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