In response to a recent thread about the release of a further 1500 season tickets leading to a lack of tickets for general sale I found myself responding to the joy of some of the new season ticket holders with the words 'I envy you'.This led me to think about whether I really did, and the relationship of attenders at matches to those who, like me, support from afar. Is there a hierarchy of fans?
I have not been in a position to be a White Hart Lane regular since leaving London in my late teens, a very long time ago now, to go 'up North' never to return to live or work. However since the advent of the Internet and Sky it is possible to watch nearly every game. Last season I missed only the Man. City match and that was due to a Grandson's birthday party. So given the cost, the travel problems, the time involved how much have I actually missed?
If I were a season ticket holder I would probably assert the superiority of the live match experience over the TV or internet version. Apart from the camaraderie, the atmosphere, the 'craic', there is certainly the advantage of seeing the whole scene: you look where you want, get a wider angle and choose your own picture.
There must be a feeling that having endured all the downsides in order to support the team you are a true fan. But the downsides, apart from the time, trouble, and cost have to be put into the equation too.
I like to watch and form my own opinion with the added advantage of immediate slow motion replay. I usually watch Sky with the sound turned down and the internet commentary is normally unintelligible to me in any case. I have attended enough live games to know that even one's mates can be a distraction from actually watching what happens as opposed to seeing only what you want to see or confirming your existing opinions. Its usually the biggest idiot with the loudest voice who dominates. 'Empty vessels' and all that.
The great Jenas debate is a case in point. If loud-mouth and his mates behind you groan and jeer only when JJ gives the ball away and ignore it when Modric does this can colour your reaction to both the game and to the individuals concerned. This applies to other crowd favourites and fall guys. Do Robbie and Ledley ever have a bad game or Darren and Roman a good one? They do if you watch in a neutral setting.
I don't go to football matches to sing, to chant, to stand up if I hate Arsenal, to abuse ex-players or even current players but to watch the game and reflect on what I have seen. I find everything else a distraction. You may think that having spent your several thousands of pounds per season supporting Spurs then you have the right to do and say what you like, even booing the team off at half time if they have played poorly.
However you don't. This conflict was highlighted by the Sol Cambell saga which resulted in several Spur's fans being prosecuted and showed in an extreme example the limits. Moreover you are the representatives of the possibly hundreds of thousands of Spur's fans who would perhaps like to be there but cannot for a variety of reasons: poverty, distance, laziness, work, age, decrepitude and the simple fact that there is a waiting list.
You are also the public face of Tottenham's fans and have responsibilities in this regard. Our reputation especially in broadcast matches or with journalists present is in your hands. You may not see it as a privilege to be a season ticket holder, after all you pay heavily for it, but to us 'outsiders' it certainly is. All these considerations are outside the actual game and to me a diversion.
Sometimes there is an implied criticism of us external fans for not being there and therefore having less right to comment. I reject the 'Were you even there?' approach. In my view not being there has some advantages in terms of purely appraising the football and forming your own opinion.
There is probably a hierarchy of fans within the ground. I detect sometimes in the threads a sense of superiority from certain parts of the ground; the real fans as opposed to the poseurs and hangers on over there. You would know this better than me and I look forward to your guidance on this.
We outsiders may be seen as the bottom of the pile. But I come in peace brothers and I do envy in some ways these new season ticket holders. There seems to be two different experiences here: the matchday jamboree and looking critically at the game. Obviously it might be possible to do both but its harder if you'r actually at there. So I am prepared to argue the advantages that I see in not being there. But then I would, wouldn't I?