Why Tooting and Mitcham?
*’Why Tooting and Mitcham - From the Clock End to the Bog End’ was originally posted on Hackbridge Harry’s brillant blog, we wanted to include it on South London is Black & White for two reasons. We love Mr H’s style of writing and definitely consider him an influence towards us setting up the site. Thank you for letting us share it*
That's a question I often ask myself when listening to Joy Division in a darkened room thinking up angry poetry after yet another Saturday afternoon of shattered hopes and dreams. I started going over to TMUFC around 13 years ago when I moved to the swinging suburbs of Hackbridge with Mrs H and the soon to arrive Bogend Ant. To start with it was just a couple of games a year but I enjoyed the honesty about the football and kept coming back for more "Black and White Joy" and now, just like my £58.23 a day Viagra habit it's a very hard thing to stop. But why did I choose The Terrors. Living in Hackbridge I was also close to both Sutton and Carshalton. I'd only ever met one Robins fan and he was a knob, so they were out of the question. In fairness I know quiet a few and they seem reasonably normal, but you know... first impressions etc. When out shopping with Mrs H in Sutton one Saturday, I happened to see two people walking down the main high road wearing yellow and brown quartered shirts which frankly looked fucking hideous. Even though they had the FA Cup history behind them I knew that I could never watch a team playing in yellow and brown quartered shirts without the risk of acid flash backs or migraines. I have meet a few of the Gander Green Groovy Gang over the years and I've totally stolen the idea for this Blog from those Gandermonium guys and of course the "Musical Shoe Box Sex God" Bornatotter.... But, you know... first impressions etc. Which reminds me. Many years ago if you wanted to see a ugly tattooed bearded woman you would have to queue up outside a tent when the carnival came to town. Now all you have to do is go to shopping in the Asda in Sutton. There's fucking loads of them. It's the one place were me and Mrs H feel like Posh and Becks when we are out and about.
I'd worked on the Northern Line for many years as a driver based at Morden depot. Many of the people there came from the local areas and when the subject of Football would crop up a lot would mention going to see TMUFC at some point in their lives. A few said that I should go over to see the Toots and that they had one or two "characters" follow the club. This actually turned out to be a bit of an underestimate.... So Tooting and Mitcham it was.
I've loved football all my life, The first team that took any interest in were West Ham. I was five when England won the World Cup and Moore, Hurst and Peters were the glamour boys of London. The whole of the country was buzzing from England's one and only real success and as a very young child I was caught up in it all at school. As we all know England have done very little since and the fact that I have enough Irish, Scots and Welsh blood in me not to care to much about the three lions has turned out to be a godsend. Luckily I have enough English blood in me not to care about the Irish, Scots and Welsh when it comes to international football either. I nearly went to the 1982 World Cup in Spain but chose Magaluf instead for two weeks of sobriety and culture.
My first ever game was a trip to White Hart Lane to watch Spurs reserves play Fulham reserves around 1968 so with all this in mind obviously I ended up following the family tradition of supporting The Arsenal, my dad taking me to Highbury for the first time again in 1968 to see the reserves again play Fulham and was a regular both home and away from 1974 onwards. Making the transition from Boot Boy to Punk Rocker then on to Casual on my days on standing on the Clock End.
I'd been an Arsenal season ticket holder for many years and been lucky enough to be at many fantastic matches. But the game was changing rapidly and the whole Sky premiership circus was ruining football for me and trying to find the money to get to games was a huge struggle. I did make the occasional trip to Underhill to watch Barnet play years ago when living "Up Norf" but Arsenal were my true love and nothing and I mean nothing would ever tear us apart from the loving loyal bond we had together. My loyalty to the club would never change I would be Arsenal to the day I died. Well up until the time they turned Highbury into fucking flats and Arsenal Fan TV managed to turn 90% of the clubs fan base into raving lunatics. Not to mention Hornby and that bastard book. Various other things were going on at Arsenal and I found myself falling out of love with what the club had become. I have many great memories and had loads of great times but a number of things were beginning to wear me down. The ticket allocation for the Champions League Final really helped make my mind up as mates who had followed the club for years and years were denied tickets while the corporate leeches ended up with loads. The move away from Highbury plus increased ticket prices help start the long and messy divorce proceedings.
Sky TV and the rest of the sports media have kicked all the fun out of the professional game turning it into a money obsessed freak show. I miss my mates over at Arsenal and go up there occasionally but in general the whole Premiership footballing leaves me feeling very disinterested. The vast majority of my old mates gave up going into games and watch from the pubs on Holloway Road or up and around Finsbury Park. A number of whom now, like me now follow Non League teams. On the Bogend you will find standing alongside the long term Terrors, people who follow Chelsea, Palace, Man City, QPR, Liverpool, Hartlepool, Wigan, Tottenham, Fulham, Wimbledon, Man United, Everton and Arsenal. I have spoken to so many people who have tales similar to mine from loads of other so called big clubs. Loads now heading to the dark world of Non League football to get their Footy Fix.
When Anthony arrived both myself and Mrs H were trying to influence his choice of team he had Liverpool pyjamas and replica Arsenal shirts but when I first took him to see the "Mighty Terrors" his mind was made up. Bogend Ant is Tooting through and Though... There's a little bit of Gooner buried deep inside and a hint of scouse but TMUFC is his team. Most people end up supporting the clubs their Father supported. I ended up supporting the club my son supports.