The reason Tottenham are our bitter rivals is not because the grounds are so close

Somehow you would expect Manchester United to be rivals of Manchester City (even if most Manchester IOU fans are based in Cornwall and Surrey.)  You’d expect Liverpool and Everton fans to be rivals, since Liverpool split from Everton and tried to take over Everton’s fixture list when they did so.  Besides both sets of supporters seem to have a continuous need to say “Kalm down” every third seconds.

And on that basis you might say it is obvious that Tottenham H and Arsenal are rivals, since the grounds are just about 2.5 miles apart.

But it is not really like that.  The rivalry between Tottenham and Arsenal goes back to the days when Arsenal played in Kent, and Tottenham were well and truly the pride of Middlesex.

Either out of decency to the neighbours, or perhaps because no one could be bothered to look up the details, Arsenal has never been that forthcoming about the Arsenal/Tottenham situation.   Which is a bit of a shame, because Tottenham has never been so reticent.

If there’s a game between the two clubs then the old line about Arsenal having stolen Tottenham’s place in the first division in 1919 is wheeled out.  Indeed it is said so many times that people all around football have come to believe it is true.  And that, my dear Arsenal, is what you get for being too much of a gent.

It wasn’t always thus. If you are a regular reader of this site you will know that in the 1930s Arsenal’s programmes rubbed Tottenham’s noses in it.  Highbury, the programme proclaimed, was the most accessible ground in London.  And Arsenal were London’s oldest professional team.

Being proud of our history is important, and it is what this site celebrates.  Over the last couple of years we have gathered together a few articles which clarify the mutual history of Tottenham H and Arsenal, and below are the links.

I hope you find it helpful.  And of course, if you have an article about the history of Arsenal covering any point from the earliest days at Woolwich please do send it in.

And to Tottenham fans – I am sorry, this is an Arsenal site so we don’t publish histories of Tottenham H.  But I would like to say thank you to every Tottenham fan who to this day keeps the memory of Arsenal’s origins alive by calling us Woolwich Arsenal.   Arsenal fans should be proud of those humble origins as a club linked so closely to the survival of our country and empire.  Yes we were a small town team in Kent.   And as Tottenham H this season celebrate the 50th anniversary of their last championship, we might think that if they had started out in the sticks, and had had to fight their way through collapse and chaos, maybe they’d have a successful club too.

Here’s a list of the articles we have prepared so far on this site.   There’s more to come as we will of course want to celebrate the 50th anniversary, comparing and contrasting what Tottenham H have won in the last 50 years with what their dreaded rivals Woolwich Arsenal has won.  That will appear shortly.

Meanwhile why not choose one of these…

How come they ended up as such bitter rivals?

Tottenham Hotspur: the dark history.  In 1892 Arsenal attempted to start a new Southern League, and Tottenham applied.  But when the votes for members were cast they got none (other than the one they cast for themselves.  Why?   A look at Tottenham until 1919.

How Tottenham has taken over Arsenal’s history How Woolwich Arsenal and Tottenham H became rivals

Arsenal’s fixed promotion. The story of 1919 told by Tottenham H that  Arsenal bought their way into the first division – but it is a story designed to hide the corruption of others, corruption that the League really didn’t want exposed.  Parts of this story are told in the top two articles above, but this is the complete detailed report.

Tottenham and Arsenal, the inter war years

How Tottenham grew to hate Arsenal – the 50s to the 80s

From the 80s to the present day

12 Replies to “The reason Tottenham are our bitter rivals is not because the grounds are so close”

  1. There is far too much hatred in Club rivalry today. I have supported Arsenal since the early 1930’s, much longer than most fans today. I’m not ashamed to admit that should Arsenal fold as a Club (God forbid) I would begin to support Spurs rather than Chelsea as my favourite team.

  2. What u cannot be serious, i would rather eat cat shit than support spurs! I hate them not because of boundaries, counties or whether they are 2.5 miles up the road. I hate them because they are Spurs Fans, they talk through their noses, cos they have worn their mouths out and most of all just being in a room with one makes my skin crawl.

  3. On the weekend of July 22 to 25, the New York Football Challenge was held at the new home of the New York Red Bulls, Red Bull Arena. The teams invited were Spurs, Manchester City and Portugal’s Sporting Lisbon. Thierry Henry scored against Spurs, as you might guess. But when the Red Bulls pulled Henry, goalie Bouna Condoul and the rest of their starters, Spurs won — they couldn’t beat MLS starters. In the meantime, their fans were absolutely disgusting.

    On September 11, the Red Bulls played the Colorado Rapids, and 450 Arsenal fans came to honor Henry. It wasn’t just a celebration of the man and his former team, it was a cleansing of the stadium. It took 450 Gooners to cleanse the place from the effluvia of 2,000 Spuds. Oh yeah, Henry scored again, and was on the winning side this time. There are Spurs fans around here, but they’re no smarter nor less disgusting than the ones in London. We held high the flag for the originals of Woolwich/Islington, and WE HATE TOTTENHAM!

  4. Could you please….

    Sorry this post has been edited out as it doesn’t seem to come from a valid email address. To the poster – if your email address is valid please do post again and we’ll try again.

  5. Strange thing is, Tottenham fans seem to carry a tremendous amount of hatred for us, while most Gunners fans I know feel more of a rivalry between us and Man IOU or Liverpool, for example. Many of the Gunners fans I know couldn’t really be bothered with Tottenham… Including myself. They behave like petty, spiteful little children…

  6. You gooner fans are all the same……..

    This email was cut because it contains a level of abuse and defamation which if published could have resulted in legal action against the site. It is indeed a common practice these days among supporters of some clubs to send in libellous commentaries knowing that if the site publishes them the site will be open to prosecution. Not a very clever thing to do, and one that reflects (in my opinion) more on the originator of the post more than on this blog.

  7. Woolwich or not, ARSENAL forever. There is no other football club I would support.

  8. What a load of tosh. It`s because of your pikey squatting tendencies and the immoral way into which you entered the league, bakanders. Only one righteous North London club, any other club there are just SQUATTING. COYS!

  9. @EngNor

    I suggest that you take a good look at Tottenham’s real history. There was nothing immoral with the way that Woolwich Arsenal entered the Football League. They were invited to join by the Football League committee. However, Tottenham had to pay Stoke to drop out of the Football League in 1908 in the hope that they could take their place as they had already been rejected and the Southern League didn’t want them back. Immoral and friendless.

    It’s also a fact that Arsenal were in North London 50 years before Tottenham.

  10. EngNor,

    Arsenal entered the league in 1893, and were the first London club to do so – please tell us how that was immoral.

    PS. FYI bakanders is spelt backhanders.

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