“There’s something about Tottenham that has a way of getting under your skin.” If you ask Chelsea, West Ham or Arsenal fans which team they hate the most, nine times out of ten they’ll say Tottenham, but why are Spurs so detested across the capital?
I spoke to lifelong fans of all four clubs to try and gather an understanding as to why such a harmless club on paper endures so much animosity.
Tottenham fans Sam and Mark Cordell believe other teams have an inferiority complex and believe Spurs don’t show enough respect towards their teams.
They said: “There’s still that arrogance at Spurs now, we still think we’re the team of 2016/17. I still think the fans think we have a god-given right to get in the top four and to challenge for all the cups but realistically we’re a pretty average team.
“They all take huge pleasure in watching us get beat as they think we’re above our station.
“I think they’ve got an inferiority complex. We’re this small club that never wins anything with the best stadium in the country and fans seem to hate us for that.”
Sam believes his clubs hatred across London has a racial nature linked with anti-Semitism against the Jewish club.
He said: “I think a lot of it is racial, with the Jewish link. You’re always hearing about gas chambers from away fans, especially West Ham and Chelsea.
“It was probably a racial hatred back in the day and they handed it down to their sons or grandsons and the hatred formed from that.”
Since 1969 “The Liquidator” has played at Stamford Bridge, whilst home fans clap their players on to the pitch, chanting “Chelsea” during the chorus.
In recent years, Chelsea have adapted their walk out song so that the fans now chant the words, “We hate Tottenham… Chelsea” during the chorus before every match.
Geographically Chelsea’s biggest rivals should be one of their West London neighbours; Brentford, Fulham or Queens Park Rangers, but their hatred towards those clubs is miniscule in comparison to their loathe of their North London rivals.
Lifelong Chelsea fan Ben Gathercole believes that it’s ingrained in the club that they must hate Tottenham.
He said: “It feels better getting one over Tottenham than anyone else, no better example of this was four years ago when Chelsea denied Spurs the title at Stamford Bridge.
“I feel it is engrained through generations that as Chelsea fans and in the players as well that we must hate Tottenham.”
Despite his clubs hatred of Spurs, Ben feels Chelsea fans aren’t threatened by them.
He said: “I don’t see Tottenham as a threat because we’re going for trophies and they haven’t really won anything from that standpoint.
“The rivalry has intensified in recent years as the games tend to have higher stakes nowadays, but I’m not threatened by them at all.”
West Ham seem to always bring their A game when they face Spurs, leading to the fixture continuously producing Premier League classics over the years.
The atmosphere is completely different when Tottenham come to town as supporters would want nothing more than to beat their North London counterparts.
However, 24-year old West Ham fan Rhys Paul believes that his side are not obsessed with Spurs and instead Spurs fans are indeed the obsessive ones.
He said: “Spurs fans are obsessed with believing we’re obsessed with them. The ‘cup final’ taunts are tedious when you realise that there has been more on the line for them in recent meetings.
“They are not West Ham’s biggest rivals and never will be. It will always be Milwall despite what some of the new generation of fans say.
“Some point to the fact we play Spurs more regularly and they are undoubtedly the team we look for first on the fixture list.”
Despite his denial that his team are obsessed with their rivals, Rhys feels West Ham’s hatred of Spurs is justified.
He said: “There’s something about Tottenham that has of way of getting under your skin.
“There is this arrogance to them that stretches from Daniel Levy to Harry Kane and all the way down to some of their fans.
“Barring Champions League qualification and the occasional run in Europe, what have they achieved this century to give them a ‘big club’ mentality?
“The fact they constantly look down on West Ham despite continuously bottling it when it most matters to them, speaks volumes of a club trying to be bigger than what they are.”
However, Rhys believes anti-Semitism isn’t linked to his side’s hatred of Spurs.
He said: “You’d like to think not in 2020. There was a time when anti-Semitic chants were prevalent in the stands but without making excuses, I think they became more associated as anti-Tottenham than the more serious anti-Semitic connotation.”
Arsenal fan Mosope Ominiyi recognises the rivalry his club has with their North London neighbour, but believes Arsenal have much more of a fierce rivalry with Chelsea and Manchester United.
He said: “Throughout my life to now Tottenham have always been our rival but for me even though they’re local to us, it’s always been Chelsea and Manchester United who fans hate more.
“I don’t hate them as much as Chelsea or United because I can’t compare ourselves against them because they haven’t won anything to compare with us.
“They want to be better than us. They want to be given the same respect we have but that club has not been good enough to justify the respect they crave.”
However, Mosope believes the rivalry has intensified in recent years because of Tottenham’s rapid improvement up the table.
“It’s definitely intensified. In recent years it’s become more competitive and they celebrate much more when they beat us.
“When you beat Tottenham it’s a celebration of pride.”
Despite Arsenal being their closest geographical rivals, the Cordell’s believes their closest rivalry is actually with east London rivals West Ham.
“I would say the worst derby now in terms of pure hatred is West Ham-Spurs. I don’t think Spurs fans are as bothered about Arsenal anymore.”
“I hate West Ham with a passion, I dislike Chelsea and don’t like Arsenal either but I would say West Ham are the team I love to beat the most. Weirdly enough Arsenal are the best out of a very bad bunch.”