Do not try this at home

I think, I'm the only person on the planet who is BOTH a Spurs fan AND a fan of their hated rivals in North London.
As Spurs fans, I'm sure you're all wondering what kind of moron picks teams that hate each other's guts? Well, I didn't actually plan it out this way, initially I thought I might be an Eighthpool fan or even a Wolves fan.

At first all I knew was that I didn't want to be another bandwagon United/City fan. To me that's like cheering for the lights to come on when you flip the switch: why not just be a United fan and Yankee fan and be done with it? Tempting, as I live in the Upper Midwest in the Twin Cities where our college football team is so bad that the only true Gopher fans are so old they are dying off. Hockey here is much bigger and sure as a kid I followed the North Stars and we even had an NASL soccer team called the Kicks. I have a vague recollection of going to old Metropolitan Stadium and seeing the Kicks win a huge home playoff game against the giants of the league at the time, the New York Cosmos, 9-2. This was a side with Pele, Georgio Chinaglia, Franz Beckenbauer and Rick Davis. Next thing I remember, our soccer team had morphed into a franchise that moved from Fort Lauderdale, the Strikers. Not long after that they moved indoors (the MISL) and played within the tight confines of the North Stars' hockey rink boards. Then even that folded and I pretty much forgot about soccer. Sure, we got an A-League team, the Thunder (now the Stars) that has produced some MLS talent but I pretty much lost touch with the game.

Flash forward to 2010/11 with the Vikings, Twins, Timberwolves and Wild all terrible, the local sports scene looked bleak and as I was casting around for something to keep me entertained I happened to read an article about Red Sox owner John Henry buying Liverpool FC. I already had an interest in British culture and in soccer so I started following the tail end of the 10/11 Premier League season on the BBC's site. It was just the text feed but with a full slate of games on early weekend mornings I still found it interesting.

It was a huge learning curve. Preston North End? I didn't even know where Wales was. Well, now I know all that. I know who the good teams are, who gets favored by the refs, how the transfer market works etc... At the time, I only knew to give myself a chance I would follow TWO teams, the plan was to watch as a neutral and figure out what teams grabbed me and had a reasonable chance for success.

Well, as you can probably guess by now I picked two London teams: Spurs and Arsenal. My Spur's interest is chiefly, no ENTIRELY, because of Gareth Bale. I had started to follow some podcasts and read everything I could about the EPL and I kept hearing good things about Bale so I went on youtube and watched some vids of him rocketing in free kicks at Southampton and embarassing Inter-Milan defenders. At the same time I was developing an interest in Arsenal. They seemed to be a pretty big team with a winning history that maybe could challenge the Manchester clubs and quite a bit of coverage so that I could follow them from across the pond.

Teams I thought I might initially be interested in, Liverpool (because I knew John Henry was investing a lot of money in players and had been good in the past) and Wolverhampton, (because ex-Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant had been a longtime fan) faded (I still like Mick McCarthy though) while my Arsenal fandom was fueled by reading a book called "Fever Pitch". Before I knew it, I was searching for a way to watch games. I found out with streams I had access to tons of games, but my first EPL match was on Fox after an NFL game, an AVB-coached Chelsea vs United.

I thought soccer would be boring but it wasn't. By the time the next season had rolled around I had a pretty good grasp of the game of "football". I understood the cups, the way the leagues worked and why teams like Blackpool and West Ham had been replaced by Swansea and Norwich. Finally I was watching actual games. Mostly Arsenal at first but then I started watching Tottenham to check out this Bale kid. Well right away I noticed what kind of teams I liked: entertaining, high scoring, technically proficient (and apparently poor defense). This was Arsenal and Tottenham. I started noticing how good Tottenham's other midfielders were. Brad Friedel? I vaguely remembered him being a US national keeper. He's on Spurs? And how could you not like Benny just cuz of his hair? And Harry was a character and had his team playing well... BAM! Just like that I was a Spurs fan. Then came the North London Derby and who was I supposed to root for? I tried to watch it from 30,000 feet as a neutral but I noticed I much preferred the atmosphere at White Hart Lane to the quiet, new Emirates. After that match it was smooth sailing for awhile, I thought it might just be possible to pull off this skitzoid/bipolar balancing act for the rest of the season until the race tightened up and I realized I had to root AGAINST one club to pull FOR the other! By the time the second North London Derby rolled around it was a hugely pivotal match. I must admit I was rooting for Arsenal but only because if the Gunners had lost I think Wenger would have lost his job.

This offseason I thought, I have to get off this roller coaster, but how? I thought Weezus might even leave and maybe I could jump ship. But I was honestly relieved when he re-signed with Spurs, so here I am again in my Bale jersey (I don't own an Arsenal one) roped in for another harrowing season. No matter which half of North London you support, I think we can all agree on one thing. Chelsea sucks! COYS

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