Tour 2016 - OzSpurs stories
23 July 2016|Tottenham Hotspur
The squad will soon touch down in Melbourne as we return to Australia for our 2016 tour. To mark our second trip Down Under in as many years, we've spoken to members of our official Australian Supporters Club, OzSpurs. We've told some fascinating stories - a fan who missed last year's tour after falling seriously ill, a sports broadcaster who commentated on the 2014 World Cup and now our final installment, a policeman from a remote Aussie town who donated part of his liver to his son.
First of all, tell us about your support of Spurs, as we always ask - why Spurs?
Chris: "I grew up in a town in New Zealand called Mt. Maunganui. Mt. Maunganui had a large English population at the time and football (or soccer as I knew it then) was very popular, so I grew up playing it. Everyone in New Zealand at the time was either a Liverpool or Man United, or even Arsenal, supporter. By the time I was nine I still hadn’t made my mind up as to which team to support. The one time each year that I was allowed to stay up late when I was little was to watch the FA Cup. In 1981, I watched watch Spurs beat Man City and saw ‘that goal’. From then on I was hooked. To me Spurs was about playing free-flowing, exciting football and that is what attracted me to supporting them."
You've been to White Hart Lane - tell us about your first visit and how it felt to see the team live having watched us from so far away...
Chris: "On my first visit to White Hart Lane, back in 2007, I arrived wanting to take a tour only, as it was summer. I didn’t know at the time that you had to book the tour, so I was gutted. The gentleman who I spoke to at the gate told me that there were no tours on that day anyhow as it was booked for a wedding. I explained to him that I had come all the way from Australia and he gave me a short unofficial tour, which was just fantastic. My wife and I had always planned to return, especially after she was reunited with her birth father, whose family lives on the south coast of England. We returned with our son, Lachlan, in 2013 and this time I made sure we visited during football season. For me to be at the Lane on game day was absolutely amazing. It is actually very hard to describe. I never thought that I would actually get to see Spurs play in London and to be there was a dream come true. I attended two games on that visit, the last two home games of the season in which we played Southampton and Sunderland respectively. We won both games with Gareth Bale scoring in both games, one of them being his last in a Spurs shirt. The atmosphere for the last game of the season was amazing as we needed a win to have any chance of finishing ahead of Arsenal."
Below: Chris with Lachlan
That visit had even more special meaning as you travelled with your son Lachlan, who had a liver transplant in 2012 - and you donated part of your liver. How is Lachlan getting on?
Chris: "Lachlan is getting on just great. He had his transplant when he was 16 months old and he is now five. He started school this year and he loves it. He has had a few hiccups, but nothing major. Actually, he is due to go into the hospital for a procedure this week. It’s the first visit back to the hospital for about three years. All going well, he will get the okay from the doctors as he is looking forward to going to Melbourne next week. Prior to the transplant my wife contacted the club and I received a letter back from Harry Redknapp wishing Lachlan and I all the best for the surgery. Just before we came over in 2013 I contacted Harry at QPR to thank him for the letter and let him know how Lachlan was getting on and that we were coming to England. Harry invited Lachlan, my wife and I to a QPR training session. At the training session we got to meet Harry, Kevin Bond, Joe Jordan and some of the players (including Andros Townsend). We were also featured in the Spurs programme for the Sunderland game, thanks to Marc Allen from North Brisbane OzSpurs, who advised the club of our visit. Lachlan is an absolute trooper (or battler as they would say down here), he doesn’t flinch when he has his blood tests done and he hardly complains when he goes to hospital
(unless he is fasting, then he gets 'hangry'). Although he more than likely won’t be able to play football, he loves Spurs and sitting with me on the couch watching them play."
Tell us about your personal story - a police officer in charge at Peranga, which you describe as 'a little remote' - but it must be a fascinating day to day life in your line of work?
Chris: "I’ve been in ‘the job’ for 18 years now. Six years with the New Zealand Police and then 12 with the Queensland Police. Most of that time was spent working in larger cities and very busy stations. Late last year my wife, Nelia, and I decided that I would apply for rural posts as it is something that I have always wanted to do. Being posted to a small town in rural Queensland is one of the best moves that I have made career-wise. The work is totally different. Back in the city I was mostly taking crime reports, attending traffic crashes, domestic violence and disorder incidents and chasing 'bad guys'. Here, most of my day is spent driving as my division is quite large and I am the only officer. A lot of my work is community-based work, which I love, and chasing cattle off the road. It is nice to live in a small community and be a large part of that community. I no longer have to fight Brisbane traffic to get to work, I just walk through a door as the station is a small office attached to the house. Peranga is quite remote. There is no major road running through the town, so there is hardly any traffic. The town itself has a population of approximately 30 and consists of a few houses, a post office that is only open for an hour and a half in the morning and only to pick up mail, and a bowls club which doesn’t have many bowls days and is open for meals on a Friday night. The Peranga Division, which I police, is approximately 670 km² and has a population of about 500. It is pretty safe to say that I am the only Spurs supporter in town, but I am working on some of the younger kids to get them involved in football and supporting the right team!"
Below: Chris and Lachlan outside the station
So we're back to Oz this summer - what's it like to have the team visit two years in succession?
Chris: "I never thought I would see Spurs play in Australia once, let alone twice. The visit last year was very special and the committee from Australia Spurs did an excellent job of putting the event on. The night with Ossie Ardiles was one I will never forget. I think that it is great that the Club can bring the team out to Australia as it gives a lot of people who may not be able to travel to England to watch them play a chance to see the team they love so much in the flesh."
What about this time around? Juve and Atletico at the MCG - doesn't get better than that!
Chris: "This year will be something special. Unfortunately for me I will only be able to make it for the game against Atletico, but I am looking forward to that and the evening with Ledley King. And to have the game at The 'G (MCG), one of the greatest sporting arenas on the planet, is going to be amazing. To be playing against two great clubs like Juventus and Atletico is fantastic, both of whom have qualified for the Champions League.
Below: Chris with wife Nelia and Lachlan
Tell us about Melbourne - sounds like a sports-mad city!
Chris: "I’ve only ever been to Melbourne once, in 2009, when I travelled down to assist the Victorian Police after the terrible bushfires they had there. While I was there I managed to see a pre-season AFL game between North Melbourne and Carlton. I thought us Spurs lot were mad - and this was a pre-season game! Melbourne hosts some great sporting events such as the Grand Prix, the Australia Tennis Open and the Boxing Day Test. Now they get to host one of the greatest football teams in the world.
We're all aware of and appreciate the work OzSpurs do for us - what's it like to be part of such an impressive Spurs network across Australia?
Chris: "Like I said before, the guys from OzSpurs did a fantastic job last year in organising the Sydney event and were rewarded with the Australian Event of the Year. But they do a fantastic job all year round, from the chapter organisers arranging meet up matches to the annual national football tournament (which I am still yet to go to)."
Below: Chris and Lachlan at the Lane
Looking ahead - how much are you looking forward to us being back in the Champions League next season?
Chris: "I remember the excitement when we made the Champions League with Bale and co. Now I think it is more exciting because we have a more complete squad. We have exceptional talent right across the pitch and that is extremely exciting. We made the quarter-finals last time around and I believe that with the squad we have now we will do as well if not better. And having such a young squad holds us in good stead for the future and more Champions League appearances."
And finally - something we ask all overseas fans - talk us through a typical Spurs match day for you - say for a 3pm KO on a Saturday.
Chris: "You have to remember a 3pm kick off on a Saturday in the UK is an 11pm kick off for us so the match day for us (Brisbane fans) would begin around 8.30pm with us travelling into Brisbane city to watch the game. Games on a Saturday night would usually be a meet-up game arranged by the chapter organiser, which is Dan Surmon at the moment, which gives the OzSpurs members and other supporters a chance to catch up and watch the match. We usually watch the games at The Pig and Whistle in Brisbane. The Pig is an English-themed pub in Brisbane and hosts not only Spurs, but other supporters groups from around Brisbane, although Spurs have the larger and better support than the other clubs. We usually meet up around 9pm and have a few pints before kick-off. We certainly make the most of it and the atmosphere is second to none outside of White Hart Lane. I’ve heard a few guys who have recently moved from London make comment that watching a north London derby at The Pig is the best they’ve experienced away from The Lane. No matter what the result, we are always in good spirits by the end of the night and us North Brisbane Boys love the drive through Fortitude Valley, Brisbane’s party precinct, singing Spurs songs at the top of our lungs with the windows rolled down!"