My name is Adam Richman. I’m American by birth, and a quarter English by ancestry. I used to eat loads of food and ungodly spicy shit on camera for a living. Not any more. I used to be a gigantic mammal. Not any more.
What I have been ever since Gareth Bale scored his hat trick against Inter Milan, is a passionate supporter of Tottenham Hotspur football club.
So the question that I have gotten from everyone ranging from TV presenter Alan Titchmarsh, to Thierry Henry is – Why Spurs?
Why Spurs indeed
The best answer to that question is this:
As an American, we have not really had access to televised Premier League football matches regularly until about three or four years ago, five tops – but that really meant you had a very exclusive cable package, or were streaming a foreign network like Setanta.
In the states, we have in the past only heard about: Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, & Chelsea – maybe Newcastle a little bit.
As such most Americans tend to support one of the big four clubs. When I sort of rekindled my love affair with football, around World Cup 2010, I began following the clubs in different National Leagues not just the national teams.
I knew I wanted to support a team in the Premier League, but I did not know which. I DID know I did not want to be another sheep following the big four. I will fully admit to liking Manchester United quite a bit at that time however, but they were dominating the league and it seemed like being a front runner to choose them as my club. It didn’t seem like a real, honest emotional investment in a club, but rather just backing the horse most likely to win the race.
I asked my Twitter followers to recommend clubs to me. One bloke, posted “Tottenham Hotspur: 100 greatest goals.” I remembered my British camp counselors talking about this club, and in particular Jurgen Klinsmann – whose name had begun to be bandied about as our new national team coach, so naturally my ears perked up.
I loved the video, and began reading a little bit more about the club. The now maligned concept of being a “Yid” & “Yid Army,” and the ties to the Jewish community, really meant a great deal to me. Then, I read the famous Danny Blanchflower quote, and fell in love with the notion of “To dare is to do,” and the game truly being about glory.
I admit, I didn’t do a load of historical research into rivalries, and many past players at that time, but I have diligently worked to learn more about the history of this beautiful club. I know I have much more to learn.
I loved the passion of players like Van der Vaart, the fighting spirit of players like Defoe, the fact that we had an American keeper at the time in Brad Friedel, and clever playmakers like Modric. And of course, I began my rabid fandom of Gareth Bale as well.
I loved Harry (Redknapp)’s accent, “I can’t smile without you,” and the slow, powerful buildup of the faithful chanting “Oh, when the Spurs go marching in.” I loved that in the day and age of the new Middle Eastern funded stadium, we still played at White Hart Lane.
I loved that Tottenham have always been gritty and working class, like my hometown and current residence of Brooklyn, New York. I loved the look of confusion and bewilderment when Americans who would see me playing games at the park or training with my soccer coach would ask who I supported, and they truly did not know what team it was.
I loved the historical link to Henry “Hotspur” Percy who I once had the luxury of playing in the production of Henry IV. Loved learning about the glorious 60s, and the mighty Bill Nicholson. Lord knows along the way I have ruffled many feathers because I have said things that a traditional Spurs fan would not, and have expressed opinions that perhaps a native British Tottenham supporter never would, but that does not change that I am Spurs, (and I know I am!) and truly ‘Tottenham till I die’.
What Spurs Mean To Me
Random fact: people often ask me what the necklaces they see me wearing on television are. One is my star of David, one is a sentimental momento from my Mother from the time we were getting over and moving on from my Father’s passing, one is a Hamsa, a hand – meant to protect travellers. The other is a mighty cockerel atop football below which read the words, “Tottenham Hotspur.”
People may not like the way I express my fandom, people may laugh at my opinions, but my love of this club will never waiver, and I wear my love of it alongside the very faith I practice, and symbols of the family I love.
I have now supported this club under Harry, under AVB, under Tim Sherwood. I have travelled to see them in nearly every game they have played stateside, and spent thousands to see them at different grounds in London. Though I admit, my friend Clint Dempsey got me tickets to my first ever live match in England, which happened to be North London Derby… away!
I even had a promo photo session for food network UK shot right at White Hart Lane!
I know I have much to learn about the history of this club, and feel there is always more to learn about the beautiful game itself, but while my flag is red white and blue-I can look anyone in the eye, swear on a stack of Bibles, that my heart is Lilywhite, and that for every home game, my thoughts are in N17.
Setting the record straight
I have tried many times, on podcasts and through social media, but hopefully this will lay it to rest.
As I said earlier, when I declared Spurs as my team, I did not know all that much about the league, about its history, and yes, about the deep-seated rivalries within it. I knew about rivalries like Liverpool and Everton, and obviously between the two Manchester clubs. I knew about the animosity between Spurs and Arsenal, but to be fair, I did not know about the feud with West Ham.
As I also mentioned earlier, I did not want to support one of the big four clubs. Many friends and colleagues of mine as well as people I admire, support West Ham: my friend Nick Frost, my friend Mark Gevaux aka ‘The Ribman’, my sound guy and dear friend Eric, my mate who is my driver in the UK. Plus actors I admire like Ray Winstone, Danny Dyer, and Seth Myers. Even the tour manager for the Wu-Tang Clan!
Now the concept of “supporting” a club is something that many Americans really don’t get it. It’s not just that you cheer for that team or you wear their kit, it is tribal, it is religion, it is life, it is warfare, and it is sacrilege to cross those lines. As one comedian once told me, albeit a little late, “Americans need to learn that there is no AND in the response to, who do you support?”
That said, I thought as long as they were in different strata of the English league system you could support a team in each league: one in Premier, one in Championship, one in League one, Two and so on.
Obviously this is not the case.
So about FIVE YEARS AGO, when I really knew very little about the league, the rules of support, and the intense zeal of football fans someone asked me on Twitter who I supported.
I responded by saying: Spurs, Leeds (where are my great grandfather hails from), West Ham (because, as I said they were not in the Premier League anymore – and I did not know that their rivalry was on par of that with Arsenal), Barcelona-which is still true, and New York Red Bulls (a team I largely picked because we filmed the commercial for ‘Man vs Food Nation’ at their stadium, and I became friends with many of the people in the head office. I ended up having two friends play for the club shortly thereafter as well.
When it was explained to me that the rivalry with the Hammers was every bit as bitter as with the Gunners, needless to say I felt foolish and wrote several retractions on multiple platforms of social media. But many fans retained their bitterness and refused to see my perspective or be understanding of my inexperience at the time. And, to see some of the horribly anti-Semitic things said by many West Ham supporters, made me feel especially foolish and I communicated that as well. And to anyone that I may have offended with my now 5-year-old, uninformed, misguided tweet, I am truly sorry.
And for the most part, after that initial debacle, the rumours died down.
About two or three years ago, there was an unfortunate incident with some idiot, petty childish blogger: he was already upset that I had spoken to the wonderful podcast “The Fighting Cock,” before speaking with him, because he felt he had some exclusive interview with me which he was never promised. After speaking at the Oxford union, my publicist had set up two quick interviews in rapid succession before I had to hop in the car for a phone meeting with the president of the network I work for here in the United States. It was a conference call that had to be adhered to time-wise.
This guy sent someone on his behalf to record one of them. He felt he did not get a long enough interview with me and acted like an absolute baby. Absolutely threw his toys out of the pram. He sent many profanity laced messages to my publicist complaining about the length of the interview, (which, by the way was exactly the length he had been promised. He had been told about my pressing engagements directly afterwards), and then he took to social media making up out right lies about how my reps wanted to charge fans for interviews – which you know personally is absolutely, categorically untrue. I have never charged anyone for an interview ever, nor would I. In fact, I make it a point to follow pretty much every Spurs supporter or supporters group I can on social media. I believe that we are all family.
Shortly thereafter, in an act of petty vengeance, he dug up the tweet from, at that point nearly four years prior wherein I mentioned supporting five clubs, and among them, West Ham. He took a screenshot of it and began circulating it. People reacted to it without reading the date that it was published.
Someone even made mention of the fact that I once said I have a Sir Bobby Moore jersey, neglecting to mention that it is an England 1966 jersey.
Now despite the fact that I had only supported Spurs, only attended Spurs matches, have NEVER seen a West Ham game, nor been to their ground, he began circulating a screenshot of this ancient tweet saying that my support was false. Small minded idiots who did not check the date of the tweet, nor really pay attention to the unwavering nature of my support, believed him and the rumor began to circulate.
And sadly, when people don’t do research, the internet is a fertile breeding ground for rumours and hateful trolls.
Flash forward to Spurs playing Chelsea at Wembley in the cup final about a year ago. My mate who works for Spurs asked me to tweet using the hashtag #SpursAtWembley and to encourage my followers to do so as well it and effort to get the arch lit up white.
I wrote a tweet that said: “I can’t believe I get to see my beloved #SpursAtWembley”
At this point, I had no notion of attending the match nor had I a ticket, plane ticket or hotel. I swear this is the case on my Father’s grave. I was saying that after many years of struggle, I could not believe I got to see the team I supported in a cup final.
People lost their goddamn minds. No other way to put it. People began descending on me thinking I had taken away a loyal fan’s ticket or that the club had somehow bequeathed upon me loyalty points and a ticket I did not deserve. As a sidenote, I am a paid One Hotspur member and have been for years. Anyway, needless to say, the screenshot of the ancient tweet began making its rounds again
In all the years I have been an open supporter of Tottenham Hotspur, I have gotten some very nasty messages from supporters of Chelsea, Arsenal and so on, but nothing compared to the backlash I received from my so-called “fellow supporters.” Normally that stuff doesn’t bother me in the slightest, but because it came from people that fought under the same flag as I did, it was especially hard to read. People saying they wanted me to die, people saying awful things about my family. As you might say, bang out of order.
I cannot make this clear enough: I got my ticket through my connections at Wembley itself. They were the venue for all of the NFL games in the UK, which you may recall, I was a correspondent for, and a presenter during many of the games. There are great number of tickets that are assigned to media and I was lucky enough to get one for myself, and one for my friend, and football coach in the US – a London born spurs supporter since birth who hails from Archway. For crying out loud, Woody Harrelson and his brother were seated right behind us. I don’t think they had any loyalty points either! The section was designated for media people.
So I want to make this clear to you and to all of my fellow Spurs supporters: I would NEVER take away a ticket that was meant for a long time, deserving fan, and Spurs happen to be a fantastic club with fantastic leadership, and they would never GIVE me a ticket that was meant to go to one of their loyal, diehard supporters. Between my hotel, my flight, everything, I spent nearly $20,000 to make that trip happen. As for Leeds, well apart from that tweet and watching the “Damned United” movie, I haven’t supported them one iota.
And on the subject of Grimsby town, and my backing of them, especially during their fundraising campaign dubbed “operation promotion,” there is actually a funny story behind that.
While a board my flight home from the UK after my very first press junket promoting man versus food, I sat next to a guy from there, who mentioned them when I asked who he supported. He told me of this feisty little club in the Blue Square Premier league, and how they really had the whole town behind them.
How people still talked about where they were the day they beat Liverpool, and how most of the town work at the frozen seafood packing plant, how local businesses sunk every penny into the team, how the city was known for having the best fish and chips in all of England, even sharing with me the story of Italian striker Ivano Bonetti, and how he nearly reinvigorated the club, only to be unceremoniously alienated by having the manager breaking his nose with a plate of chicken wings! Because they, to me symbolize the great galvanizing spirit of the beautiful game, how it can unite people, how it can inspire people and how an entire town can throw their support behind a single club and idea.
I am Tottenham till I die, no matter what anyone wants to think. Hopefully now they know the truth and will not doubt me again. I hope…