Having followed Spurs since 1970 at home and away, Martin Cloake knows the history and traditions of this great club. He is the author of several popular books about the club and, in a series of exclusive articles for India Spurs, he’ll be telling the story of just what makes Tottenham Hotspur the most unique club in world football
Why the name Hotspur?
It’s a proud boast that, in a world of Citys and Uniteds, there is only one Hotspur. But where does such a distinctive name come from? The answer can be found with the group of schoolboys who founded the club.
The boys had been studying Shakespeare at school and their imagination had been captured by the exploits of a character immortalised in the great English playwrite’s Henry IV. Henry Percy was the teenage son of the Earl of Northumberland and so a member of one of the most noble and powerful families of the Middle Ages. The Percys had helped William the Conqueror subdue the Scots and were rewarded handsomely with money, title and lands. The family power base was in the north east of England in the county of Northumberland, but also owned land north of London – giving the area still known as Northumberland Park today its name. And the building in which the club first met was called Percy House.
Percy, to put it bluntly, liked a fight. He took part in his first battle aged 8, and was knighted by the age of 11. He was a hothead who relished combat, and when riding into battle used his spurs enthusiastically to urge his horse onwards, earning himself the nickname Harry Hotspur.
Percy’s hot-headedness would eventually lead to his downfall. He feel out with the English king and led a collection of rebellious lords into battle against Heny IV at the battle of Shrewsbury in 1403. After charging the king’s lines in typical style, he was thrown from his horse and killed in hand-to-hand combat. His body was beheaded and quartered and the corpse taken on a tour of the country as an example of what would happen to any man who dared challenge the king.
Shakespeare’s play helped fuel and romanticise Percy’s swashbuckling reputation, and clearly had some effect on the boys who formed first Hotspur Cricket Club and then Hotspur Football Club. This, together with the fact that the local area had close links with the Percy clan, led the boys to chose the name Hotspur.
About the Author:
Martin Cloake is a writer and editor who lives in London, UK. A Spurs season ticket holder, he has followed the team since 1970, travelling all over the UK and Europe to support them. His latest book, Sound of the crowd, is a look at changing fan culture in England with an emphasis on Spurs supporters. He is a regular contributor to Spurs fansites and podcasts. He also writes more widely on football and the football business for a variety of publications including the New Statesman.
Martin Cloake’s books about Tottenham Hotspur, including ebooks that can be downloaded directly to your computer or mobile device, can be ordered from his bookstore.
More by Martin Cloake
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20/9/2013 12:13:38 pm
Hoping you could shed some light on the cockerel too in the next article? Always wondered if the Cockerel and the Spurs were connected to Henry Percy
22/9/2013 04:12:11 pm
And the motto. What's the story behind picking Audere est Facere as the motto.
20/3/2018 04:22:40 pm
Literature has always been a complicated topic for me. When I was still a student, I hate studying it because all details are too hard to get. I consider it as the most difficult subject when I was still a college student. More than physics and my major subjects, its factors are too hard to understand; the reason why I never got the chance to love it. Hotspur is familiar to me, it's just that I didn't have the willingness to learn it!
20/9/2013 12:19:14 pm
Amazing article! Great to learn about the history of the team!
20/9/2013 02:31:45 pm
very well written, great to learn so much about the team :)
20/9/2013 03:25:16 pm
awesome!!! amazing article!
hey martin i knew vaguely that the origins of the name came from harry hotspur who's fearless and brave style inspired the founders. Also our motto is 'Audere est facere' which roughly translated is 'to dare is to do'. so is there any relation between the knight and the latin motto or are they adopted independently?
12/10/2013 08:08:10 pm
Hi Parth - and Janhavi from further up the thread. Apologies for taking so long to reply. I've never come across any other explanation of the motto other than it was adopted as a stirring motto, and that Latin was the conventional way for clubs to express their mottos.
21/9/2013 04:50:53 am
The only true club from North London... COYS!!!
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