What IS the Point of Tottenham Hotspur? – by Rob Atkinson


Arsenal, London's PrideArsenal, London’s Pride

Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything is celebrating the FA Cup exit, at the hands of Leicester City, of Tottenham Hotspur FC – by reprinting this highly popular anti-Spuds article.

Thank you.

As a Leeds fan, I’m quite familiar with the whole big club/small club debate – who qualifies as “big”, what are the qualifying criteria? If you currently have a crap team, does that mean you’re suddenly a crap club? And so on and so forth, ad nauseam. It’s not really a question that preoccupies me too much – certainly not to the extent of the Freudian fixation with size that afflicts the plastic followers of a certain Salford-based franchise fallen upon hard times – but it can be annoying if you follow a club like Leeds United, with all the rich tradition of the Revie era and even allowing for the fact that our history before those great days was a bit of a void. But what I’d normally argue is that, look – we’ve been Champions three times in my lifetime, we have a global fanbase and a worldwide notoriety (I won’t call it adoration), a massive web presence which show how many people count the Whites as a big part of their lives – and absolutely no significant local rivals at all. Ergo, we are big. End of.

But what of certain other clubs who are routinely referred to as “big” – not to say massive or even as a “mega-club”? Tottenham Hotspur are a bit of a peculiar animal in this respect. From some points of view, they are certainly a club of significant size.  They have a decent stadium in a major city. They deal towards the top end of the transfer market and they’ve been a steady member of the top-flight since the mid-seventies, picking up the odd trinket here and there. But Spurs have two major problems: the first is that they haven’t been Champions since 1961 – a major flaw for a club with any pretensions to size and a place in the forefront of the game. The second problem may be succinctly summed-up as “Arsenal FC”, their fierce local rivals and the team that undeniably thwarts them at every turn.

Arsenal have been stomping all over poor old Spurs for a good while now – and of course, they’ve been and gone and done it time and time again in terms of Champions League qualification, edging the hapless Spuds out repeatedly over the past few seasons. The presence of Arsenal as Tottenham’s neighbours, rivals and perennial bêtes-noires is a major obstacle to their chances of ever being regarded as a mega-club, a status that Arsenal wear casually, as of right.  Arsenal, after all, have generally been top dogs in North London, certainly over the past fifty years. They’ve had stability in the managerial chair since the mid-nineties and not that long before Wenger it was George Graham importing large quantities of silverware into the stadium graced by the famous marble halls.

Even the Gooners’ recent potless run, terminated by last May’s FA Cup success, has not detracted from Arsenal’s ability to regard Tottenham from a lofty position of pre-eminence. In the fallow period, the Gooners nevertheless played football of a sumptuous beauty and brilliance, and just as importantly they managed the transition from a famous old home to a spectacular and world-class new one. The financial burden that went with this is steadily being seen off – and yet it’s a process that Spurs have yet to embark upon. Will they negotiate it as well as the Arse have? Highly doubtful.

The sad fact as far as Tottenham are concerned is that this continued subordination to a comparatively humble status will always be a glass ceiling that they will find impossible to break through, certainly if Arsenal now blossom into one of their title-winning incarnations, capable of dominating the domestic scene for years at a stretch. And Spurs need to be up there with the big boys if they are to come anywhere near the kind of status their fans expect and desire.

The youngest of those fans who can remember the last Spurs team to be champions will be coming up for retirement any time now. It was the year that I was born. That’s a hell of an indictment for a so-called “big club” – not really elite form at all. Consider all the other clubs who have any real pretensions to this elevated status in the game. They’ve all been Champions at some point in the last 40 years – even Man U, who couldn’t win the real thing after 1967, have gorged on the post-Murdoch pale imitation. Spurs can’t realistically claim to belong in this exclusive company of Champions – they’re really just a slightly inflated West Ham.

Perennial Champions League qualification is a great advantage for Arsenal, but being on the wrong end of that equation is proving to be a major disaster for Spurs. They lost the jewel in their crown to Real Madrid, and however many millions Gareth Bale brought in, it’s difficult to see where Tottenham, despite their own transfer spree, have a replacement on their books of anything like the same quality, young Master Kane notwithstanding (and he’s not as good as Lewis Cook…) All the best players get routinely gobbled up by the Champions League cartel and Tottenham are in very real danger of becoming the richest club to have their noses pressed up against the window of the House of Quality, yearning to be inside but kept out of the spotlight by their more illustrious neighbours.

That has to be a scary prospect for the proud fans of White Hart Lane, but it’s entirely realistic. Spurs may, with their serial Champions League exclusion and the still-painful loss of their talisman Bale (however ineffective he was against Sam Byram in that FA Cup tie at Elland Road), have blown their chances of ever again being thought of as a genuinely BIG club.

And if that’s the case – then, really… what IS the point of Tottenham Hotspur?

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110 responses to “What IS the Point of Tottenham Hotspur? – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Spurs are a big club because of it fans. As a irish spurs fan the word Glory is always associated with Spurs. It is an important word. It what Spurs sell, its about the show.

    Chelsea have a showman off the pitch, but any man who does not play Mata does not understand what glory is.

    Gareth Bale is worth 80 million because he was baked in glory. Brian Clough was sacked by Leeds because he was baked in glory and they could not handle it.

    I hate to say it but man utd are about glory. This is a lesson David Moyes has to learn. Man utd were scared to play against Chelsea on Monday night. Alex would have gone for it, he might have loss but the utd fans would have love the trying.

    I really hate to say this this but Wenger is all about the glory. He totally gets it. Harry Rednapp totally got it. Hopefully AVB gets it as well. He knows Spurs cannot play like Chelsea.

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  2. Spurs have always been in Arsenals shadow.Fact….

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    • 50 years of failure they are & will be forever in our shadow

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    • Next bus to woolwich!

      A Leeds fan,or should I say former Leeds fan,who seems to have fallen in love with the woolwich gypsies,you have to love that,made me smile;) Following your team isn’t about being a glory hunter,that’s why most dislike Man ure,it’s about pride of being affiliated with your club through thick and thin,a Leeds fan must surely know this? That’s why I take with a pinch of salt what goons say to deride us,as most of them are new arrivals.

      We still have lots of support even though for the most part we have been rubbish for a long time,but still in the PL unlike a certain “big” team in west yorkshire;)

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  3. White Rhinos

    After watching the game on TV the other night (Dynamo Tblisi), I couldn’t believe the “noise” the crowd were making? 35,000 of you watching a potentially fantastic team playing in a cup game! I could hear the fifty or so Dynamo fans quite clearly.
    Before I get the rallying ” we are in Europe all the time” and “players make teams not noise………..”, I will go on record ( as a Leeds fan ), and state that Spurs have a lot I envy. Without doubt you are a bigger club than Leeds in every way than Leeds at the moment, it shows no real sign of altering……..except of course in an area where money can’t really influence – unadulterated passion!
    Is it because many of your fans aren’t actually from “Tottenham” that White Hart Lane sounds like chapel of rest? To enforce just how much bigger Spurs are than Leeds, I bet you (Spurs fans), have never even dreamed of playing a “Peterborough” in a drizzly Tuesday night league match? More a nightmare come true for us Leeds fans and only 11,000 of us on the very worse evenings…….but just cup your hand to your ear in North London on such evenings – you will just about still hear us!

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  4. The Pen is Mightier than the sword – Well it used to be before I read this article – I take it your no good at fencing either? If you would have asked the question and gave your opinions the debate may have been interesting – but reading between the lines it is just a pop at Tottenham – Sad

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  5. Never really had a problem with Spurs, apart from their contingent of idiots who hang around WHL away end looking for trouble, though they can say the same about our place.

    Always support them against Man u and Chelsea as do most if not all Leeds fans.

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  6. Do you watch football mate? Tottenham have always been known for playing attractive football, and even during our darkest days when we’d have been better off adopting a more defensive and aggressive approach. As for the article, a good debate could be had as to what a big club is, tottenham (and leeds) id say were far bigger than chelsea for example. Spending just one season out of good knows how many in our case in the top flight should qualify that as well as the ability (last decade aside) to continually challenge and collect trophies. Using your argument above, how long before u consider liverpool a small club no league title for 25 years and in their case no sign of changing that any time soon. Unfortunately the criteria seems to be today whoever has the most fans in Thailand and being in the champions league frequently ,, and more importantly who can find the money to attract ie pay top players the the premier league find marketable, which is a shame. That is the attitude that forces clubs to go out of their way to bring in players that are financial beyond them desperate for a piece of the action now rather than build steadily for the future and challenge at a time when you are naturally ready. Ironically its some these points that led to the demise , no, current exile, of another great club. Leeds United. When you are slowly on the way back to your former glories and trying to compete at the very top again lets hope people are more understanding.

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  7. If you want to be a serious journalist you need to show both sides of an argument in equal measures and not sound so bitter.
    If obviously have Sussed that to really irritate Spurs supporters bang on about how good Arsenal how. But really when have Spurs declared themselves a big club?
    The truth is that spurs have had reasonable success over the last 70 years or so, and I think you will find that puts them behind the rates of Man Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal. Spurs would certainly be a contender for 4th spot in that list. Spurs football style of being entertaining has prevented league success as it is not pregmatic enough for long haul competitions, but most Spurs fans wouldn’t swap the Revie Leeds team or 70’s to 90’s Arsenal team to get success. Entertainment is what we love. I am proud that we always entertain. Winning is not all. We can all pull out stats to support arguments but I will mention just one, only 2 clubs have one a major trophy in the last 6 full decades and one is Spurs.
    Now we have a different world when champions league status is a per-requisite to building a strong team. That means you either take huge risks like Leeds, or get multi-billionaires looking to raise there global profiles like Man City or Chelsea, or the Spurs approach of steady building and financial prudence. Levy is brilliant and extremely well respected by Spurs fans. Bet many other clubs wish they had him. We will turn a profit on transfers this summer and we have almost every season since Levy took over from Sugar (also did a great job BTW).
    We have a strong squad, profitable club, 45,000 on the season ticket waiting list and a new stadium coming. What do Leeds have? I don’t care what you label us as we are what we are and I am very proud of my club as I am sure you are. It is just a shame you couldn’t have presented a reasonable balanced article to support your ambitions. Guess Leeds fans will always be there for you though.

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  8. woodhouse white

    spurs are the perennial underachievers! it’s funny how leeds are slated for failing in an attempt to ‘buy’ success circa 2001 but spurs have spent far more than us and still below where we were. maybe it’s irrelevant that it was the youth system that springboarded us before the arrival of johnson, ferdinand & fowler!

    big club/little club; we’re little at the moment but we’ll be back up there soon… hopefully!

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    • The point is that Spurs still turn a profit, something Leeds spectacularly failed to recognise as important. We have had our problems in that regard in the early 90’s, and it took us 15 years to recover to start the process to where we are now. I am sure Leeds are on there way back too. We were lucky in managing just to stay in the premiership and enable rebuilding from there. Don’t knock us out of anger about your own plight. We are doing it right and with style. It’s exciting for us, but we have had a lot of pain on the way.

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  9. LOL See you can’t find enough to say about Leeds so you are resorting to insulting bigger clubs from down south Rob. I know it must be frustrating supporting a team that can only dream of playing in the Prem, but don’t you think it is a bit rich for you, after all you have said, to solicit hits by writing about bigger clubs with bigger fan bases? May I suggest a name change for the blog Rob? Life, Leeds United, the Universe and Everything Hypercritical!

    PS, I didn’t read beyond the headline. Couldn’t stop laughing at the idea of a Leeds fan asking this question. How many doubles have Leeds done exactly?

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    • Sure you didn’t read beyond the headline, Scott. Sure you didn’t 😉

      Are you certain you meant Hypercritical and not Hypocritical? I know what a Mr. Malaprop you are – it’s a common failing among amateur or beginner writers.

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      • LOL You fell for it! But it’s good to see you be hypercritical and well as hypocritical Rob. Keep up the good work. At this rate, you will be like the pigs in Animal Farm.

        “Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the bloggers. The creatures outside looked from Atkinson to Hammersfan, and from Hammersfan to Atkinson, and from Atkinson to Hammersfan again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

        ; }

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      • Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Scott, aka HammersFan (HF), also known by himself as Dr Evil, and by more discerning people as Dr Weevil. Given his almost-erudite appreciation of “Animal Farm”, we may now also have to call him Muriel, after the character in that novel most closely aligned with his own persona. He operates a site called The Game’s Gone Crazy which is supposed to be a Wet Spam blog, but which has an overweening obsession with Leeds United, to the bewilderment of his fellow Hammers. I think that’s enough background. I’d spare you the sight of him disappearing up his own arse like this, but he’s a tad compulsive as I’m sure you can appreciate.

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  10. Pingback: Sherwood an Aptly Mediocre Appointment for Fading Spurs – by Rob Atkinson | Life, Leeds United, The Universe & Everything

  11. Pingback: Arsenal Cup Victory Will Be So Good for the Game & For This Leeds Fan – by Rob Atkinson | La Vita, Leeds United, l'Universo e Tutto

  12. 36,000 season ticket holders, 46,000 on the waiting list

    10th highest income of any club in Europe

    Highest net income for players of any club in world football since 2008

    Big club? Yeah we are a bit aren’t we

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  13. A sour article with truths buried under your own frustration. I’ve been a Spurs fan since 1959 and, yes, will retire soon without having seen a top flight win since 1961, but ‘member since mid-70s? You know that’s not true, one relegation since 1951? Come on, Leeds have been outside the top flight for 25 years in that time, ‘big club, end of’, no, self-delusion. Leeds were a much-disliked side under Review, and have done nothing since he fled the country. Sure, Arsenal have wiped the floor with us for 20 years, but that doesn’t make us ‘small’, just locally I challenged. We hold our own in most scraps with Woolwich Wanderers, check the results during the years Leeds were struggling to get out of League One, or the 3rd division as it was when last Spurs won the league.

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  14. Apart from the anti-Spurs rubbish, your blog appears to be really good.
    However, i have never heard of a Leeds United fan with such a profound dislike of Spurs! I wonder if you ever got kicking outside the ground? Also, we don’t think we are a massive club, but we are a big club! We always sell out at the lane, with thousands more on the waiting list. As for winning the league, only the richest clubs can do that. Do you think the goons are going to win the premier League anytime soon?

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    • I’m an admirer of Arsenal – I don’t expect that revelation to do anything except help you hate me more. Still, you asked. Hating Spuds comes with my regard for Arsenal – simple as that.

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    • PS – thanks for your mostly kind words. And yes, I expect at least one more EPL title for the Arse. Did you SEE them at City? Faultless, I thought.

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    • PPS – anyone with Peter Cook as his profile pic must be at least partially OK. Maybe we at least have Private Eye in common?

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      • Yeah, i’m a big fan. Did you know he was a big Spurs fan?

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      • Yes I did – and on account of him being a hero of mine, he was nowhere near my Top Ten most Embarrassing Spurs Fans (though I WAS spoiled for choice…)

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  15. No, i saw them getting turned over by Southampton though, It was fantastic.

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  16. Cheers! Good luck with the rest of the season.

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