Oh When The Spurs Go Marching In to Singapore
My Spurs fan journey has been a pretty epic one. From watching the World Cup as a mega newbie and slightly casually, to diving in head first to EPL last season, to seeing them live at White Hart Lane and cheering them on in the Champions League finals — little did I know that I would also be seeing them live for a second time on freaking home turf.
The Spurs lads came to Singapore as part of their pre-season tour and boy am I lucky as hell to have been living in this country and them breathing the same air as me. I really do wish Acid and Toby, my Spurs parents were still living here because this would have been one hell of a weekend had they been here with me, but beggars can’t be choosers and honestly, I felt so lucky, even if I was sick the entire time.
The lads arrived on a Thursday morning and I was half tempted to just go and meet them at the airport but I had been feeling under the weather the past couple of days and was only slowly recovering (not quite) so I slept in that morning and stalked them on Instagram Stories from my bed as a cough wracked through my body. I was also getting the start of an eczema attack which is never timed nicely but moreso now.
And so with my Spurs brother, Suren (also a neighbor and colleague), we casually discuss their day at work and think, hey, maybe we’ll see them at practice. Except that there wasn’t any indication on any IG stories (no drop pin, no hashtag) of where they could be.
Unlucky for them, we’re not amateurs. And so after viewing the Instagram stories many a time looking for clues of where they could be based on them practicing on an open green field in the middle of who knows where, we take a screenshot of a mosque and search google for any images that match this one. Lucky for Suren and myself, it was in Geylang — our freaking neighborhood. So we rush together after work and land outside the football field to see a couple other Spurs fans outside a blacked out fence.
We’re clearly in the right place. Singapore is a pretty calm fan place or at least these Spurs fans were which is nice because then I don’t get competitive. The only issue is that they’re so calm, there isn’t much action or clamoring. Hearing from the guards outside the gate, the lads would be leaving in their bus and that the bus was tinted. But hey, we’d see the bus and they would be inside. That was enough for me, right?
Well, we were luckier. Dele and Eriksen both posted on their IG stories (i’m telling you, this social media thing was my best friend this weekend), that they were just chilling in the bus and the windows didn’t look tinted at all. The bus comes out and it’s not tinted and upfront is Moussa Freaking Sissoko is up front and the crowd starts chanting for him and he smiles and waves at us.
We see our half of the bus as they pass and they’re there. In person. in the flesh. I’m literally touching the bus if only the guards didn’t ask me to step back so I wouldn’t get run over. We’re so near. I’m half tempted to follow them back to their hotel. But I also feel like shit so home I go. Tomorrow is another day.
I had planned to go with Suren to their hotel and with a devious plan of taking Rumi, Suren’s adorable 18 month old son. We got him a Spurs kit and he looks adorable in it and babies are a surefire way to get closer to the players so that was our original Friday night game plan.
Things didn’t however go as planned and I was left alone on a Friday night. My normal Friday night plans are go home and sleep. I wanted it more that day considering how freaking sick I felt — my cough was just bad, my eczema was not getting better. But I was ready to stalk them. I had brought a backpack to work so I didn’t have to carry stupid handbags. I wore sneakers. I had my kits in the back in case I could get them to sign it.
But I was alone. I couldn’t go alone. I needed someone to fangirl with. I message a friend (non-Spurs fan, Cynch) if she was up for a drink at the hotel they were staying at. Luckily for me, Cynch was game. By the time I reach the hotel though, the staff had already removed the barricades at the entrance which means the lads were already back home safe.
I was already there and I already wanted to have that drink (i know, sick and drinks but that’s a story for another day) and so Cynch and I take the elevator up to the fourth floor bar and as I’m about to enter the bar, one floor above me, a door opens and you won’t believe it but out comes Jan freaking Vertonghen. Jan who I saw in April out on the empty pitch at WHL and waved to me from far up in our seats.
I saw him again. I think he was with Kyle Walker-Peters but I can’t be sure because I was panicking. There were other fans around me, mostly older uncles on their phones and I was the only one freaking out. I also wanted him to wave at me again so I try to yell without being scandalous. “Jan! Jan! Jan!” and on the third slightly higher pitched Jan, he looks down, smiles and waves.
I am dead. Honestly. What more could I want. Jan and I clearly have amazing timing. I have a horrible photo of him walking away one floor above but seriously, I just couldn’t. Life was over.
It’s Saturday now and the game against Juventus is on a Sunday. Sunday is also when my parents arrive and when my brother arrives and family time begins. I had already asked to be excused from Sunday night dinner with the family because the game was scheduled before my parents decided to fly to Singapore and so I knew I had to spend the rest of Sunday with them.
This means I only had Saturday left to go and stalk them. Except that I woke up feeling even more horrible than usual. My eczema was at it’s worst. I had no voice and just was feeling pretty shitty, so I stayed in bed instead as I saw more IG stories of them just a stone’s throw away in my freaking neighborhood, practicing some more. This was heartbreaking.
In the afternoon, Harry Winks posts that he and Jan Vertonghen are just WALKING AROUND ESPLANADE without any bodyguards and just strolling casually. What. To. Do. I was alone. I was sick. But I couldn’t miss this opportunity guys. I was super conflicted. I then get in touch with my Future Media Empire ladies because even if they’re not fans, they know the fangirl life and the hard choices we have to make.
And with a couple nudges — though really, I was dressing up as I was messaging them, I got the final push out the door — with my medicine in handy and my kits ready to go. But what to do. I decide to stay at the hotel and wait it out. Walking around Esplanade would just be a risk — I could miss them, they wouldn’t be where they were any more and I would just get tired.
So off I go to the hotel and it’s all a bunch of guys behind the barricades so instead I spot two teen girls who look just as lost as I do and chat them up. To my surprise, they’re not Spurs fans! They’re literally passers by wondering why there were so many guys behind barricades waiting patiently. And this is my chance to school them on my knowledge. And so I teach these lovely teens the beauty of the Spurs squad. Starting with Sonny and Winks all the way to Jan and Gazzaniga.
And even if they were literally just passers by, they stayed with me for an hour and a half. One of them was a BTS fan and understood the fangirl experience, the other could care less but I’m so grateful to them for sticking it with me. We got some false alarms and Harry Kane rushing by so quickly we just yelled “Harry!” all together!
But 15 minutes after the girls gave up, there was hope. Sissoko posted on his IG Stories that they were using e-scooters on the Millenium Bridge. Side note, they were also using e-scooters for the company I work for and this puts me in a frenzy. I immediately message the Singapore country marketing head. This is free advertising. The scooters are so prominent and they' players are clearly on it whizzing around town. She quickly gets to work with the social team to do a repost even if she has no clue who they are.
And a couple minutes later, Jan Vertonghen posts a VERY ad-like photo of the five of the guys on their scooters all lined up. this is advertising you can’t even ask for or pay for. This is golden. I have never felt so proud to work for the company.
But this also means the lads are on the way home. The sun is almost setting, you know like good lads they’ll all be home before sundown. The game is tomorrow. And just like that, I see Sissoko, Winks and Dele walking Unattended. The crowd rushes for Dele so I make quick work to get a photo with Sissoko and Winks. Honestly, I have no words.
To Sissoko who is massive in real life, I just say, “Hi from the Cragg family!” — how could I not shout out my Spurs forefathers. And to Harry Winks, so cute he belongs in One Direction, I just say, “Hi Harry.” He really is becoming my first favorite British Harry. I try my luck with Dele but there are too many people and I’m still too stunned that I have photos with two the guys and that my hands weren’t shaking too hard that the photos were blurry.
What is life. How is this happening to me, a non-long-suffering fan and so incredibly new to all of this? I don’t know but I’m so happy. I wait around an hour more because honestly, my heart is racing so fast, I need it to calm down. I see Gazzaniga and Foyth running in and I try to get a photo but Paulo kindly tells me, “So sorry, we’re already late” and of course I don’t want them to get in trouble with Poch so I let them go.
It’s my last day and the parents are here so it’s really just game time for me. I meet Suren at the National Stadium and though we have some miscomm on what time and where to meet, it doesn’t help that my phone is also at 1% and somehow the charger I brought was not charged after all. I’m honestly tired and still sick and I had been out the whole day. But I’m excited.
We had surprisingly good seats, I didn’t realize this and I”m glad we can see the lads faces and it’s just amazing. We scored early thanks to Lamela but then get crushed by 2 Juventus goals back to back — one by Ronaldo who honestly is quite impressive to see in person, you get why he’s so beloved. Everyone in the stadium clapped when he did.
We’re quite close that we see Jan and Harry and Moussa warming up on the sidelines and Poch’s son (who’s also incredibly handsome) helping them out. We’re down one point. And of course Moura equalises amazingly thanks to an assist by newly minted Spur, Ndombele. The crowds go wild. After not having bought anyone in 500+ days, what a transfer for the team.
We get 4 minutes of stoppage time and on the 3rd minute, Harry Kane, he really is one of our own, just hits the ball from the freaking middle of the field. The trajectory is crazy. The goalkeeper is too far from the line. It goes in. We’re up one. What a miracle. What a game. For their first pre-season friendly, it was amazing and what a way to win it.
The fans are wild. Sonny and Sissoko take a side each and start signing for all the fans. We’re quite close, like second row, but there are kids in front of me and I probably shouldn’t shove them aside for my own gain. Also, people are starting to get pretty wild. Everyone wants a bit of Sonny. I kind of feel bad for him. He does look tired but is still smiling and signing. Just when you think he’s going to stop and give up, he continues on the long ass line of fans.
He’s getting closer. The girl next to me has a really cute sign so they get it from her so Sonny can sign it directly and gives it back to her. She starts crying. I ask if she wants me to take her photo. She’s so overcome and she agrees. And she won’t stop crying. It’s pretty insane but I feel her. Sonny is now smack in front of me. I have my kit for him to sign but he signs the things the kids have in front of me. I don’t care. He’s literally close enough to touch. I don’t because somehow I find that slice of respect for his personal space to respect. So instead, I just tell Sonny I love him even if he probably doesn’t hear me.
What a weekend. Come on you, Spurs.