First of all, how does it feel to have Spurs back Down Under for the second time in just over a year?
Mark: "Unbelievable. When Spurs came to Australia last year for the first time in over 30 years it was a dream come true. Now that they are coming back to play two games in Australia’s biggest stadium against teams of the calibre of Juventus and Atletico Madrid - it’s incredible. As a Spurs fan in Australia it would be impossible to ask for more."
Below: OzSpurs members in front of the iconic Sydney Opera House last year
Last year’s tour of Malaysia and Sydney was a huge success, what was the response from fans in Oz?
Mark: "There was a massive response. For four days we turned Sydney Lilywhite, there were Spurs shirts everywhere. The whole thing was amazing, with some incredible stand-out moments, including the huge welcome the fans gave the team at Sydney airport on their arrival, seeing Sydney Harbour Bridge light up with images of the team and the club badge, the OzSpurs gala night with Ossie Ardiles, and of course the game; seeing over 70,000 people turn out to watch Spurs play a friendly, in a stadium awash with white shirts. And then Harry Kane scored the winner, which was icing on the cake."
From a fan’s perspective, what did it do for the club in Australia?
Mark: "The whole event was well promoted and the game was shown live on one of the main free-to-air TV stations here - this alone introduced Spurs to a new audience. For the long-term Australian Spurs fans, interest and excitement was at a fever pitch from the moment the rumours surfaced that the team might be coming Down Under. People travelled from all over Australia, and some came from other countries in the Asia Pacific region to take part in the event and watch the game. Since the Sydney visit we’ve had our biggest ever turn-outs for OzSpurs gatherings to watch Spurs’ wonderful efforts in the last season."
Below: Mark joins over 70,000 fans at the ANZ Stadium for our AIA Cup match against Sydney FC last year
OzSpurs is such a well-established organisation. For those who don’t know, could you tell us about the club?
Mark: "OzSpurs was founded in 2001 by a few frustrated Spurs fans who missed the matchday atmosphere and decided to do all they could to recreate it from 10,000 miles away. Once we got a website up and running the word really got out. OzSpurs is the official supporters club for Tottenham Hotspur for the whole of Australia. It’s a big place, so we have local chapters in all of the main cities of Australia who will get together in the middle of the night to watch Spurs in action on the other side of the world. Last year we won the Football Fans Down Under award for the best supporters club - an award that saw us beat local A League supporters clubs as well as other overseas clubs. We have 1,700 paid up members and thousands more who follow us on social media. On the years that Spurs don’t visit Australia the centre piece of the OzSpurs calendar is the 'OzSpurs National’ - this is a long weekend when Spurs fans from all over the country descend on one city to meet up with friends, play some five-a-side, drink a few beers, and watch Spurs in action. The first National took place in 2004 and has been going ever since."
It was Sydney last year, now we go to Melbourne. What can you tell us about the city?
Mark: "Melbourne is renowned as the Sports capital of Australia. It is the home of Aussie Rules Football, two A League football teams, the Australian Open tennis, the Australian Grand Prix, and plenty more. At the heart of this is the Melbourne Cricket Ground (the MCG) which has a 100,000 seat capacity and is a great place to watch any game. By the way, July is mid-winter in Australia - Melbourne is in the colder southern end of the country - winter here certainly is a lot easier than in the UK, but it will be cold - plenty of opportunity to visit the bars and cafes of Melbourne which are up there with the best in the country."
What is the feeling from fans this time around? What are they looking forward to?
Mark: "After the amazing season that we all just witnessed in England where Spurs came so close the feeling is a bit different this time. Sydney was an end of season tour, it was fun and relaxed. Melbourne is a pre-season tour, and it is going to be a very important time to get the team right for the challenges of the season ahead. We’re looking forward to seeing the start of what we hope will be the most special of seasons."
Below: Mark at the ANZ Stadium last year - home of the 2000 Olympics - and our friendly against Sydney FC
We’re competing in the International Champions Cup and face Juventus and Atletico Madrid in July - what are your thoughts on those games?
Mark: "Those two teams are heavyweights of the world game and we're delighted to see Spurs up against teams of this calibre. It’s a great sign of the level that Spurs are now at that they can rub shoulders with such teams - plus it is great preparation for the Champions League. I’m confident that the MCG will be packed for both games, and it will be the Spurs fans who will be in the majority, making all the noise, and celebrating at the end of each game."
How excited are you about watching us play in the Champions League next season?
Mark: "Even more than you’d realise - on top of the thrill of watching us play in the top club competition in the world there is a huge extra benefit for us in Australia. For the last few years the Europa League games on Thursdays meant that so many of Spurs’ weekend Premier League games were Sunday games in the UK, which equates to kick-off times of around 2am on a Monday morning in Australia - a tough time to say the least!"
Talking about watching us, tell us about your normal match routine Down Under for, say, a 3pm kick-off on a Saturday...
Mark: "3pm Saturday is between 10pm and 12am Saturday night Australian time, depending on where you are in the country. Each OzSpurs chapter has a home pub where we gather to watch the game. Sydney is our biggest OzSpurs chapter and for the biggest games we’ll fill the pub with 200 to 300 Spurs fans. OzSpurs has been where lifelong friendships have started, and many groups of mates will meet up and start the night earlier for a pre-game beer or bite to eat. Most will be in the pub with at least an hour to spare - songs will be sung, stories exchanged and the odd drink will be drunk. Once the whistle goes all focus turns to the TV. It’s not the same as being at the Lane, but if you can’t be there, then in the pub with OzSpurs is definitely the next best place to be."
Below: Christian awards Mark and members of OzSpurs with their FFDU award last year
Finally, how do Spurs fans in Australia join Oz Spurs?
Mark: That's easy - you can join here: https://ozspurs.com/membership/ - our memberships are on sale July to May. Or you can get involved and join in on social media via our main page https://www.facebook.com/OzSpurs/ or join our group chat https://www.facebook.com/groups/ozspurs/
Spurs in Melbourne - the matches
We face Italian champions Juventus and Champions League finalists Atletico Madrid in the International Champions Cup in Melbourne. Juventus are first up at the famous MCG on July 26 followed by Atletico on July 29.
Tickets for both matches are available HERE...