Road to Glory Recap
Jun. 22, 2013
In late November 2012, Under Armour and Tottenham Hotspur announced a competition to find the most passionate Spurs fans in the world and reward them with the VIP trip of a lifetime - a trip to London for the final game of the season against Sunderland. The competition was far from simple. It was the ultimate test of football supporters. The challenge was to complete 11 dares inspired by famous Tottenham events and the atmosphere supporters create each week at White Hart Lane. On the other side of the world, five Spurs fans in Sydney saw this and then set about to win it.
On the 9th of December, these five fans - Joe Di Laudo, Colin Saunders, Anthony Goodman, Chris Flood and the author of this article, Tommy Silver - came together to plan their entries. A week later, over the weekend of the 15th and 16th, they executed this plan all across Sydney, filming at local parks, famous Sydney beaches, football grounds and even in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge & Opera House. The videos put together showed not just the passion of this group, but of Spurs fans all across Australia. Spurs Australia (OzSpurs), has been around for over 10 years now and is one of the biggest supporters clubs in Australia.
On Monday the 18th of March, I went to bed at around 3am pretty devastated having just watched Spurs lose at home to Fulham. However, my mood would improve incredibly when I woke up! That morning, Under Armour and Tottenham announced the winner of the Under Armour Road to Glory: OzSpurs! I had been checking my phone every morning since the competition had closed at the end of January hoping to find out we'd won. When I finally read the tweet announcing it, I could not believe it. We felt confident of our chances, but that was the moment that it all came true. I quickly phoned each of the group to give them the good news and the reaction from them probably can't be repeated here! Lets just say they received some funny looks from their colleagues at work.
The next two months were spent giddy with excitement, pinching ourselves at each bit of detail we were told. In truth, the time flew by, cheering Spurs on as usual at all hours of the day and night as we chased Champions League.
Then the day finally arrived - Wednesday the 15th of May and it was time to fly to London! Anyone who has flown to Australia before will know it's not the most pleasant trip, simply due to the 24 hours spent on a plane, but that really did not bother us. And just like that, the most incredibly ridiculous weekend of our lives was underway.
Our first official stop was at Harrod's on Friday morning to check out the impressive Under Armour section. It was a bit of a tease for us, as we were all pretty excited to get our hands on some Under Armour / Spurs gear but had to wait! We were being followed by around by a camera crew from America, so we spent Friday afternoon taking in the sights of London before heading up to Tottenham to really soak it all up. We took in some famous Spurs pubs and tried to explain what it meant to us to actually be in Tottenham.
If Friday was exciting, then Saturday was to blow us away. We were up early to head up to the brand new Tottenham training centre. Just seeing the training centre was amazing, but we were there for the 2012/13 Supporters Club Awards, along with fans from the States, Japan, Sweden and all over the world. It was great to meet people who go through the same emotions at ridiculous hours every week like us.
The event kicked off with some highlights of the season, giving us goosebumps as we watched what was a very good first season with AVB. Then our host, Paul Coyte, threw to us, showing a video of those who'd entered the Road to Glory and ultimately announce us as the winners, before calling us up to have a chat! We were definitely not expecting that, but it was good practise for what would come the following day. It was great to tell the Spurs world about our great club.
Things got pretty boring from there - we only had Ledley King stop by for a Q&A, followed by the Player of the Season awards. It was pretty obvious to all who'd be joining us at that point, but we didn't quite expect to be the ones to present him with his award! We were called up to meet the one and only Gareth Bale and stood side-by-side with him as he looked back on the season and spoke about our chase for 4th place. It was simply amazing to present him with that award after such an incredible season.
Things at the training centre wound down but we were treated to a very special lunch at the Academy canteen, before being whisked away to White Hart Lane. As if the morning hadn't already blown us away, we were now meeting up with Gary Mabbutt for a private tour of the Lane!
Such was our excitement, we spent about 15 minutes in the car park talking to Gary about everything Tottenham before someone finally suggested we actually start the tour! It seemed fitting to spend the first part in the press conference room, where we were able to get photos with Gary. From there, we headed downstairs and this is where it officially hit me.
We walked in to one of the main executive suites where we had our Tottenham and Under Armour goodies waiting for us. It was laid out in individual piles, each with a home kit with our name on the back. We were also given a signed shirt, training gear, Under Armour hoodies, shoes and some special things to share with the rest of Spurs Australia. I was completely overwhelmed and the camera in my face would probably have only heard a ridiculous amounts of adjectives to explain how I felt. None of them would do it justice. Up til that point, everything had felt so surreal.
We donned our new kit and continued on the tour of the ground, stopping at the usual points where we would bombard Gary Mabbutt with questions and listen in awe as he told us stories of his playing days. Tours are never run the day before a match at White Hart Lane, so heading into the Spurs change room was pretty special, with all the players gear laid out waiting for them for the Sunderland match.
The last stop was pitchside and anyone who has been on the tour would know the buzz that you get there even when the stands are empty. Again, we could only but think about what was awaiting us on the Sunday.
Sunday was matchday. 37 games played and it all came down to that two hours and we were not just going to the match, but we were getting the five star treatment! We arrived at the Lane a couple of hours before kick off and headed straight up to make the most of something that none of us will ever do again - today, we were watching the match from the Under Armour Executive Box in the East Stand.
For me, everything was moving so quickly. It was hard to know where to look in that box! We had all the food and drink we could want in one corner, Michael Dawson's boots in another, the programme with our names in it all over and of course walking to the outside section of the box to soak up the atmosphere.
The match kicked off at 4pm and didn't quite go our way to start with, mainly due to a bemusing yellow card. After about 35 minutes, we had to leave the action to take a trip around to the other side of the stadium, watching the last few minutes of the first half from the tunnel!
At half time, all the scores were read out and again Ledley King made an appearance, paying tribute to the incredible support Spurs have around the world. And that was our cue. I'd known that we would be walking out onto the pitch at half time in front of 36,000 fans, but I didn't quite know just how that would feel. I half expected everyone to be at the bar or not paying attention to a bunch of Aussies who'd been flown over, so I was so shocked when we walked out to the whole ground applauding us. I didn't know where to look or what to do, so I just followed the others in waving to the crowd, probably looking very silly!
We were asked a few questions and I was concentrating so hard on hearing them to be nervous. In a weekend of amazing highs, that was easily the best moment. Standing on the hallowed pitch, next to Ledley King and speaking to 36,000 Spurs fans...I still can't believe I was there!
It was all over in a flash and we were back up to the box to enjoy the last 45 minutes of the season. Another Gareth Bale special meant we were able to celebrate, but, as we all know, it was a disappointing end with Arsenal also winning. We had resolved to not let the result dictate or influence our weekend in anyway, and we did just that. We stayed around to congratulate the players on another very good season before heading off to celebrate our trip.
And so, just like that, our trip was over. To win a trip like that still blows my mind - I can't quite believe everything that we did. But the bit that will stay with me for the rest of my life is the fact that I was able to share it with four of my best friends from Sydney. We had the most breathtaking experiences and we will be able to discuss those together for the rest of our lives. We were also very fortunate to have three of the nicest guys join us from America. They didn't know much about Spurs when the competition started, but I think we educated them over the weekend.
To Sean, Doug and Ari at Red Tettemer, everybody at Under Armour and Tottenham Hotspur: you made the dreams of five grown men come true. We can never thank you enough.