The Tottenham Experience and the Cathedral of Football

By Tony Attwood

As I occasionally have reason to mention, my day job is running an advertising agency, working on the creative side of things.

And sometimes when we are looking at the work of our competitors, or pitching for a new account, I look in admiration at what others have done, knowing that we probably would not have come up with something quite as original.

Fortunately however we do occasionally manage to come up with neat ideas (which is what pays the bill).

Now, we don’t have any football clients, but I was able to come up with the idea in July 2010 of putting statues in the area around Arsenal’s new stadium, as part of the Arsenalisation project.  I pitched the idea to Arsenal’s CEO Ivan Gazidis at a meeting three members of Arsenal Independent Supporters Assn (AISA) had with him – and then presented a paper on the subject to the club.

And as we know, the project was accepted.

I was rather pleased with that, and perhaps as a result I’ve been rather hesitant about coming up with another such plan.  After all at the moment I’ve got a 100% record on Arsenalisation plans.

But one new project has come to mind and the Arsenal History Society (the part of AISA that I oversee) is about to try and start the ball rolling again.  I don’t want to pre-empt the news, because we are going to put it to Mr Gazidis and the directors, but I’m hopeful they might like the plan.  Not at once of course, but in due course…

Anyway, all of this made me think of the way the Emirates Stadium has developed, and about our recent discussions about Tottenham sharing the Emirates while their new stadium is built, and indeed about the way that Tottenham and Chelsea are promoting their new grounds.

What links all these various rambling thoughts together is that sometimes when I see advertising slogans and the like I cringe and think, “thank goodness my agency is not going to be associated with that one”.

This thought came to me when I read about Chelsea’s new ground being a “Cathedral of Football” alongside reading about Tottenham’s ground being a monument to the “Tottenham Experience”.

To me, the Cathedral of Football comment is perhaps not the wisest thing to call the ground – although it did get a huge amount of coverage in the press.  We’ll see in due course as more details are revealed, but for the moment, to return to Tottenham….

It was Blacksheep who brought the Tottenham Experience to my attention in a comment on a previous post which quoted,

“an architecturally stunning new terrace on the High Road to host ‘The Tottenham Experience’ – a permanent Visitors Centre and Arrivals Hub including an interactive Museum to celebrate Club history and local heritage.”

As Blacksheep point out, it got him thinking, what exactly IS the ‘The Tottenham Experience’?  I’ll let Blacksheep take up the story…

“If you are a person of a certain age then you may not be able to remember a time when ‘the famous Tottenham Hotspur’ were top dogs in London but that time did exist. The Spurs last lifted the top table trophy (then the Division One championship) in 1961. This was their second title win a mere 10 years after their first (NB Spurs seem to like years that end in 1).

“They did more than win the league in ’61 they completed the ‘double’, adding the FA Cup to their trophy cabinet. However, despite having one of the most exciting line-ups in history that side could only add another FA cup the following year, no more league championships for the Lillywhites army of proud supporters to celebrate since.

“They have won the FA cups lots of times (8) and even once as a non-league club. They’ve added 3 European trophies too and the league cup (as recently as 2008)

“So the first thing to note is that THFC are a CUP side, they don’t win the league much.   If you are a Spurs fan your experience is probably one of general disappointment interspersed with occasional moments of joy.

“In North London Tottenham have had to compete with their much more successful neighbours – The Arsenal. In fact you could say the shadow of the Gunners has draped itself over White Hart Lane for many many years.

“Tottenham haven’t finished above Arsenal in the league for 20 years, so for most of Spurs’ younger fans their experience is of being the second side in North London. I wonder how the ‘The Tottenham Experience’ will demonstrate this?”

Of course Tottenham have a unique atmosphere and history, just as Arsenal do, just as most clubs do.  But I rather think the phrase the Tottenham Experience is, like the Cathedral of Football, going to be a hostage to fortune.

I reported a while back on the Telegraph running a story about how Tottenham will shortly overtake Arsenal.  Interestingly a few days after the criticism of the story poured down (not least in Untold), two things happened.  One was that the Telegraph told me that I couldn’t access any more of their stories on line (although that might have been a coincidence of course – they do charge if you read them a lot), and the other was that they published a reverse article, on how “Spurs will never catch Arsenal, regardless of how big their stadium is.”

It pointed out that Arsenal have the advantage of having their stadium up and running, while “Spurs haven’t even built theirs yet,” and that “Arsenal actually have much more silverware in the trophy cabinet.  Back-to-back FA Cups in the last two years have added weight to that supremacy – it would take years for Spurs to make up the difference.”

Some of the article actually got a bit catty saying things like, “While Arsenal spend all their time worrying about trifling tournaments like the Champions League, Tottenham have their eyes on the real prize – the League Cup,” which as they point out, is “a trophy Arsenal haven’t won since 1993.”

Indeed some of the eulogising about Arsenal seemed quite disconnected from the normal Telegraph writing that we know and hate.  As in, “Arsenal have a squad chock-full of incredible talent. The likes of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey would worry any opposition.  While their neighbours are focussing on youth, and do have an array of exciting youngsters, they’re not on the same level.”

It all got a bit silly after that, but at the end there was this point… “This may be a controversial point to some – particularly those firmly rooted in the #WengerOut camp – but no rational, sane-minded football fan can deny the quality of the man at the helm at Arsenal FC.

“He may not have been able to beat Spurs under Poch last season, he may never have beaten Chelsea under Jose Mourinho, but he’s consistently delivered the goods for his club under a variety of trying circumstances.

“In times of plenty he won the double, in times of hardship he brought regular Champions League football, and now he has money to spend again he’s set about building a team that’s genuinely capable of challenging for top honours.”

Arsenal will of course eventually slip back, although hopefully not as far as Chelsea, Man C, Man U etc did with sojourns into the second division, but I’m hoping for a bit more success to come before that happens.

But imagine having a difficult season while journalists and visiting fans are pitching jokes about the Cathedral or the Experience.   Having a bad season is hard enough to take, but to endure it while the opposition taunt you with indelicate commentaries about cracked Cathedrals, getting down to pray and Experiences in toilets, would be too much – especially if it was a really rough season and you got to hear the same commentary at each and every match.

Fortunately the new concept that I’ve proposed to AISA and which is, as I say, to be put to the club shortly, when we publish our annual review of Arsenal’s history, has no room in it for taunting and comments from visiting supporters.

If you are a member of AISA you’ll get your annual history report in a few weeks time – I signed off the final proof over the weekend – and if you are not a member, you can always join. does the trick.  I will of course be talking about the new proposal in detail once it is made public.

Last point, whenever I mention Tottenham there is one Tottenham fan who writes in and says, “you’re obsessed with Tottenham”.  I think I just see Tottenham as the part of London where I used to live and as our local rivals, but anyway, can we take it, just for once, that we’ve had that comment, and saying it each time is a bit, sort of, repetitive.


Anniversary of the day

21 July 1987: Alan Smith’s first appearance for Arsenal, in the Barrie Vassallo Testimonial.  He had transferred from Leicester City where he had played alongside Gary Lineker, but was immediately loaned back to the club until the summer of 1987.

33 Replies to “The Tottenham Experience and the Cathedral of Football”

  1. Not sure a local/football museum will live long enough in the minds of pundits or fans to much bother anyone about the detail of its name. The ‘cathedral’ label at Chelsea my last for a while though, and would be well used for puns about ‘praying’ for results.

  2. Can you stop obsessing about Tottenham ?

    Just kidding of course, excellent article and I couldn’t agree more, both names are utterly silly.

  3. Tony – with respect, I think you’ve missed the point. In more ways than one.

    The “Tottenham Experience” isn’t a description of the stadium or even the stadium project as a whole – as even you acknowledge. It will be a museum. And it won’t even be a museum solely dedicated to Tottenham Hotspur, past and present. It will be a museum dedicated to the area of Tottenham, past and present, of which Tottenham Hotspur is merely an integral part. In which respect, the “Tottenham Experience” seems to be as good a name as any and hardly the kind of embarrassing own goal that you seem to think it is.

    As to the Telegraph, it surely couldn’t have been more obvious that that original article was a piss take – poking fun at least as much at the kind of delusional Spurs fans who would believe such nonsense as it did the kind of gullible Arsenal fans who blew a gasket over it? Likewise, the follow-up article.

    But good luck with your new proposal nevertheless.

  4. As a Spurs fan I can say “The Tottenham Experience” is indeed cringeworthy but is it worthy of an article?
    Its just your standard marketting talk that all clubs use these days.

    If you are struggling for topics here are a few off the top of my head to help you out

    1. How is Raheem Sterling worth nearly 50 million?
    2. Why have you got such poor teams at the Emirates cup this year?
    4. Are you ever going to win the league again?
    5. What happens when Wenger leaves?
    6. Whats the airspeed velocity of a swallow?

  5. The ” Cathedral of football” Is particularly silly because that name is usually bestowed on a stadium after years of memorable trophy winning matches and not a brand spanking new stadium.

    Original Wembley was one, Maracana was another and even Barca and Real fans refer to their stadiums in such terms, but good luck to Chelsea if indeed this is the name they are going with, although it’s not a name one would associate with “parking the bus” style of play 🙂

  6. Thanks Tony for pointing us to the Tottenham Experience and JimB for expanding that this will not just be football but also the local area.

    I can hear the voice over saying “We can’t always promise you a warm glow as you leave the match but on special occasions you only have to go yards down the High Road to encounter” and the huge video screen fills with Carpetright store burning and then pans across to the Post Office similarly ablaze. A wider lens shows mobs of people frequently masked throwing bricks and a few petrol bombs together with widespread breaking into local stores and with rampant looting.

    Why, a number of those stores can still be seen today in their forlorn state and their unfortunate store keepers would welcome the opportunity to ask why they have had little or no compensation for their loss of livelihood.

    Particularly for visiting fans and even those from elsewhere in London this will give them memories to treasure.

  7. From Merriam-Webster:

    Synonyms hall, palace, tower
    Related Words construction, erection, structure; castle, château, countryseat, estate, hacienda, manor, manor house, mansion, showplace, villa; mausoleum, memorial, monument

    How about we change Cathedral of Football to the Footy Hacienda? The Association Football Mausoleum?

  8. once again a good article to read but I do agree with JimB that we get too involved with putting Tottenham down. A lot of my best mates support Tottenham and they are great lads that I wish supported Arsenal. Like us they have a fantastic following. My serious view is good luck to them and rightly so they should be as proud of their history as we are of ours. We are the better team and always will be.

  9. The Tottenham Experience makes me think of a light bulb joke, or two.

    Q: How many Californians does it take to screw in a lightbulb ?
    A: Six. One to screw it in, one for support, and four to share the experience.

    Q: How many Oregonians does it take to screw in a light bulb?
    A: Six. One to screw in the lightbulb and five to fend off all those Californians trying to share the experience.

    Q: How many Tottenhamians does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
    A: Six. One to take the light bulb away from the West Hammian saying it is his light bulb, one to screw in the light bulb, and 4 to keep the Leyton Orientians away wanting to share the experience.

  10. I wonder if they will include their Emerald anniversary of 55 years of failing to win the league in the ‘experience’? My spud clock is ticking towards 20,000 days 🙂

  11. I’m actually a bit worried about our near neighbours. I know there’s still plenty of time for this to change but so far they haven’t bought a dozen players claiming each and every one of them will become a spuddie legend and world beater. So far they have got rid of a few of the previous ones that were going to become a …etc etc… but only one reasonable signing so far. Could this mean that they won’t have the usual problem of fitting 2 teams together and mucking their season up. Really, a bit of consistency and they could actually achieve something for a change…. Lets hope they’re just warming up for the next 7 buys!

  12. A Cathedral is (of course) a religious building, so that does make some sense in respect of Chavski in as much as there have been many acts of violence carried out in the name of a religion and most people get very bored by the actual proceedings in the building.

  13. Levy is a genius – actually you may have missed the earlier piece we did analysing the transfer buys and sells of clubs in the Premier League and Levy’s results in that analysis truly are extraordinary.

    But I think the main question has to be, what happened to point 3.

    With a subnote to the effect that actually I was wanting to give a little teaser about the new project AISA has dreamed up for the area around the ground.

  14. Levy is a g….. Levy is a ….. Levy is a gen….
    Sorry my keyboard won’t allow those letters be typed in that order.
    The comment from 2:44 – the answers to your questions:
    1. He’s not worth the money.
    2. 3 decent teams and a brilliant team? Ok by me.
    3. Next season.
    4. Somebody will continue to build on the foundations he’s laid. It’s called ‘the Arsenal way’
    5. Pretty jolly fast, but not as fast as Theo or Hector.

  15. Tony,

    instead of concentrating on the name of the museum located near the main entrance of the new proposed Spurs stadium, why don’t you instead concentrate on how good the new Spurs stadium looks like it will be in comparison to the Emirates? Stands far closer to the pitch, single tier ‘kop’ style stand, sliding grass pitch to reveal artificial surface for NFL, concerts, skywalk over the stadium, supporter zone with 5 story atrium, etc, etc.

    The great thing about the new Spurs stadium is that THFC and Populus have been able to look at The Emirates as a baseline and then make substantial additional improvements.

  16. Tony, point 3 was ‘when will Tottenham next win the league’ but given the difficulty of answering such an impossible query I suspect our very welcome visitor from ‘the lane’ has probably been sidetracked by trying to solve the similar conundrums such as ‘is their life on Mars’ and ‘what came first, the chicken or the egg?’

    actually, which came first – the chicken or the basketball?

    as to question 6 do you mean the African or the European swallow? and unladen I presume 🙂

  17. Levy is a genius July 21, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    1. How is Raheem Sterling worth nearly 50 million?
    a: The buyer pays the price that they deem the player is worth to them.
    2. Why have you got such poor teams at the Emirates cup this year?
    a: There are not poorer than Tottenham ColdSpurs
    4. Are you ever going to win the league again?
    a: This coming season.
    5. What happens when Wenger leaves?
    a: He ain’t leaving any time soon.
    6. Whats the airspeed velocity of a swallow?
    a: Who cares?

  18. Levy is a…….

    1) It includes his stash of hippy crack.

    2) The ‘big boys’ didn’t want to be embarrassed by a good old fashion spanking.

    3) A Spurs fan asking if WE will ever win the League again, and without a hint of irony. Now that is funny.

    4) We throw a joint ‘Wenger’s leaving/New Millennium’ party.

    5) Depends how experienced she is.

  19. Cathedral of Football?
    Well, it’s a step-up from, ‘Stamford Bridge is falling down’ I suppose.

    But wait, cathedral you say?

    From the Latin cathedra meaning ‘an easy chair (principally used by ladies)’
    (I kid you not – Look it up!

    So, that description, easy chair, principally used by ladies, sounds to me like a toilet.

    We already have Old Toilet oop norf, is this to be the New Toilet?

  20. Could I suggest that the experience include a roller coaster ride or a not so merry go around within a horror house and bad memories ?
    Just imagine trying to keep your lunch in ,as you watch
    a) Ray Kennedy score that winning goal at WHL in 1971.
    b)Arsenal completing the unbeaten season at WHL in 2004.
    c)Arsenal winning the double in 1971 , 1998 and 2002 .
    d)Arsene Wenger smiling .
    e)Arsenal fans cheering their team and appearing content.
    f) Arsenal’s spanking stadium that they don’t ever want to share .

    I’m quite sure you Spuds fans can think of and add to this list –
    maybe Gazza’s lunge at the 1991 FA cup final or
    all those ‘great’ buys of yours who failed to deliver?
    The ( mis)managerial carousel of shame ?
    Go on give it a try – it might just be carthartic !

  21. While I fully accept that Spurs are our nearest rivals and therefore entitled to receive a certain amount of ribald banter, I feel that the tribal hatred which has developed since the end of WW2, has gone too far. On both sides.
    At the end of the day, the rivalry is more properly displayed in a sporting context on a football field and there it should end.
    I’ve always held the view that if either club folded through some terrible catastrophe, it wouldn’t be long before true lovers of football would support the surviving club.

  22. Levy , would rather not think about point 5, but fortunately I don’t think it will now be an issue for quite a while as long as Mr Wengers health holds up.
    Guess it is hard to think of names for such things, neither are great, but think the Tottenham experience in the right context sounds better than the Cathedral of football thing. The Tottenham experience is different things to different people, a proud history to some, general interest to others, but my own last Tottenham experience involved a barrage of phlegm / saliva and god knows what else aimed at our group by ,what must be said was a small group in a minority of Spurs supporters on the day. But as pointed out, both terms leave themselves open to serious mocking.

  23. LMAO some cracking responses, especially to ‘Levy is a Gooner’ (did I read that wrong?) 😉

  24. Blasphemy nicky, but then again I live in Australia and could afford not having to support a different local PL side if Arsenal folded.

  25. @Kenneth Widmerpool
    July 21, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    hahahahahahahaha taken the HEN to a new level 🙂

  26. Can you really see what is in a man’s heart ?
    From a heart surgeon’ diary : Anxious patients and their dear ones always ask me a lot of odd questions . But today the wife of one of my bypass patients made me speechless . She asked me , ” Doctor , did you find any other woman in his heart ?”

  27. Should children witness childbirth? A very good question indeed.

    Due to a power outage, only one paramedic responded to the call. The house was very dark so the paramedic asked Kathleen, a 3-yr old girl to hold a flashlight high over her mommy so he could see while he helped deliver the baby…

    Very diligently, Kathleen did as she was asked. Heidi pushed and pushed and after a little while, Connor was born.

    The paramedic lifted him by his little feet and spanked him on his bottom. Connor began to cry.

    The paramedic then thanked Kathleen for her help and asked the wide-eyed 3-yr old what she thought about what she had just witnessed.

    Kathleen quickly responded, ‘He shouldn’t have crawled in there in the first place…..smack his ass again!’

  28. More noise about that Nigerian from Ghana Web. They are quoting highly expert research done by MailSport (which I believe is the Daily Mail), supposedly showing there is a business case in a cost-benefit analysis for him to buy the team. There is no benefit to Arsenal for him to buy the team. Go buy Leeds or something.

  29. Gord, sure you are talking about Dangote.

    He should buy my childhood team 3SC of Ibadan first. We don’t need Sugar daddies (works literally too) at Arsenal.

  30. I was trying to be sarcotic about the quality of the research.

    Yes, it is Dangote.

    I see no benefit to Arsenal for him to buy us.
    I see no benefit to the EPL for him to buy us.
    I see no benefit to UEFA for him to buy us.

    Now how does this cost benefit analysis work? 🙂

  31. Tony,
    I am disappointed the Sp*ds Museum is not dedicated to a Saint, like St Totteringham.
    Part of the museum should deal with culinary tradition, lasagna to be more specific.

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