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Photo via Flickr

Photo via Flickr

The North London Derby is one of the greatest rivalries in soccer. There is no love lost between the fans of the two teams, whether these fans are in London or, lets say Philadelphia. It’s 7:30 am in Philadelphia on February 7th, but on 1511 Locust Street, Arsenal and Tottenham fans gather to cheer and jeer. Misconduct Tavern, where I saw the game, is the home of the Arsenal Philadelphia Supporters Club and the color white is considered taboo. I sat smack in the middle of the area where the club supporters view the game and was excited and flabbergasted by the atmosphere and passion bouncing of the walls of the tavern. Here was a packed bar at 7:30 am on a Saturday with fans screaming, rejoicing, and captivated by a game that is played almost halfway across the globe.

Photo by Ioannis Moutsis

Photo by Ioannis Moutsis

Just before kickoff, the spectators have filled up on caffeine from the coffee pots awaiting the fans upon entrance to the tavern, and soon after, the beers came in as a substitute. The food befit the atmosphere, and the chants were only interrupted by a brief gasp for oxygen. Arsenal scored in the eleventh minute of the game and the chants of “We won the league in White Hart Lane” erupted for what my eardrums thought was forever. Tottenham equalized later on in the fifty-sixth minute but the fans held their ground in terms of chanting for their beloved team. Families, friends, and even people who came in the tavern by themselves all joined in on the fun and embraced the comradery among fans that makes sports so special. However, Harry Kane’s game-winning goal in the eighty-sixth minute stunned the crowd who left Misconduct Tavern disappointed.

The ritual of watching the North London Derby would not be complete without the taunting of the victors’ fans at the expense of the Arsenal fans. Tottenham fans, who were watching the game across the street at Fado Irish Pub. Screams of “Oh when the spurs go marching in” welcomed Arsenal fans coming out of Misconduct Tavern. People passing by Locust Street did not seem to understand what all the fuss was about, but then again you would have to witness or be part of the culture to understand it.

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Photo by Ioannis Moutsis

For some insight on the growing soccer culture in Philadelphia and the U.S, be sure to check out my Q&A with Arsenal Philadelphia’s Mike Hiddi.

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