A global Tottenham Hotspur podcast and viewpoint, by the fans for the fans.
by Greg Taylor
Question: What is as rare as the proverbial ‘rocking-horse shit’ in Salvador, in the northeast of Brazil?
Answer: A Tottenham Hotspur FC shirt.
Brazilians LOVE to wear football shirts. A football shirt is an integral part of casual/beach wear. Go to the beach any day and, as well as seeing plenty of beautiful women in skimpy bikinis (yes, the hype is true to a large extent), you will see men of all ages wearing football shirts.
In Salvador you are either Esporte Clube Bahia or Esporte Clube Vitória. You cannot cop out, claiming that you support another club, you must at least show a little interest in one of Salvador’s two professional clubs. The rivalry is as intense as any rivalry that the Premier League can throw up – even that between our beloved Spurs and Arsenal. Incidentally, Bahia screwed over Vitória in much the same way as Arsenal screwed us over at the beginning of the last century, so perhaps it’s fitting that I claim Vitória as my Salvador team.
But, back to the shirts.
“Seeing a Brazilian wearing a Chelsea or Arsenal shirt forces me to grit my teeth…”
Understandably most shirts are from the Brazilian domestic league teams; a substantial helping of Bahia and Vitória shirts (whose sales haven’t diminished despite both teams being relegated from Série A to Série B last season), and a good handful of Flamengo, Corinthians, and Sao Paulo shirts. Internationally, Barcelona shirts slightly outweigh the Real Madrid shirts, and there are a few fools who wear Chelsea, Manchester United, and Arsenal shirts.
Seeing a Brazilian wearing a Chelsea or Arsenal shirt forces me to grit my teeth and physically restrain myself from explaining the error of their ways, pointing out how ill-advised they are in their choice of shirt. I forgive the Man Utd shirt wearers, as it’s a very good bet that if you speak to a foreigner (even if they don’t speak English) they know the names of Margaret Thatcher and David Beckham – though I don’t remember the Iron Lady ever turning out for Ferguson or any of his predecessors.
“I did once see a Spurs shirt in Salvador but that was being worn by Vince, a fellow Brit at the Belgium v USA World Cup match..”
The one shirt I never see on the streets in Brazil is a Tottenham Hotspur shirt. To do that, I have to either look in the mirror or look at my reflection in the nearest shop window. I’ve looked for Spurs shirts in the sports shops, but in vain. The previously mentioned usual suspects are there, although Manchester City fans will be disappointed that they too are similarly absent from the racks.
I tell a lie… I did once see a Spurs shirt in Salvador but that was being worn by Vince, a fellow Brit at the Belgium v USA World Cup match at Salvador’s Fonte Nova stadium. It was lilywhite at first sight, as we noticed each other in the crowd and made a bee-line for each other, beer cans in hand, and the desire to talk to somebody face-to-face about Spurs and the (rare for me) opportunity to see Vertonghen, Chadli and Dembélé in action. Unfortunately, Dembélé didn’t get a game that day and, of course, we didn’t know at the time that we would also be seeing one of our new additions, DeAndre Yedlin.
“I’m very envious of those who live in those countries where they can attend (reasonable easily) Spurs Supporters’ group gatherings…”
Incidentally, if Vince happens to read this article, get yourself into the Tottenham Hotspur Family Facebook group – it’s a very friendly place and even has its own excellent podcast thanks mainly to Javad Movahedi and ably assisted by Nici Maritz. That goes for anybody reading this!
So, how do I satiate my appetite for all things Tottenham Hotspur FC?
Well, first and foremost, is the aforementioned Tottenham Hotspur Family (THF) on Facebook. It gives me an opportunity to discuss all things Spurs with like-minded people not only in the UK but also around the world. The founder, Andrew Pelling, may not have realised it at the time, but a group like this is very important to those of us who live overseas.
“..may not have realised it at the time, but a group like this is very important to those of us who live overseas.”
I’m very envious of those who live in those countries where they can attend (reasonably easily) Spurs Supporters’ group gatherings; last month the club recognised a Spurs Supporters Club in Brazil but it’s almost certainly in Rio de Janeiro (1,000 miles away) or in Sao Paulo (900 miles away). Chatting with other members of the Facebook group is like meeting up in a pub and chatting about the club with a group of mates – except without the beer, or the pub. We don’t always agree, but it rarely, if ever, gets nasty (unlike some other groups).
Secondly there is the wonderful world of podcasts. I devour almost every Spurs related podcast there is – at least twelve of them at the last count – and these entertain me on my commute to work. As well as the Tottenham Hotspur Family podcast, I would recommend the Fighting Cock podcast, and the Rule the Roost podcast, but they’re all good and worthwhile listening in their own way. I’ve even appeared twice on the Tottenham Hotspur Family podcast.
But, when push comes to shove, I’m stranded. It’s like I’m outside the house where all my friends are inside having a party, and I can’t get in.
So what’s the match day experience like for me?
One advantage of living here in Brazil is that almost all Tottenham matches are shown live on TV. I normally have a choice of ESPN Brasil, ESPN, ESPN Brasil HD, Fox Sports Brasil 1 & 2 and very rarely have to go hunting for an internet stream (unlike my friends in the UK).
“I devour almost every Spurs related podcast there is..”
We’re 4 hours behind the UK so sometimes I may watch a match whilst eating my breakfast or lunch. I have a very understanding girlfriend, Eliene, who understands that watching Tottenham play trumps almost everything else and so I am served these meals on a tray in the front room. She used to play football herself – she’s a mean ‘keepy-upper’and an avid Vitória fan – so she identifies with the way I feel about the club.
Match preparation consists of attaching my Spurs flag to the TV unit, and putting on my Spurs shirt. I try to wear my Spurs shirt when we play (although sometimes it’s just too damned hot to wear a shirt. I make sure that I don’t wear dark shorts, for fear of looking like a full kit (expletive deleted), even though more often or not it’s just myself and my cat Tabitha watching.
Well… I watch whilst Tabitha sleeps.
I did try tuning into UK radio coverage to get English commentary but it runs about 10 seconds behind the action on the TV so that idea doesn’t really work. Fortunately I speak pretty good Portuguese so I can understand the TV commentary. Consequently I have added words like ‘impedimento’ (offside), ‘lateral’ (throw-in), ‘volante’ (attacking midfielder) to my vocabulary. Every time Kane scores a goal – yes, he is becoming well-known over here – the commentator calls him ‘a sensação de futebol inglês’ (the English football sensation). I particularly like how they refer to Danny Rose as ‘o pequeninho Rose’, (pronounced ‘hosey’), when he goes off on a run up the left wing. ‘Pequeno’ means small and ‘pequeninho’ means very small.
“..even though more often or not it’s just myself and my cat Tabitha watching.”
During the match I’m just like the rest of you. I groan when we miss a shot on goal, I grimace if an opponent goes in particularly hard on one of our players, I sink back into the sofa, head in hands if the opposition scores, and I leap off the sofa pumping my fist in the air and shouting “Yes! Yes! Yes! Harry Kane! Yes! Yes! (it’s usually Harry Kane of late) if we score – that’s when Tabitha wakes up and gives me a look as if to say ‘what the f@%& do you think you’re doing’.
I may be a lone voice, probably the only Tottenham fan for hundreds of miles, I may have to thank Tim Berners-Lee for inventing the World Wide Web and giving me the means to communicate easily with my far-flung fellow Spurs supporters, but – believe it or not – there’s one distinct advantage to being the only Spurs fan within reasonable distance.
If we lose, I know I’m not going to cop a lot of flak the next day.
About the author:
When he’s not sweating because of the tropical heat in northeast Brazil or because of the unpredictability of his beloved Tottenham Hotspur’s performances, Greg can be found teaching English to Brazilians or working on his fledgling novelist career. His first novel ‘Virtual Messiah’ can be found as an e-book on Smashwords, Amazon, and iTunes, and his second novel, a sci-fi thriller ‘Body and Soul – Revelation’ is currently with literary agents.