The game of football is one of those that never fails to amaze and evoke a variety of emotions.
Be it Leicester City’s amazing rise from nothingness or Bradley Lowery’s fight against cancer, it teaches you lessons to remember for over a lifetime and thus, captures the imagination of the entire world.
And it’s amazing how the kick of a mere ball dictates the fates and passions of many across the globe. It will make you cry at one moment and force you into rejoicing in euphoria the next.
But once you listen to Tottenham Hotspur fan Alok Badri’s tale, you’ll realise that the game also makes dreams come true.
Spurs mean the world to Alok, who hails from India and has been following the North London based outfit for over ten years now.
He says, describing his love for the club:
Ever since I started understanding football, it has been only Spurs for me. To put in the words of great Bill Nicholson, it’s been my life, Tottenham Hotspur, and I love the club.
In what was an expression of liking towards the club he loves, Alok posted a message on Twitter about Spurs playing their last-ever game at White Hart Lane against Manchester United and the club leaving their stadium after 118 long years.
The Lane has witnessed every bit of the club’s ups and downs, ranging from the title wins of 1951 and 1961 to the relegation in 1977 and the disappointment of missing out on their first Premier League crown for two consecutive seasons.
Alok’s post read:
I think I will have to die with a regret to have never attended a game at White Hart Lane. I live thousands of miles away in India and been supporting Spurs all my life with all my heart. I have had only one dream, to come to London, to watch a game at White Hart Lane, possibly a North London Derby, to see the iconic stadium in all its glory, to see the pitch where the legends like Allen, Greaves, Roberts, Hazard, Ossie, Villa, McKay, Ginola, Kilnsmann, Sheringham played, to see the gates where the great Bill Nic stood, I can go on and on about it.
Sadly I will never get to see White Hart Lane now. I may not be a local fan but when I go to sleep today, I will cry too, because WHL won’t be there in a month’s time. As they say, some dreams never come true. Unfortunately, WHL will remain my dream that never came true. COYS
The 26-year-old from Mumbai tells me that the very first thing that hit him on realising that the White Hart Lane won’t be Spurs’ home was regret.
It came more from the fact that he couldn’t afford to visit the iconic stadium, despite it being a place of worship for him.
He tells me:
I was obviously excited for the new stadium that is coming up, but the fact that I would never be able see the Lane ever in my life, hurt the most.
And as the final day edged closer, it was that regret and sheer angst that bothered Alok. Or possibly, it was a mere sign of resignation that his lifelong dream will never come true.
But football never fails to amaze and what happened a few days later made Alok and many into realising that football can make dreams come true.
Micky Hazard, who happens to be one of Tottenham’s greatest players ever, stumbled upon Alok’s tweet and made no hesitation in replying to it and getting in contact with the Spurs fan.
Alok describes it as a ‘strange feeling’. He tells me:
It was really a strange feeling. Micky is an amazing person and he often replies to the tweets he gets, but the way he was calling me to see the lane it was totally different.
The 57-year-old Wearside born former central midfield player was quick to appreciate Alok’s love for the club, urging him to visit the Lane. Alok reiterated that he can’t afford to come all the way from India, but was left surprised when Micky told him that he will make his dream come true.
And that was a feeling that Alok just can’t describe.
I felt so grateful and had nothing but immense respect for him.
Apart from commending Alok’s love for the club, Micky also described the fan for being his hero.
He didn’t just promise to help him in making arrangements for coming to London, but also told Alok that he would do his bit in making sure that he meets the other legends too.
Alok tries hard to describe how it felt:
These stories are too good to be true and when he said that he would show me around the lane himself and also make me meet all the legends, I was so happy that I cannot find words to explain that.
With just five days to go for the game against Manchester United, things were set into motion quickly for Alok.
The very next day, Alok was contacted by India Spurs’ chairman Akshay Sud, who had stumbled upon his conversation with Micky and had realised Alok’s need to make his dream come true.
India Spurs happens to be the official supporters club of Tottenham Hotspur in India and has members from all across the country.
Akshay Sud called me the next day when he spotted the conversation. He asked me whether I would like to take this further.
With time running out and some formalities yet to be completed, Alok received information about how to apply for a passport under the Tatkal (Instant) procedure from Subashish Nath, a Delhi-based Spurs fan, who also helped Alok in putting all the necessary documents together.
Very soon, Akshay and India Spurs launched an online fundraising campaign in an attempt to seek donations from people who were willing to help Alok, who praised India Spurs’ efforts to work as a well-knit family.
Once I received my passport, Akshay launched a fundraising campaign for me on which many fans Indian as well as British donated money. We raised about £300 from the fundraiser.
Local Tottenham fans didn’t just offer financial donations, but were also willing to give Alok a place to stay when he commuted to London.
Alok expresses his gratitude to them, saying:
The people in UK were so generous that after this campaign got viral, they were offering all kinds of help. Some were offering lunch and dinner if and when I go there. Some wanted to be there with me when I set my eyes on the Lane for the first time.
While, the passport was sorted out, Alok still had to claim a visa after applying for it. Rhythm Zaveri, another prominent member of India Spurs, helped Alok in preparing his visa application.
And it’s amazing how unselfishly things were done, thanks to the special bond all of the people involved shared.
The special bond that we often refer to as ‘football’.
Alok thanked India Spurs for all that they did in their attempt to send him to White Hart Lane to watch Tottenham lock horns at the stadium for one last time.
India Spurs members worked for me as if they working for themselves. They put all the efforts necessary to help make my dream come true.
Unfortunately, the paucity of time refused to allow Alok to commute to dreamland, but the help he received from people he didn’t know, moved him.
And that’s why the beautiful game often acts as a sole uniting force in a world that is divided by colour, creed, race and religion.
This is what football is about- bringing people together.
And rightly so, Alok’s dream nearly came true and football acted as a vital factor that bridged all the barriers, financial issues and distances that existed, making Alok’s story seem too good to be true.
Alok did have one regret as he watched his beloved Spurs step onto White Hart Lane for one last time against Manchester United on the telly with a host of other Spurs fans.
It could have been an icing on the cake, if things had panned out differently, but Alok gleams with satisfaction, despite that.
It may not be a tale that history will remember, but it certainly is one fantastic tale that Alok will cherish throughout his life.