Over the next week or two we are conducting interviews with overseas Spurs fans from around the world. We want to understand the level of our support outside of England, and what it’s like to be a Tottenham fan living abroad.
Today we meet with Rob Ahiers, from Amsterdam
OK to start off with, tell us your name, where you are from, and where you are currently based?
Rob Ahlers, born in Amsterdam, Dutch nationality and currently living in Amsterdam
Are you part of any supporters club, and if so, tell us a bit about it?
In 2012 I was approached by Tottenham to set up the Amsterdam Spurs Supporters Club. So I am founder of that club and have been chairman ever since
How many members do you have? And do you meet often?
We have around 100 members currently and only really meet up for watching games though this is pretty much every game. Occasionally we go to games but that is largely on members’ own initiatives rather than a formal club outing
Where do you watch games? And how many people meet to watch?
We normally watch games in O’Reilly’s Irish pub in the centre of Amsterdam. Occasionally, we will use a very Dutch sports bar called De Gouden Florijn or Sports Café on Leideseplein (both also in the centre of Amsterdam). Attendances can vary dramatically. The maximum is around 25 but I have also been there on my own.
Why Tottenham? How and why did you end up following Spurs
My granddad was a St John’s ambulance officer at Tottenham, sitting on the perimeter of the WHL pitch. Even though I was living in Holland, he saw my early interest in football and made me the first overseas member of the Spurs Supporters Club. That was in 1965, at the age of 5. It was not until 1968 that I first visited England and also saw my first life game at WHL against Crystal Palace (2-0). Since then, I lived in London for some 16 years, including 4 years in Edmonton. During that time, I was a season ticket holder for many years and went to most home and away games.
Would you say that Spurs were a big club (in terms of support/fan base) in your part of the world?
The Dutch are quite outward looking when it comes to football and I would rank us probably at number 6, after the two Spanish giants, Man Utd, Liverpool and the unmentionables.
Is Tottenham’s profile growing in your part of the world? And if so, can you elaborate?
It certainly is. Television exposure is growing but there are a number of other factors that play a role. They include success on the pitch, the large number of ex Ajax/Dutch players, and the traditional links between Spurs and Ajax.
Do you get to attend many live games? And If so, how often?
I would normally get to between 5 and 10 games a season. That number will grow in the coming years.
Do you get many English Spurs fans visit your area? And if so, what is their response/reaction on seeing the local support?
Amsterdam is a very popular destination for English travelers, mostly short city breaks. I frequently get asked where the game will be shown and where we will be watching. Only about half of those enquiries lead to them actually joining us for the game in our chosen venue. The other half will usually go to the same bar but will keep apart from us, presumably because they are in a larger group or have no wish to mix with “strangers”. Either way that’s fine.
How would you describe Tottenham’s season so far? Are you happy with performances?
I think we have to be more than pleased with the season so far. I was in Nashville in the summer and I thought then already that Man City would run away with the title. We were lucky to just lose 3-0 and we had something close to our strongest side out.
The Wembley factor has made the season more difficult, without any doubt. The smaller teams especially seem to lift their game when their players realise that it is one of the few opportunities they will have to play at Wembley. Generally, we have fared much better against better teams at home because Wembley is not that special to them.
Juventus was disappointing because it was largely down to being naive at that level. I see that as a learning exercise. I think its important to finish top 4 of course but think we are on track for that. I also think it is important to win the FA Cup, just to shut some of the critics up and take some of that pressure of the players and club. We have to get used to winning trophies.
Which players have stood out for you the most this year
Nothing too startling here. Kane, Son, Dembele and Eriksson. I also think that Davies and Sanchez have made a lot of progress.
Are there any specific Tottenham players that are admired, or particularly popular in your country?
Kane and Son, and any of our “Dutch” players (i.e. the ones that have played in the Dutch league, especially the ex Ajax players)
How do you feel about the management of Tottenham since Mauricio Pochettino took over?
I think the management of a club these days goes way beyond the position occupied by Pochettino. He is a very strong and vital cog in the wheel but the progress in terms of facilities, sponsorship, wage structures are equally important for the long term prosperity of the club. I think that all have been managed very well to now. The network of Supporters Clubs worldwide and the way the club has set this up and encouraged this is another example.
How do you think that the new stadium will affect the club?
In the short term I expect a small negative. Everything is new, everybody wants to do well there and expectations are sky high. History shows that clubs generally do not fare as well in the first year of a new stadium as they expected. In the long term, I think the forward thinking will ensure the long term future of the club. I believe that it was an excellent decision to make the stadium multi functional and the link with American Football and the exposure the club will have towards those fans in the US could be phenomenal. The role of Nike has been very important and will continue to be that.
What would you like to see from Tottenham going forward, for the rest of this season and beyond?
I think the biggest challenge may well be maintaining the wage structure without losing players to idiot clubs like Chelsea, Manchester City and PSG. Unfortunately, I see that list of idiot clubs growing in the coming years, unless UEFA and/or FIFA take measures. I have little faith in either organisation and believe that the band of idiots behind these clubs is increasing. These people see the sport are their personal playground and are still greedy enough to ensure that rules are amended to ensure that “their club” will remain at the top by making it almost impossible for others to join them (unless they are backed by an equally big and egocentric idiot)
And finally, anything you want to say or add?
COYS, have faith. The club is generally healthy and in good hands