When Kanoute scored and Iraq exploded—a Spurs’ supporter’s prison diary

Listening to English football commentary for a few minutes, due to the limitations of the situation, was the icing on the cake—regardless of the fact it did not involve Tottenham. However, I was now able to listen to the football results and realised, at last, why the Swiss International Red Cross delegate could not, despite my persistent questions on their visits, tell me anything about Tottenham news even though he was more conversant on Manchester United. Tottenham were still not the team they once were under the late Bill Nicholson in the early ’60s, and specific news was non-existent it seemed.

After repatriation to Iraq in 1990, I found bans imposed on satellite TV, with prison terms and hefty fines threatened. The Iraqi regime had imposed a penalty of $400, which was then the equivalent of an annual salary or even more for a mid-level government employee. In addition, there was a prison term of six months, and the satellite receiver and dish would be confiscated. But again, I paid no attention.

After 2003 I was at last able to watch all games without fear, or this was what I had thought. I will always remember a very memorable goal scored by Frederic Kanoute against Everton at the Lane. It could not have been more well-timed because, just as the ball crossed the line, there was a huge spontaneous explosion near my home which blew a thick wooden door at the front of my house right to the back of the property.

Today, I am a grandfather. One of my sons is a Tottenham fan and I am sure one of my grandsons will follow suit. To me Tottenham remind me of my youth, and I feel very much attached to the club. My deep memory takes me back to the time when White Hart Lane was a fortress no other team could conquer. Although I have never been to White Hart Lane, and attending a home game is still a far-fetched life’s ambition, both my son and I buy T-shirts, caps, publications and other items for the kids annually. It is the least support we can provide for the club we are so much devoted to.

Nimah’s story is taken from the book Tottenham ’Til I Die. Copyright © Legends Publishing. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

About the book series

The ’Til I Die series started in 2005–06 as a trial project at Brentford Football Club in West London, with the aim of encouraging Bees fans to write passionately about their experiences following the club, to share memories with fellow supporters and to celebrate local pride and family tradition.

Following production of several additional club-based books, in 2008 the National Literacy Trust secured funding through its Sport Stories campaign. Grants from the Football Foundation, Arts Council England, Professional Footballers’ Association and the Department for Children, Schools and Families allowed publication of more collections. Now, 600 copies of each book on publication are given free to local schools. By the end of 2010, more than 30 club-specific titles will have been produced for teams of all shapes, sizes and regions.

Contact Legends Publishing for additional information.

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2 comments on this post.
  1. Steve Jones:

    What an amazing story—it really does show the length and risks that some people will go to when following a team. I’m not sure if there is another sport in the world which prompts such life-threatening decisions just to keep up to date with scores and news.

  2. Rick:

    Very interesting story. I don’t think I’ve come across anyone who is so passionate about their club until now. Really good read!!

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