Tour 2016 - OzSpurs stories
15 July 2016|Tottenham Hotspur
Our 2016 tour is drawing ever closer and to mark our second trip Down Under in as many years, we've spoken to members of our official Australian Supporters Club, OzSpurs. We have some fascinating stories - a fan who missed last year's tour after falling seriously ill, a policeman from a remote Aussie town who donated part of his liver to his son and a sports broadcaster who commentated on the 2014 World Cup - but gave it all up to be a teacher. These are our 'OzSpurs Stories'...
First of all, tell us about your support of Spurs, as we always ask - why Spurs?
Glenn: "I have no family ties with England at all - my grandfather was born in Glasgow - but when I was 16 I played with my school's first XI and I was lucky that we were quite good. Our school did an overseas tour, playing two games in Thailand and six in England. While there, we visited two grounds, and my first Premier League match was actually Aston Villa vs Derby County. But a week later we went to the Lane, and despite seeing a very average Spurs side at the time, and the game against Wimbledon being incredibly boring (a 0-0 draw), for some reason I sat up on the Shelf side and fell in love."
You've been to WHL a few times - tell us about your first visit and how it felt to see the team live having watched us from so far away...
Glenn: "My experience on that day was probably a bit low-key compared to most fans who watch on television lots first and then visit the ground much later. I do remember the smell of the food stands along the High Street and I bought a few things at the club store, including a mini-football that I still have. David Ginola played that day and swung in delicious cross after delicious cross but we just couldn't finish. Jose Dominguez also played and he might have actually been my first favourite player. When I went back the second and third time (in 2005 and 2010) it was a much more powerful experience. I sat in Park Lane for a game against Portsmouth in 2010, and as I walked to the top of the stairs and looked out, I recall being unable to stop grinning. I must have looked like an idiot, but gazing out across the pure grass, with the stands hugging the pitch so tight and filling up quickly, I couldn't help it! Two weeks later I sat right behind Danny Rose as he hit that volley against Arsenal, and I will never forget that moment!"
Below: Glenn at Wembley
We're back in Oz this summer - what's it like to have the team visit two years in succession?
Glenn: "It's quite surreal. We were so overjoyed when Spurs announced last year that they were coming to Sydney as it was the club's first visit in 30 years, and now we've got two in two! The club were so great last winter, with players making themselves available for public appearances and stopping for photos all across Sydney, and we feel as though the boys really enjoyed coming out to see us as well. We had a wonderful night with Ossie Ardiles as well, and the night of the game was just amazing, with Harry smashing one in to cap it all off!"
What about this year? Juventus and Atletico Madrid at the MCG - doesn't get better than that! How much are you looking forward to it this time around?
Glenn: "The MCG is a bit like a second home to me. I'm an MCC member and have been going to AFL and cricket games there (as well as the odd Socceroos game) since I was about seven. It's an incredible stadium, and we're sure that the Spurs fans will create an amazing atmosphere. There's so much planned for the week and we hope that all OzSpurs members get involved as much as possible to show the lads how lucky we are to have them visiting again."
Tell us about Melbourne - sounds like a sports-mad city!
Glenn: "It really is. It's said that the first thing that's asked when you get in a cab in Melbourne is what AFL team you support, not your destination! The sporting precinct is astonishing. In the space of a kilometre or two, there is the MCG (birthplace of Test cricket and home of AFL), AAMI Park (home ground to Melbourne Victory in the A-League, Melbourne Storm in rugby league and Melbourne Rebels in Super Rugby), Melbourne Park (home of the Australian Open) and a number of training grounds for various codes. There is more to it of course, with our cafes and restaurants set in quaint little alleys drawing people in to the city on most nights, as well as the theatres, parks and nearby beaches. Oh, and you must get the lads to ride a tram for a truly Melbourne experience!"
Below: Glenn with Ossie Ardiles in Sydney last year
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?
Glenn: "It's amazing. Unlike most supporters' clubs, we are truly national, with branches, or chapters, in cities across the country. We have a National Convention each year, where people come from all corners of Australia to meet up, watch a game, sing a few songs and play some five-a-side. Through the National, I have made life-long friends and we still reminisce about Nationals in years gone by. Our membership went through the roof after the visit last year, so hopefully we can see the same again."
You have a fascinating personal story - swapping working in sports broadcasting to teaching - how did that come about?
Glenn: "I had worked in the media for about 12 years and for a few different reasons felt like it wasn't as rewarding as it could have been. Lots of people suggested I should try teaching, so I moved to Perth and joined the Teach for Australia programme, which puts professionals from other fields into schools that really need it, and to help close the education gap for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. I've just finished the first half of my first year of teaching and it's been amazing. I am exhausted, but it's been such great fun as well."
You were working on the 2014 World Cup - is there anything you miss about being immersed in the sports world? You could have been working on us being back in the Champions League!
Glenn: "I do miss commentating. Being able to call the 2014 World Cup for SBS Radio was an absolute dream come true, and to commentate such moments as Tim Cahill's goal against the Netherlands and Mario Gotze's winner in the final will live with me forever. It too was demanding work though, with lots of late nights and weekends. Being able to interview some of my sporting heroes was such a thrill, and I'm thankful that I got to accomplish everything I wanted before moving onto teaching."
Below: Glenn with friend and fellow OzSpur Paul at the North London derby in 2010
Talking of the Champions League - how much are you looking forward to next season?
Glenn: "It will be great. It feels like we're finally back where we belong, after we made such an impact in 2010-2011. The first time we made it, in recent memory at least, was just incredible - seeing us walk out at the Bernabeu, destroying Inter Milan on our patch - we all want that again."
And finally - something we ask all overseas fans - talk us through a typical Spurs matchday for you - say for a 3pm kick-off on a Saturday.
Glenn: "It's a little easier now that I'm in Perth, with the time difference being two hours kinder, but for the last 15 years a 3pm kick-off has been 2am on a Sunday for most of the year. Our pub in Melbourne is the Imperial, and they always look after us, opening at ridiculous hours. Usually people start arriving about an hour before kick-off, bleary eyed but still a little edgy before every game, to have a pint before the start. We'll all be kitted out, plenty with scarves, and some bring big flags and they get hung around the venue. If we get a big turn out the atmosphere is great, with terrace songs ringing out. I'm one of those who can't sit down to watch a game, so I will stand for 90 minutes and chew my fingernails for about 85. The games in Melbourne will probably be the same!"
Spurs in Melbourne
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 available here...