“Come on, you Spurs! Come on, you Spurs!

When I lived in England, the Tottenham Hotspurs, a London based football club, was doing very, very well.  It had done very, very well the year before too.  So Chas & Dave, a popular English duo, wrote a song, which became a massive hit.  The song is undeniably catchy, and it’s been stuck in my head for more than thirty years now:

During the song, you can hear the players in the back holler “oy, oy.” When I first heard this, I thought it was a funny coincidence that the Spurs used a Yiddish word like that. I was quickly disabused of this notion. There was nothing coincidental about that. The Spurs had such strong support from London Jews that it was called “the Jewish Club.” Back in the day, that was just a fact. The Brits, who were then known for a casual, rather than venomous, antisemitism, might make slighting remarks, but that was all.

Today, though, the team’s Jewish identity is something very dangerous for the team’s fans, despite the fact that there are no Jewish players and the vast majority of its fans aren’t Jewish:

For Tottenham Hotspur’s corps of traveling fans, Thursday’s soccer game in Italy against Internazionale Milano holds many dangers—and not just to their team. When Tottenham played Lyon in a Europa League game last month, 150 visiting fans were set upon by a group of neo-Nazis, with three Spurs supporters ending up in the hospital. It was the second time in recent months that the team’s fans have been attacked by a fascist mob in Europe—in November, several Spurs fans were injured when they traveled to Rome to see Tottenham take on Lazio. Their assailants screamed “Jews” before attacking them with knives and clubs.

Tottenham’s supporters are no strangers to anti-Semitism. The North London team has been known as the “Jewish club” since the beginning of the early 1900s, when it regularly attracted over 11,000 Yiddisher supporters to home games. In 1986, it was the first big team (and the last) to hire a British Jew, David Pleat, as a coach, and a Happy Yom Kippur message has made an annual appearance in the club’s official program since 1973.

The paragraphs above come from a Wall Street Journal article about the team and its Jewish identity. Although it’s short,it nevertheless manages to be a fascinating blend of history, antisemitism, and identity in a PC age. It is, therefore, well worth reading.

End of an era

I’ve been a soccer Mom for the last six years.  Every fall, without fail, soccer has dominated our lives.  I think that era is finally over, though.

Neither of my kids qualified for competitive teams this year, and both refuse to do rec.  He wants to concentrate on baseball and martial arts; she wants to concentrate on swimming.

I think they’re making wise decisions, but I have to say that I’ll miss soccer.  I made few lasting friends during those six seasons, but I always made good seasonal friends.  I enjoyed the games tremendously because every weekend I got to get together with fellow parents, and sit in the sun and watch beautiful, healthy children run like the wind.

Of course, since both kids played competitive soccer last year, the privilege of watching them play meant driving about 200 miles every weekend and that, I can assure you, I will not miss.  Clouds and silver linings, all mixed together, and dusted heavily with nostalgia.

Something not political

With swim season over (and that season overlapped heavily with baseball season), we’re now gearing up for soccer season.  For the next three weeks, one child or another will be in soccer camp — and that’s before the real season even gets started.  I’m already tired.

Coincidentally, I got contacted today by an “all soccer all the time site” — Live Soccer — Watch Live Free Football TV Online –which was looking for reciprocal links (and the preceding was that link, of course).  I may be a political blog, but I’m also a soccer mom, and may actually get the kids tuned into that site to look at real soccer players.  They’ve played for years, but as far as I know, they’ve never seen a pro game.

Watching the pros might jazz me up too because, for the first time, I approach the season with a certain amount of weariness, rather than my usual excitement.  I think it’s because we switched leagues.  I suspect that this league will be better for the children, but not as good for me.  I knew lots of parents in the old league and will have to start all over again here.  Also, to the extent I’ve already met some of these parents through school, we haven’t quite clicked.  (Long story there and, I’m thankful to say, it doesn’t reflect badly on me, personally.  It’s just a community dynamic.)

As you know, I’ll keep you posted.