We Are Tottenham: Voices From White Hart Lane
by Martin Cloake and Adam Powley
Published by Mainstream Press
‘Fickle’. If there’s one thing that winds up Tottenham fans, it’s that accusation of disloyalty. We all know it’s rubbish of course, but it’s worth it being repeated, lest anyone forgets the vital importance of the supporters who are the lifeblood of our, and indeed any, club: Tottenham fans must rank as some of the most loyal in British football.
That view has been reinforced for me after co-writing a new book with Martin Cloake called ‘We Are Tottenham’* The fans in this book are all different, but there is one, overriding characteristic that has emerged: our supporters keep the faith like few others; read what this varied bunch of people have to say and you realise why so many have so much pride in following north London’s finest.
The story of the book itself began a couple of years ago. Martin is a fellow journalist and former editor of the Off the Shelf fanzine, who I knew from working together on various projects. One day he rang me with one of those ideas that are so beautifully simple and good, you wonder why no one had thought of it before.
He proposed writing a book on Spurs, in the shape of lengthy interviews with all kinds of fans, ranging from the 80-something veteran to the starry-eyed 8-year-old kid. It was to be the story of a club – a snapshot of Tottenham in the first years of the new century, as seen from the perspective of those people who are central to the club’s existence: the fans.
The reasoning was that, while there had been many books on Spurs, few had articulated the fan’s point of view. There was a student thesis from the late 1970s called Tottenham Boys We Are Here, that told the story of the emerging casual and gang culture of the terraces at White Hart Lane. Since then there had been a couple of personal accounts and season diaries, but we felt there was an absence of a book that attempted to at least convey the huge variety of views that fans express. There are over 30,000 people who follow Spurs nigh on every week, and you can bet that there probably just as many opinions as to what the club should be about.
Martin and I believed that these views need to be aired; thankfully, Bill Campbell at Mainstream Publishers agreed. It features interviews with around 20 Spurs fans, of all ages, backgrounds, sexes, races and creeds, all stitched together by the eventful story of last season. There are the fans of our own generation – people like Bruce Lee (surely one of the greatest raconteurs ever to grace the Park Lane Upper), ‘Danny the Drum’ and Jim Duggan of TopSpurs fame; the older supporters who witnessed the real Glory Days such as former cabbie Lee Benjamin and veteran union activist Chris Kaufman, and, memorably, Aubrey Morris, who organised the first-ever charter flights for away fans.
There are the thought-provoking views of fans who don’t fall into the male, Spurs ‘stereotype’ – female supporters, young Scandinavians and followers of the Lilywhite cause from ‘oop north’. There’s Norman Jay, the world-class DJ and top-class bloke who was one of the first black faces at WHL; there’s a part-time hooligan with some very interesting things to say about the club and the players, and there’s even a famous Arsenal fan who has some very wise words on THFC plc.
Together, we hope they show that there is no such thing as the ‘typical’ fan – that indeed, it’s the individuals within the crowd who are just as important as the crowd itself. But more than anything the book was an absolute joy to write, not least because, despite all the cynicism, the moaning and the false dawns, following our once – and still – great club is something that fills us with immense pride. Read the book and we’re sure you’ll agree that the words of the song still hold true. We Are Tottenham, We Are Tottenham, Super Tottenham, from the Lane . . .