Stuff & Things

Sometimes sports are the only reason to travel you need.

After 10 Years of Fandom, I Flew to England to Watch My Favourite Team

In 2007, my last year of high school, I fell hard for Tottenham Hotspur—which, if you’re unfamiliar, is an English Premier League team, not a Scottish actress you haven’t heard of yet. The reasons why aren’t important.1 What matters is the depth with which I fell: This was a long-distance infatuation of the highest order. I’d crawl out of bed at 7 a.m. on Saturdays just to watch Spurs—as they’re known to supporters—cough up leads to lesser teams over grainy illegal streams. I’d spend long hours scouring British news sites for the latest transfer rumours and pay exorbitant cross-Atlantic shipping fees to acquire vintage Tottenham gear on eBay. Once in a blue moon, I’d spot another Spurs fan in the streets and share some friendly banter, but I never went out of my way to seek them out. For me, this was a solitary exercise, a fandom entirely my own.

And then, last April, that changed. White Hart Lane—Tottenham’s ramshackle, century-old stadium in North London—was set to be demolished later that summer. If I was ever going to see my team play live in their original home, it had to be now. I pulled the trigger on a red-eye flight to London, splurged on the best ticket I could afford on StubHub and took off on my own. After a decade of waiting, I was finally consummating my long-distance relationship.

You know how if you imagine something enough for any real length of time, it will always disappoint you in the end? That didn’t happen here. That Saturday was dreamlike perfection—the end of Groundhog Day come to life. The dreary London skies gave way to a spotless sunny 21°C. Stepping into that proud, ancient ground and casting my gaze upon its pristine pitch made my throat seize up. Belting out chants and songs with the unyielding crowd—and howling hysterically after all four of Spurs’ goals that day—loosened it up again.

After the match, at a pub a few blocks from the stadium, I shared brews and swapped stories with guys who hadn’t missed a home match in 40 years, with married couples who’d met in the stands, with people who, like me, had flown in just for the game from Sydney, Philadelphia and Singapore. My point is this: Go where your people are. Because no matter how much you think you love something in isolation—when it feels like a love affair just between you and it—you will love it that much more when it’s everybody’s. Come on you Spurs.

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1. Partly, it was my birthright: They’d been my dad’s favourite club growing up. But, more than anything, the Monty Python fan in me loved how preposterously British the name sounds: Tottenham Hotspur. It rolls off the tongue in a way that, say, “Oklahoma City Thunder” simply doesn’t.