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Zen and the art of team support

Spurs fan Mike Daligan has written a memoir and philosophical tome on what it means to have spent 50 years following Spurs

11 May, 2018 — By Dan Carrier

Mike Daligan: ‘A tiny proportion will see their club having any chance of winning a trophy – yet they turn up, week in, week out, rain or shine, just to watch’

AS the end of the football season approaches, Spurs and Arsenal fans are looking back at a term that both will remember for different reasons.

For Arsenal, it is the last time they will see an Arsene Wenger side play, and will be grumbling about a season that saw them miss out on Champions League football again.

For Spurs fans, it has been the usual rollercoaster ride. One section of the Spurs fanbase will be horribly disappointed – Mauricio Pochettino’s players have turned over both the teams contesting the Champions League final, and will feel they should also have won the FA Cup. Others will point out that this side is the most exciting we have seen since the 1980s and under the financial restraints the club operates under, they have massively over performed.

Now Spurs fan and author Mike Daligan has written a memoir and philosophical tome on what it means to have spent 50 years following Spurs: he says his book isn’t so much about football, but what it means to follow a club through some thick times and plenty of thin ones, and how this affects other parts of your outlook on life.

He points out that football supporters do not just want to win – it is much more than that (and something every Spurs fan can identify with, considering their recent lack of silverware).

He writes: “It is all tied up with tribalism, banter, expectation, movement, speed, skill and euphoria or disappointment, depending on the result.”

He states that supporting a “top team” isn’t too difficult – but asks us to consider the rationale behind the 16 million people who go each week to watch lower league sides.

“A tiny proportion will see their club having any chance of winning a trophy,” he says. “Yet they turn up, week in, week out, rain or shine just to watch. It cannot just be about ultimate prizes, it must be about something else. So what is it? Well, it is about football, but, I would argue, it is much else beside the game itself. It’s a combination of occasion, identification, and communality, along with an appreciation of the artistry and skill involved. That shared emotional commitment is at the heart of support for any football team.”

And with that in mind, perhaps Spurs and Arsenal fans can look back at this season and think it’s not been so bad – and get recharged for the same trophy-less enjoyment again next term.

Why Don’t You Just Support Arsenal? By Mike Daligan, Edale Press, £8.99.

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