Behind Enemy Lines: What’s It Like to Work for a Football Club You Hate?

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GettyArsenal were storming to a famous victory in the north London derby, and sitting in the press box at the Emirates Stadium was a man in a Tottenham Hotspur club suit who was absolutely delighted.It was February 2012. Tottenham had gone 2-0 up in the first half of the Premier League contest, sending the away supporters into raptures, only for Arsenal to mount a stirring comeback that propelled them to a crushing 5-2 win. It was turning into a bleak day for everyone associated with Tottenham, but despite being in charge of the club’s official live text commentary stream, Tim Love was thrilled. Because he also happened to be an Arsenal fan.”I was doing the live text, and I remember I did one entry when Arsenal were coming back,” Love told Bleacher Report.”I wrote ‘GOAL! GOAL! GOAL!’ in all capital letters, with exclamation marks, and then I described it. We had some messages coming through saying, ‘Hang on a minute; you sound a bit too enthusiastic about this.’ So I had to reel it in. Because I was incredibly enthusiastic about what was happening. It was glorious.”There are countless stories about football fans exploiting opportunities presented to them by their jobs to mock their club’s archrivals, from the Manchester United supporters who buried a red United shirt beneath the car park at the Etihad Stadium to the West Ham United fan who embedded a Hammers scarf in the concrete at the new Spurs stadium. But what must it be like if you find yourself working for the club you hate on a permanent basis?Love grew up in Finchley, north London, and attended his first Arsenal game, a 0-0 draw against Sheffield Wednesday, in November 1994. As an adult, he lived just off Holloway Road, a five-minute walk from the Emirates, and when he heard about an opportunity to work at Arsenal as a multimedia producer, he thought all his dreams had come true.In what he describes as a “really cruel twist of fate,” he missed out on the Arsenal position, and having been encouraged by a recruiter to apply for a similar role at Tottenham, he found himself working for the enemy. It was either that or unemployment, but it was nonetheless a difficult pill to swallow.The Red Devils @utdtrdUnited shirt put under a car park at the Etihad LOL Nice one boys! https://t.co/8dxDTmKeIw”I had issues with it. I’ve got a couple of really good friends who are Arsenal fans, and I didn’t want to talk to them about it, because it did feel a bit treacherous and a bit wrong,” Love says.”You can’t help your allegiances. There would be times when I’d get into conversations [with colleagues] about Arsenal and Spurs, and that fire in the pit of your belly is there the whole time. I could take the job for what it was—it was a job, and I was being pragmatic—but I still felt like I had to defend Arsenal at all times.”Love joined Tottenham at a time when Arsenal were still in the ascendancy i

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