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MARTIN SAMUEL: Yid Army win is a strange sort of victory… call it 1-0 to the schmucks


Nothing the Oxford English Dictionary does ends up in the public domain by accident. No reporter is sat in the library like a naughty schoolboy looking up the rude words.

When the OED announces its updates there is a press release. This statement directs news sources to the good stuff, because the OED knows how to make a headline, too.

There is little mileage in releasing details of a couscoussier — ‘a steamer used to cook couscous, consisting of two interlocking pots, the upper one holding the couscous and having a lid and perforated bottom’ or a danfo — ‘a yellow minibus that carries passengers for a fare as part of an informal transport system in Lagos, the largest city in Nigeria.’

The Oxford English Dictionary expanded the definition of the word'Yid' to include Spurs fans

The Oxford English Dictionary expanded the definition of the word ‘Yid’ to include Spurs fans

Nobody is even writing about the appearance of a w***stain, as controversial as that may be. They’re writing about Yids.

It’s a big year for Jews in the OED. Jewdar, Jewfro, Jew Town, even Jew York make it in. But the OED really hit the jackpot when it redefined Yid.

There are a lot of old Jewish words in the 2020 edition but the introduction of kvetching — the Jewish word for complaint — or shticky, meaning gimmicky, would be a footnote in a national newspaper at best.

Taking Yid from the Jews, however, that’s a story. And sure enough, the OED have made all the bulletins with their classification.

yiddo, n.: A Jewish person. Also in extended use: a supporter of or player for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. See Yid n. 1, Yid n. 2.

See what they did there? They legitimised it — for everybody. There are no parameters set on its usage, no instruction manual or rules.

A Yid is a Tottenham fan. So now, when anyone announces, or sings in their thousands, that they hate the f****** Yids, it is no longer anti-Semitic.

Indeed, if you’re a follower of Arsenal or Chelsea or West Ham, Tottenham’s rivals in London, who doesn’t hate the f****** Yids? Everyone hates the Yids.

They feature in various versions of the song that starts with hating Nottingham Forest and takes in, depending on your location, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Leicester, West Ham United, Leeds, Arsenal — and Tottenham, or Tottenham Hotspur, if you’re trying to make the first or fourth line scan. 

And that was all fine, up to a point. There really is too much hate about at football grounds these days, but few seriously connected such a powerful emotion with that particular terrace ditty.

Spurs fans refer to themselves as'Yids' or'Yiddos' and often chant'Yid Army' at games

Spurs fans refer to themselves as ‘Yids’ or ‘Yiddos’ and often chant ‘Yid Army’ at games

For a start, who outside the East Midlands really hates Forest? Yet there they are, first to be taken down in just about every version of the song. So it was a faux hate, a hate born of rhyme and the necessary scansion — and very different to the hatred known as anti-Semitism, which kills in the millions.

Yet those lines are blurred now and we have them all to thank: the cowards, the enablers, those who could have sent a very clear message about the road being travelled in one part of north London and chose not to.

The warning was there a year ago when Chelsea sat down with police to discuss the anti-Semitic element within their own fan group. 

Chelsea were informed, to their immense frustration, that law enforcers did not consider the Tottenham chant ‘Yid Army’ to be offensive, but instead a form of self- identification — little different to Arsenal fans calling themselves ‘Gooners’.

In that context, it was explained, any Chelsea supporter using the word ‘Yid’ towards Tottenham fans would be considered to be talking about them as followers of Tottenham, not Jews.

Only if a fan was to admit that, yes, he was motivated by racial hatred not rivalry, would action be taken. At this point — and the development was publicised, certainly in this column — Tottenham’s board should have taken stock.

It was obvious the direction this was now heading, the dreadful normalisation that was about to take place.

Yet Tottenham now have 60,000 chanting about Yids at home games and that’s a significant number to challenge, when in need of their money and support. Far easier to turn a blind eye. There is a phrase for this type of action, of course. A proper bottle job.

It was, coincidentally, how Rachel Riley described a Tottenham defeat at West Ham in 2017, causing outrage among many of the same Tottenham fans who see no problem when shouting about Yids.

Riley, who is Jewish, did not renew her contract with Sky after making this mild criticism and described the online abuse she received as hideous.

So there was a moment when Tottenham could have stepped in, when the sirens were sounding after the Chelsea meeting, and they ducked it.

Now they are upset at the way the OED has made their club the gateway to anti-Semitic abuse.

Tottenham issued a statement this week condemning the definition. Too late. It’s done. The club facilitated it, the board facilitated it, all those who lacked the courage to make a stand facilitated it.

Rachel Riley received'hideous' abuse from Spurs fans when she called the team'bottle jobs'

Rachel Riley received ‘hideous’ abuse from Spurs fans when she called the team ‘bottle jobs’

Cue many of the same fans who found a disparaging word from Riley so offensive advancing the specious defence of reclamation.

Tottenham fans call themselves Yids, apparently, in response to the anti-Semitism directed at their historically Jewish fan base.

And this would have credibility if the ‘Yid Army’ chants were only heard during matches against Chelsea or West Ham, rival clubs whose fans have often been guilty of anti-Semitism during games against Tottenham.

Yet ‘Yid Army’ and various related songs are heard at all Tottenham games, no matter the opposition.

They will be heard next week, against RB Leipzig, just as they were when Borussia Dortmund visited, despite German football taking a hugely proactive stance against anti-Semitism and Germany having some of the toughest laws on hate speech in Europe. 

So who is ‘Yid’ being reclaimed from in an environment where anti-Semitism is absent, but a majority of gentiles are not? The only people singing about Yids then are Tottenham fans.

David Baddiel, the comedian who has long campaigned on this subject, said that he was told by one Tottenham supporter: ‘F*** off, it’s our word now.’

And according to the OED, and even the police, it is.

‘Jews are not even allowed to own their own hate,’ said Baddiel, almost forlornly.

So they win. The Yid Army wins, Daniel Levy wins, the editor of the Jewish Chronicle wins — and is ‘proud to be a Yiddo’, apparently — but also the ones who hate the f****** Yids.

They win, too, for they can say just that now, free from arrest and with some of our finest scholars and high-profile members of the Jewish community on their side.

Funny sort of victory, though, isn’t it? One-nil to the schmucks, you might say.


No sooner had Sabri Lamouchi been lauded for transforming Nottingham Forest into genuine promotion contenders than he fell headlong into the biggest managerial error of the week.

What possessed him to make five changes for the match against Charlton in order to focus on Saturday’s game against West Brom? 

Charlton had won two matches since October 19, but somehow held on to a 24th-minute lead to take three points at the City Ground. Had Forest won, they would have gone ahead of Leeds into second place in the Championship table.

Sabri Lamouchi's gamble to make five changes for the game against Charlton didn't pay off

Sabri Lamouchi’s gamble to make five changes for the game against Charlton didn’t pay off

That might have been a watershed moment in the campaign, heaping further pressure on Leeds and sending Forest full of confidence into a match with the leaders.

Instead, Lamouchi misjudged the moment horribly. He admitted afterwards that he had made a mistake and must hope from here there is no lasting effect. He let Leeds off the hook.


Steve McClaren came to the defence of Anthony Martial on Thursday, saying he is not a conventional No 9 and Manchester United are wrong to expect him to fill in for Marcus Rashford. 

Yes, but surely the same is true of Son Heung-min and Harry Kane? Yet whenever Kane is injured, Son gamely picks up the slack.

He is currently on a run of four consecutive scoring games without Kane, and last season 12 of his 20 goals for Tottenham were scored when Kane was injured or off the pitch.

It is surely not too much to ask that Martial adapts to cover for Rashford in the same way.

Instead, since his partner got injured, Martial has scored once in five games — and that was the fifth goal in a 6-0 win over Tranmere Rovers.

Manchester United have been left wantonly short of goal threat this season, although the pace of Rashford and Martial together should be a test for any defence if used smartly, but that is no excuse.

McClaren made the valid point that Martial is best coming inside from the left, but for the money United paid for his talents almost five years ago, it should not be beyond him to alter his role to cover in this emergency.

Anthony Martial has struggled to fill the void left by the injured Marcus Rashford

Anthony Martial has struggled to fill the void left by the injured Marcus Rashford


English football wanted a winter break? English football couldn’t handle a winter break. That much we now know.

When this hiatus is over, more than a quarter of Premier League clubs will have been forced to curtail their time off under the pressure of a creaking fixture list.

Newcastle, Liverpool, Southampton and Tottenham due to FA Cup replays, Manchester City and West Ham because of Premier League postponements.

The winter break was universally welcomed, but while this intransigence continues it is doomed to failure.

The FA have already announced that next year will be no different, with fourth-round replays again scheduled during the break. So it is window-dressing, nothing more.

FA Cup replays were wonderful but the modern game has outgrown them. The same goes for the superfluous additional fixture at the Carabao Cup semi-final stage. Instead of issuing pious edicts, the FA should be finding ways to adequately compensate lower-league clubs for the curtailment of replays.

Until the schedule is addressed, the winter break is no more than a publicity stunt.


Maurizio Sarri has angered employees of the Poste Italiane by belittling the seriousness of their work.

Sarri, whose Juventus team have slipped to second in Serie A, said that if he wanted to avoid pressure he would have ‘taken a job at the post office’. Understandably, those who rise in the small hours to sort and deliver mail are upset by this slight.

It is ironic that many of the jobs cited for their ease are incredibly difficult. In London it used to be said of a failing football manager or board of directors that they couldn’t be trusted to run a whelk stall. But running a whelk stall, when such a thing existed in the capital, was hard.

It was fresh produce for a start, meaning it couldn’t keep from one week to the next. To operate a whelk stall efficiently, the stallholder would have to know his trade inside out, just to correctly estimate stock. 

Maurizio Sarri is making life difficult at Juventus and is in danger of letting the league slip

Maurizio Sarri is making life difficult at Juventus and is in danger of letting the league slip

Same with running a fish and chip shop: another job rotten employees cannot be trusted to do. They work long hours in chippies, particularly if the owner goes to market early, too.

By comparison, do you know what sounds easy? Winning the league at Juventus. Every manager has done it since 2011-12 under Antonio Conte — eight straight titles, with an average winning margin of 9.37 points. 

Sarri is making hard work of it. He’s also trailing Inter on goal difference, despite having Cristiano Ronaldo in his team.

Now that really takes some doing and any postman, whelk stall holder or owner of a fish and chip shop would agree.


Dan Gosling told Jon Moss, the referee, that he was the reason Bournemouth were in the relegation zone. Moss replied with some home truths and Gosling moaned to the media.

‘He was very disrespectful,’ Gosling said. Yet respect is a two-way street. If Gosling is like most footballers, he will have been showing little for Moss and the official merely replied in kind. 

For once the FA did the right thing and took no action against Moss. Usually, sports administrators can’t wait to sell their officials down the river (tennis is the absolute worst, witness Novak Djokovic’s behaviour in the Australian Open final), so this made a welcome change.

There really should be no need for dialogue between players and officials beyond clarification of rules, as occurs in rugby. One imagines Moss would not have passed comment on Bournemouth’s display unless provoked. Gosling wanted a monologue, but couldn’t handle debate. No wonder Bournemouth are struggling.

Dan Gosling said referee Jon Moss made disrespectful comments to Bournemouth's players

Dan Gosling said referee Jon Moss made disrespectful comments to Bournemouth’s players


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