One Hundred Imaginary Trophies

I wasn’t sure whether to do this or not but, after the week I’ve just had, it’s good to get it off my chest. Plus, I have a platform, and occasionally I ought to use it to raise awareness of the impact of issues affecting me that might also affect others – in this instance, it’s online bullying and pile-ons.

It’s been a tough few months. On the 1st October – the day that a clip of a video of me got mass tweeted and retweeted by hundreds of people telling me I’m a nonce, paedo, melt, snowflake, cunt, not a Spurs fan, everything that’s wrong with our fanbase, that I should find a new club, that I should fuck off and die and/or that they’ll celebrate my death – my partner and I were waiting for a paramedic for her dad. That was the culmination of a number of months of him being desperately ill, becoming more ill, and of us helping to care for him, and of me helping to care for her and for her mum (who has also been in and out of hospital). I was exhausted – between giving practical and emotional support to my partner whilst working 10-hour days in my very intense day job, I was feeling pretty high levels of stress. Her dad, Alan, a man who I cared about deeply, passed away four days later. It’s been devastating for everyone. RIP, Alan.

I am kind of used to Twitter abuse (not that that makes it okay) but this was a bit of a wake-up call. ‘What am I doing here? Why am I wasting so much time and energy on this god-awful platform?’.

I adored Twitter – I’ve had insightful conversations and hilarious interactions for a decade. Recently, few conversations happen in good faith: football Twitter is about point-scoring, showing off to the cool crowd and proving what a massive fan you are. It’s about likes and retweets and shoe-horning memes and calling people nonces. I have failed to accept and adapt to this. That’s definitely on me.

In hindsight, I shouldn’t have blindly retweeted a two minute snippet of me appearing on a one hour show, particularly when I made a divisive comment within it. I said flippantly that ‘I wouldn’t swap the two and a half years that we had under peak Pochettino for 10 trophies’. And then in my Twitter replies I said 100 trophies.

10 imaginary trophies. 100 imaginary trophies. I was making a point. Of course, if Spurs were to win 10 trophies it would be over a number of years, having built a successful, sustainable team and squad, probably playing good football (because you couldn’t win repeated trophies not playing good football in modern football in my view), creating a dynasty akin to Manchester United in the nineties. That journey from an also-ran to a successful, sustainable club would no doubt be one of the greatest times to ever be a fan of any club, not just Spurs – that’s the point!

For me, it’s always been about the journey, not the destination. Would I swap Arsenal’s last six years for ours because they’ve won some FA Cups? Absolutely not. Many would and that’s also fine. Football fandom is a personal thing. I don’t believe that the point of football fandom is ‘trophies’ or ‘winning’. I believe that football is about escapism, family, friendship, community, values, belief, optimism, culture, history. If football was solely about winning, everyone would just go and support the team most likely to do so, no? That’s what happened at my Primary School in the mid-nineties, when all of my classmates became Manchester United fans and my dad was unendingly proud that I was the last remaining Spurs fan in my class.

Do I want Spurs to win matches? Do I want Spurs to win trophies? Of course I do! To see my club successful makes me incredibly happy. Watching Ledley King lift the League Cup at Wembley in 2008 with my dad next to me made me cry happy tears. But I don’t define my success or my fandom by numbers of trophies (though, again, it’s fine if you do). I desperately wanted Pochettino to win the league or the Champions League or at least a domestic cup – my god, he deserved to achieve his goals because he had us punching so far above our weight for so long.

Alan was a Liverpool fan (from Liverpool) who had followed them loyally since childhood. He saw them win the league in his final year on this planet and, for that, I am grateful. When I mentioned this to his eldest son the day after we lost him, he said ‘but we couldn’t enjoy it together, we couldn’t be there’. He said it with tears and a look of sorrow in his eyes – because winning isn’t the be all and end all – him sharing this experience with his dad would have meant the absolute world. To be sat in two different living rooms, in two different houses, in lockdown, watching apart, was not the way he dreamt it. It felt somehow empty, an unfulfilling experience.

For what it’s worth, I really enjoyed being on the Elite Football Show and I had a great chat with Haider, who seems like a really great person. I nearly always say ‘yes’ when asked to appear on other people’s channels and podcasts – I know they’re normally asking me because they see I have a large following rather than my being a source of particular insight – it’s a way to grow their channel, and I am very happy to help out. He absolutely did not set out to deliberately create this level of controversy – and he had my back by taking the video down (and messaging me support throughout the day that this happened).

Here’s an example of the lack of good faith I mentioned at the start of this piece – the clip was right there, the words that I wrote in a subsequent tweet were right there, and yet I had people telling me over and over that I had said something that I hadn’t. They’d filled in the gaps and created a straw man argument – to what end?

It felt very much like a ‘right vs left’ argument that I see regularly on social media – one side arguing against an imaginary point that had simply not been made because they were so aggressively angry. Why? How had I insulted their values so deeply?

I also saw people saying that I should have just shrugged this all off. Just block and move on (I blocked at least fifty accounts). That if I’m going to say something as outrageous as how much I enjoyed Pochettino being our manager then I deserve everything that follows. It’s an opinion on football. On a sport. A hobby. This is meant to be the fun part of life! I mean, if I’d said something outrageous about asylum seekers or Brexit or Covid – actually, no: I still wouldn’t deserve what followed.

Also, more than one person said that it’s hardly surprising given how I talk to people…

…honestly, I am endlessly polite on Twitter when, at times, I am gritting my teeth. I have never abused anyone. I’ve probably been rude a handful of times across the last decade, we’ve all had bad days.

I initially had some nice tweets back and responded to them, and then responded to a couple of the people who were criticising me. Then the quote retweets with clown and bell emojis racked up. The hundreds of tweets and sub-tweets started pouring in. There were multiple threads popping up across the whole Spurs Twitter community, talking about me as if I didn’t exist – like I was my avatar and not a real human being. Even people I have conversed with on good terms for most of the last decade decided to jump on the bandwagon. I saw people I thought were Twitter friends slating me on threads about me.

I’ll briefly describe what it felt like. And bear in mind the context described above, as I was already under immense stress and so my reaction was pretty extreme. It felt like I was utterly hated. Like I had embarrassed our fanbase. I was a figure of ridicule, I had let down my friends at The Extra Inch and The Fighting Cock and become a laughing stock. I briefly considered closing my account. I just wanted it to all go away. Of course these were irrational, heat of the moment feelings – responding to an avalanche by jumping off the mountain rather than waiting it out and trekking back down. But that’s how I felt.

I’m not looking for sympathy and I’m really only writing this because it’s cathartic. But there are a couple of points about what happened to me on 1st October to clarify, as it’s not nice to see rumours repeatedly tweeted about yourself:

1. After this all happened I was regularly accused of blocking anyone who’d disagreed with me. Trust me, if I blocked everyone who disagreed with me, I wouldn’t have any followers left. I don’t need to justify it, because I can block who I like, but I didn’t block and have never blocked a single person for simply disagreeing with me. I blocked people because – in the midst of an immense pile-on – people were being rude, abusive, quote retweeting to belittle and bully me, tweeting about me to encourage the growing pile-on, wishing me dead (I know) and retweeting a clipped up video (not Haider’s I hasten to add, someone else had made a new version, zoomed in on just me) to ridicule me. Why would I *not* block people that were doing these things? Knowingly and deliberately adding to the misery of my day to score Twitter cool points and then saying afterwards ‘he blocked me because I disagreed’ like butter wouldn’t melt.

One person sent me a very polite DM from their alt account saying I’d blocked them unfairly, they’d only sent an emoji of a clown and they love my account. I unblocked them. If I have ever blocked anyone, it’s for a good reason, not on a whim. It means I don’t want to hear from that person again (for a variety of reasons but mostly abuse, bullying behaviour or racism/xenophobia/homophobia/transphobia/etc).

2. I tweeted as it was all kicking off:

I’ve had people say ‘teenagers and gammons’ was the wrong language to use. At the time I tweeted this most of the accounts retweeting and being obnoxious were called things like LoCelsoSZN or TanguyzTottenham or some derivative: teenagers – or had flags in their names and were calling me a snowflake cunt: gammons. Sure, both are shorthand terms, but it was pretty clear what I meant and I still mean it. Anonymous troll football Twitter and angry shouty sweary gammon football Twitter are toxic swamps that I want no part of in my Twitter experience. I think it was pretty reasonable under the circumstances to be dismissive of these types of trollish, hateful accounts.

To the people who tweeted, direct messaged or emailed me support: thank you, it’s really been hugely appreciated. I have received way too many messages to respond to everyone but it really meant the world to me and I’m sorry to have caused drama and hassle. I’m sorry to have made you feel the need to take time out to send me a message – it was lovely though, and you’re ace.

A bunch of people are going to think I’m a ‘melt’ for writing this. But if I’ve discouraged one person from making a throwaway but potentially hurtful comment online, it’s been worth it. This whole experience has certainly been an eye-opener for me.

What have I learned? I need to remember what football Twitter is now. I need to be a lot more selective about what I share. I need to choreograph my account. I need to save my ‘takes’ for platforms where they can be discussed in good faith (I’m not moving over to Parler, don’t worry).

So I’m going to be using Twitter differently from now on and scaling back my use. And I’m going to extend my Twitter break too. It’s been really welcome. You can still hear from me on The Extra Inch, of course, and 15 Minutes (With Flav and Windy). And you can still email me and I’ll (nearly) always respond.

Let’s end on a positive…

Join the conversation

  1. Good for you. You must do what feels right for you. Your happiness and well being and that of your loved ones is far more important than anything else.
  2. Windy: you are a top man and I love both listening to and reading your stuff. Twitter is an absolute cesspit and I don’t blame you one bit for making this decision. I just want you to know there are decent people who really appreciate all your work. I’ve been following your stuff for years and love your passion and work ethic. COYS.
  3. You’re awesome Windy. Hope you come back to Twitter soon and without having to moderate your use.
  4. I mean, let's be honest... the comment about 2.5 years of finishing top 4, not swapping that for 10 trophies was incredible and was always going to inspire backlash. Hyperbole is one thing but I still don't get how you'd ever come to that conclusion. It's not akin to swapping Arsenal's recent history for ours. It screams of a weird vendetta against Jose. 10 trophies is more than Spurs last 40 years of competitive football. I don't think it means much at all but it is embarrassing for someone in Spurs twitter with a large fanbase to tell everybody that, you know the period where we won nothing and got ridiculed for? I'd take that again over winning more trophies than I've ever seen in my lifetime. It just makes zero sense. If you want family, friends, and community, it might be better to go follow your local Sunday league team. I don't say that as a dig...
    1. I for one completely agree with Windy's position on this, and know plenty of other Spurs fans who feel the same way. Stop worrying about being ridiculed for a lack of trophies. There are more important things in football, and in life. COYS
    2. This article is about twitter abuse. You seem to be suggesting it was deserved. You are just adding to the bullies fella.
    3. spot on mate... As much as i show windy sympathy because the abuse was wrong... and obviously sympathy for his loss... He speaks as if the statement he said wasn’t disrespectful to jose. He basically says no matter what jose does for the club I will always think poch is a better manager. And thats childish behavior in my opinion, not even letting the manager have a chance. Moreover, the statement was sad... If thats truly how you feel, you probably should start following another team, because we will be a lot better than that poch team soon. I hope you one day give jose the chance he deserves
  5. Too many say untrue things on SM which, when challenged, turn to abuse. Then claim to be blocked unfairly. We are on your side, mate.
  6. No way you actually wrote all of that just to defend the fact that you said hugs > trophies...
  7. good on you mate... unfortunately twatter (and the world) seems to be full of ignorant haters someone once said "people who can`t communicate think everything is an argument" and that has never been truer
  8. Chris, nothing you said requires an explanation or apology. Personally, I dug your "2 1/2 years of peak Pochettino" quote, even if I don't *fully* feel the same way. There's admirable conviction and, dare I say, romance in that sentiment. (I sent you a link on Twitter to my post on Poch that you might appreciate.) Keep doing what you're doing. The Extra Inch is the top sports podcast out there, IMO.
  9. You are one of the few reasons why I bother with Twitter at all. Meeting Spurs fans in pubs is great. Meeting Spurs fans on platforms like Twitter gives me, if anything, less love for THFC.
  10. To echo some of the comments above I really enjoy listening to your podcasts and am sorry you had to endure such abuse, particularly at such a personally difficult time. Unfortunately, football seems to be increasingly infected by the same poisonous views as seen in politics and cowardly people feel emboldened by the actions of demagogues to behave (online at least) however they want. It’s interesting that Sky Sports have launched a campaign to try and tackle this. I struggle to think of any comment on football that could possibly justify the messages you received. Ultimately those people are thoughtless and ignorant.
  11. I'm with you, Windy. Take care of yourself and keep supporting Spurs in the way that feels right to you.
  12. Really sorry to read this Windy. Really appreciate your taking the time to write about it because these things need to be highlighted. Don't let the bastards get you down.
  13. Chris, you’re a top guy who just loves his football club. Look after yourself, take some time with your partner and don’t stop being you. Enjoy the break, don’t let them bring you down. Life is more important than Twitter.
  14. Hey Chris I'm a follower and a fan of yours, I don't engage much on twitter but I use it as a platform to gain insight into other Spurs fans thoughts, that's one of the reasons I really enjoy the stuff you put out, It's honest, not beating around the bush, and of course knowledgable, even if it is an "unpopular opinion", I find it informative. Don't let the bastards get you down.
  15. Hi Windy. I really enjoy(ed) reading your posts on FTL & on Twitter and your input on TFC podcast. Don't let the bastards get you down Windy & don't let someone else's ignorance influence or effect what you seem to enjoy doing. Unfortunately it seems that nowadays a divergence in opinion isn't something to be respected but rather an excuse to be ars*hole to someone else.
  16. I am so sorry that you received so much abuse from people for what was your opinion. I have stopped replying to tweets in Twitter after getting abused for my opinions. Even if I disagree with someone I do not see the need to abuse them and I find that all of Twitter is now becoming a very horrible place to be. I have always enjoyed your articles and tweets. The “be kind” message seems to have been forgotten by so many. I am very sorry about your loss as well. Take care of yourself and all your family.
  17. I am so sorry you had to endure such abuse. You, Bardy and Nathan bring such joy to being a Spurs fan, I cannot thank you enough. That's why I joined the Patreon. Yours are the first Spurs voices I listen to! Hang in there and know that there are many of us, maybe less vocal, who support you and enjoy everything you do!
  18. Personal preference is not an opinion. It would be like getting angry about someone's favourite colour. Hope you're doing ok. Keep doing your thing.
  19. Hi Windy, I can't believe this has happened to you. I've always felt you seem like one of the most all round good guys I could hope to come across on social media. Would love to have a pint with you one day. And I've not always agreed with you (that's normal right) but never have I ever thought you don't have the right to an opinion on a silly old game about kicking a ball in the same way that i am. For what its worth, to me your twitter break is bad times, if I want to find a balanced view on a Spurs performance at half time or after a game I would always see what you were saying. Anyway, so sorry to hear of your loss, look after yourself and your loved ones
  20. It’s a shame you’ve had all this abuse. I missed the whole storm but I’m sorry you had this happen to you. You’ve been one of my favorite follows and I’ve loved interacting with you over the many years. I hope to still see you on TFC telegram and to interact through TEI posts. They’re a loud minority Windy, the majority of us love you. Be well.
  21. Just want to endorse what others have said. I have been a follower since you were watching youth team games. I love to hear what you & others think. However unlike many I don’t feel the need to argue if I disagree with someones view. I only wish you well in whatever way you choose to continue. Don’t let the bastards grind you down! COYS!
  22. I don't always agree with everything you say Windy but I enjoy listening to what you have to say. Fuck idiots on Twitter it's trash.
  23. Sorry you've been having a hard stressful time in your personal life and sorry for your loss I didn't follow any of the abuse you got - it seems bonkers that people are so idiotic. Nobody can tell you how you should feel about anything, even if it's football.
  24. Windy ... We’ll support you evermore ... I miss Pochettino every day and will never forget the joy and hope he gave us. I’m still not convinced by the new manager especially with his track record of singling our players for tough love... The Salah, De Bruyne, Pogba & now Dele Alli saga leaves me unconvinced by his managerial handling of special talent. Anyway stay positive and keep well my friend.
  25. Chris, you are a truly inspirational and wonderful person. That you have had to put up such vindictiveness and cruelty is wholly unacceptable. Whether on the podcast or twitter, you shine through as a kind, thoughtful and highly intelligent man. I love listening to your insights on our mad club - if there was ever an ambassador for Spurs it would be you. Moreover, you have displayed your ability to empathise with others and extend support to victims of hate. Your family are, I am certain, extremely proud of you. I hope that our paths cross one day at the Lane so we can natter about Spurs and I can buy you a drink as a small token of my appreciation for all you do. In fact, in the meantime, I would like to make a donation to a charity of your choice in your name - if you have an organisation in mind please message me. May you and your partner all only know happiness, health and success. Warmest regards and huge respect. David
  26. First off Chris I missed the pile-on, thank God. Unfortunatley I probably wouldn't have come to your aid either, as it wouldn't have achieved anything other than end up with me getting the same abuse and the issue still remaining or perhaps amplified even more, which is testament to what Twitter can be. I don't know if this helps or indeed something that you are now addressing going forwards but Twitter is still fantastic if you invest the time to figure out exactly what you want it to do for you. I hope I'm not comming across as preaching, just ignore this if this recent event has already clarified these objectives. Make it work for you and only you. Your written response above demonstrates perfectly what Twitter CAN'T do. It's a talent and if you possess that talent (I think you do) then don't get lazy and use Twitter the same way the talentless do. Write, write with thought, intelligence, wit and passion. (just as you can talk this way too via Pod's), channel everything you are good at into these mediums and use Twitter to promote them. Want to irradicate the trolls? Write! You know thier limitations are 140 characters, beyond that there is no comprehension, the trolls therefore will disappear. Lastly if it's interaction that you are looking for by way of debate and stimulus then why don't you expand this within the Pod and/or your website. Select someone with an opposing view, someone that's not a c**t, someone you could intelligently debate with that both of you know will not attack the person but only challenge the opinion. I think for those listening/reading this would also be a breath of fresh air, because don't forget whilst you may have taken a fair bit of abuse anyone who agrees with you (of which there are loads) will also be taking it or feeling it too, such is how opinions are now suppressed by trolls and their vitriol. The opportunity to own this is entirely in your hands and if you invest your time to clean-up your Twitter base to suit YOU (it takes a VERY long time) then Twitter becomes on the whole an invaluable tool of information and promotion but again ONLY if you have defined it for your objectives. Focus the use of your time on your talents, for it is this why you have followers in the first place. If all you were was a shouty bloke on Twitter getting into spats all week then why the f**k would I (and many people) bother following you? What's in it for me? In an effort to maintain my Twitter TL I would unfollow you. So, please be reminded why I follow you, I'm hear for the insight, the opinion, the intelligence and the talent. Focus on that, provide more of that and be imaginitive in the medium you choose to deceminate it. It's good for us followers and in turn should be good for you too. "Content is king".
  27. Brave Windy but seriously just read these comments. People like you and real football fans don’t judge and allow other opinions. Football is what you feel and that changes. “These” people just want homogeneous football opinions. You say what you want when you want. Keep doing what you’re doing.
  28. Been a listener of the fighting cock since the start and I love it. I actually miss the half time windy talks about youth and loaned out players I really enjoyed them. Through the fighting cock I started listening to the extra inch which I might say is wonderful I love the tactic talks and views EVEN if I disagree on very few bits but I'm not a maniac who will stalk you on Twitter and abuse you guys for it. Opinions are like arseholes everyone has one. I hardly comment on Twitter as I just like the read but felt compelled to get this message across to you and the other guys. Loved what you was doing, still love what you are doing and will continue love what you guys are doing. Don't slow down because of absolute nobody's on the internet. Keep the momentum going love you guys. Peace
  29. “I don’t believe that the point of football fandom is ‘trophies’ or ‘winning’. I believe that football is about escapism, family, friendship, community, values, belief, optimism, culture, history”....spot on in my opinion too. I honestly think there are more of us out here that appreciate your insight rather than hate it and dish out grief. Doesn’t make it ok and perhaps we can all do more to say nice things online rather than reach for Twitter if we disagree or are upset with something. Keep your chin up and I’m sorry to hear of bad times in your family - those are the people that require your time/thoughts/effort not the trolls or gammons 😂 Take care
  30. Appreciate your work and commitment Windy, and from one of the silent majority id like to say a big and long overdue thank you
  31. I LOVE YOU, YOU MASSIVE NONCE 🤡 X
  32. Maaaaaate! Firstly, my heartfelt condolences for your loss of what seems to me is effectively your father-in-law. A terrible time for your family, you shouldn't have to deal with this level of awfulness. I completely understand your reaction to all of this, I did exactly the same with Facebook. There's only so much nonsense you can block and deal with before you truly get bored. I have followed you on the Fighting Cock, Extra Inch and 15 minutes podcasts going back 9 years now. I love all of those podcasts and they have enhanced my love of football and following Spurs. It's made me appreciate certain things I just took for granted watching Spurs. I respect your analysis and don't always agree but everything you say is fair, balanced and unbelievably insightful. You would be amazing as an actual football pundit. You and Gary Neville are a star line up in my head. I hope you find your happiness again and soon. Please be okay and never be affraid to ask for help, you guys on TFC did a lot of great work with CALM many years ago. I hope it comes back. Nothing scares me more when people are going through a hard time, don't seek help and end up hurting themselves. I want you to know that as long as your produce content, I will listen and read it happily and really appreciate it. Best Wishes, Ricky (not from TFC)
  33. Just know that you are appreciated. The Spurs Twitterverse and the blogs would be deficient and missing a lot without you and your analysis. @petespurs
  34. Only really got into football around 2010 when the world cup came to my country and been spurs obsessed ever since. Listening to the fighting cock and the extra inch has made me feel at home and taught me what spurs is all about (and some other weird shit) from honest die hard supporters. Been following you for years and can't stress how much I enjoy your content. I very much share that Poch love, and enjoying football for the journey not the trophies (which will feel deserved when it comes). Would be sad to miss out on any small amount of content from you, but Twitter is a shitshow and you got to look after your mental health.
  35. sorry for your loss and keep up the great work. on twitter, it is full of a lot of extremist "opinions" that are purely driven by seeking to get more RT's and likes etc. just ignore them. there is no point in entering into the debate and dont let them change your opinion. i am sure you know this but you dont need to justify yourelf! as for mourinho, he has a polarising effect too - which has probably made this case worse. speak to any real madrid fan about how polarised a fan base can be left once he has been through. with those who worship him and those he find him a narcissist.
  36. Love your insight Windy. Some people are dicks, but most people are supportive, the dicks just tend to be loader.
  37. You're an absolute legend, Windy - I've followed you for years and you put a lot of effort into your tweets and other content (I still miss the frame by frame analyses of goals conceded...) I'm sure there are hundreds (prob thousands) of Spurs fans who genuinely appreciate and enjoy what you do and hope you keep doing it!
  38. Hi Chris, I'm sorry to hear about your loss. I hope you and your Partner are managing ok. I've never had a twitter account but have enjoyed spending time reading your tweets along with the other guys from the fighting cock and the extra inch. None of my friends support Spurs and listening to your podcasts makes it feel like I'm part of a supporter community. It's also really cathartic listening to TEI after a bad result! No one deserves what you've experienced over twitter, thanks for all the content you produce and take some time for yourself. Take care.
  39. The question of the importance of winning seems to divide Spurs fans more than most. You seem to get a lot of "I agree, but .." fans with Mourinho. Fans who damn with faint praise wanting a different sort of football but reluctant to admit they'd sacrifice trophies to get it. I don't have that problem, I've been going regularly to White Hart Lane for 40 years now and in my book we are long overdue some silverware. If Jose can cure our soft centre I'm with him all the way. Games like the 6-1 thrashing of United don't hurt. The FA Cup is a bit of a red herring. The "must wins" are the premier league and the champions league, those change how a club is perceived. The rest are "nice to wins", so there is really no reason to be jealous of Arsenal. Liverpool are the club we should be trying to emulate.
  40. To give some unsolicited advice... Don't go back onto twitter Windy, I came off it and it is one of the best things I ever did. Any real friends you have made from being on Twitter (I would hope) will see you well for the rest of your life. You don't need to go back on there, you are creating a legacy for yourself with The Extra Inch and 15 Mins, you don't need it. Keep those accounts (from a business perspective it makes sense), but from a personal point of view, just leave it be. I think you'll be glad you did. Whatever you do decide, I wish you well. Stay safe.

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