Biggest Tottenham Rivals
Rivalry is a big part of football but fans always like to beat certain teams far more than others. In regards to Tottenham Hotspur, their biggest rivals are obvious but there are other clubs with greater hostility to the men from White Hart Lane.
In this article, we’ll look at five of our biggest rival teams and ask just why we get so much satisfaction every time we claim another three points against them.
There’s really only one place to start: The biggest rivalries in sport tend to be between clubs in the closest proximity to each other. In the case of Spurs, that means Arsenal. There are many reasons to enjoy watching Tottenham right now but the fact that our squad consistently finishes higher than our North London neighbours is particularly satisfying.
Of course, it wasn’t always about north London, not as far as Arsenal were concerned and that’s one aspect that we like to keep reminding them of. It’s also one of the reasons why we didn’t really recognise the Gunners as a rival team until they moved across the river from Woolwich to their Highbury Stadium in 1913.
The first game between the two clubs took place in 1887 and, by the end of the 2018/19 campaign, there had been 198 games in total. The record, from our point of view, isn’t great with 64 wins, 52 draws and 82 defeats. That tally is certainly improving through and after years of having to suffer the ignominy of finishing below them, it seems that the balance of power is being restored.
West Ham United
Many Spurs fans would like to think they are above any form of rivalry with West Ham. After all, the two teams have different aspirations in the modern day with Tottenham chasing Champions League football and the Hammers merely aiming for mid table safety.
But, as far as they are concerned, we are their biggest rivals and the league games between the two are seen as the Hammers’ cup final. They’re certainly an irritant and the first loss at the new stadium to West Ham was an agonising one but what about that overall record?
Fortunately we come way out on top here and in 212 matches between the two teams, Spurs have won 96. The Hammers have claimed 64 victories and there have been 52 draws.
Spurs v West Ham games are often full of drama and goals with one of the happier memories coming in 2007 when we came from behind to win 4-3 with Paul Stalteri proving an unlikely hero at the death. More recently, Harry Kane scored twice late on to seal a 3-2 win in our final season at White Hart Lane.
Beating West Ham United is always satisfying but some of us look at the fixture with heightened trepidation, waiting for Hammers fans to cash in on our rare misery.
There is, of course, a common theme here: We’ve so far profiled two London clubs and that continues with Chelsea. Located in the west of the capital at their Stamford Bridge ground, this is a team who enjoyed a long winning record at home that was finally broken in 2017/18. Prior to that, you had to go back to the days of Paul Walsh and Gary Lineker to find Spurs winning at the Bridge but the rivalry extends far beyond that.
The reasons behind the hostility between these two teams have been described as complex but most sources trace it back to 1967 when the sides competed in the first ever All-London FA Cup Final. Spurs emerged comfortable winners, even though the 2-1 scoreline may look like a narrow one. From there, it seems. Chelsea and their fans have never forgiven us.
It didn’t help when we relegated them to the old second division in the mid-1970s and when they returned a few years later, the hatred between the two was evident to see. It all boiled over in 2016 when Chelsea ended our faint title hopes in brutal fashion in a game that has since been dubbed as the battle of the bridge.
The most recent 2018/19 campaign ended with one win apiece and that leaves us with a head to head record comprising of 164 matches. We concede the upper ground here with Chelsea winning 70 to our 54 with 40 draws dropping in along the way.
Burnley may seem like an unlikely team to be called true rivals but, if we look back through history, there was a period when the two sides kept running into each other.
Anyone with even a vague understanding of Tottenham’s history will be aware that we beat Burnley in the FA Cup final of 1962 but few will know that the Lancashire side exacted their revenge a year later. Spurs had also beaten Burnley, 3-0, on the successful road to Wembley in 1961 but in 1963, the north west club beat us by the same scoreline in the same competition.
Things got worse in 1964 as we went down 7-2 in the league at Turf Moor but by then, the great Bill Nicholson side of the early sixties was starting to break up. As double winner Cliff Jones put it:
“Back then we were the teams to watch. It was the glory years for Tottenham but also for Burnley.”
Needless to say, there isn’t quite the same hostility between these two sides as there is with the other teams on this list but, for those who know their history, there is genuine rivalry between Spurs and Burnley. They’ve also been something of a thorn in our side in recent seasons too with a 2-1 defeat in our most recent game, in 2018/19, sparking a slump in form in the Premier League.
Overall, the head to head record is also closer than you might think: In total, there have been 114 games between the two sides with Spurs winning 46. Burnley have tasted victory on 41 occasions while 27 have been draws.
It’s that golden period between 1959 and 1963 that remains special, however, and hopefully both sets of fans will have some appreciation of the great clashes of days gone by.
On the basis that practically every side has issues with Manchester United, we’ve included them on this list. We’ve drawn swords with the club over many decades and once again, Old Trafford was another ground where we endured a long, barren spell which was only recently broken.
The tie is also known for producing some great games but unfortunately, we seem to have been on the wrong end of most of them. United’s incredible comeback in 2001 when they came back from 3-0 down at half time to win the game 5-3 is the most memorable.
We haven’t met too many times in major knockout competition although, if we look at recent history, that FA Cup semi final defeat in 2018 was a low point.
As you might expect, we don’t come out of it too well when it comes to the head to head stats. As at the end of the 2018/19 campaign, the clubs had played each other 191 times. Manchester United had won 91 of those games, with Spurs winning 52, along with 42 draws.