“We hate Arsenal and we hate Arsenal, we hate Arsenal and we hate Arsenal, we hate Arsenal and we hate Arsenal, we are the Arsenal haters.” For many years I joined in that chant with gusto but actually I don’t really and I hope you don’t either. Not when you really stop to think about it. It took me 30-odd years to realise how I really felt but more of that later. I am writing this on the evening of Wednesday 14 November 2012 and we are playing them on Saturday lunchtime, live on Sky, so now is a good time to think about how we feel about our greatest rivals.
Article written by a new writer to HotspurHQ blog: Alan Hill
First an introduction – Hi, my name is Alan. This is my first blog for Hotspur HQ. Logan Holmes stumbled across my own website, life2too.com and liked what he saw on the Spurs pages. He thought other Spurs fans might enjoy more of the same, so I was flattered when he asked if I would like to contribute to Hotspur HQ. So, we’ll see how it goes. Expect some reminiscences mixed with opinions on current events, laced with humour. I hope you enjoy it.
I have supported Spurs since 1960/61 – nothing to do with the double or us winning anything. I was 4 years old. We lived in Barnes down by the Boat Race finishing line and my Dad got me to choose a team to support out of the 1957 Stanley Matthews football annual. I chose Spurs because they played at White Hart Lane. White Hart Lane was the local High Street in Barnes. I thought that when I was big enough to go down to the end of our road on my own, I’d be able to see this Tottenham Hotspur team. At that age I didn’t know there was another White Hart Lane in North London! Then when I was 5, we moved to West London anyway. Still I’d chosen my team and I have stuck with them ever since, even though I wasn’t allowed to travel on my own across London to see them until I got to senior school.
In the early ’70s, the late 70s, early ’80s and mid ’90s and late ’90s I used to go to 6-10 home matches a season. Since then, it’s mostly been a question of watching us on Sky and ESPN at every opportunity, with the occasional visit to the Lane.
I haven’t been to many away games outside of London and I wouldn’t go to Highbury on principle, which brings me back to how I really feel about Arsenal.
When Arsenal beat Liverpool at Anfield to win the league all those years ago, I was convinced I wanted Liverpool to win. In the build-up I had said all the right Spurs fan things and kidded myself that I believed them but the honest immediate gut reaction when Arsenal scored and held out was yes!!! – A London club had won! It made me realise that even though it was the Arse, I am a Spurs fan first but a Londoner and an Englishman and a Brit next and in that order. Definitely a revelation and a question of my heart ruling my head.
I think that’s worth remembering with another derby approaching and the recent resurfacing of really vile chants at different grounds and racism allegations flying about the place. Calm down everybody. Healthy rivalry is fine and there’s nothing wrong with a good insult to a rival, delivered well and with wit but let’s keep it within limits. I even believe there is a place for old fashioned industrial language. It’s a man’s game after all and I’ve always believed that foul language is more about how it’s used and the context, whether there is any genuine venom behind it. With the right timing and delivery it can be hilarious. I liked Harry Redknapp’s approach to the rivalry. It was easy to dislike Arsenal for many years. Despite their success, they were genuinely boring to watch. I’d rather watch moderately successful, flowing, attacking exciting football, with a regular cup win thrown in than watch a team grind out league championships with boring dull football. Give me excitement and unpredictability any time and a player or two to get me up off my seat with their skill. Hoddle, Waddle, Gazza, Ginola, Klinsmann, Lineker, Sheringham, Berbatov, Bale… This really came home to roost in the period when Wenger took over at Arsenal until Martin Jol and then Harry Redknapp arrived at Spurs. Until then it was like Arsenal had turned into Spurs, playing wonderful attacking football along the ground – and there were several years when Spurs turned in too many boring performances. I still chuckled when Arsenal kept missing out on the league but there was a bit of me that admired their style and felt a little bit sorry for them (but not much!) when they couldn’t actually win anything for years, whilst we at least picked up the League Cup.
I was gutted when Arsenal pipped us to the Champions League this year and Chelsea fluked the Champions League win but good luck to them (he said through gritted teeth). It was our fault after all, with that dismal post-Christmas run.
So, keep the songs clean lads (well, relatively) and funny. Keep the hate out of the game, racial or otherwise – and stuff the Arsenal on the pitch at every opportunity!
The Arsenal Mat
As a postscript to this blog – a true story. In the summer after Arsenal won their last league championship, I was in our local furniture store, it’s a bit like a small version of Grace Brothers from ‘Are You Being Served’. In their carpet department they had a selection of mats with football club crests on. I thought about it and selected an Arsenal one. The sixty year old shop assistant was all over me like I was his best friend. “Oh sir, immaculate taste if I might say so. I’m a Gunners fan too. I’ve been thinking about having one of these for myself.” At this point my wife walked away, with a grin on her face. I think she knew what was coming. “I’m not an Arsenal fan,” I said, “I’m a Spurs fan. This is going inside my back door where I wipe all the mud and crap off my boots before I come into the house. You don’t seriously think I’d do that on the Spurs crest do you?” I swear he went purple as I took bag out of his hands and sauntered after my wife. I’m superstitious, you can’t tell me it isn’t a coincidence that I’ve been wiping my feet on that mat ever since and Arsenal haven’t won a thing! Ha ha (but in a friendly sort of way).