So you support a team. Is it your local team? Did your Dad support them? If so, did his Dad support them? Do you go to every home match? Do you go to any away matches? Are you a true supporter?
There is always a lot of debate amongst both friends and enemies about what makes a ‘true’ supporter. To be honest, for all the arguing, I’ve never heard a proper answer.
For me, the whole concept seems to be rooted very firmly in nostalgia, and a yearning for some bygone era filled with flat caps, terraced housing and men’s men drinking brown ale out of odd-shaped glasses.
Take for example the proposed move for Spurs from North to East London. If you ever visit White Hart Lane on match day you’ll see a transport system creaking at the seams and struggling to cope. Why is that? It’s simply because the majority of Tottenham supporters moved out of Tottenham a long time ago. How can Spurs’ local roots and history matter to someone that lives in Guildford or St Albans, or where-ever they’re from?
But of course they are not alone. Look at almost every premiership side and time after time the majority of support for the team comes from all over the country instead of the terraced streets around the ground. For the big teams at the top of the table, the majority of their support could even be from outside England.
The fact of the matter is, times have changed: the world has changed.
Travel, politics, commerce, communication, business, even our personal lives are played out on a global stage. People used to be very localised and would rarely move from the local area where they were born. Now people move around to anywhere they want, increasingly even to another country. It’s what’s normal now.
This has meant that the concept of the magical, local super-supporter, has all but died out at the top end of football – it’s been made irrelevant. Not because anyone wanted it to be that way, but because it just happened.
Now don’t get me wrong, clubs have a lot to give to their local community. In the lower leagues clubs can galvanise their local area like nothing else. They can still bring people together and be a force for good. But for premiership teams things are a little more complicated.
In many ways premiership teams don’t need to be a force for good with their supporters. Where teams like Spurs can really make a difference is with the local people that probably don’t even have enough money to get into the ground.
So what’s really disappointing about the Spurs move to Stratford isn’t the potential loss of so-called roots or history, it is the lost chance for Spurs to do some real good in their local community with a vital redevelopment of one of the most deprived areas of the UK.