frequently asked questions

Author Ken Ferris and Editor Wyart Lane answer some of the common questions asked about the club.

If there is something about the club you want to know, just e-mail in and ask by clicking here.

What is the Spurs Motto and what does it mean ?
The Spurs motto is "Audere est Facere", which means "To Dare is To Do".
How did the club get it's name "Tottenham Hotspur" ?

The club was formed by a group of cricketers in 1882 as Hotspur FC and the prefix Tottenham was adopted three years later to avoid confusion with a team called London Hotspur. 

Tottenham, based in the district of Haringey, was originally the village of a man called Totta. 

The name Hotspur was chosen because of the fiery reputation of Shakespeare's Harry Hotspur, a character in his play "Henry IV Part 1".  Harry was based on a 14th century ancestor called Sir Henry Percy of the aristocratic Northumberland family who owned large tracts of land in the Tottenham area in the 1880s and after whom the nearby Northumberland Avenue is named.  The family were believed to have lived close to the ground in Percy House.  Henry is reported to have been killed in battle in Shrewsbury in 1403.

He acquired his surname because of his frequent use of spurs when riding.

Why do Tottenham Hotspur have a cockerel in their logo ?

The Tottenham's ball and cockerel crest is related to Harry Hotspur's riding spurs, since fighting cocks were once fitted out with miniature spurs (the old crest clearly showed the spurs on the cockerel's ankles).

The cockerel first appeared on the Tottenham Hotspur shirt in 1921.

What is Tottenham's nickname ?
"Spurs", "Lilywhites" and among the fans "Yids" or "Yiddos" ...
"Spurs" comes from Harry Hotspur.
"Lilywhites" is based on the colour of the team's home shirts.  The kit was chosen to replicate Preston North End, who had gone through a whole season (1888-1889) unbeaten in all competitions to win the first Football League and FA Cup double.
"Yids" or "Yiddos" began to be used in the 1980s, mainly by rival Arsenal fans towards Tottenham fans as a term of abuse because of the large Jewish population in the Haringey/Stamford Hill area. The Spurs fans made the nickname a badge of honour by calling themselves the "Yids" or "Yiddos".
What is the term "Yids" and what has it got to do with Tottenham Hotspur ?

The term Yids derives from the Jewish supportership of THFC.  Coming from the language Yiddish, it is a slang term for a Jew.  There is a large Jewish population near to the area Spurs play in and they have traditionally followed Tottenham although now quite a lot support Arsenal too (their chairman and some of their directors are Jewish also).

Having had this thrown at Spurs as a derogatory term, the supporters of the club adopted it as an unofficial nickname and also so that it would not have the same effect if other clubs shouted it in an anti-Semitic manner.

Therefore, Spurs fans chant "Yids" and "Yid Army !" to deflect the racist attacks of other clubs.

How did Tottenham come to play at White Hart Lane ?

The ground was originally a neglected nursery across the road from Northumberland Park complete with greenhouses and sheds.  Charringtons, who owned the land behind the White Hart Inn on Tottenham High Road, intended to build houses there. However, the pub's landlord wanted a football club on his doorstep, because his previous establishment was close to Millwall's ground and he knew the profits large crowds could bring.  The Spurs directors heard of his preference and approached Charringtons, who rented them the ground that was then named after the pub.

What do the elements of the Spurs crest mean ?

Tottenham's ball and cockerel crest is related to Harry Hotspur's riding spurs since fighting cocks were once fitted out with miniature spurs.

The seven trees on the club crest are the Seven Sisters, which were elm trees that stood in Tottenham at Page Green.  They were originally planted by the seven sisters of a local family and were recorded in the Dorset Survey of 1619.  They were replanted in 1852, 1886, 1955 and 1996.

The castle that appears is Bruce Castle, which is off Bruce Grove, a couple of miles from the ground, which now houses the local Council's museum.

The two lions holding the THFC shield are from the Northumberland family crest.

What are the origins to the Spurs anthem "Glory Glory Hallelujah" ?

I am reliably informed that the main gist of the "Glory Glory Tottenham Hotspur" song was first sung coming out of Wolverhampton in April, 1960 having won 3-1 there and prevented Wolves doing the double. It carried over from there, with the names of the players only being added when the song was committed to vinyl during the late 60's and early 70's.  No update of player names has taken place since then as far as I am aware. The original tune is The Battle Hymn of the Republic, also known as John Brown's Body. 

"While the Spurs go Marching On" first appeared in a cartoon featured in the club programme over Christmas, 1950, showing Arthur Rowe dreaming of the Double !  (Thanks to Andy Porter - THFC Historian)

The fans started singing it as their anthem during the European campaigns of the early 1960s and there is a specific reference to the song in Ralph Finn's book Spurs Go Marching On.  (Thanks to Ken Ferris)

What are the words to the Spurs song "McNamara's band" ?

Oh, me name is McNamara
I'm the leader of the band
Although we're few in numbers
We're the finest in the land
We play at wakes and weddings
And at every fancy ball.
And when we play at funerals,
We play the march from Saul.

Oh, the drums go bang, the cymbals clang
And the horns they blaze away.
McCarty pumps the old bassoon
While I the pipes do play;
And Hennessy Tennessee toodles the flute,
The music is something grand.
A credit to Ireland is McNamara's Band.

Oh, me name is Uncle Yulius
And from Sweden I come
To play in McNamara's band
And beat the big bass drum
And when we march along the street,
The ladies think I'm grand;
They shout, "There's Uncle Yulius
Playing with an Irish band.

Chorus repeat

Right now we are rehearsing
For a very swell affair,
The annual celebration
All the gentry will be there
When General Grant to Ireland came,
He took me by the hand.
Says he, "I never saw the likes of
McNamara's Band."


or, alternatively, from the 1950s ...


We are the Spurs Supporters and we love to watch them play
We go to all the home games and we go to those away
With us supporters following them we know they will do right
We loudly cheer when they appear, the lads in blue and white

We're very proud of our football ground it's known throughout the land
And while we wait for the game to start we listen to the band
And when we see the teams come out you should hear the roar
We know it won't be long before the Spurs they start to score

The ref his whistle proudly blows the linesmen wave their flags
The Duke is ready to kick off as he hitches up his bags
We cheer Sonny Walters as he toddles down the line
And the ball like magic is in the net and makes us all feel fine

There's Ronnie Burgess with his skill holding up the line
With Alf, Bill, Harry and Charlie way up there behind
And not forgetting good old Ted whose hands are sure and strong
And Eddie and the Leslies who are always up-a-long

And when the game is over, when the game is through
We cheer the winners off the field and the gallant losers too
The Cockerel proudly wags his tail he gave the Spurs their name
In honour of the Lillywhites who always play the game

Now come on all you supporters and join our merry band
No matter what your age is, we'll take you by the hand
We'll pin a cockerel on your chest, it shows the world that we
Are members of that loyal band, the S.S.C.!!!!


Or ... as is played at games today ...


Oh, me name is McNamara
I'm the leader of the band
Although we're few in numbers
We're the finest in the land
We play at wakes and weddings
And at every fancy ball.
And when McNamara's band gets here,
You know we'll give our all.

Oh the whistle blows the cockerel crows, and now we're in the game,
It's up to you, you Lilywhites, to play the Tottenham way.
Oh there's many a team from many a town and some are great and small,
But the famous Tottenham Hotspur are the greatest of them all.

What is "The Shelf" ?

The Old East Stand (prior to the new one being built in 1989) contained two tiers of terracing with one tier of seating above.

The seating back then was like the current East Stand Upper and the lower tier of terracing equates to the Lower East Stand these days.

The upper tier of terracing, that ran from a wooden fence at the front and back under the seating, was called "The Shelf".  It nowadays would be where the executive boxes are and the seating for the "Legends" area is (i.e. the seats directly in front of the boxes).

The Shelf was where the most vociferous fans gathered and the singing from that area was very loud as it reverberated off the underside of the upper tier.  Standing on The Shelf it gave one of the most magnificent views of the pitch in all England and it was a sad day when they decided to do away with it to redesign the stand.

At the Park Lane end, there was one part sectioned off with metal fencing and this became known as "The Cage", where some of the more raucous Spurs fans gathered as they overlooked the away end, which was the Park Lane in those days.

Did Spurs have a parrot as a gift from an early tour to South America ?
On leaving South America after the club's first overseas tour of 1919, the team won a fancy dress competition on the ship home as Robinson Crusoe and Man Friday, with the parrot used taken back to White Hart Lane as a memento of the trip by the cook on the liner, who had obtained it in Santos, Brazil.

He lived happily at the club for 10 years until the day that Arsenal suspiciously got voted into the First Division in 1919 at the expense of Tottenham Hotspur, when he died.

Can you tell us of some recent games where programmes were not printed ?
The following away games did not have official programmes printed ...

Rapid Bucharest (UEFA Cup) 15th December 1971
Barcelona (European Cup Winners Cup)  21st April 1982
SC Braga (UEFA Cup) 19th September 1984
Besiktas (UEFA Cup) 19th October 2006

Who were the "Famous Five" ?
Teddy Sheringham, Darren Anderton, Nick Barmby and new signings Ilie Dumitrescu and Jurgen Klinsmann made up the "Famous Five".  These were the attacking players Ossie Ardiles fielded in his team to take the game to opponents in an entertaining team designed to score goals.
Was there a railway engine named after the club ?
Yes, there was.  The name plate from the locomotive was place in the tunnel leading to the pitch in the 1960s, but now resides in the reception of the West Stand of White Hart Lane.

In May 1937, a LNER B17 class locomotive called Manchester City was renamed Tottenham Hotspur.
It was christened by Charles Roberts (the club chairman) at Hoe Street station, Walthamstow.
This was locomotive number .
It was later renamed The City of London.
The engine was scrapped in Doncaster in December 1958.

What is Tottenham Cake ?
It is a slab sponge cake or scone like base with thick pink icing on top, cut into cubes.

It was originally sold by the baker Henry Chalkley (who was a Friend or Quaker) at the price of 1 old penny, with smaller mis-shaped pieces sold for 1/2 an old penny.

The cake was given away free to local children in the area near the ground in 1901 to commemorate Tottenham Hotspur winning the FA Cup for the first time.

Still given away by Tottenham Friends meetings with cakes baked by Peter Brown.  The pink colouring was then made with mulberries from the burial ground.

[From Lord Ted Willis' autobiography - as heard on the Robert Elms Show on BBC London 04.02.2009
Also see]

The cake is still sold today in bakers shops such as Greggs and was a staple for school dinners dessert up to the 1980s.

For other FIRSTS that have involved Spurs, click here.

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