Whenever someone asks me the name of my football team, I feel a surge of pride and mild apprehension as I foresee the expression of surprise and confusion on their face.
It’s not a pun, really. ‘Snatch’ doesn’t even rhyme with ‘Spurs’. It also doesn’t roll off the tongue like the second contender (West Hampurse) does. I think the unapologetic lewdness of this makes the name even better.
Yes, my football team is called Tottenham Hotsnatch, but that’s not even the best thing about it. Tottenham Hotsnatch was formed in winter 2014 during a brainstorm to find more reasons to drink alcohol. Someone suggested starting a football team and, despite the fact that literally none of us had ever played football before, we were all on board.
At the beginning there were 11 snatches. Our friend Theo heroically volunteered to manage our first training session, and on a cold Monday night in Shadwell, the first Tottenham Hotsnatch training session began.
It was chaos. We were all absolute shit. Our hand-eye coordination was laughable. I got tackled by a member of my own team on multiple occasions. Someone fell over their own leg. Own goals were more common than regular goals.
“Take a touch!!!” Theo bellowed, as the ball nearly twatted him in the face again. By the end of the training session one snatch was concussed, I’d skinned both my knees and at least two others were in tears, perhaps of confusion.
Nevertheless, we decided to join a 5-a-side women’s league the following week.
The next Tuesday we arrived at Crossharbour Power League. The smell of blood and sweat pervaded the air as Theo gathered Tottenham Hotsnatch in for a team talk before we kicked off our first match against the not-hilariously-named Outer Milan. “Remember – when you get the ball, don’t panic and always take a touch.”
I felt physically sick as I walked on to the pitch. I looked around at my friends who’s faces I’m so used to seeing relaxed and happy, bathed in the warm light of Wetherspoons. They looked pale and gaunt under the floodlights. I wondered if I was going to shit myself and then the referee blew the whistle.
It’s difficult to describe those first flailing minutes of Tottenham Hotsnatch’s debut five-a-side match. It was a blur of utter bewilderment, fear, anxiety and mal-coordination. It took Outer Milan (who were particularly unfriendly) a couple of minutes to realize that they could literally dance circles around us. We lunged at them for tackles as they nimbly backed away from our flailing feet. Goal after goal after goal was slammed into the back of our net. They actually stopped celebrating after the tenth goal.
It was worse when we got the ball. I was appointed to play up front so was the first to kick off after every miserable defeat. Each time I would kick the ball to a fellow snatch, they would panic and kick it as far away as possible, usually to the other team. If we were able to keep the ball for more than one pass the other team would run at us so fast that we had to pelt the ball away for fear of our lives. Our mates were standing on the side of the pitch, yelling encouragement through the wires. We would grin sheepishly as another goal would go in, yet they still egged us on.
By the end of the twenty-minute match which lasted forever, Outer Milan had won 21 – 0.
“You’re shit, Tottenham Hotsnatch,” they actually yelled after us as we wandered in a daze to the pub, unsure of what on earth we were doing this for.
As we made our orders at The George Pub in Crossharbour, the friendly landlady asked us the score. We were in very high spirits, euphoric that we had actually done it and determined to carry on. Theo gave us a team talk and we each voted for our Snatch of the Match.
As the first season drew on we continued to lose but not quite as badly. In our sixth match, at 11 – 0 down, I decided to follow Theo’s advice for once and take a touch. I shot the ball towards the goal and watched in slow motion as it actually went in. I instantly blacked out from euphoria and woke up, held in the air by a hysterical Lucy. Our subs had invaded the pitch and were shouting and hugging each other. Theo was crying silent tears of joy and disbelief as he looked on, stunned. The other team were confused.
At the end of the season we were given the “Best Team Spirit” award, and each of us was given a little trophy. It was genuinely one of the proudest moments of my life.
Over two years on and Tottenham Hotsnatch is still going strong. Snatches come and go as opportunities abroad or the urge to go travelin’ arise, but the unbreakable spirit continues. Being part of Tottenham Hotsnatch means a lot more than being part of a football team.
The team is made up of intelligent, unsporty, career-driven women who are all happy to take themselves completely out of their comfort zone and do something that they are all genuinely shit at. I count myself lucky to think that I have so many of these fearless women in my life.
On top of that, the support that the team bring outside of football is incredible. When someone’s having a bad time at work or just got promoted, everyone is encouraging and supportive of each other.
My dad died suddenly in June 2016. Two days later Tottenham Hotsnatch had a match against a particularly unfriendly team and were one player short. “Goals for Alice!!!” They shouted. Tottenham Hotsnatch won that match 3 – 0.
Later that week I ventured out to go to a Snatch’s birthday. I was shaken and close to tears but I wanted to see my friends. After an hour or so one of the snatches asked me to follow her and led me into the front room. There sat every one of Tottenham Hotsnatch and they said “We just want to say that we are so sorry”. They gathered me into a group hug and then they gave me a hamper full of all my favourite things. Prosecco, dairy free treats, udon noodles. It was unbelievably touching. I felt that even though something so terrible had happened, I was lucky to be part of this team.
So yes, my football team is called Tottenham Hotsnatch, but it’s so much more than that.