By Joe Veyera
Fans of the English Premier League (EPL) side Tottenham Hotspur F.C. were out in full force in Ballard on Wednesday night, for the chance to meet a British soccer legend while sipping locally crafted beer for a good cause.
Longtime Tottenham captain Ledley King was on hand as around 100 people clad in the team’s blue and white colors packed a standing-room-only Reuben’s Brews taproom (1406 NW 53rd St) as the Spurs legend tapped a cask of the brewery’s new British Pale Ale, London Calling, a brew created to mark the team’s appearance in town.
The team is in Seattle through Saturday for a friendly against the Sounders, with King making stops around the city throughout the rest of the week as a club ambassador.
“It’s a great time to be out here,” said King, who appeared in 268 matches for Tottenham between 1999 and 2012. “We have many supporters clubs across the U.S., and Seattle is one that’s very passionate.”
All proceeds from the evening, along with a portion of the rest of the new beer that’s sold will benefit Street Soccer Seattle, a non-profit program dedicated to supporting and empowering young adults who have been affected by homelessness.
Adam Robbings, head brewer and co-founder of Reuben’s, has been a lifelong Tottenham fan, and wanted to do something to mark the team’s trip to Seattle.
“I think the first thing was that Tottenham are coming, so we’re going to do something to celebrate,” said Robbings, who moved to Seattle from the U.K. in 2004, and opened Reuben’s in August of 2012. “Whether it was officially recognized or not, we had decided to do it.”
Matthew Blessing, the chairperson of Seattle Spurs, an official supporters club of Tottenham, said he was asked by one of the team’s public relations representatives in the spring about what they could do to set themselves apart from other European clubs that had visited the Emerald City to take on the Sounders.
Blessing said he thought about philanthropy, and about doing something with the city’s microbrewery culture. Less than a week later, he was introduced to Robbings, and the two soon reached out to Sounders supporters group Gorilla FC, with the new brew a culmination of the collaboration.
For Blessing, getting involved in events like these entailed a much bigger role than he imagined when the supporters group was founded.
“We decided to form this club well before we even knew that Tottenham was going to be visiting Seattle, so it became a much bigger role than I anticipated, so it’s been kind of an honor to be involved in this.”
Robbings, who picked up his fandom from his father — a North London native and lifelong Spurs fan as well — said the team is making the most of its opportunity to connect with the fans that support the club from 6,000 miles away.
“They recognize how tough it is to sort of really follow a team from that far away,” Robbings said.
King noted that just because the fans live thousands of miles away, they’re no different in their passion than the fans back home.
“It’s brilliant,” King said of the reception he received. “I’m very impressed with Seattle and the people for welcoming me with open arms. It’s a beautiful, beautiful city, and of course it’s great to meet with Spurs fans this far afield from London.”
As one of those far afield fans, Robbings said he’s a supporter for better or worse.
“There’s been a lot of ups and downs,” Robbings said. “But your colors don’t change.”