White Hart Pain - Inheriting A Mediocre Team

04/05/2017 13:05 BST | Updated 04/05/2017 13:05 BST
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When I was four years old, my family left South Africa and moved to the UK. I was introduced to many new things in England, but perhaps none was more significant than soccer - or what the locals called 'football'.

It didn't take me long to become obsessed with the English First Division. This is now more commonly known as the 'Premier League'.

As young boys, my brother and I began collecting team pennants to hang up on our bedroom walls and we'd purchase packets of player stickers from the corner store with whatever pocket money we could get our hands on.

If we'd had our own way back then, we would have chosen to support Liverpool or Manchester United as they were two of the stronger teams with big name players like Ian Rush or Mark Hughes.

Our wishes were denied immediately as we were told in no uncertain terms that Tottenham Hotspur were the 'family team' and this was not up for negotiation.

We were to be Lily Whites for life - something that you inherit and stick with come what may.


(Author's own image)

And so, my brother and I became 'Spurs' fans.

What has followed in the last three decades has been a lot mediocrity, plenty of heartbreak and only a handful of highlights.

Tottenham have won just three knock out competitions in 37 years (1 FA Cup, and 2 League Cups). We've never won a League title in this time, with our best finish being third place. On two occasions in the 90's, we flirted dangerously with relegation.

But I'm not writing this today to complain.

Perspective is important and there are many other English football teams who have fared much worse than Tottenham. After all, only 20 teams can play in the Premier League each season and there are over 5,000 registered clubs in the country. When you think of it like that, we're actually quite lucky!

I live in Australia now, and I can tell you first hand that away from North London, Tottenham have not been that popular.

The reality is that most human beings are drawn to success. It is for this reason that Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and more recently Chelsea/Manchester City have developed the biggest fan bases across the world. The equation is quite simple, when it comes to sport most people love cheering on a winner.

Well ladies and gentleman, I'm writing today to tell you that as crazy as this may sound, it's better to support a struggling club than one that always wins.

Misery loves company and those of us who support poor or mediocre teams stand together and embrace the romance of rooting for a lost cause. This legacy gets passed on from generation to generation forming a community of proud people who share their resentment against the inequality of the world.

Pain and heartache are character building. You appreciate the successes a lot more when they've been scarce for such a long period. This is true for both sport and life.

The other thing you inevitably obtain from this experience is something very few people have these days...loyalty.

If you can stick with your club through countless years of disappointment, I'm going to hazard a bold guess and say you'll be less likely to cheat on your partner than someone who has supported a team that always wins.

How can I be so sure?

Well the truth is I cant, but it would have been much easier to jump on the bandwagon of another team who were constantly winning titles so that we could have an idea of what success tastes like.

But we didn't...we stuck around, because warts and all - we love our team.

I realise my hypothesis above is rather controversial without any evidence to back it up - so perhaps there's a thesis in there for any students who are interested in testing it. If anyone does, please get in touch with me as I'd love to see the results!

Now back to Tottenham for a moment.

We have won 9 League games in a row which hasn't happened in my lifetime. Yesterday we beat North London rivals Arsenal and will finish ahead of them for the first time in 22 years. Spurs currently sit in second place, four points behind Chelsea with just a handful of games left in the season. It would take a minor miracle to win from here. Tottenham probably have to win every game and hope that Chelsea stumble twice.

Should the unlikely occur, It will be our first title since 1961.

I expect disappointment, I expect to narrowly fall short and be left with the inevitable 'what if' questions that will haunt me for years to come.

But whatever the result, most Spurs fans will turn up again next season with the same gusto and passion as always - because that's all we know.

That is what I inherited.

That is what I intend to pass on.

It's part of my DNA and it's wonderful.


(Come On You Spurs)