The Blog that's not always wrong.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Fans,followers and throwbacks.

I have been accused of being out of date, a throwback, old fashioned, behind the times, ,obsolete, past it and virtually extinct (with thanks to Collins 'Essential English Thesaurus')
Of course I have been accused of many other things but these are the ones relevant to articles and the Blog that appears under my JimmyG2 byline.

To all these charges I proudly plead guilty. I am a member of that perhaps diminishing minority that call themselves fans who can be found in almost every club who cling to a vision of their team as being more than a corporate entity whose trade happens to be football. I. believe that the football comes first ,before success. I believe that the club has duty of care to its players and its supporters. I am loyal to all the players at the club and want to see their full development and find it hard to accept that a player such as Defoe is no longer a Tottenham player. I don't want to see Huddleston, Lennon, Dawson, Kaboul or even Robinson transferred ,unless they want to go, before all avenues of improvement have been explored.

Now all these things make good business sense as well as being the right thing to do. You don't need to throw things away if they can be repaired or reconditioned or recycled. But the throwaway culture we live in now applies in football to the players as well as the single match shirts. It may be the modern way but it isn't right and it doesn't help build a club with any sense of continuity. I still like to think of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club as a family with a history and a tradition going back down the years. A tradition of a playing ethic and style which can be discerned despite the efforts of individual players and managers to short cut the road to success. The club is bigger than any one team or manager and the success of the club is not to be found in any one season but in a story that goes back down the years.

Now I know all about resale value,maximising income,rotating the stock and so on and no-one can ignore the rules of commerce, Leeds anyone? But somewhere in the process the thing we all value gets lost. Babies and bathwater come to mind. Aston Villa have just announced that their shirt sponsorship will benefit a local charity rather than taking two million off some gambling company. Perhaps all is not completely lost but I wish it had been Spurs that did that first. I know that players do a lot for local organizations and schools but that's just good housekeeping, buying a little goodwill from the local community in exchange for the hassle and inconvenience of having a major sporting venue on their doorstep. The day's wages for the nurses wasn't an overwhelming success. I would have made it a week's wages and put it in their contracts as an annual deduction.

You can argue about the good cause but cannot deny that Premiership players are ridiculously overpaid for what they do. Tottenham have tried to hold the line on wages as have Arsenal but Canute had more chance on the beach. All that kissing of the badge when they score is mostly a nod to the Gods of corporate finance as their next contract negotiation looms rather than a heart felt pledge to the club they profess to love. I like to imagine that Tottenham are different but I don't really need abusive fans telling me to hitch a ride into the 21st. Century. I nearly wrote the 20th. Century just to confirm your point 'Dreamer' is another accusation I readily accept.

I don't buy replica shirts,signed memorabilia or Opuses and to be honest I am not, nor ever have been, a season ticket holder. When I was working I didn't have the time and now I'm retired I don't have the money. Finance and geography have conspired to make me a follower from afar,a fan rather than a true supporter and ticket holder. .

However my most prized possession at the moment is the birthday card sent to me by the club as a member, signed by Juande Ramos, Ledley King and Dimitar Berbatov. Pathetic at my age but there you are.

How did I reach this sorry state of affairs. I have followed Spurs since childhood. After my mother re-married after the War (No, not the Great War, the Second World War ) I had a decision to make. My mother's family came from Highbury Corner and were all Arsenal fans . I used to go with my Uncle Ted to the Arsenal mainly to reserve matches. But my stepfather's family were all Tottenham supporters and one or two, including my stepfather were season ticket holders at various times. It became increasingly clear that regular visits to top class football would require a slight shift in allegiance .So I made the switch and have never regretted it.

Perhaps that is why I find the visceral hatred of Arsenal fans so uncomfortable when I encounter it, mainly it must be said on websites rather than in real life. We all come across the them and basically they are just like us ,they just, by some accident of geography or family tradition, support the wrong team.

We lived at the Archway in North London close to 'suicide bridge' at the start of the great North Road. It was slightly closer to Arsenal than Tottenham but there was a pretty even split amongst my mates and Arsenal against Tottenham was the only game we ever played. In those days you supported your local team. In London we had a little more flexibility. My switch at about nine years old was only a temporary embarrassment. From this point until I moved up North I was a fairly regular attender,mainly at first for reserve games but later in the boys' enclosure and finally on the terraces for first Division games.

Since then I have followed the club as a fan and follower of it's fortunes. But I acknowledge that the real supporters are the ones that watch the team regularly in the flesh. I always bow to their right to be the most opinionated and the most avid..Not that they are always correct but they have earned the right to be wrong and to be listened to.

And they are wrong sometimes. They were wrong about Carrick and are only just waking up to their mistake. I think that they are wrong about Jenas ,a classy player who has been an everpresent under two managers and three England squads, and they are wrong about Berbatov. I don't believe that his alleged attitude problems outweigh his contribution to the team. These are all quality players in the Spurs tradition, and the Spurs tradition is important to me. It has certain elegance and time on the ball quality about it. It involves style and panache, close passing with ball mainly on the ground. It espouses an attacking style and players who overcome the opposition with skill and vision. It prizes fair play and generosity in winning and dignity in loss.

Is this attitude applicable in this world of corporate ownership, foreign billionaires, ridiculous transfer fees, and even more ridiculous wages? We come back to throwbacks, and being out of date. I can see why you would accuse me of this, but it's not me that's wrong, it's the modern game. I cling to the belief that Tottenham are different and that they can triumph the old-fashioned way. If they can't then I fear that the prize is not worth winning. If you have to buy, clog or cheat your way to success what sort of success is that? If we are going to do it,lets do it right. If not then watch and enjoy.


1 comment:

KennyJ said...

I agree totally. Keep writing, nice to find an intelligent commentator who shares one's values about the game and one's support of Spurs. I was brought up in London but the reason for supporting Spurs was the quality of football played, classy,skillful and intelligent and, of courses, Danyy Blanchflower's "glory"

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