“I’m Tottenham Till I Die” — Comes the Cry from San Diego and LA to Minneapolis as Spurs Fans Celebrate the Kick-off of a Landmark Year in the Club’s History
NFL? MLB? NBA? Fuggedaboudit, because worldwide, only one sport rules — it’s soccer, okay!
Leading up to the World Cup final, nearly half the entire world’s population had watched World Cup 2018 in Russia. Hollywood’s Variety magazine reported that the World Cup final “remains the single most-watched sporting event.” And, Eurodata TV noted that in an age of mobile devices and nonlinear viewing, “major sports events are the only shows capable of gathering such large audiences in front of a TV set.”
The captive audiences, the seated throngs, and the enthralled spectators. It really is about those watching fans — passionate, tribal, and slightly bonkers!
Out here on the West coast, English Premier League soccer fans have to regularly arise before dawn to catch 4–4.30 am televised weekend games on NBCSN. For example, from Danny Coyle’s in San Francisco to San Diego’s The Harp and LA’s The Greyhound, hundreds of Tottenham supporters gather weekly to sing their battle hymns — “O when the Spurs go marching in…” — and chant mischievous ditties — “When I was just a little boy, my mother gave me a little toy, an Arsenal fan on a string, she told me to kick his ***kin’ head in!” All in good humor, of course.
This week, Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, the highest placed London team in the English Premier League (EPL) last season, are playing ICC tournament matches in San Diego (vs Roma on July 25), in Los Angeles (vs Barcelona on July 28), and in Minneapolis (vs Milan on July 31). With 66 official supporters clubs in North America, Tottenham have the largest number of any Premier League team, so thousands of traveling fans across the continent are expected to turn up for the games.
So, first of all, why do American fans support the Premier League and why do they choose Tottenham, who until 2010, had never qualified from the PL for Europe’s elite cup competition, the Champions League?
Rolfe Jones and Graeme Rudge in Los Angeles, and Ben Forman in San Diego are California-based Premier League fans of Tottenham and founders of their respective city’s local supporters’ clubs. Jones and Rudgey grew up supporting Spurs in their former England home — theirs has been a lifelong commitment.
Forman has a different story that’s indicative of newer Spurs fans over here. He admits he can’t express how excited he is “to see my club in my own backyard” as Spurs will be playing this week in San Diego against Roma in the ICC Tournament. He explains:
“San Diego Spurs was founded in the summer of 2014 by myself and a few core members. For years, Spurs fans would run into each other at Shakespeare Pub, but outside of match days we weren’t really able to interact with each other much. Then one day Andrew Smith had the ingenious idea of starting up a Facebook group, which allowed us all to discuss Spurs throughout the week. Because of this group page we slowly started having a really steady stream of fans on the weekends and that summer I looked into forming an official supporter’s club. After a few months we moved our home to The Harp in Ocean Beach and we’ve been there ever since. It’s been incredible to see the growth of not only our supporter’s club, but Tottenham Hotspur as a whole in the past five seasons.”
LA Spurs, with Eliana Fu and others, were excitedly on hand when Tottenham landed in LA on July 22, and Jones tells the awesome LA Spurs story:
“When the LA Spurs officially started in 2005 — even though our roots go back to 1998 when Graeme and I were the only Spurs fans we knew going to see games regularly — it was the beginning of a new age. The LA Spurs were the first EPL Supporters club in L.A. We humbly feel we set the tone for all of the other EPL Supporters clubs to come. It was very small in the beginning with fellow co-founders Jason Maxwell and Kate Sukham and me helping spread the word. Everywhere we went, our fledgling band would collect email addresses and we’d send out email blasts to inform where we were going. In the early days, five to ten fans would show up. Now if 50 show up it’s considered a poor turnout. Now, during the season we often have 200 or more show up for the bigger matches. In 2010, LA Spurs became officially recognized and what started small, like a mustard seed, has grown into the largest Spurs supporters group in the USA with over 1500 on our membership roster, plus thousands of others across the nation and around the world in touch.”
Edwin Soria, who grew up in San Diego but now lives in LA, offers his own falling-in-love story:
“I grew up loving football because my dad would always watch it. But it wasn’t until Mexico’s Chicharito went to Manchester United that I started watching more Premier League. I always liked the team called Tottenham, I don’t why, but I did. I like how they played with passion and even though they weren’t a ‘top team’ in the league, I loved them. But, it wasn’t until Spurs beat Man City to qualify for the Champions League that I truly became a Spurs fan.
“After a few seasons of watching Spurs play from my couch, I stumbled upon a video on YouTube that was about ‘NY Spurs.’ That’s when I realized there was a big following of Spurs fans in the States! Hello! I dug the idea of going to a bar and singing songs with fellow Spurs fans! So I looked up Spurs fans in San Diego and lucky for me, they had a Facebook page! So I started watching games with San Diego Spurs! After a year, I had to move to LA for school, so again, I looked up Spurs in LA and here we are today! LA Spurs are truly the best and loudest fans I know! I am truly blessed to join LA Spurs for the games at the Greyhound Bar! Much love to SD Spurs, but I feel at home in LA Spurs! But, I notice new faces in SD and LA for the matches! Spurs fans are truly the best fans because we are like a family, no other team is like us. We all love Tottenham Hotspur! COYS!”
And, then there’s passionate Angeleno Bri Uribe:
“My household was firmly baseball and basketball when I was growing up. I only started understanding and liking soccer in 2009, when my college friends, who were in an amateur league, first introduced me to the sport. In 2010, the World Cup South Africa took over my social media feeds. My friends and I would go to viewing parties to cheer on the Mexican National team. That’s when I really started appreciating the beauty of the sport and how it could unite the world. I wanted more soccer in my life and decided to start researching the English Premier League. My college friends were all either Manchester United or Liverpool fans. But, I knew from the start that I didn’t want to be a ‘bandwagon’ fan, but my friends’ opinions were important to me.
“I posted on Facebook that I was looking to pick a PL side and appealed to my friends to make their cases for their teams. I wanted to get an idea of what teams were popular and why. Was it their style, the players, or maybe something else that drew them to pick that team? Ultimately, I made it ‘Facebook official’ on August 17, 2012 and posted that I chose Spurs, where the trolls immediately started chiming in to tease me about making a ‘bad’ decision. And so my life as a Spurs supporter began. Once I commit to something, I become obsessed. I learned that there was a chapter of supporters in the LA area and I knew I had to find them. By the third match of the season, I took my youngest sister to the King’s Head in Studio City at 5:30 am to watch my team with other LA Spurs supporters. They have since become another branch of my family tree. Everyone at LA Spurs is a character and has a piece of my heart. I can honestly say that I love you, Tottenham! I DO! From that day in August 2012, I have been fiercely defending my decision, cheering the boys on, and hoping for a bright lilywhite future. My heart isn’t actually red, it’s blue and it will beat for Tottenham Til I Die.”
Tottenham Hotspur are currently on their USA Tour 2018, where their schedule has them playing AS Roma (San Diego), Barcelona (Los Angeles) and AC Milan (Minneapolis). Check out Club related Fan Events, and for additional fan info, drop in on San Diego Spurs, LA Spurs and Minneapolis Spurs.