I started watching football way back in 2002 at the mere age of 10. Back then, as ESPN and Star Sports mostly covered the matches of Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool and the rest others were just fillers, I had to make a choice between those 3 and for some reason it turned out to be Manchester United. This is an injustice done on Asian fans due to the lack of coverage. In the year 2002, English Premier League wasn’t much popular among Indians.And as a 10 year old, I had
very few (or rarely anyone) surrounding me who used to watch Football (or EPL. And the ones who did, used to be United fans or Arsenal fans and some Liverpool.
When 2004 came, the football fan base increased a bit and that was the time when Roman Abramovich took over Chelsea. This saw the birth of Chelsea’s Asian fan base, whereas a 12 year old me just kept wondering, “Why Chelsea all of a sudden? Where were they a few months ago?”
Then came the 2006 FIFA World Cup and with this mega glamorous event, the football fan base soared up high like anything. I was happy that football business was picking up in India. And a 14 year old I can now actually discuss football with my classmates in school, bus and on the internet. With every good thing in life, come the bad things as well. Those days I couldn’t have guessed what the future would hold for me.
With the increase in the fanbase, the no. of United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool fans sky-rocketed. And I kept wondering, why people don’t support the clubs that aren’t in the top 4. Sometimes I even wondered if the clubs other than top 4 had any supporters at all? Naïve of me, never mind! But it all changed when I used to watch Manchester United playing Lower Division sides away in League Cup or FA Cup games. No matter which lower division team they played, no matter the small ground, no matter the club’s history, few cool things I realized; every club has some diehard supporters, these so called lower division club fans chant with twice their energy, creating an electrifying atmosphere, trying to make it noisier than Anfield. They have pride in what their team stands for; its history and they have a strong sense of hope that one day their team will make it big.
And that’s when it started. As I grew up, I started being annoyed with myself for calling me a Manchester United fan. I had no reason, neither any sense of belonging to that club. I never really felt one with that club. Make no mistake, they have a great history, probably the most glamorous club apart from Real Madrid but I can’t support them. It’s not about supporting the team that wins; it’s about being a part of the epic journey where you can call yourselves and the club as one unit. There was something unique I was looking for and I believed that I would get it one day.
Also, I had always been fond of Tottenham Hotspur’s ability to entertain and the wild cheerful crowd at White Hart Lane. Be it the dramatic seasons under Martin Jol, or Robbie Keane goals or Berbatov’s signing or Harry Rekdnapp’s arrival, the club had always shown signs of ambition but I never thought of supporting them back then. However this changed in January 2010 when Tottenham Hotspur bid for every top striker available during the transfer window, from Fernando Llorente to Giuseppe Rossi, they bid for almost all the quality strikers available in the market but failed to sign any. And at that moment, it hit me. That’s where I saw myself, I saw the same ambition in the club as the one I see running through my veins that is the deep desire to not settle with mediocrity and be at the top. Yes, the club was struggling to keep up with the others. It had no mega funded investors like Roman or Sheikh, nor a huge fan base like Manchester United and Arsenal. It was no secret that Bale and Modric won’t stay for long, but ambition and passion are two strong words. Once you believe in them, you know you are in for something special, a special journey you would want to be a part of.
Spurs fan, Dennis Bergkamp quoted, "When you start supporting a football club, you don’t support it because of the trophies, or a player, or history, you support it because you found yourself somewhere there; found a place where you belong." How true is that! You don’t choose a football club, the club chooses you. And once that happens, that’s when you truly live the game. You realize how much the game means to you, how much it means to the local supporters, what a derby fixture means, how important is it to win against your rivals, being a part of whatever you are meant to be doing for the club and following its culture, even if that means hating Arsenal.
It’s never easy being a Tottenham Hotspur fan. You have to deal with all sorts of ups and downs and you could always relate it and come back stronger, from being ridiculed back in 2011, “Tottenham? Dude, seriously?” to being termed, “Bale FC. Going down after Bale”, and to now, “Okay, title contenders”, It’s been around 3 lively years of this journey and I love it. We aim for the title now, to become a Superpower and you can’t beat our ambition and even if things don’t fall that way, then like the legendary Bill Nicholson said, “It is better to fail aiming high than to succeed aiming low. And we of Spurs have set our sights very high, so high in fact that even failure will have in it an echo of glory". White Hart Lane is where I belong. I am a Hotspur. Come on you Spurs!
About the Author:
Aditya Tendulkar, Mumbai, India
Follow on Twitter: @10dulkarDreams
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