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Entries in supporting tottenham (3)


We all need to make sacrifices (part III)

continued from part II


I love my club and I want them to succeed.

That sentence above could be tagged to either ‘group’. One has had enough and wants change, the other wants the uncertainty of battle even if there’s the chance they will be outnumbered. Side by side, they are quite normal reactions even if each side will argue the opposite isn't.

There is no right or wrong. There's opinions on how things should be handled. But there will also be opinions on how you should go about supporting Spurs. Nobody has the right to tell the person standing next to them the best way to support their team is the way they support them. However, if there is friction and disagreement then this will spread and destroy atmosphere. Arguably atmosphere that has been degrading for a while because of other issues at play (concerning fear of failure, the pressures of success and the usual complaints of modern football match-day experience). You're one, but inside the ground we're meant to be as one.

What happens next is usually left to occurrences on the pitch. A moment of sheer genius, magic or luck and a winning goal to give us three points. A change of luck. A catalyst. Not that we are in the same position but say coming back from 4-2 down to draw 4-4. Confidence, it breeds belief and helps push things along when they’re being held back due to adversity that may or may not even exist in some people’s eyes but can’t be ignored because it does in others. Some fans think we're on the road to nowhere. Those outside of Tottenham will magnify that thought. If you asked Villas-Boas he'd probably shrug and mumble something about time. There's another type of catalyst that can take us the opposite way. Although I can hear some of you suggesting that particular catalyst is under way already.

So there is no right or wrong. Just that perception and opinion on how to handle a particular scenario and what you believe is the correct way to behave in amongst it.

Perhaps the ones that are disgruntled, deep down, believe it’s going to fail and simply don’t have the heart or desire to fight for something that is not going to work. But then the very fact they are disgruntled and want to be heard is them showing desire and fight they don’t believe they’re seeing on the pitch. They are standing up for something they believe in and want the world to know. They want their team to know and react to it.

Those that wish to sing want to believe and do believe it will work out and want to take that risk, that leap of faith, because if you don’t roll with the punches then how are you going to cope next time you’re low on confidence and lacking spark? A winning mentality, a winning team needs to know and understand it's weakness to be able to strengthen and evolve. If you can’t dig deep do you give up and look to start over again? Every time?

The great thing about a problem? It's there to be resolved. To some it's not even a problem. It's a learning curve, a necessity that has to be experienced so that progress is made. At the moment we can't consolidate a lead. The last problem we had before the summer was an inability to break the opposition down. Which is more troublesome? A team supposedly at it's peak with the first problem or a team starting afresh that harbours ambitions to exceed the previous heights reached?

The dynamics around what is acceptable and what is not acceptable is the foundation of the entire argument between the two groups. That perception of expectancy around how the players should be reacting and performing based on not just the immediate past but also the quality of players available to the coach at present. The results so far could so easily have been a score-draw away followed by two home wins - without the errors - but achieved with the same erratic tempo and structure. There would not be too many complaints because of points accumulated. But concern would still be evident until the swagger is back. It's all ifs and buts. It usually is until things either improve or they don't.

There are so many layers, it's impossible to define it all as so much of it is theoretical when it comes to the pragmatism and lack of with the football but it's still all fuelled by emotion. It's practically akin to religion. One God but different cults and sects, different ways of worship and preaching. Fundamentalism anyone? It's disputable who exactly has the Kool-Aid within arms reach.

There’s probably a third group out there left scratching their heads wondering why there has to be two extremes at play. They are probably far less vocal and might even be a majority that are just sitting back to wait and see what happens next.

My view, to push it back towards that ‘be patient’ speech I've tried hard to avoid (sorry), is something I’ve already alluded to here. The fact that these two groups (even the pro-AVB camp that still boo) are so evident the fragmentation cannot be good because outside of White Hart Lane and beyond, patience does not exist and can distort and damage and exaggerate. So back inside the stadium, it’s the only place where we can truly take ownership of it all. I was actually going to say 'destiny' instead of 'it all'. As romantic a notion that is, isn’t football meant to about romance?

Say, if you were in a relationship – a new one – you need a candle lit dinner or two along with perhaps the theatre or a nightclub and a romantic walk before you’re swinging from the chandeliers doing upside down doggy. No roof-top on the Lane, so no chandeliers but under the floodlights or in the soon to be winters sun, is it not best that we all sing from the same hymn sheet?

You think it’s doomed? Then what have you got to lose? You’ll get what you want in the end so why not join the other half and those that are left in-between paralysed with uncertainty will join in because let’s be honest - you’d all rather be singing and bursting with pride about what it means to be Tottenham, what it means to follow Tottenham than feeling like you're at odds with the club. There’s no chance of any of us having an affair with another club, so all that’s left is angry sex with the one we’re stuck with.

And if things do change for the best, you’ll be singing anyway so what do you have to lose? Aside from losing face? The ones that sing regardless, we have more to lose because our loyalty will be tainted and misplaced because it didn't work out.

We all need to make sacrifices, we all need to accept them.

Politics and tactics aside the games lifeblood is an emotive one. The way we're playing at the moment is not the way our coach envisages our style to be. He knows about our traditions. He's cited them many times, and not in cheap and fanciful way. If what we're watching isn't anywhere near the end result he's working towards then is it not worth some faith to see what that end result will be? If that means a siege mentality, so be it. But that's me. Like I said a few times already, I can't tell you what to do and I can't force you to do it.

It's just that, I've heard of the 12th man but I've never known him to be accompanied by a 13th one?



We all need to make sacrifices (part II)

continued from part I

I’ve always believed that a football club chooses you. A club will suck you in and its traditions will slowly mould you into a supporter with traits and characteristics that are synonymous with it, forming part of the majority tribe. Even if you think its you doing the choosing because it's your local club or you like the badge or a player or you were mesmerised by a group of lads singing songs in the street - it's all part of the seduction process that emanates and then entices you in.

But even though, say one set of fans associated with one particular club are known for a collective trait (noisy, quiet, fickle, dreamers, deluded and so on) the experience of the individual still remains unique to that person. Obviously. Only you are you. You support and love your football club as you see fit and although it’s a tribal event every weekend there are no rules and regulations governing how you choose to follow them. Yes, okay, there are in terms of behaviour at games but I’m referring to how you follow from the heart and in the mind. That can never be policed. That should never be policed.

So, from one supporter to the next, their love for Spurs can be unequivocal and yet their opinions and the manner of how they conduct themselves with displays of passion, anger, thought-provoking conversations and analysis can be at complete odds with each other. Individually, it has no impact (one man’s voice on a blog has no far reaching influence) but football is tribal and by virtue of always having two sides it means that the individual will gravitate towards other individuals that think the same way. Hence the splintering of the fanbase and the arguments surrounding the right and wrong way to ‘support’.

Strip it all away, at its purest level, we support Tottenham Hotspur. But to do that we have to support the players in the shirt and the coach on the touchline. Just how you define said support if you are at odds with what is going on falls back to perception as an individual and how big the group of individuals are that agree their way is the right way. Just turning up to sing your heart out no matter the adversity at hand is, in this consumer obsessed generation where experts and pundits tell us what we should be thinking, not an option. You can't be involved and ignore all the politics at hand. Even if you want to you still end up talking about them. Where there is a want, a desire for success, when there is something at stake...the pressures are hard hitting and can weigh you down. Make you uneasy, nervous.

The below quote was posted by a regular reader to the blog (Ronnie), directed at me (not in an argumentative way), in the comments section of another article that involved disagreements on how ‘supporters’ should react and support when the team are not performing.

We are both pro Spurs and pro AVB.

We just happen to have differing opinions on fan behaviour in the stadium. I’m for liberty and communication; you’re for censorship and pretence.

Personally, I've taken the stance that there is no reason to panic and the very idea of it can be detrimental and has no foundation in aiding the team and that because of what’s happened (new coach, overhaul of training and tactics, inherited bad form) there should not even be a question of patience discussed – it’s a given that a new era has to work through transition first. What this means is, you appreciate that the team isn’t firing on all cylinders and you sing your heart out and try to inspire the players (even if that means screaming fiery shouts of encouragement with aggressive chest thumping). You react like this because you want change to occur from a winning mentality on the pitch so that the team goes forward and doesn't take a step back. Sitting back and worrying about the worst case scenario isn't going to help. You or the team.

So, in terms of the quote from Ronnie, do I advocate censorship and pretence? The team is not playing great. If you ignore the fine line between three points and one point that we’ve witnessed so far in our two home games you might accuse the other set of supporters that their decision to boo and want change/admit that we are failing was already switched on before the season had even began. That they don’t want to witness more of something they know will not improve and that change is not a step back, it’s saving us from making that step back. Arguably, these people are realists (pessimists to others) and are not easily blinded by the beating of the drum and fanciful dreams.

But what if you’re a supporter that wants the coach and team to improve and progress but still want to show your dissatisfaction and vocalise your honest reaction to what is playing out before you (like Ronnie)? Does showing your disdain for performance by matching those that are equally unhappy but are baying for blood actually work? Is there a way of classifying vocally what your despondency means when screaming it out from the stands? How can you differentiate between the two? You can't but then you shouldn't place your hand over your mouth if you feel that strongly about it. The issue here is that you can't tell the difference unless you're standing next to them and listening to their complaints. Some are constructive and are based on wanting to see improvement, others are unforgiving and have had enough and don't want to waste time on waiting.

Liberty? I see that. I more or less described it just now. You are Tottenham Hotspur and if you’re unhappy you’re not going to hold back. Love can make you do crazy things. Take the good with the bad but in equal measures when reacting to them. Loud when we win, loud when we don't. The split is on the latter and the ilk of loud that's made.

Communicating? So leading on from liberty - you are doing just that by making it heard that you’re not pleased and as an individual this freedom of expression spreads to others who feel the same way you do, validating the rebellion (or is it freedom fighting?). Defiant singing is the other argument. Sing regardless, can't smile without you, because it's Tottenham. If its aimed at the team, the coach...what would they react best to? Again, we're back to agreeing to disagree on what warrants a reaction to be one of booing or one of song.

So what of me and other like minded individuals that want to be loud in voice with song? Are we not embracing liberty and communication by deciding that singing and attempting to inspire is a more positive approach to the fatalistic one in direct conflict to us? Am I side-stepping the truth and dressing myself up in pretence and denial? How can I possibly know the future? Even if I retain pragmatism close to home am I still wired up blindly not to see things as ‘crisis’ and ‘turmoil’? Am I avoiding the inevitable? Are they perhaps not fatalistic but simply more robust to the truth?


concluded in part III


We all need to make sacrifices (part I)

A bloke starts dating a woman. There was chemistry when they met but they’ve had three dates and things have yet to really sparkle. Some friends are saying they should split up, whilst others are saying its early days and they’re obviously suited to each. They just need a really good night out to kick start things, open up a little and feed off each other’s personality.

But there's still some doubt.

“You’re on the rebound, you should never have dumped your last girlfriend”
“She was a flirt”
“Yeah, but she was as good as you’ve had it for while”
“She just wasn’t committed enough”

So what to do? That sparkle, where does it come from?

“You need to have sex”
“Sex. You need to sleep with her. Once you’ve slept with her you’ll know if there’s any true chemistry between the two of you”
“She does seem up for it, but I don’t know, there’s mixed signals in there. I think it might happen but then it doesn’t. We don’t quite go all the way. Maybe it's too early, we don't quite know enough about each other”
“Is she teasing you?”
“No, no. It’s like we fumble a little and...well, nothing comes from it”
“Sounds like you both need to relax a little, let it happen naturally”

The bloke has a think, a scratch of the head.

“I guess we shouldn’t stay in, we need to go out, go away for the weekend and something might happen”
“Enjoy a day out. You both probably feel a little anxious when staying indoors”
“I’ll do that”
“And if it doesn’t go well?”
“I’ll dump her. Plenty more fish in the sea”


So, what is the point of the adult themed Jackanory above? If the conclusion you’ve come to is that Tottenham needs to have sex with Andre Villas-Boas then, well, you’re obviously as disturbed as I am. For a start it’s not physically possible and the picture being painted in my mind is quite hideous. So that wouldn't be the point. But don’t fret, this isn’t going to turn into another ‘be patient’ speech. I guess the allegory (the one trying desperately to jump out of the narrative) is that relationships are complex and people’s perceptions of what might and might not work are based on gut reactions, instinct, attractions and past experience and comparisons. That includes the couple in the relationship and the friends that are being supportive or not being quite as supportive.

But then what exactly is defined as supportive in this scenario? Getting him to stay with her or getting him to break up?

This theoretical couple, the bloke, his friends are saying stick with it but there are some saying don’t bother its doomed to fail, there’s no evidence to suggest it will work. Are both sets of friends not being as supportive as each other by virtue of loyalty displayed to their friends well being? Is there such an act as not being supportive when you care for someone? Whether you agree with the relationship or not, you offer support based on what you believe is best. Unless you have an agenda. Which means you’re influenced to react a certain way to prove your point without caring for consequence to anyone else involved.

You care for your friend, you don’t want him to waste his time, you don’t think it’s worth his time – you think he should move on and just admit it's not going to work out no matter what. You don't want to see him get knocked.

You care for your friend, his happiness is imperative, you think he should stick with it as it’s too early to really know the person yet and it could quite easily blossom. The best things in life have to be worked at, the ones that last don’t necessarily start off with fireworks.

The friends are loyal but both have differing opinions. But offer protection with different paths outlined. But an argument might be that even if you're unsure about the woman and about the relationship - you should tell him what he thinks he needs to hear because most people, that early in a relationship, want to see where it goes. They want to give a chance. They want it to succeed. If its meant to be, it's meant to be.

Now if the allegory seems weak and misguided than it becomes fairly redundant at the point I’m about to move onto. The actual point I want to make about Spurs. Football transcends relationships. You love Tottenham Hotspur. You love a football club. You are stuck with the club for life. It's beyond marriage, it's a life style that's with you forever, it engraves itself onto your soul and you literally have to sell it to the devil to escape from it. But how does that actually work? What is it exactly you love and fall in love with? Its name? Its traditions? The players? The classic games? The pub before the game? The style of football? The people you go to the game with?

Can it be defined?

It’s not the love of bricks and seats or a postcode. Although that forms part of it allowing memories to anchor. Tottenham Hotspur itself is memories and experiences and friendships you live through. Some live as you watch it all unfold and some relived through books and recorded footage. Tottenham exists and yet its very essence is you and what you witness and process. It’s a constant, it’s always there but you are also a constant and far more important because you and you alone define what it means to be Tottenham. You define what it is that makes the club the club it is. You give the club an identity. You become part of a collective of identities, all unique but with one thing in common. You are all Tottenham Hotspur.

A man that walks the earth alone may as well not exist because he has nothing to be defined by, aside from his own thoughts. You are who you are in everyday life because you have family and friends and work colleagues and people you speak to online or casual commuters and pedestrians in the streets. You, your actions and the person you are is illuminated through the eyes of others around you. You need them to make you who you are.

Tottenham is what it is because of the supporters that follow Tottenham. Otherwise, it's just bricks and a postcode without a voice and without heart.

Okay, so I’m about to drown in existentialism and I can already feel myself moving away from the point that I’m supposed to be travelling towards (you really expect me not to take the long and winding road to get there?)


to be continued in part II