If there’s one thing that winds up Tottenham fans, it’s that accusation
of disloyalty. We all know it’s rubbish of course, but it’s worth it
being repeated, lest anyone forgets the vital importance of the
supporters who are the lifeblood of our, and indeed any, club: Tottenham
fans must rank as some of the most loyal in British football.
That view has been reinforced for me after co-writing a new book with
Martin Cloake called ‘We Are Tottenham’* The fans in this book are all
different, but there is one, overriding characteristic that has emerged:
our supporters keep the faith like few others; read what this varied
bunch of people have to say and you realise why so many have so much
pride in following north London’s finest.
The story of the book itself began a couple of years ago. Martin is a
fellow journalist and former editor of the
Off the Shelf
fanzine, who I knew from working together on various projects. One day
he rang me with one of those ideas that are so beautifully simple and
good, you wonder why no one had thought of it before.
He proposed writing a book on Spurs, in the shape of lengthy interviews
with all kinds of fans, ranging from the 80-something veteran to the
starry-eyed 8-year-old kid. It was to be the story of a club – a
snapshot of Tottenham in the first years of the new century, as seen
from the perspective of those people who are central to the club’s
existence: the fans.
The reasoning was that, while there had been many books on Spurs, few
had articulated the fan’s point of view. There was a student thesis from
the late 1970s called
Tottenham Boys We Are Here,
that told the story of the emerging casual and gang culture of the
terraces at White Hart Lane. Since then there had been a couple of
personal accounts and season diaries, but we felt there was an absence
of a book that attempted to at least convey the huge variety of views
that fans express. There are over 30,000 people who follow Spurs nigh on
every week, and you can bet that there probably just as many opinions as
to what the club should be about.
Martin and I believed that these views need to be aired; thankfully,
Bill Campbell at Mainstream Publishers agreed and so in September, ‘We
Are Tottenham – voices from White Hart Lane’ hits the bookshops.
It features interviews with around 20 Spurs fans, of all ages,
backgrounds, sexes, races and creeds, all stitched together by the
eventful story of last season. There are the fans of our own generation
- people like Bruce Lee (surely one of the greatest raconteurs ever to
grace the Park Lane Upper), ‘Danny the Drum’ and Jim Duggan of TopSpurs
fame; the older supporters who witnessed the
Glory Days such as former cabbie Lee Benjamin and veteran union activist
Chris Kaufman, and, memorably, Aubrey Morris, who organised the
first-ever charter flights for away fans.
are the thought-provoking views of fans who don’t fall into the male,
Spurs ‘stereotype’ – female supporters, young Scandinavians and
followers of the Lilywhite cause from ‘oop north’. There’s Norman
Jay, the world-class DJ and top-class bloke who was one of the first
black faces at WHL; there’s a part-time hooligan with some very
interesting things to say about the club and the players, and there’s
even a famous Arsenal fan who has some very wise words on THFC plc.
we hope they show that there is no such thing as the ‘typical’ fan
– that indeed, it’s the individuals within the crowd who are just as
important as the crowd itself. But more than anything the book was an
absolute joy to write, not least because, despite all the cynicism, the
moaning and the false dawns, following our once – and still – great
club is something that fills us with immense pride. Read the book and
we’re sure you’ll agree that the words of the song still hold true.
We Are Tottenham, We Are Tottenham, Super
Tottenham, from the Lane . . .
We Are Tottenham: Voices From White Hart Lane, by Martin Cloake and Adam
Powley, is published on 16th September by Mainstream Press, priced £9.99.