Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Spurs of the Moment

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Spurs of the Moment

Article excerpt

It is worth adding some historical context to Emma Rees' discussion ("Kick up a fuss and reclaim your linguistic property", 23 January) by casting a critical eye over the invention of tradition. Although Tottenham Hotspur has long been recognised as London's "Jewish" football club, the acknowledgement and demonstration of that identity by the crowd has become explicit only in the past 15 years or so, and has gathered pace with the general commercialisation of football since the birth of the English Premier League in 1992.

My strong impression, from attending White Hart Lane "religiously" (Church of England in my case) for almost 50 years, is that organised chanting associated with the appropriation of the "Y-word" didn't happen before the 1990s. Rather, identity construction, and the affirmation of parochial tribalisms before that, was against the more easily recognised othernesses of the times, ie, team colours and skin colour. My recollection was that, as well as healthily venting our spleens on our nearer neighbours (whose names I will not consign to print for fear of causing offence), Nottingham Forest and Terry Cooper (Leeds United) came in for particularly harsh treatment - although we were hardly unique in that respect. …

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