29 | Nov | 18

Hugh Thomas

Sing When You’re Winning

What’s with food and drink at sporting events? Plastic hot dogs, factory burgers, watered-down lagers. It’s basically fairground fare without the candy floss – where culinary endeavour goes to die. And for too long, no one has asked why. Will it ever get better?

Yes it will. And maybe sooner than we think. When Spurs’ new £400m coliseum actually happens, Beavertown will bring an on-site brewery. It’s the first time an English European-competition club has shown any serious interest in providing good food or drink for supporters. Before, the big budgeted lager brands like Carlsberg at Liverpool, and Chang at Everton, made sure clubs played up to their game. And though Heineken have a lot to do with why Beavertown are at Spurs, it’s progress.

Spurs are also promising a ‘street food-inspired emporium’, along with visiting food trucks. Heavens knows if that’ll have anything to do with the enviable portfolio of traders on North London’s doorstep, or if they’ll draft in the same old frankfurters like any other match day. It’s the thought that counts?

Look across at Tottenham’s North London rivals and they might have some competition. I don’t mean what’s on the pitch – through no effort of their own, Arsenal have an ex-Apero pastry chef with a Korean bulgogi baguette stall on the approach to The Emirates. ‘It’s almost worth making it down to Arsenal,’ writes Hot Dinners.

For the moment, a lot seems to be happening in that part of the capital. Like last year, when the NFL comes to play at Wembley, they ask Wingmans – BSF and ESFA champions, no less – to help with the catering. Lola’s Wings, also BSF finalists, have done the honours too. As you can tell, the Americans have brought their matchday food ideals over along with their strange sports. We might not do tailgating (think car boot sales crossed with a giant barbeque, crossed with a picnic, but in a car park and with more bonhomie), so food trucks are the next best thing. Good food has solved serious problems for US stadiums. Not long ago, fewer people were bothering to buy tickets to see their teams. Stadiums needed a way to lure fans away from their 4K TVs, mini fridges, and Domino’s. What did they do? Improve the quality, creativity, and variety of their food. It worked.

Don’t think it’s just London getting the right idea – Mr Croquewich grill cheese toasties for Welsh rugby fans outside the Millennium Stadium during the Six Nations. Or only the big occasions – Frying Squad have been known to do the rounds at Dulwich Hamlet FC’s home games.

The intention’s there, but chances are one of the big clubs needs to establish the theme. At Stade Rennais FC in France, fans sing of their matchday sausage-and-crepes. ‘Galette-Saucisse, je t’aime’ they chant in the stands. Will Jaguars fans pen verses to Wingman’s Bangcoq wings? Will Gloucester’s Yorkshire pudding burritos get their own anthem? One day soon, maybe even Spurs fans will have something to sing about.