right way, daring to do in front of the White Hart Lane faithful, and beating the other lot rather than waiting for them to die of boredom.
Regardless of nationality, all sports fans have that special brand of optimism that “next year will be our year”. For Americans who do not support a huge dynasty like the Yankees, Lakers or Patriots, Tottenham is the perfect team. It the hope that kills us, and we wouldn’t want it any other way.
COME ON YOU SPURS!