Search | Euro 2004 Portugal | Soccer Shop | Football News | Betting | Euro 2008 | Blog | Forum | Friends | Books on Football
World Cup 2006 | World Cup 2002 Archive | Links | Flights | Match Tickets | Contact | Home

A.League | Coaches | Confederations Cup | Croatia | England | FIFA Rankings | Football DVDs | Interviews | J.League | K.League | Liverpool |
Man Utd | MLS | Players | Spain | SPL | World Cup 2010 | Club World Championship


Soccerphile Home.

Partners: GoodsFromJapan | JapanVisitor | PortugalVisitor

Home|Football News|Premier League|Tottenham Hotspur



Premiership Football News: Tottenham Curse

Sean O'Conor

Spurs"Switch and Spurs, switch and spurs; or I'll cry a match," Romeo & Juliet II, iv

Tottenham's travails go on after they fell 2-0 away at Udinese in the UEFA Cup.

Winless so far, despite a summer spending spree which dwarfed all rivals, Spurs remain rock-bottom of the Premier League with only two points from eight games. He-he. Never have the triangle jokes (three points) lasted this long into the season.

Spurs' utter uselessness this season however is a mystery for rationalists: Their coach has a good record, they won the Carling Cup against Chelsea in February and grabbed some real talent over the close season in Luka Modric, Roman Pavlyuchenko, Giovanni Dos Santos and David Bentley.

For mystics, psychics and assorted fruitcakes however, the explanation for the North Londoners' malaise is simple: They have a hex on them.

Tottenham would not be the first. The annals of sporting history are replete with supernatural intervention. Just think of the Curse of the Bambino in baseball and myriad others from the US' Big Four sports.

In England, the home of the beautiful game, plenty of clubs have been alleged victims of gypsy curses.

The most famously hexed team was Derby County, who ascribed their failure to win trophies to the fact they had expelled some Romany folk from the land where they built their old stadium, the Baseball Ground. After paying off some of the gypsies' descendants in 1946, the Rams duly won the FA Cup for the first time.

More recently, Birmingham City were widely supposed to have been victims of a hundred-year spell which expired in 2006. The Blues took it so seriously that former coach Barry Fry, an ebullient old-school manager not averse a curse or two himself, urinated in the four corners of the field after a psychic (or a charlatan having a laugh) told him it would exorcise the demons.

Leeds also had a run-in with Romany folk when Elland Road was under construction. Their great coach Don Revie employed a gypsy to spiritually cleanse the place in 1971 but unfortunately, having led the First Division for most of that season, they then ended up losing it.

Manchester City is another gullible sap, although on paper the most unsuccessful big club in England had to look to the stars for hope. Gypsies were rumored to have cursed the land on which stood Maine Road, City's stadium from 1923 to 2003, a good reason for moving to the City of Manchester Stadium. While coach at Maine Road, Kevin Keegan once said, "I haven't been able to believe how bad our luck has been this season - especially at home. I don't know whether I've run over one black cat or 10 of them." If they thought they had rid themselves of evil, then what were City doing selling the club to a now-convicted Thai torturer in 2007?

Middlesbrough also evicted some travelling folk in 1901 when they built Ayresome Park and as the caravans were shunted away, ancient curses filled the Boro air.

Over in Wales, Swansea City took it all a bit too seriously when they employed Kenyan tribal dancers to perform a voodoo ceremony at their old Vetch Field ground, after the notorious Uri Geller had claimed there were evil spirits lurking there.

Geller himself, famous psychic and former best pal of Wacko Jacko, has used his magic powers on a number of English clubs, most famously Exeter City, where he became joint chairman in 2002…a year before they dropped out of the Football League.

Geller, a former Israeli paratrooper who forged an international career in spoon-bending, placed magic crystals behind one of Exeter's goals before a crucial play-off game in 1997….which they lost 5-1.

More recently, Oxford United were reported in classic tabloid fashion to have used an exorcist at their new Kassam Stadium. In fact it was nothing more sinister than a blessing from the local Bishop.

And there's more. When Southampton moved to St Mary's, some pre-Christian tombs were excavated, leading to rumors the Portsmouth-supporting spirits would have their revenge. I recall seeing some Roman artifacts displayed there, an unusual sight in any football stadium, so who knows? The club took their miserable start at their new home seriously enough to employ a white witch to rid the ground of malevolence, though it didn't stop Joey popping by later.

Overseas, the football fruitcakes are in full cry: Fenerbahce players in Turkey have sheep's blood smeared on their cleats when they debut while fans of Romania's Arges Pitesti once staged a cat's funeral and roasted a chicken on the field for good fortune.

Dracula's homeland seems replete with superstition: Romanian teams wearing underwear inside-out, placing herbs in their shoes and not reversing the team bus for good luck, I could go on...Do you remember Anghel Iordanescu, their national team's coach at USA '94, brandishing his crucifix and kissing his book of Romanian saints during the game?

So, if Tottenham are suffering from some ingrained evil, it could be because their training ground was once occupied by …yep, it's as if English soccer teams only have themselves to blame for buying land on the cheap from those funny-looking folk in their trailers, who utter curses as they are shunted away.

I'm not a fan of the invisible. In football it is just too convenient to blame a five-goal thrashing on some odd-looking tea-leaves or birds in the sky instead of what happens with the ball on the grass. While England is a very secular country its soccer is still full of superstition, inevitably perhaps given the millions of people expending such emotion on it each week.

Former National Team coach Glenn Hoddle employed a faith healer to widespread derision during the 1998 World Cup before resigning after some ill-judged comments on reincarnation while forerunner Bobby Robson memorably once said of a forthcoming England game, "It argues well" (sic).

Is it just me, or is not it obvious these highly-paid professional clubs paying assorted soothsayers and con-artists were wasting their time. Again and again, football clubs seem to prove GK Chesterton's quip that people who deny God won't believe in nothing - they will believe in anything.

Spurs have more prosaic reasons than superstitious hearsay why they are doing so badly: It is something to do with an over-enthusiastic and ill-thought out transfer policy, a coach and Director of Football not quite in tandem and the fact they sold their best two strikers. It's not rocket science, but it's not tarot cards or gypsy curses either.

Sean O'Conor




Football Book Shop



Terms of Use.

"The Onside In-Site" Copyright © From 2000. All rights reserved. Soccerphile Ltd.

Top of Page.