Being “Spursy” (Choking) is the Norm for Many Sports Teams & Their Devoted Fans
Fess up, has your favorite sports team’s mediocrity ever tested your loyalty? Mine has!
From the ’40s to the ’60s, from the Arizona Cardinals (1947) and Cleveland Indians (1948), the Detroit Lions (1957) and Atlanta Hawks (1958), to the Buffalo Bills (1965), Toronto Maple Leafs (1967), New York Jets and San Diego Padres (1969), it’s been a long, parched drought for fans of these North American sports teams.
Indeed, the bond between fan and beloved team is one of the strongest ties in modern-day relationships — friends and neighbors move, business associates change, spouses and partners often shift like musical chairs, but support of one’s sports team becomes etched on a fan’s soul. We are enthralled by the history. Every new season we place our hopes in them. Then we live and die with their wins and losses. We spend our hard-earned cash to travel great distances to see them perform, and buy team merchandise. We sing their praises but also suffer unimaginable heartbreak when our hopes are dashed.
Above all, we still we come back for more the following season. Engaged for life in a relationship that will invariably last a lifetime. Just ask all those Bills, Hawks, Leafs and Jets fans.
However, under the dark shadow of Covid, this 2020–21 English Premier League season has been one of the most discombobulating, disaffecting seasons in my long time of supporting Spurs (Tottenham Hotspur) — it’s been so mediocre, it has threatened my over 50-year support of this legendary North London club. Truly, I’ve felt like quitting my full-time support since I first cried “Come on you, Spurs” when I was a nipper back in Wales. While Spurs have won many famous “Cups” in my lifetime — something that’s additional to the annual league title race in football — and I’ve celebrated the glorious hoisting of those FA, League and UEFA cups we haven’t actually been English football’s top dogs and won the Premier League/First Division Championship since 1960–61.
This season kicked off last August with a hopeful Amazon documentary (“All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur”) and was the first full year under manager Jose Mourinho, perhaps the winningest coach in soccer/football history. But the less than stellar performances that have followed — like not turning up for the North London Derby, lamely losing to Dinamo 0–3 in the Europa League Cup tournament — and also the cowardly results by throwing away so many late leads have been so disappointing.
In short, we have been become predictably boring. In fact, Football London’s ace correspondent Alasdair Gold very keenly observed: “I hate that term Spursy, but they’re more Spursy under Mourinho than they’ve been for years, which was totally not meant to happen. That was about Mr Levy hiring Mourinho, he was going to shed that tag…If the ManU game wasn’t enough to depress you, watching the interview with Son (almost in tears) after the game…it’s like they broke Sonny, like in South Park, when they killed Kenny.”
I detest the term Spursy, too. But, what does Spursy mean, you ask? In the Urban Dictionary Spursy means: “To consistently and inevitably fail to live up to expectations. To bottle it.”
Moreover, that could be said of the beloved Buffalo Bills, losing in four consecutive Super Bowl title games. Ouch! Or the Toronto Maple Leafs, the second most valuable NHL franchise, who always flatter to deceive in their annual and 54-year-old quest to win the Stanley Cup, again. Yikes! It could be said of the New York Jets, who’ve never gotten back to where Broadway Joe took them in 1969. Where have you gone, Joe Namath!
So, I asked fellow my Spurs fans on social media if this dire, muddling season has tested their loyalty and support. Here are a few heartfelt responses.
Ja Hurst: “The painful part now is that this isn’t Spurs football. This is a travesty played out in hopes of countering into some silverware.”
Barry Howorth: “I have no intentions of switching, I was born three miles from White Hart Lane. What I’m saying is I don’t even have a second team.”
Ian Shaw: “I expect us to fail, to lose the match whenever anyone around us loses points, to lose or draw against relegation dwellers. Ash, the team has become an unfunny joke. I have been a Spurs fan for more years than I can remember, but we have always lost with style, this year we’re losing with boredom. I can handle the losses but to lose with attacking football not this boring shit.”
Jon Hamblen: “Looking forward to cleaning all of Jose’s filthy fingerprints off of everything once he’s gone. But, I’m in until I’m in the ground, and hopefully after that as well. I’m sure I’ll ask St. Peter if we get the matches, provided he’s letting me in!”
Daniel Windler: “My love and support are unconditional. It’s just so sad where we are and very little hope it’s going to get better in the short term.”
Josh Franklin: “TTID (Tottenham Till I Die)! But it’s ugly at the moment. I hear all the ‘it’s been worse.’ But we’ve come a long way as a club in the last decade or so and expectations are higher now. I think the upwards journey started with Jol. Then when we first got into the Champions league with ‘Arry. Poch joining took us to the next level and so close to true greatness. So, it hurts to be back here.”
Wow, passionate fans, indeed. So, I go back to correspondent Alasdair Gold, who’s one of the few people to attend matches, training and Tottenham pressers during the lockdown, so he has an intimate perception. Gold asks, “What is Tottenham’s identity, they don’t have one. Under Pochettino, in the prime years, they had a really strong identity of being aggressive, physical — that relentless pressing and harassing of opposition, and they played some lovely expansive, quick attacking football. The two years that Leicester and Chelsea won the title, Spurs played superb football. It was fun. Dele was the scamp and younger brother, there were the bromances, (and clever handshakes) — that was the strong identity of a family, off and on the pitch. Now, this team doesn’t have a Tottenham identity or even a Mourinho identity…The fans don’t have anything to hold onto, under Poch you enjoyed it even if they let you down in the crucial moments.”
Most importantly, Gold’s advice for rest of the season goes: “Take the shackles off, and just go for it, let’s enjoy the rest of the season. Spurs don’t have a lack of quality, don’t tell me that Kane, Son and Bale isn’t top quality. Ndombele is quality. Hojbjerg is quality. Lo Celso is very talented. Lucas has been playing well. There’s a lot of quality — just let it loose and let Spurs fans enjoy the rest of the season.”
So, Jose, let the Kane-Son-Bale spearhead loose in the League/EFL Cup Final on April 25, when Spurs take on the mighty and present runaway Premier League leaders Man City. City are expected to bury us. But, if the footballing gods deign to smile on Spurs for just a few shining hours, perhaps we’ll end our own Cup drought and bask in blissful glory. Just like we did when Spurs beat City 3–2 in the 1981 FA Cup final replay with a dynamic winning goal scored by hero Ricky Villa.
And if Spurs do win, I may echo that famous Michael Corleone refrain from The Godfather — “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”
PS I’m also pretty sure, all those Browns, Bills, Lions, Jets and Leaf fans feel the same. But it’s the hope that kills, isn’t it?!