Spurs fans seem to be coming out of the woodwork here at farlieonfootie. Our newest author, James, is showcased below, detailing his semi-logical choice to devote his heart and soul to the latest and greatest exploits emanating from White Hart Lane:
With apologies to Chuck Culpepper, author of the wonderful book "Bloody Confused", I too have embarked on a quest to choose an EPL team. Inspired by Mr. Culpepper, and the same alienation from American sports that he so aptly described, as well as the relentless evangelism of my very own soccer guru, farlieonfootie himself, I began my quest in the middle of a dreary winter and selected the following October 31st as the deadline for the choice.
Also like Mr. Culpepper, the choice became apparent well before the self-appointed deadline, and seemed to materialize quite instinctively after certain threshold requirements were met. Unlike Mr. Culpepper, my efforts were not assisted by the ability to actually go to England and sample firsthand the culture and ambience of the clubs. Thanks, however, to the wonders of DirecTV, the internet and the predominance of soccer pubs, I feel secure in the conclusions which have led me to become a novice Spurs supporter.
1. Not the Guru’s Team
Culpepper’s guru was a supporter of Liverpool. farlieonfootie, of course, loves Manchester United. And I was tempted by United, mostly because of the refreshingly gruff Fergie, the old school mentality of their aging core players (Giggs, Scholes, Ferdinand) and the undeniable appeal of a culture of success that is up there only with the Yankees and Les Habitants in the annals of global professional sports. As Culpepper emphasized, however, for credibility sake it’s just not an option. My wife is annoyed enough with me for allowing farlieonfootie to inculcate this new found obsession– if I went so far as to follow his team I would never hear the end of it.
2. Not One of the “Big 4”
A corollorary of #1. While I read and heard much advice to the contrary (such as why on earth would an American newbie be at all concerned about the credibility issues of rooting for one of the Big 4 when he is just that - an American newbie), it just felt too easy to latch onto United, Chelsea, Arsenal or, formerly, Liverpool. Moreover, as a lifelong Yankee fan, I have always been begrudgingly envious of the Red Sox with their supremely loyal fans, cramped and ancient ball park and the joy they experienced when they finally got over the hump.
Plus there are issues with the so-called "Big 4" teams. United is burdened by mountainous debt and ownership controversy. Liverpool is on a downward spiral that seems to have no end. Chelsea is somehow simply despicable in ways that are difficult to articulate – perhaps Ancelotti’s mafia garb, the actual mafia owner or Terry’s inherent personality. The Gunners seem to be the hip choice for people like me and have an appealing style of play, but I never connected with Wenger – and you’ve got to like the gaffer for this for this to work.
To put another way, I would love to meet up in a pub with Fergie, Uncle Harry or Big Sam. Wenger? Not so much.
And then there is the team trying to spend their way there – Man City. But who on earth could choose them with no existing connection? The mumbling manager with those effete Euro scarves and who, along with Wenger, colossally fails the Pub Test? The away kit that looks like the German national team? The petro funds invested indiscriminantly from our own country’s wasteful addiction to fossil fuels? Sorry…no.
With respect to getting over the hump – Spurs have a shot. They have young, talented players for the most part, cash, little debt, increasing revenue, a new stadium on the way, are holding their own in Champions League, are intensely followed in the largest city in England. Because of all of this, they appear to be well-positioned to continue to strengthen the team and hold on to their young stars – especially Bale. They are competently managed and led by a gaffer in Uncle Harry who has led turn-arounds before and who is an entertaining character in his own right. And I have been surprised at the number of fellow Spurs supporters one encounters in the U.S.
4. Colorful History
While ancient, Spurs do have at least a glimmer of domestic and European success to call on as tradition. Beyond that, they have had a long running series of close calls and “what if’s” that have created a shared culture of pain and intensity in their followers that seems a tad more profound than many of the other strivers in English football, and which will make their possible ascension to perennial top of the table status that much more joyous.
5. “To Do Is To Dare”
One of the things I love about the EPL is the extent to which teams through multiple generations, ownership transition, success and failure retain certain aspects of their culture and traditions. None more so than Spurs, who have almost always played an aggressive, wide open and entertaining brand of football that is easy for newbies such as myself to embrace. Rarely blown out, but prone to cough up goals and leads with their attacking style, Spurs games are rarely boring. This is almost always true: win, lose or draw, a Spurs game will be entertaining on some level.
6. Harry Hotspur
Their mascot is a character from a Shakespeare play – what’s not to like about that? Seriously, this alone could have clinched it for me.
7. White Hart Lane
There were three venues that seemed to stand out for me in terms of raucousness (which was a vital element in the selection process, even though it may be a long time before I am able to experience it in person): Goodison Park, Villa Park and White Hart Lane. Not coincidentally, these three teams were my final three. I was sorely tempted by both Everton and Villa until very late in the summer. But Martin O’Neal’s shock resignation led me to question commitment there, and once I got a peek at Everton’s truly horrific away kit, I could just never feel the same about them.
As for the venue, even over TV, WHL is consistently one of the loudest, most raucous stadiums in England. But what really sold me was the sound of “When The Spurs Come Marching In" echoing through the San Siro three weeks ago as the team was down 4 nil to the European champions.
8. The Yids
Being from a melting pot family and with a Jewish father there was something inherently appealing in Spurs’ long time Jewish following in North London, and especially their non-Jewish followers proclaiming themselves “Yids” in response to anti-Semitic derision from followers of other clubs in the mid 20th century – an era not exactly known for inclusiveness, particularly in many parts of Europe. The tradition stands to this day. So much so, that there was an uproar among Spurs fans when Inter disallowed star of David flags and banners in San Siro for the match three weeks ago.
9. Debt, or Lack Thereof
Although touched on above, this bears repeating. With English football appearing to be spiraling towards financial crisis, Spurs appear to be a very prudently managed club. The Chairman and Harry appear to work well together and have managed to radically strengthen the club in a short period of time with a series of very astute and financially conservative acquisitions, Van der Vart being a prime example. They have cash, but seem to invest it wisely and according to a long term plan – pretty much the opposite of City.
10. Uncle Harry
I am admittedly biased since reading “Bloody Confused,” but Uncle Harry is easily one of the most entertaining football managers ever. He coaches an aggressive free-wheeling style that fits in well with Spurs’ football culture and provides an endless supply of amusing quotes (some samples: “Samassi Abou don’t speak the English too good.” “He took a knock on his ankle but we played him some Bob Marley reggae music and he was fine.” “After shooting practice yesterday, I had to drive up the M27 and collect four balls.” “Even when they had Moore, Hurst and Peters, West Ham’s average finish was about 17th. It just shows how crap the other 8 of us were.”) Moreover, he is not spening his club into oblivion as he's been accused of doing in the past. He seems to have bought into the long-term plan, appears set to stay awhile barring a call up to the English national team, and the players all seem to respond well to him.
Keep 'em coming, Spurs fans, keep 'em coming, and let us know what you think in the comments section below. That's farlieonfootie for November 5.