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Tottenham’s golden bird will face east at new ground, as God intended


Tottenham Hotspur v Crystal Palace - Premier League Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

This is an article about a huge cockerel.

Specifically, a huge GOLDEN cockerel. The new one, in fact, that will proudly perch on top of the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium when it is finally finished and it opens its doors to the teeming football masses in north London. It’s not the original, or even the replica that was dented by an air gun wielding Paul Gascoigne in the 1980s — the former is safely ensconced in Lilywhite House and the latter is on display in the tunnel at Wembley.

It’s a new, bigger one, and apparently there’s been some debate about how it will stand and which way it will face.

The implication was that the bird would stand over the new south stand, facing north as it gazes over its North London domain. That’s also how the bird is displayed in the digital renderings of the stadium in the new version of FIFA 19 which was released a while back.

But apparently people had feelings about this. After all, there’s history to consider. A lot of it, by the looks of it.

Tottenham released a lengthy article today on their website that listed, in almost painful detail, the history of the various cardinal directions that various golden birds have faced over the history of the club. Bird facing north? That’s the 1958 bird. Bird facing south? That was the 1980s cockerel, which replaced the storm-damaged 1950s bird and was eventually repositioned to face north again after public outcry. But now the bird isn’t on the east or west stands, its above the south stand. So if you face the new bird north, then you don’t see its profile, you see it’s great golden beak, and that’s NOT how it was at White Hart Lane. You can almost see the hand-wringing of the long-time season ticket holders! What is one to do?!

The end result is that the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium cockerel will be placed above the south stand, but facing east instead of north — because if you look at Spurs’ crest, it looks to the left and has its left wing facing the viewer. Therefore, the cockerel is positioned so its left wing will always face the pitch. As God intended. And everyone in the stadium can see its glorious profile. (Except for those in the south stand who presumably can’t see much of the cockerel at all)

If I sound as though I’m having a bit of fun here at the club’s expense, I am a little. I mean, it’s a giant statue of a bird standing on a ball. This one single detail — which direction to point the cockerel — apparently prompted some poor Spurs media intern to crank out an 1000 word post on the history of which direction this bird has faced, and where it should face from here until the construction of the NEW New White Hart Lane. It is lovingly written, but seems so hilariously... trivial.

But really, it’s a bit unfair of me. Tottenham Hotspur has a long history, and that history is vitally important to the identity of the club, and to its fans. The positioning of the bird in the new FIFA game apparently prompted people to write letters and sparked intense discussion in various Spurs fan communities. I also understand that I’m just a dumb American with no real ties to the club or its history beyond adopting it as mine ten years ago. What do I know, right?

The cockerel positioning is a detail, but Spurs have put in great pains to get the details correct in various areas of the stadium that harken back to the past. Those details include the way the seats are positioned close to the pitch similar to the Lane, and the use of crushed bits of White Hart Lane in the aggregate that makes up the floors of the new concourses.

So I get it. I do. Now is the time to have these conversations, and it is undoubtedly a good thing that the club is listening intently to its supporters on details like this one. It’s fan service, and it’s astoundingly good fan service. The new bird position will even be fixed in a future FIFA update. Way to go Tottenham Hotspur.

But in the end, it still seems like really big kerfluffle over a sculpture of a giant golden chicken.