It would be fair to say that almost every Irish guy who likes football will have chosen an English team to follow from a young age. Our local league in Northern Ireland has always resided in the gigantic shadow of the English competition, never more so than in these last fifteen years, which has seen the incredible and relentless growth of the Premiership as both a successful brand and highly respected European football league.

Yet it’s not just a recent thing; my father’s loyalties lie with Wolves, while I have uncles that follow Spurs, Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. I can truthfully say that I don’t know one friend or family member who actively ‘supports’ a local club the way he follows his beloved English side.

My allegiance with Tottenham began the day of the 1991 F.A. Cup victory. It was the first football match I attentively watched; the spectacle of the Cup Final day was of course an attraction and what with the drama of Gascoigne and big characters like captain Gary Mabbutt and Gary Lineker (not to mention Spurs winning the trophy) my choice was made. My first match was in January 1995 with a 1-0 victory over Man City, as the man signed to (impossibly) fill Jurgen Klinsmann’s boots, Chris Armstrong, bagged the winner.

Living so far from London meant it has always been quite tricky to organise visits to the Lane as flights, accommodation and available tickets always had to be negotiated in advance. Unfortunately, this has only become increasingly more difficult with so many re-arranged and re-scheduled games due to TV coverage or European matches.

Spurs enjoy a strong support in Northern Ireland and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear of them having a similar size of following to both Chelsea and Arsenal. School colleagues (like most football fans I’ve met) were predominantly Man Utd or Liverpool followers, so it was hardly a shock to hear of Robbie Keane’s declaration as a boyhood fan of both Liverpool and Celtic.

The reasons for supporting Celtic or Rangers in Northern Ireland have sadly often been more a reflection of a religious or political stance and in a similar fashion, many of the bigger local teams have always been associated with a particular religion of supporters, thus rendering it somewhat risky to reveal a local allegiance if you had one. Growing up in the 1990s as a Spurs supporter tempted no such peril; it merely just provoked ridicule and occasional sympathy!

It’s true that life is never dull as a Tottenham fan and whether you come from England, Ireland or any other country, we’re united in our passion and the continual insistence that one of these days we’re going to make up for the inconsistencies and farcical soap operas of the all-too recent past and become great again.

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14 COMMENTS

  1. Working for the Hotspur magazine, I’ve heard many fan stories from northern or overseas supporters that have started following Spurs after a famous Cup win. For Niall of course, it was 1991. You can’t underestimate the ability of a good Cup victory to attract an army of new fans. A win in this year’s FA Cup competition would certainly reel in many more. Let’s hope we take the opportunity. These overseas fans are every bit as fervent in their support for the club as ‘local’ ones. It’s great to hear your story Niall and keep spreading the word!

  2. Niall – great read! Like you, I am a ‘far away supporter’. I’m from Northern Ireland and for the last few years, I’ve been living in the USA. I would not/ have not missed a Tottenham game. Premier football coverage is good and is getting better in the States (Sentanta/ Fox), but sometimes I have to rely on internet streaming. I have watched my Spurs in Chinese and other languages and I still get the same buzz of excitement whoever is broadcasting! One thing is for sure – once you have been bitten by the Tottenham bug, you will always be a Spurs fan. COYS!

  3. As a fully paid up member of the Omagh Spurs Suppoters Club I salute you…Don’t let the Man U, Liverpool and Chelsea plastics grind you down.

    • I’m from Ballygawley and would love to join the Omagh supporters club but I cant get any info on it. could you give me the details please???

  4. The 1967 cup final was where I first started. I would only take the writer up on one point though. We are and always have been great, but we shall be even greater sometime soon.
    By the way. My brother has just taken out a membership and there are over 26,000 waiting for a season ticket at the moment. The queue is growing all the time!
    COME ON YOU SPURS.

  5. Mine was league cup final 1973 – must have been Ralph Coates hair style that hooked me! – Belfast to WHL – always worth the trip COYS

  6. I can recall going from Euston to Wolverhampton for the UEFA Cup final way back when, and I never heard a single English or London accent for the entire trip, as everyone seemed to be Scandinavian or Dutch. I doff my blue and white bobble hat in your honour, I only wish that during a trip to Dublin recently I wasn’t sat next to a gooner bedecked in his Ronald McDonald outfit!

  7. Niall,

    Your thoughts have made me smile on a gloomy day in Welwyn Garden City.

    We have underachieved for twenty years now but our following has remained loyal. My youngest son is 21 and his loyality despite the Man U, Liverpool & Chelski pressures at school etc have at last began to reap reward.

    Me…I’m 50 but since ’67 I have always have and will be part of the Yid Army’…COYS

  8. Nice story Niall. Its difficult bein a spurs fan when you live so far away, I’ve supported them for 20 years now, since 1990 when I first got into football. But have yet to get to the Lane, I don’t know anyone here that supports spurs none of my family or friends do. I joined a supporters group here in Ballymena a few years back but I was the only girl there so that was weird, I didn’t stay long lol I run a spurs group on Facebook for fans of the club from NI and it has over 100 memners now 🙂

  9. Great Story!

    I am a Bronze member from Belfast and I get over to the lane at least 3 times a year. Been supporting the mighty spurs since I was 4 (born 1981) and my first major match was the ‘cupset’ of 1987 (poor mabbsy!)…didn’t take too long before we put that right though 😉 I can honestly say there is no better feeling than going to the lane…the early rise, the flights and train trips and the arrival on Tottenham High Road just get better every time (not to mention the greasy fry up in the Hotspur Cafe!!). I have finally persuaded my good lady (who i already have decked out in Spurs gear lol) to come with me on my next trip to the lane to see why i give so much of my time and passion to the spurs…roll on March 13th!!

    COYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Fiona, I’ve just joined that club on Facebook, good idea; NI Yiddos unite!!

    And that’s one thing I didn’t mention so I thank you for reminding me in some of your comments: the flight over is brilliant (even if it is Ryanair), the early rise and the day-long anticipation. I was awaiting the home game to Burnley this season with so much excitement and wasn’t let down thanks to a live one man wonder show from Robbie Keane.

    2-0 up at half time. Looking good. Super Pav does it again.

  11. Oh good thank you for joining 🙂 Make sure and join in with the chats and discussions, we have alot of members now but only a few actually post on there, would be nice to see a new face.

    4-0 and another 2 for Pav, beat the toffees on sunday and it will be a great week for us.

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