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Why You Should Visit 'The Home Of Football'

by Sara Ali 4 months ago in football

And if you're not a football fan already, why you need to convert ASAP.

Wembley Stadium, London, UK. Picture captured by author.

For a long time I have barely been interested in football. My father is a fan, but not of one club in particular, oh no, he supports whoever is currently winning the match that he is watching at that particular time.

A very strange way to go about being a fan of the sport I must say, and one I didn’t particularly (unsurprisingly) get into myself.

For me, I almost couldn’t help but become a Spurs (Tottenham Hotspurs FC) supporter, I’d resisted for over a year and then caved (and no, it wasn’t down to Kane’s blissful ways), here’s why.

In 2018, I began working at Wembley Stadium on a zero hours contract on event days. At the beginning it was nothing more than a bit of a name drop and a little extra income.

This was the season that Spurs had moved into Wembley for their home Premier League matches, due to the renovation of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, so we were seeing a lot of Spurs and their supporters.

There is something about Wembley Stadium that is just magical, I can never put my finger on it but every time I walk into that building to start a shift, there’s an atmosphere that is present that I have never experienced elsewhere.

I have worked in more than ten large venues, including both Stadiums and Arena’s, and there’s no similar feeling anywhere in the country. Of course, Wembley is “the home football”, but I didn’t care about football so why should I care about this?

But this feeling was irresistible, a sense of excitement, intrigue, history, pride, patriotism, class, community, the list goes on. It’s difficult to ignore and near impossible to not get sucked in.

And this is where, after a while, the conversion to becoming a Spurs supporter began. When our ball hits the back of their net, the noise, the togetherness, the positivity, excitement, pride, elation in the stadium as the crowd roar and sing and cheer is palpable.

To stand as an individual in the bowl watching 80,000+ people celebrate a goal, brings shivers down the spine, goosebumps to your arms and the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. You couldn’t help but smile and I realised a part of me wanted this.

I didn’t particularly care that Kane or Son, or whoever else, had scored or that a foul should’ve been given or a corner had been taken incredibly well. The feeling of being a part of something so tangible and huge — I wanted that.

By Md Mahdi on Unsplash

So, a Spurs supporter I became. I’ve followed them closely over the past three premier league seasons and have found communities of supporters online, I even asked for a Spurs shirt last Christmas.

Now, I care about who is put on the team, who was left out, how good the goal was. I got angry when the ref refused to award us a foul, I knocked my support up a gear when we played in London or North London Derby’s and I realised I had found at least some of my people. This was a group that I could identify as being a part of and be proud of that.

I’d see someone walking down the street or on the tube wearing a Spurs shirt and instantly know they’d probably have been frustrated at the same things I was, why the heck didn’t Mourinho play Alli for months?!

How embarrassing that it took us so long to find a replacement manager after Mourinho was sacked, are we really that bad?!

Pre-COVID, when the games had audiences, the feeling I got when I was working at a Spurs match was something else.

Knowing that you’re in a building with 70–80,000+ people that you have something in common with, it’s that sense of belonging that’s important. I can’t believe I had missed out on it for so long.

I have only been back working at Wembley Stadium for the last few weeks, working the early Euro games. That feeling is even better than you’d imagine, that place, Wembley Stadium, really has something about it, it’s magical.

Seeing Kane, Spurs’ main man, lead the fight for the cup tonight is incredible. But I sadly can’t work at the match tonight (a frustratingly timed positive COVID test made sure of that) and couldn’t for the semi-finals either, but will be watching from home.

No doubt longing that I could have been there, amongst all those other England fans, but I’ll have to accept the dreariness of my front room.

For everyone else watching tonight who isn’t typically a football fan, let yourself get sucked into the excitement, give in and enjoy it.

It has, quite impressively brought the country together, bringing back memories of the super summer of 2012. More than ever we’ve needed this and whether England win or lose tonight, I think we’ve all still benefitted.

For a few days at least, fractured communities have put issues to one side and en masse come together in their support for our National mens footie team.

But the overall lesson learnt here, is that a collective spirit, commonality and human connection is incredibly good for us and of course this isn’t going to continue, but if we can find elements of this in something else, then that is powerful.

For me, it’s Spurs and I’ll continue to engage with my new found online communities of fellow Spurs supporters, which will hopefully soon turn to in-person, and continue to benefit from the large scale group of people I now have.

Regardless of the outcome tonight, it’s going to be wild. Stay safe, be respectful and have fun. After the year and a half we’ve had, we all deserve this, in fact need this.

Hope and human connection is what the mens England squad have given us, now let’s see if they can make history in our very own home of football, Wembley Stadium.

Update post match: England lost to Italy, watch out for a story covering the aftermath soon!

If you have any comments or feedback, please feel free to respond here or message me on twitter.com/SaraAliUK

Article originally posted on Medium 11/07/2021

football

Sara Ali

Medical Student | Londoner | "Mixed Race" | Decoloniser | Pianist | Spurs fan |

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