The managing editor for the biggest Tottenham Hotspurs sports blog in the U.S. sits at the front desk of the Goshen College Music Center.
Tottenham Hotspurs FC are a soccer club from Tottenham (pronounced “totnum”), in North London. The team is currently ranked sixth in England’s most competitive league, the English Premier League, and they have fans all over the world.
One of those fans is the office coordinator at the Music Center, Dustin George-Miller, who is also the managing editor for the Hotspurs blog.
At the college, George-Miller coordinates space-use, sends emails to students and helps the Music Center run smoothly. But at home, in the evenings, on Saturdays and sometimes over lunch breaks, George-Miller writes.
He writes about game tactics. He writes about injuries. He writes about why Dele Ali is a jerk (but why we still love him). Trades. Coaches. Fans.
And people read it. The sports blog, Cartilage Free Captain, is the best source for “news, rumors, analysis, stats, and scores,” about Tottenham Hotspur, the website says.
“We get around 800,000 hits a month,” George-Miller said.
“Over time you get a sense of where you are compared to competitors,” he said. “We are the biggest U.S. based Tottenham blog.”
George-Miller brings enthusiasm and creativity to two jobs that are “diametrically opposed,” he said. “I keep the worlds very separate.”
Brian Mast, the Music Center executive director, has been colleagues with George-Miller since 2004. For the past seven years, as George-Miller developed a career as a sports writer, he rarely let soccer slip into his music world.
“I didn’t know for a very long time,” said Mast.
George-Miller’s college years foreshadowed his dual career. At Goshen College, George-Miller majored in music education with a concentration in flute performance. He also edited the sports section of the Record for a semester.
“I’ve always been a good writer,” George-Miller said. “Once you get that bug, it kind of stays with you.”
After college, George-Miller found other ways to “scratch the itch to write,” he said. “When I started having kids, I started to blog.
“That’s what you did back in the 90s.”
George-Miller always had an interest in sports, too.
“I was a big fantasy football guy for 20 years,” he said. The 1994 World Cup, held in the U.S., piqued his interest in soccer.
His indoctrination into the soccer community didn’t begin until he moved to Goshen to work at the college in 2004, George-Miller said. A conversation with a neighbor about a Manchester United T-shirt led to an invitation to a regular hang-out with a group of neighbors, he said.
They would meet in a “garage-attic-man-cave” and “hang out, drink beer, and watch soccer,” George-Miller said. The focus was the English Premier League, one of the most popular leagues in the world. At the beginning, George-Miller had no favorite team, but the group insisted he pick one, he said.
George-Miller wasn’t interested in band-wagoning, so he didn’t go for the top four teams: Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, or Liverpool. The Tottenham Hotspurs caught his eye.
Spurs are one of those teams that are always “in the hunt” for a top spot, he said, but “will probably break your heart into a million pieces.”
To stay up-to-date on his new team, George-Miller became a regular at the Tottenham blog, Cartilage Free Captain. He started off by commenting on posts, and was soon part of the blog community, George-Miller said.
The blog gets its name from Ledley King, a now-retired, one-club Hotspur who suffered from chronic knee problems. King eventually had to stop training with the team to save his knees, but he was such a good defender that he still started games as the captain of the team. Cartilage Free Captain is one of dozens of blogs on SBnation, a sports website owned by Vox Media.
He was drawn to the blog because of its community, he said. The blog was small then. People were kind, civil and had fun discussing and debating the news and rumors about the team, George-Miller said.
“The site started to get more popular over the years,” George-Miller said. “You have to moderate to keep the community healthy.”
Kim McCauley, then the managing editor of the blog, asked George-Miller to be a monitor in the comment section.
Soon, George-Miller began to show his promise as a sports blogger with fan posts. He wrote about whatever he thought was interesting, George-Miller said. He even wrote Spurs-themed poetry. “Something I thought up in the shower,” he said. And people liked it.
In 2012, McCauley reached out to George-Miller about being a staff writer. The position was unpaid at the time, but “it seemed like a big deal,” he said.
“I liked the idea of getting my words out there for other people to read,” he said.
For the next two years, George-Miller wrote in the evenings, on weekends or during a quiet moment at work, he said.
Then, in the fall of 2014, a bigger door opened. McCauley was hired by SBnation to be a lead soccer writer and had to give up the blog. She reached out to George-Miller and asked if he would take over.
“It kind of bowled me over,” George-Miller said. To go from writing the occasional article for free to a paid position managing the whole site and a team of writers, was a “pretty big step,” he said.
After talking it over with his wife, George-Miller became the blog’s managing editor in November of 2014.
Greater responsibility at the blog has never put a strain on George-Miller’s work at the Music Center. “My day job always comes first,” he said.
“If I feel like I have time to write, it’s because I do,” he said.
George-Miller enjoys the work. The community appeals to him as much as the writing.
Though, George-Miller does not consider his work journalism. It’s hard to report on events happening 7,500 miles away, he said, so their strategy is to add context and value to original reporting from closer sources.
For example, after Spurs’ recent 2-1 loss to Leicester City, George-Miller wrote an article in the “Player Ratings” section comparing players’ performance to Jelly-Belly flavors.
Missou Sissoko: “Defensively not as involved as you’d like, but it’d be hard to say he wasn’t good,” George-Miller wrote. The rating: 3 stars, or a lemon lime jelly bean: “If you happen to get one in your mouth randomly you won’t HATE it but you also don’t actively seek them out,” he wrote. “A perfect three-star bean.”
George-Miller’s blog community supported him in ways he never expected when he first joined the sports page. At the end of the 2016-17 season, Hotspur FC were planning to tear down White Hart Lane, the club’s home stadium from 1899 to 2017.
George-Miller made a comment around that time, something along the lines of “I’m sad I won’t be able to go see it,” he said.
A fan from England replied, insisting that George-Miller go to London to see the historic stadium. The commenter said he wanted to start a Kickstarter campaign on the site to raise funds for a trip.
George-Miller shut down the idea immediately. “No way,” he said. “I’m not taking your money to see a football game,” he thought. The commenter replied with something like “I hear you, but I’m doing it anyway,” George-Miller said.
“He wore me down,” George-Miller said. “I said ‘fine.’” He never expected anything would come of it.
In the next five days, blog readers raised $2,000.
“They wanted to get me to London,” George-Miller said, surprise still in his eyes.
It was Easter weekend of 2017. George-Miller took two vacation days to make it to a match on Saturday. “I flew out on a Redeye on Thursday night,” he said. George-Miller spent that Friday in North London. He went to the team store, met some of his readers from London and went on a pub crawl.
“There was a lot of beer consumed that day,” he said, smiling.
That Saturday, George-Miller watched his team beat Bournemouth 4-0 at home in the 117-year-old stadium, weeks before it was torn down.
“The stadium was a dump,” he said. It was old, with narrow hallways and cramped seats, he said.
“There was history oozing out of the walls,” George-Miller said. “It was one of the best experiences of my life.” On Tuesday, George-Miller was back in the Music Center office, tired and happy.