Photographer and lifelong Tottenham Hotspur fan Martin Andersen turned his camera on fellow fans to give a candid view of life on and off the terraces.
The collection of 119 intimate photographs feature in his book entitled Can’t Smile Without You, taking its name from Barry Manilow’s ’70s hit of the same name. The song was adopted by Spurs fans as an unlikely anthem, having reportedly been played on the team coach on away trips during that era.
The book showcases images taken from over 100 different games at home, away, and across Europe from 2013 until the last game played at White Hart Lane in 2017.
Born in Denmark, Andersen’s first game at White Hart Lane wasn’t until November 10th, 1990. Sitting in the Park Lane end, Andersen watched a Spurs side featuring Gascoigne, Lineker and Mabbutt run out 4-2 winners against Wimbledon. But his love for football and Tottenham started long before that.
“The first ever game I remember watching on TV was the 1978 World Cup Final between Argentina and Holland. I was six years old and remember taking an instant liking to the Argentina kits, the blue and white stripes and the black shorts…”
“I was blown away by the atmosphere and celebrations and instantly fell in love with football. After that summer I started following the English games on TV and as the recent World Cup winners Osvaldo ‘Ossie’ Ardiles and Ricardo Villa had signed for Spurs, I decided Tottenham was going to be my team.”
Andersen moved to London in 1993 and was from then finally able to visit White Hart Lane on a regular basis.
“I started bringing my camera to the games and photographed the atmosphere on the streets and in the pubs before and after. It ended up growing into an obsession, and after three years I realised that I was beginning to document a piece of our history – the last seasons at White Hart Lane.”
Andersen presents an authentic and unflinching documentation of the fans and their resultant relationships and community.
“I wanted to capture different generations of fans, the camaraderie, the banter, the songs in the pubs, the madness. Travelling up and down the country and the long away trips in Europe.”
Andersen’s imagery depicts the drama, tensions, and raw emotions involved in such unwavering support of a football team that infiltrates every part of life.
“I was interested in making a project about the fans. The fans never switch allegiances, they are here forever and I felt that needed to be documented and celebrated.”
Capturing a rapidly changing culture and a unique moment in Tottenham Hotspur’s history following the demolition of the 118 year-old stadium at White Hart Lane at the end of the 2016/17 season, the monochrome images also have a timeless quality that transcends the recent era they were taken in.
“I was interested in capturing characters, emotions and expressions and also the dynamics of the group. I like using my camera as a tool to meet other people. It can help break down boundaries. I always treat everyone with respect – if they didn’t want to be photographed I wouldn’t photograph them.”
These could be images of any diehard football fans and of the associated rituals, pre and post match, that are an integral part of being one.
“I wasn’t interested in making a chronological ‘football fan’ book covering all the games with numerous pictures on each page. I wanted the book to have some artistic merit in terms of photography…”
“I am interested in people and I’ve always been more interested in photography that is open-ended, pictures that are suggestive and open to interpretation.”
On some of his favourite moments, Andersen reflected; “The Arsenal derbies are always memorable, something every fan looks forward to. It’s an early start and you can feel the tension and excitement in the atmosphere all over north London…”
“I also used to love the trips to Upton Park, which are now sadly also part of history.”
Andersen added; “Beating Manchester City away in 2016, when Eriksen scored the winner in the 83rd minute, and of course our 3-1 win against Real Madrid at Wembley, these were all very special moments. The last game at White Hart Lane was emotional and beautiful.”
If you enjoyed that, you may also like West Ham fans under the spotlight, where photographer and supporter Taff Manton focuses on The Hammers’ and their move away from Upton Park.