Spurs fans fighting and another season wasted: an Arsenal fan behind enemy lines

Tottenham fans inside the stadium during their game against Manchester City
There was a surreal atmosphere inside the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as some fans hoped for defeat to thwart Arsenal - Reuters/Dylan Martinez

I know quite a few Tottenham fans, unfortunately. But when I started talking to them on Monday about the Man City game it became clear that many did not want to go.

It took about five minutes to register as a Spurs member on the club website so contacts of theirs could transfer season tickets to me and a fellow Gooner.

They were cheaper than face value for a top tier game. But then there was not much demand, apparently.

We would soon be on our way to cheer on our bitter rivals.

We are greeted at Tottenham Hale station by the first groups of men in spurs shirts swearing at commuters getting in their way. They smell angry.

I look down at my red socks peeking out and try to brush my trouser legs down with my trainers.

I begin to regret my decision; both the socks and the journey deep behind enemy lines.

We depart our Stansted Express train at Northumberland Park.

A brief walk down the shabby Park Lane and the tip of Tottenham Hotspur Stadium comes in to view. I’ve been told so much about the new state of the art ground.

What is it doing here, I can’t help thinking out loud. I am told to shut up by my Spurs escort. Like watching football at an Ibis hotel is how one Brentford fan described it to me earlier that day.

No comment.

The approach to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Out correspondent managed to get into the stadium without his cover being blown - Getty Images/Catherine Ivill

We see Noel Gallagher through the window of an exec bar overlooking the concourse as we make our way in. He looks confident, smug.

After a pint (£5.95) and a Spurs Signature beef and onion pie (£4.25), we take our seats with our new friends.

The first chant goes: “Stand up if you hate Arsenal.” I stand and even clap, keen to blend in.

The City fans also join in.

A shout comes from a Spurs fan a few rows behind me: “C’mon City.”

This is so confusing.

Tottenham actually seem to be playing quite well.

Even more confusing.

Could it be?

Another Spurs fan rises from his seat alone and shouts: “Stand up if you love City.”

“Caam on, you know you do,” he adds, jabbing his finger at the crowd behind him.

Some people laugh. Some people tell him to f--- off.

28 minutes on the clock: I actually don’t want to be here.

30 minutes: why did I wear these socks?

Everyone I look at wants to kill me. Even this 8-year-old boy is looking at me funny.

I stand to let a fan out of their seat. He looks me deep in the eyes, puts his hand on my shoulder and says...thank you, mate.

Time stops. My heart re-starts.

Half-time comes and the urinals beckon.

“What do you want from this?” someone behind me asks his friend.

“Ain’t got a clue.”

“Yeah, me neither.”

“Good half, though.”

“Yeah, but why turn it on now, we’ve been s--- all season.”

So it goes.

Second half begins.


An overweight, middle-aged Spurs fan with a bald head and silver chain stands up in celebration about eight rows down.

He screams: “Hate Arsenal, hate Arsenal, hate Arsenal, hate Arsenal.”

A group of men, probably in their 60s, who were previously sharing a pizza, scream back many creative obscenities.

The exchange continues, on and off, for about five minutes. They’re really going at each other. It’s ugly.

I don’t know where to look, so I look down. My socks are showing again.

Take away the sporadic infighting and empty seats, and there is genuine support here, I realise.

I warm to the passion and begin to respect the fans all around me.

I relax, finally.

Tottenham are losing. All is fine, I guess.

85 minutes: Son runs clear but his shot is saved.

I let my guard down and slump with my head in my hands in pure frustration.

My new friends are with me, fortunately, sharing the pain of another lost season.