Blind loyalty is for the blind, so I keep getting told by Tottenham supporters that don’t believe in turning up and singing your heart out for the team no matter what. A rationalisation that if the team or players are not performing well or the coach is not fulfilling the clubs potential – then turning up to boo or sit in despondency is acceptable. Some claim they’ve paid their hard earned cash and therefore are well within their rights to be disgruntled until the team provide the required amount of entertainment to lift bums off seats. How dare these footballers in our theatre of football ignore the script and play badly and lose.
I’ve written about this a dozen times. I’m not naive; I fully understand that the landscape of supporting a football club has changed in the past twenty five years. Post-Hillsborough all-seater stadiums and the rampant commercialism and financial explosion of the Premier League has turned our game into a colossus. Unfortunately many of us are getting pushed aside by its unnerving march forwards leaving the past so far behind that perhaps we need to let go and embrace the future. We’ve been marginalised and we are all replaceable.
The past doesn’t have constraints. We were simply football supporters back then whereas now we are consumers. Sure, we weren’t always treated with respect and football was the equivalent to cattle herding most Saturday afternoons. These days we’re spoilt. Safety is at the forefront and arguably a lot of the modern game’s match day experience runs parallel to society’s progression. It’s a more family oriented day out. Food, beer, corporate support is in its element. All at a premium. £30 – £60 for a ticket depending on its category. Plus money for that booze and pre-match burger. If you can’t afford to go, someone else will. Well, that’s the theory. Seems another trait is turning up only when the team is winning/on form because you pay through the nose so you make the effort to see your team win. Hence the sense of entitlement and the ruthless attitude some supporters have.
At Tottenham, since that adventure in the Champions League, our supporters – a substantial chunk of them – appear to expect something for nothing. The atmosphere has degraded over the past few seasons. Is it that desire for success that plays on people’s minds? Does the pressure make it all too much to handle? Not everyone wants to stand and sing. You can’t persistently stand due to government legislation (and we’re a long way off safe standing currently). Tottenham fans can be fickle. Then again, every club can admit to having supporters that are quick to criticise, knee-jerking and then dismissing their behaviour when good fortune shines down. This season, early doors, the boo boys were very vocal. Patience completely void for some who can’t see beyond 90 minutes.
Is this negative attitude truly the way to represent the club you support? Yes you pay for your ticket but that doesn’t come with a caveat that you can only be vocal and positive if the team is winning. You’re a Tottenham supporter so support. It’s not blind loyalty to be vocal, to create atmosphere to sing whether you’re losing, drawing or winning. Football has truly turned to theatre where people only want to applaud a passage of play rather than galvanise the players who in turn will galvanise the support who will then further add to the occasion. You’re allowed to sing about your club because it’s still in essence your club.
Instead there is erratic chanting and sense of insecurity which is completely unnecessary. Football is no longer dominated by the Sky Sports Top Four. Qualifying for the Champions League is not beyond our reach. We are a settled club one that is working on a new stadium, one that is fiscally secure and seeking to achieve success in the long term (with a world class training centre as the foundation).
I might simply be a breed of football fan that just won’t admit to the fact that football is not what it once was. I’m involved in the 1882 movement which fundamentally is just a way for like-minded individuals to be made aware of games where we can all get together to sing for 90 minutes. The club have worked with us on securing blocks for a NextGen game and for the NK Maribor home game in the Europa League. We’re constantly in touch with the Football Supporters Federation and our aim is a throwback to those emotive, romanticised days when you just turned up and supported your club no matter what because no matter what is happening at that given moment, you’ll always be Spurs…yesterday, today and for the rest of your life. You don’t define the level of support based on how well the team is doing. Your support is unequivocal. Well, it should be. Modern football has constraints but there’s nothing to say you can’t break free and avoid conforming to the point where you’re nothing more than silent cover for a plastic seat.
Sure, be frustrated. Be passionate. Speak up when you believe something is not right. But singing songs about your club is not blind loyalty. It’s a display of love for the shirt. That’s the crux of it. Tottenham supporters should know by now that we are always at the forefront of an emotional roller-coaster. So buckle up and scream. Your heart should always be in your mouth.
For info on the 1882 movement please visit The Fighting Cock