Imagine if you will, discovering “found footage” from electrifying North London Derby games past. A hundred-year-old internecine rivalry. Lilywhite versus Red, Spurs versus Arsenal, the Yids versus the Gunners. The action is frenzied. The tackles are furious. The goals are spectacular. And, the sensation is hair-raising when the waves of opposing fans sing their SONGS at heaven’s door.
“When I was just a little boy
My Mother gave me a little toy
An Arsenal fan on a string
She told me to kick its fucking head in.
Its fucking head in. Its fucking head in.
She told me to kick its fucking head in!”
—An innocent little ditty sung by Spurs fans about the Gunners
“We won the league at Shite Hart Lane!
We won the league at that shit-hole,
We won the league at Shite Hart Lane!”
–An innocent little ditty sung by Arsenal fans about the Spurs
Oh, those naughty Brits and their awfully clever PG-rated songs!
But there is indeed a massive event going on in early November that’ll have people engrossed from coast to coast across America. No, I’m not talking about Election 2016.
No, we’re talking about a HUGE game of footy. As the great manager Bill Shankly once put it: “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that.”
Sure enough, even for us footy fans here in NFL-land, November 6 (7am New York time, 4am Left Coast, USA time) is THE big one!
The North London Derby between centuries old “soccer” rivals, Spurs and Arsenal, is like huge sporting rivalries in American sports: Yankees/Red Sox, Lakers/Celtics, Jets/Patriots, Duke/Carolina, Wolverines/Buckeyes, Sooners/Longhorns.
Kind of like, but only bigger, as it plays worldwide, and has been going on since 1887. Get the picture! Arsenal have won more domestic titles than Spurs, but Tottenham, the first English team to win a continental title, have won more European titles than Arsenal. For at least twice a season in the Premier League, it’s about bragging rights in North London for two teams separated by less than five miles.
So on November 6, it’s a little matter of what rival fans call each other, the Spuds vs the Gooners or Woolwich Wanderers.
The English Premiership continues to grow in America, with Spurs vs Arsenal the hottest ticket this coming weekend. Thousands of Spurs fans from supporters groups in Boston, New York, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, San Diego, and our LA Spurs (with our “celebrity” guests — “BTW, you’re still invited, Adele“) will be jamming our local pubs, singing our cheeky songs including the “Arsenal fan on a string” and the Arsene Wenger song — “with a packet of sweets and a cheeky smile…”
The NLD has so much cachet, that even the #1 TV show in America, The Walking Dead, has a North London tilt. The zombie apocalypse’s executive producer, Gale Anne Hurd, is a diehard Arsenal fan (@GunnerGale). But Lennie James, who plays “ninja” Morgan, is an even bigger Spurs fan and always talks up his unabashed love of Tottenham. James even convinced Steve Yeun, the recently departed Glenn, to join our growing, worldwide Spurs Army. Good on ya, laddie!
Personally, I’ve been praying at the cathedral of Spurs since the day I announced to my ManU-supporting father, Ashley Sr., that I was now a proud member of the “Yid Army!” Aghast, he dropped his cuppa! In fact, I’ve immortalized that rebellion in a movie script I’ve written, Danny Boy, which Bottle Shock’s producer J. Todd Harris calls, “A sweet story about a young American teen who is sent to live with his extended London family, who happen to be die-hard Tottenham football fans and are thrown for a loop when it turns out their young American cousin is an Arsenal fan. Loving cross-cultural football comedy ensues.”
New York Spurs’ Pete Rosenthal (L) representing at LA Spurs local, The Greyhound
To further underscore the internal rivalry of supporting either Spurs or Arsenal, here’s the Stuebs’ family story — Mark (Spurs), lives in America, while brother Karl (Arsenal) lives in Indonesia.
Spoiler Alert: no children were hurt in getting their opposing responses.
My brother’s one of the funniest people but as an ‘unmentionable’ supporter Karl lives in Hell! We were raised on the English South Coast. It was our beloved Granddad who was from North London and supported the unmentionables. According to him, he was a former youth team player for the Arsenal. He also said once when he went to see Arsenal play, he told star Ted Drake it was his birthday. Drake sportingly said he’d score a goal for him — he scored seven, a record in topflight English football. Of course all Granddads love a bit of romancing in a story.
Karl stokes the fire:
Early on, we were all young Gunners, me and my two brothers. But times change and Brian chose the easy way out, becoming a Liverpool supporter. Mark and I were still Gunners and then we moved to pastures anew, and the dark clouds gathered above our family’s home. Mark made some new friends, who I think pressured him into selling his soul to the dark (Spurs) side — I think some Dr. Martens boots and a gimp mask were involved somewhere! So now there was only one sane one left…The intensity of those NLD matches was immense and could make or break our years and relationships. I still have a few ‘friends’ — I use that term loosely — who are supporters of, well you know who…But over the last few years the finishing position of our teams seems to hold as much, if not more, bragging rights than the derbies themselves. It’s all light hearted banter, as long as we win and finish above the Spuds!
Yet, Wenger’s L’Arse haven’t beaten Spurs in the Premiership in the last two seasons. And with Wenger’s august career managing the Gunners coming to an end without yet winning the Champions League, the worm may be turning in North London — with Pochettino’s young Spurs hopefully stuffing Arsenal’s old gunners on November 6!
Now back to that Arsenal fan on a string…COYS!
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