Spurs under 18’s versus Arsenal: (match preview)

Matt Taylor’s Spurs under 18 side will play their first league game of 2021 when they take on north London rivals Arsenal at their London Colney training ground on Saturday morning (the game starts at 11am). Spurs actually only lost two league games in the year 2020, and that means that they are still in with a good chance of winning this seasons Premier League South league (Spurs are currently two points off league leaders Crystal Palace). We beat Arsenal 2-0 at Hotspur Way in game week two of the season back in September, and that days opponents Arsenal have won four league games since that match, and they currently occupy seventh spot in the league, after picking up 16 points from nine matches. And Arsenal have the best home record in the league so far this season, so this will be another tough game for Spurs, who come into this match after recording a 6-2 win over Newport County in the third round of the FA Youth Cup earlier in the month. Arsenal have influential players who are eligible to play tomorrow, such as Charlie Patino, Marcelo Flores and forward Luke Plange who has scored four league goals from eight appearances so far this season. I believe that for Spurs defender Maksim Paskotši should be able to return to the team after suspension, following the red card that he picked up against West Brom last month. I would like to wish the Spurs team all the very best of luck for this north London derby. A win for Spurs could move them up to the top of the league table.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Lo-Tutala (c), Lusala, Muir, Paskotši, Hackett, Matthew Craig, Michael Craig, Whittaker, Mundle, Santiago, Scarlett.

Subs from: Hayton, Cesay, Casanova, Robson, Donley.

Injured/unavailable: N/A.

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: Spurs 2-0.

My score prediction: Spurs 2-1.

My one to watch: Skilful central midfielder Charlie Patino, who has made eight appearances for Arsenal at this level this season.

Spurs under 23’s versus West Ham United: (match preview)

After emphatically defeating Brighton 5-1 down on the south coast last Friday, Spurs’ under 23 side take on east London club West Ham United this Friday (the game starts at 16:00pm) at West Ham’s Rush Green Stadium. Still in with a good chance of winning the Premier League 2 Division One league, a win for Spurs over West Ham tomorrow would make it three league wins in a row for Wayne Burnett’s side. Dmitri Halajko’s West Ham side haven’t played a competitive game of football since the 14th of December, and while they have only played ten league games so far this season, West Ham have only picked up five points from those ten games, and they currently occupy bottom spot in the league standings. We faced tomorrow’s opposition in game week two of the 2020/21 season, and from following West Ham’s live blog it sounded like West Ham had quite a few good chances early on in the game, but Spurs did end up winning the game 3-0, thanks to goals from Harvey White, Rodel Richards and George Marsh. Some West Ham’s forwards that the Spurs players will have to be aware of tomorrow include prolific striker Ademipo Odubeko, 22 year old skilful winger Nathan Holland, forward thinking fullback Sam Caiger and forward Sean Adarkwa. This West Ham side is full of talented players, and while the results haven’t been going their way this season (they beat Manchester United 2-0 at home not too long ago), they’ll be really up for this London derby, as they return to playing competitive football.

A key player for our under 23 side in creative midfielder Harvey White left the club to join Portsmouth on loan until the end of the season, while Anthony Georgiou left the club on a permanent transfer to Cypriot side AEL Limassol, so obviously neither player will be involved in tomorrow’s game. It was great to see centre half Malachi Fagan-Walcott return to get some minutes against Brighton in our last game, after being out injured for a long while, so he could potentially play some part in tomorrow’s game, which will be another tough one for Spurs, but they do have the joint best away record in the league. While tomorrow’s game is being played behind closed doors, West Ham are doing a live blog of the game on their website. Finally, I would just like to wish the Spurs team all the very best of luck for the game.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Oluwayemi, Marsh, Lyons-Foster (c), Omole, Lavinier, Bowden, John, Pochettino, Thorpe, Markanday, Etete.

Subs from: Kurylowicz, Fagan-Walcott, Roles, Pedder, Mukendi.

Injured/unavailable: Alfie Devine (suspended). 

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: Spurs 3-0.

My score prediction: Spurs 4-2.

My one to watch: A player with good pace and skill, as well as being a really clinical finisher, Republic of Ireland youth international and striker Ademipo Odubeko (18) could be West Ham’s main danger man on Friday if he does play. The former Manchester United schoolboy scored twice for West Ham’s development side in the EFL Trophy against Southend United earlier this season, and for me I have been impressed with his fine movement off the ball whenever I have seen him play against Spurs. He will definitely be a player to watch out for if he is involved in Friday’s under 23 game. Odubeko made his first team for West Ham in a recent FA Cup game against Stockport County.

Farewell and good luck Anthony Georgiou:

(this photograph is from Tottenham Hotspur FC)

23 year old Cyprus international and south London born Spurs winger Anthony Michael Georgiou has departed the Lilywhites to join Cypriot First Division side AEL Limassol FC (he will wear the number 38 shirt) on a two and a half year contract, (AEL Limassol are currently in second place in their league). Georgiou had been at Spurs since joining from Watford as an under 14 player, after being released by the Hertfordshire club. A versatile player who has represented Cyprus on eight occasions so far, Anthony Georgiou is as you will have known from reading my many academy match reports over the years, one of my favourite ever Spurs academy players. A good technical winger who has a great left foot and who is also skilful, Georgiou also possess a fantastic amount of pace, something which he has demonstrated ever since I first saw him play for Spurs in 2013. Georgiou is the last of the 2013/14 first years intake to leave the club, an age group which included Josh Onomah, Kyle Walker-Peters, Luke Amos, Shayon Harrison and Anton Walkes. The Londoner joins a famous and successful Cypriot side in AEL Limassol, who are currently challenging for their first Cypriot First Division league title since 2012. Anthony joined Spurs full-time for the start of the 2013/14 season and he enjoyed a fine season, scoring eight league goals from 26 appearances for our under 18 side and registering countless assists. Georgiou made a really good impression during his first year as a scholar at the club. In the following 2014/15 season Georgiou improved further as a player and he continue to develop a really good on the field relationship with Shayon Harrison, who he assisted many times at under 18 level throughout the season.

During that 2014/15 campaign Anthony Georgiou was a part of the Spurs side that won the IMG Cup in Florida, America. He also made two appearances for the under 21’s during that season, but his greatest moment came in the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup against Manchester United at White Hart Lane, when Georgiou scored two goals as Spurs won 3-1. However, sadly he ended up missing the semi-finals of that seasons competition through injury, as Spurs went out to a very talented Chelsea side. The 2015/16 season was another one of good development for Georgiou as he stepped up permanently to play for the development side, putting in some really strong performances at both left back and as a left winger. However, the 2016/17 season was a very difficult one for Anthony as he missed the vast majority of the season through injury. A player with an outstanding work ethic on the field, Georgiou has always been a player who tracks back tirelessly when playing as a left winger, helps out his teammates and who is incredibly unselfish with the ball at his feet. Some of those qualities would have undoubtedly impressed then Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino enough to include Georgiou in the Spurs first team squad for their pre-season tour of America in 2017. He came off the bench to feature in an International Champions Cup game against Italian side AS Roma in New Jersey. Exciting, positive and direct, Georgiou really impressed during his second half performance, constantly looking to successfully take on AS Roma right back the very fast Bruno Peres, and beat him for pace. Georgiou was always trying to get to the byline and whip crosse into the danger zone during his time on the pitch, it was a very good debut from the then 20 year old. 

Anthony did play a further two games for the Spurs first team during that pre-season, before he would go on to make his competitive senior debut for the club against Cypriot side APOEL Nicosia in a UEFA Champion League group stage game. Georgiou came on in the 84th minute of the game to replace Moussa Sissoko in what was a very special night for Anthony and his family, given his Cypriot heritage. That senior competitive debut was richly deserved for Georgiou, and while he wouldn’t play for the first team again that season, he did make the bench for them on two occasions, including in our UEFA Champions League game away to Real Madrid. The left sided winger again played for the first team during the 2018/19 pre-season, but the first half of the competitive season was disrupted by injury, and he didn’t return to action until December. He put in some strong performances for our under 23 side before going out on loan to Spanish side Levante, where he played for their B team in the third tier of Spanish football. Georgiou impressed during his 11 appearances for Levante despite the fact that he was being played out of position on the right flank for some of his games (he scored his first goal in senior football for Levante against Hercules CF, on his 22nd birthday). Anthony returned to Spurs at the end of that season before being included once again by then Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino as part of his pre-season first team squad (Georgiou played at left back in every game that he played  a part in, and considering that he is an out and out winger I thought that he did well in those games).

A loan to League One side Ipswich Town was announced in the August of 2019 however, Anthony didn’t really get to show his full potential during that half season loan (again he did look very exciting when he did play), as the vast majority of his 13 appearances for Ipswich came from the subs bench. Returning to Spurs in late December after his loan had ended, Anthony joined League One side Bolton Wanderers on loan until the end of the 2019/20 season late on in the January transfer window. However, he only made two appearances for Bolton when the season was cancelled in March. Bringing us up until the current season, Georgiou had spent virtually all of his time with the Spurs under 23 side who he played for in pre-season, and who he made two appearances for in the Premier League 2 prior to joining AEL Limassol this month. It has certainly been an eventful time at Spurs for the talented winger who despite being released by Watford all those years ago, has shown what a talented player that he is. To play for the Spurs first team is something that every academy players dreams of and want to achieve, and Anthony managed to achieve that, and to have played for them on a good number of occasions is an incredible achievement. His outstanding pace, directness, fine skill and quick feet as well as his top defensive work rate, made him a player that I really really enjoyed watching. So unselfish in his play and a real team player, Georgiou was always consistent, and had things gone a bit differently for him then I really think that he could have played a lot more competitive games for Spurs than he did. 

Some games from Georgiou’s time at the club which I remember fondly include his excellent display against Benfica B in the Premier League International Cup in 2018, that excellent performance against Manchester United in the FA Youth cup, and a game against Manchester United’s under 23 side in 2016 when he was unstoppable down the left wing. There are of course many other games that I remember Anthony playing in for Spurs which do standout in my memory. In regards to his permanent transfer to AEL Limassol, I think that this is a really good move for him in the next stage of his development, and it will give him the invaluable opportunity to play a lot of competitive senior football. I do personally believe that at some point in the future Anthony will return to England, and I think that he’ll have a really good career in the game, but for now his focus will be on helping AEL Limassol to win the league. The Cypriot First Division is a good league, and a recent example of a player who has played there and then been transferred to an English club is former Manchester United youngster Nicholas Ioannou (currently on loan at Aris) who joined Nottingham Forest from APOEL Nicosia last summer. I look forward to following Anthony’s career in the game as he continues to develop as a footballer, and I would like to wish him all the very best of luck for the future. He is a great young player and I have no doubts that he will return to England one day and play at a very high level. Farewell and good luck, Anthony!

My interview with former Spurs player Bobby Scarth:

Outside-left Bobby James Scarth was born in Chatham, Kent in 1954. The son of former Spurs player Jimmy Scarth, Bobby was playing for local non-League side Haringey Borough when he was scouted by Spurs, and he joined the club in 1970. Scarth was a quick and direct winger, who like Steve Outram on the opposite flank, had the main job of getting to the byline and delivering crosses into the box, although he did also have a good eye for goal. Playing for our youth and reserve side during his time at Spurs, Bobby was released by the club at the end of the 1972/73 season. Scarth went in to the semi-professional game after leaving the club, and he played for the likes of Royston Town, Hertford Town, Ware and Enfield (after retiring from the game he used to play for the Spurs legends side). I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of catching up with the former Spurs man.

What are your earliest footballing memories and how did you come about joining Spurs?

Bobby: I played at a match for Haringey Borough and the scout Charlie Faulkner was there, and afterwards he came up to me and said would l like to train on Tuesday and Thursday with Tony Want and John Pratt who took the training. I used to go from school and go up there in 1970, so that was one of my earliest memories.

What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs?

Bobby: Well the year before l signed as an amateur and played in the junior and youth, we used to go up to Cheshunt to train now and again with Ron Henry our manager, and l really liked him. Then in the year next year when l signed as an apprentice professional we used to train in the morning and than do jobs in the afternoon, or sometimes we’d do weights.

Did you have any footballing heroes/inspirations and if so who were they?

Bobby: Alan Gilzean was the main one. l used to love wingers, so people like Roger Morgan, Jimmy Neighbour, Ralph Coates and Jimmy Pearce.

Could you describe to me what type of player you were and what positions you played in during your time at Spurs?

Bobby: I was number 11/outside-left. l was fast and my game was to get the ball and cross it. l would always cut inside and shoot at the goal and also get to the byline and get it over.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Bobby: Tony Want and John Pratt were really good l learnt from them. Ron Henry was an influence and also scout Charlie Faulkner.

Were there any players at Spurs who you would watch closely to try and improve your game or look to learn from?

Bobby: Steve Perryman was one of them, but also Jimmy Neighbour the winger was another one along Alan Gilzean who had a great touch, and could flick and head the ball well.

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories or ones which stand out from your time in the various Tottenham youth teams and reserves?

Bobby: Winning the youth league and London youth Cup and reserves league, and also when the first team won the League Cup in 1973, and we went to the Savoy which was a fantastic feeling with all the first team players around. Good times!

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Bobby: It was a fantastic feeling being signed by Spurs and invited for the training and being given a season ticket. Wonderful feeling. Amazing!                       

Who was the greatest player that you have had the pleasure of sharing a pitch with? 

Bobby: Alan Gilzean. I could say Graeme  Souness as l played with him in reserves three times together.

Who was the toughest player that you ever came up against?

Bobby: Graeme Souness was so hard and John Pratt too. He was pretty hard as well.

What prompted you to leave Spurs and could you talk me through your career after you left the Lilywhites?

Bobby: Pat Welton came up to me and said you’re not going to make the grade, but l already knew that he didn’t like me. l was very disappointed as l trained very hard and had a very good attitude. After that l went semi professional.

What was your time at the Lilywhites like on the whole?

Bobby: The first two years were really good as a schoolboy and an amateur, and then I signed apprentice professional, but I didn’t get on with Pat Welton who was the youth team manager, but l did get on with Ron Henry who always gave me confidence. Eddie Baily gave me my chance to play for the reserves and l will never forget that time. l alway supported Spurs since l was small.

Were there any players at Spurs who you were particularly close to?

Bobby: Roger Gibbins and Wayne Cegielski from our youth team. We keep in touch on text message. Roger and l have played in charity games.

What would your advice be to the young Spurs players of today as they look to break into the first team?

Bobby: l would say to players to knuckle down and train hard and have a good attitude, and don’t give up like l did, whether you make it or not.

Your father Jimmy Scarth also used to play for Spurs. How big an influence was he on your footballing career?

Bobby: Yes my father played for Spurs from 1948-1952. Yes he did influence me and he made sure that l worked hard and had a good attitude, and also keep my feet on the ground. He helped my confidence in everything.

After all these years how do you look back on your time at the Lilywhites and is Spurs a club who you still hold close to your heart?

Bobby: I still always love Spurs and that will never change since l was small, and I will never forget when I went to the Savoy. l wish l could go back and enjoy those times again.

Some notes on Spurs youngster Harvey White’s loan move to Portsmouth:

This afternoon it was announced that promising Spurs youngster Harvey White had joined League One side Portsmouth on loan until the end of the season. Coincidentally joining the team who he scored his first and only goal in senior competitive football against, in the EFL Trophy back in 2018. The 19 year old left footed central midfielder joins a talented Portsmouth side who are challenging to get promoted to the Championship this season. A regular for our under 23 side this season, White has ten goal involvements for Wayne Burnett’s side (three goals and seven assists) from 11 appearances. The Maidstone born player and England youth international also played for Spurs’ first team in a good number of games this pre-season, impressing against Championship sides during those friendlies. White also played twice for the Spurs first team in competitive games this season, with his most recent appearance coming against non-League side Marine in the FA Cup. Portsmouth seem to have changed their formation a fair bit this season, so it will be interesting to see where White is played during the remainder of the season. Will he fill in at left back on occasions? As a versatile player it will be interesting to see whether he ends up playing more football there (he would be competing with regular left back Lee Brown), or in central midfield, or even further forward as a CAM where he could really show the excellent creative side of his game. However, whereever he plays for Kenny Jackett’s side, White will most importantly be getting regular game time at senior competitive level, in a league that will no doubt provide the young midfielder with invaluable experience.

Portsmouth currently have Andy Cannon, Ben Close and Tom Naylor (captain) as their senior central midfielders, so for now Harvey will be competing with them for a place in the Portsmouth team. A very reliable, consistent, hardworking and creative midfield player, Harvey White is a very technical player who has been at Spurs for most of his life. Able to anchor and patrol the midfield and keep things moving in the central areas of the pitch as well as breaking up play, White has also demonstrated time and time again at both under 18 and under 23 level for Spurs his ability to step forward with the ball and make adventurous and defence splitting forward passes. He may not be of big build yet, but he is deceptively strong and quick, and he is a brave player too, who like Oliver Skipp before him is not at all afraid to use his body to stop the ball and make blocks. Good with both feet but extremely strong with his left foot, the Spurs youngster is somewhat of an expert set piece taker, and more often than not he puts the ball right on the head of one of his teammates from free-kicks and corner kicks, something which could come in very useful for Portsmouth. A fine reader of the game and somebody who has a great footballing brain for such a young player, White has registered a lot of assists at youth level for Spurs over the years. He possesses great vision and also has an eye for goal and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he got a couple goals for the south coast club during the remainder of the season, especially when you consider that he is so so good at scoring free-kicks which are from the edge of the box, and also penalties.

The Englishman has been superb for our various youth sides since joining Spurs full-time in 2018, and he has shown his ability to help out the defence, work incredibly hard for the team and create quality chances too. Harvey is a really exciting young player who is capable of dictating games from midfield, and I strongly believe that this is the perfect loan for him, and one which will develop him even further as a player. His forward passing and set piece taking will create so many chances for the Portsmouth forwards, that I am sure of. He offers a lot as a midfielder and I am really looking forward to following his progress at Portsmouth and also doing a fair few write ups of his matches for them (Portsmouth play AFC Wimbledon tomorrow night). I would like to wish Harvey a very successful loan spell, and I look forward to seeing him return to Spurs in the summer.

My interview with former Spurs player James Yeboah:

James Yeboah was a technically gifted centre half who joined Spurs as a 16 year old from West Ham United during the 2010/11 season. Born in nearby Edmonton but brought up in Watford, Yeboah was at Spurs for three years, playing for the under 18’s and the old reserve side. Good at anticipating danger and excellent in the air, James had a fine future to look forward to in the game. However, sadly his career in the professional game was cut short due to injury, and despite a spell on trial with some non-League clubs, James is now no longer playing the game and he currently works for a construction company. I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of catching up with James to look back on his time at Spurs.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

James: So probably when I was six years old I started playing for Barnet Sunday league, and I played up until the age of 11 when I got scouted from like Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham. I ended up going to Chelsea on a trial but they took quite long to make a decision, and actually the runner Adam Gemili’s mum basically gave my mum a contact for somebody in West Ham. So I then went to West Ham and trialled there for like six week and got signed, and I spent six years there and got a YTS there but I didn’t sign my contract. It got to the stage where like oh I haven’t signed yet and so the club thought that maybe I was being a bit big time, so I ended up doing a trial for Tottenham at 16 for three to four weeks, and then they signed me straight away. My West Ham days were quite good as well and we were part of a very good youth team, and then obviously when I signed for Tottenham which would have been 2010, I played for the youth team and reserve team there. Harry Kane was the year above me and I think that Andros Townsend was the year above him, but my time there was good but the only bad thing were probably the injuries that I went through that really affected everything. I played reserve team games more often than youth team games even.

What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs?

James: So I signed when Spurs had just qualified for the Champions League, and my earliest memories were being a ball boy for a bit in the Champions League. As a player we travelled a lot, we went to Eurofoot and we won that, so my earliest memories would be the games on a Saturday and scoring my first goal. We also went to the Milk Cup which was quite good.

Did you have any footballing heroes/inspirations and if so who were they?

James: I was a very big fan of Rio Ferdinand and Franz Beckenbauer because obviously I was a centre back, so for me they were ones that really stood out. I’d say that I like modelled my game on them and I liked to pass and I liked intercepting as I was very technical. I was also good at long balls, quite fast and also great in the air as well, so in terms of players they were ones that really stood out for me.

Could you describe to me what type of player you were and what positions you played in during your time at Spurs?

James: So I played majority centre back and sometimes right back, but I would say that I was a ball playing centre half, and very good at interceptions like I said, and very good at attacking the ball and I never really lost a header. I was aggressive when I needed to be but I never really had to slide tackle unless I’d not defended properly or it was a last ditch tackle, but other than that I was smart with my positioning and stuff. When we did do reserve games I played with a couple of the first team like Jake Livermore, Ledley King and then maybe when it was like a first team training game Bale played, Crouch played, Modric played. So I’d say that that was probably the best experience that I had, training with the first team, that was amazing. Also meeting Beckham as well when he came.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

James: Most probably I’d have have to go for Brian Klug who was at the club at the time I was there, and probably John McDermott who was like a very strict father figure. And also probably Chris Ramsey who gave me my chance to play in the reserves.

Were there any players at Spurs who you would watch closely to try and improve your game or look to learn from?

James: I’ve always been one of them people where you can admire everyone that was there as a good footballer, but it was more about improving myself. We’d go on debrief and I’d watch more of the first team players and what they’d do because obviously they were more complete players. When Ledley King played I thought that he was magnificent and if he did not get injuries then he would have been one of the best centre halves in the world. He was absolutely unbelievable in the way that he read the game, and Gallas as well was good at reading the game, but in terms of players Ledley King was a very special player.

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories or ones which stand out from your time in the various Tottenham youth teams?

James: I’d say that the Milk Cup was really good and that was a good memory to be able to travel as a youngster, and we didn’t do too bad but for experience for being away from home and knowing that you were now a footballer was really good. Winning the Eurofoot in Belgium was another really good experience, but I was only there for three years and then it all went a bit down hill.

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

James: I think that it was actually signing I would say, knowing that all the hard work that you’ve put in from the age of six to 16, and signing your first contract is a change to your life. Obviously your family’s really proud of you and they know that you’ve worked really hard for that, so I think that that was probably the best moment if I’m honest.

Who was the greatest player that you have had the pleasure of sharing a pitch with? 

James: It would have to be Gareth Bale from that training session although Modric was there as well and Adebayor was there at the time and he played. So in terms of the best player I’ve ever played against for the opposing team it would have to be them.

Who was the toughest player that you ever came up against?

James: I would say Modric in training who was unbelievable as well and you could say Harry Kane as well, as another one. We trained and played together a lot.

What was Harry Kane like as a young player to play with?

James: Harry is a top professional and he’s always done the right thing, he’s one of those players where you can have the best game of your life and he can still somehow score one goal or two goals as he’s always been like that. I was there when he made his debut in the Europa League I think, and we knew that if he got a chance then he will score.

What prompted you to leave Spurs and could you talk me through your career after you left the Lilywhites?

James: So basically it came up to my pro year and I had obviously played more reserve games than I had ever played youth games, and so we were just training and I got a tackle from one of the players and it was an impact injury. I ended up tearing my rec fem which is the muscle in your thigh where it had like lifted up the tendon as well in my thigh, so I had to have rehab from that and basically have to learn how to walk again which was not the best. A couple of weeks before that I’d been asked if I was offered a third year would I have accepted it, and I was like no I’d rather just go to another club and try my luck. I had an agent at the time so they would have set everything up so that would have been with Tim Sherwood, Chris Ramsey and Les Ferdinand, and they were all like you’ll get a club straight away as they knew that I had the ability. Then a couple of weeks later I got the injury and I tried to get fit from it but it was a really long injury and it put me out for a whole year. I went to clubs to like train like Banbury or some lower semi-professional teams to try and train up to see what would happen with that, but it never really materialised and so I then went in to working for a property developer in 2015. I worked for them for about half a year and then I thought that I wanted to make a living out of it so I applied to go to uni and I did three years at the University of Westminster, and then I got a job with a construction company. So I’ve just started working for them since last year September so it’s been a crazy couple of years, and actually the funny thing is in 2015 when I was working for the property developer I worked there for half a year. So when it got to June I used to go for a kick about with a couple of the lads, and I ended up snapping my Achilles unfortunately, which is one of the worst pains I’ve ever felt.

Again I had to learn how to walk again, and then when I was supposed to start uni for the first year I then ruptured it again so I had to have surgery, so it was a really tough time as it’s a really big injury. Everything seems to have worked out now and I’ve met my partner and I’ve just bought my first house and so things have got better and hopefully it will continue. I’m looking to open up my own business in the future, and so that’s about it for now.

Are you now officially retired from playing?

James: Yeah, so in terms of would I try and go semi-pro or try and play League Two or League One I know that it’s possible but I think if it’s meant to be it would have happened. I’ve got to just be careful with my body now because that first impact injury weakened my left side and then that’s when I got my Achilles ruptured two or three years later. So it’s like my body wasn’t strong enough and my mind knew how to do everything but my body failed me on that part.

What was your time at the Lilywhites like on the whole?

James: It was good and it was a good experience for me as a young young man compared to the man I am now. In terms of good experiences yeah there were some great experiences, and there were also times where it’s bad but what can you really do. 

Were there any players at Spurs who you were particularly close to?

James: Andros was really cool and he dropped me home a couple of times and Harry Kane dropped me home like twice, because we all lived in digs which were close to each other. I seen Harry Winks come up and I trained with him and played with him and also Josh Onomah, but I would say that Grant Ward was the player that I was closest to, and me and him were really good friends and we still keep in touch sometimes as well. I was closest to him because in our digs we lived two doors down, and Grant is a really good lad.

What would your advice be to the young Spurs players of today as they look to break into the first team?

James: I think that they need to understand that you need to enjoy it, and take it seriously and just train really hard but make sure you have a balance. A lot of players don’t have a balance from it, so have a balance and be strict with the way you eat and be strict with the time that you go out, and be strict with your sleep. Also figure out what you’re really good at and continue to do that and then figure out what you’re not so good at and work on that. You only ever lose when you give up in my opinion.

After all these years how do you look back on your time at the Lilywhites and is Spurs a club who you still hold close to your heart?

James: I think of course it will be a club that I hold very close to my heart along with West Ham, because it’s made me the person that I am today. It’s given me so many opportunities and it’s let me meet so many different people and cultures, and I’ve met all the people you can think of such as heroes, David Beckham, Henry and even Johan Cruyff, so It was an amazing experience. One of my CEO’s actually used to play for West Ham when he was younger, so for me there is always a link to football and it’s something that you can’t escape. 

My interview with former Spurs player Gary Hyams:

Talented left-sided winger Gary Hyams was a young player at Spurs during the 1970’s. Hyams would play for the various youth teams and reserves during his time with Tottenham, and the player from Edgware played in a very talented Spurs youth team of which included the likes of Glenn Hoddle, Neil McNab and Noel Brotherston. Gary was made available for a free transfer by the club in 1976, and he would later play for the likes of Crystal Palace, Urban Services and the Los Angeles Aztecs, in what was a very interesting footballing career for Gary. I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of catching up with the former Spurs man to look back on his time at Spurs during the 1970’s.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Gary: I imagine that my earliest memories would be from the age of five/six playing in the garden where we lived in Edgware, with my dad and family, and also in the park. It progressed from there and playing in the school team, and then from school I suppose I ended up playing for the Borough of Barnet as I lived there, and then there was a Sunday team that I played for called Weardale, and I played there for quite a few years, up until I signed schoolboy forms at Spurs. Getting up at like seven o’clock in the morning on freezing cold days and I remember my dad waking me up and saying that we’ve got to go to football, and so he was like my chauffeur, and he took me here, there and everywhere. And so it all went so quickly, and here we are now.

What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs and how did you come about joining the club?

Gary: So I was playing for the Borough of Barnet and then I played for Middlesex, but I was actually playing for the Sunday team Weardale, and I remember a talent scout called Dick Walker approaching my dad after the game. I then ended up going training two nights a week at Spurs, and I think that it was a Tuesday and a Thursday, or it might have been a Monday and a Wednesday. So I ended up doing two nights a week there and then maybe within a month of that happening I then had another talent scout from Arsenal approaching my dad. So I ended up as a schoolboy doing two nights training at Arsenal which I think was on a Wednesday and then I did training on a Tuesday and a Thursday at Spurs. So four days of my week after school was spent training in the gym at Highbury and White Hart Lane. And then Spurs approached my dad and said that they’d like to sign me on schoolboy forms, and actually my dad was a mad mad Tottenham supporter, and in his day he used to travel all over the world to watch them play and the double team. In actual fact he was such a Spurs mad supporter that in our house and as you came into the front door there was like a Tottenham foot mat. And when people used to come into the house they weren’t allowed to step on the mat and you had to step over it, but he was thinking of getting an Arsenal one for the outside of the house so people could wipe their feet on that one, and that was the rivalry between the Arsenal and the Spurs.

My career at that time was basically managed by dad and he wanted me to stay at Spurs because of his history. We had to obviously then go and approach Arsenal and tell them that Spurs wanted to sign me as a schoolboy, and I can remember being invited into Highbury and I actually sat in-front of Bertie Mee. He said don’t sign for Spurs, it’s early days and we would like to see Gary develop a little bit more and we’d like him to stay here with us and train for a bit longer. However, my dad was like Spurs mad and the thought of me playing for Tottenham was kind of more of his dream than mine, so I ended up signing schoolboy forms for Spurs and then from there it was like training twice a week. In the gym I remember that we were coached by Steve Perryman and John Pratt who used to take the coaching sessions, and then from that I went on to apprentice professional. 

Did you have any footballing heroes/inspirations and if so who were they?

Gary: Well I suppose because my dad was a Spurs fan and we used to watch all of the Spurs games and so a player like Jimmy Greaves was an inspiration to watch along with a lot of the Spurs double winning team. There was also Allan Clarke at Leeds United who was a winger and of course George Best, so more of the talented sort of players that were inspirational to watch, and that I found exciting and entertaining to watch. 

Could you describe to me what type of player you were and what positions you played in during your time at Spurs?

Gary: I was a natural left footer, so whatever team I played in I always played on the left wing wearing the number 11 shirt. I don’t think that I ever changed my position, apart from maybe a few times when I was an apprentice at Spurs and they put me on the right wing, and so I could cut in on my left foot kind of thing.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Gary: Well obviously there was a lot of people, so there was people such as Steve Perryman who I connected well with and also Bill Nicholson who I had a good relationship with. I found Bill Nicholson to be such a nice person and also there was Eddie Baily, and I was also quite connected with Glenn Hoddle because we came up together and grew up together at Spurs, and obviously we connected and we played golf quite a bit together and we socialised quite a bit together. In actual fact we used to clean the first team dressing room together as apprentices when you had to do your chores when you finished your training sessions, and to do a few hours of cleaning the boots of the first team players or whatever, or sweeping the terraces or sweeping the gyms. Three other people I forgot to mention that were an inspiration to me whilst at Spurs in my Schoolboy days were Ron Henry, and later on as a pro in the reserve team Keith Burkinshaw and Peter Shreeves. 

Were there any players at Spurs who you would watch closely to try and improve your game or look to learn from?

Gary: So there was like Jimmy Robertson and Ralph Coates who was a winger there as well, and also Neil McNab when he came in and at one point played as a winger. And obviously it was great watching Glenn play and also Steve Perryman who I also used to enjoy watching along with Cyril Knowles who was a left-sided fullback, and obviously Pat Jennings. Pat was I suppose my overall idol out of everyone and for me he was probably the best goalkeeper ever worldwide, and I was so proud in a training session to score a penalty against him one time.

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories or ones which stand out from your time in the various Tottenham youth teams and reserves?

Gary: I think that playing in the youth team (I don’t remember what season it was) but I think that we were close to winning the South East Counties League. And I remember that Peter Shreeves was our youth team manager and I liked Peter a lot, and I kind of felt that I connected well with him. It was hard in those days and it was physically and mentally draining training everyday and thinking that I’ve got to get through this session, but I think then that it was more focused on a physical element, and we were lucky to see a ball in a training session. It was nice when you got to play because you got to play with a ball, but obviously we did have practice matches and we did use a ball, but a lot of the time it was more about the fitness and the physical elements rather than the ability elements. So obviously as a ball player myself I was kind of more interested in having a ball than sort of running around a pitch for two hours and feeling sick.

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Gary: I suppose my debut for the Spurs reserve team as obviously I never got to play in the first team, and that was probably one of my greatest memories at Spurs. I think that me and Glenn were selected to play in the reserve team and it was against Southampton if my memory is correct, so that would be one of the memories. Another memory was playing my first ever youth game at White Hart Lane when you came out on the pitch, I mean obviously we used to train on the pitch occasionally and run around the pitch a lot, but playing an actual game at White Hart Lane and having a crowd was great, and would probably be my fondest memory of my time at Spurs. I was actually put on a free transfer after Bill Nicholson resigned and Terry Neill came in as the manager, and I was told that Terry Neill didn’t really see me in his plans at Spurs, and so I was put on the transfer market, and so eventually I went to play in Hong Kong. So flying to Hong Kong and then arriving and being met at the airport, and then it being on the news that I as a Tottenham player was playing for a team called Urban Services in Hong Kong. Then obviously playing there in front of 30,000 people was something that I had never experienced before, so playing in-front of that amount of people was a tremendous feeling.

Who was the greatest player that you have had the pleasure of sharing a pitch with? 

Gary: I suppose that I would have to say Glenn to be honest with you with his ability, flair and talent. Also playing with him we had a connection, and you know what a player is going to do and know to do a pass exactly where he wanted it. I also played for England Youth with Graham Rix, and I also played against him too. I also played against Liam Brady, who is another player who springs to mind.

Who was the toughest player that you ever came up against?

Gary: Every game was different and I suppose sometimes you had a good day and sometimes you had a bad day. I don’t think that I really thought about it like that, but one time I remember playing in a Sunday league team, and some of the teams used to put a man marking me. So when the tactics of the other team are to man mark you then I would say that that was probably the hardest thing to overcome.

What prompted you to leave Spurs and could you talk me through your career after you left the Lilywhites?

Gary: I wasn’t prompted to leave Spurs as Terry Neill decided that there were too many left wingers, and so at the time when Terry Neill came in there was like Alfie Conn, Jimmy Neighbour and Ralph Coates. So there was like two or three, or four left wingers in line for the first team and so Terry Neill didn’t think that there was a future for me at the club. Before I went to play in Hong Kong I went to Crystal Palace for a while on a loan and I was also at Charlton for a while and Crystal Palace, and then I got an offer to sign a contract and go and play in Hong Kong, and it sounded exciting and my dad said that it would be a good move for me. In those days you didn’t have managers managing your affairs even in the first team I think. Players then weren’t getting more than £50/£100 a week, so it wasn’t a lot compared to today. I later ended up in Los Angeles playing for the LA Lasers who I first started playing with, and then I ended up going from there to the LA Aztecs, and George Best was playing for them at that time. I remember training with him in LA and spending many many evenings in his bar in LA with the team in those days, and that was a terrific experience. So probably one of my greatest experiences was playing in LA and you were really well looked after, so that was an amazing experience.

What was your time at the Lilywhites like on the whole?

Gary: It was obviously a privilege to have had that opportunity to be there and it was something that will live with me, and it was a privilege to have had that experience. I’m not saying that it was all roses, it was hard you know but it was a good experience and it was rewarding, but it is something that will always be with me and also something that people find interesting. It was a privilege to have had that experience.

Were there any players at Spurs who you were particularly close to?

Gary: I was close to quite a few players and obviously I was close with Glenn and also another player called Freddie Barwick who was at the same school as me before we went to Spurs. So I was connected with quite a few players, also there was John Margerrison who used to live locally to me and pick me up and take me to training because he was driving at that time. So there was quite a few players but there was no one that lived in my Borough, and so obviously your playing and training with these guys everyday but socially the only one that I had a real connection with was Glenn I suppose. Everyone else was living in different parts of the country so I don’t think that there was too much of a social scene outside of the club, but I might be wrong and maybe there was, but I certainly didn’t have that.

What would your advice be to the young Spurs players of today as they look to break into the first team?

Gary: My advice is that you really have to be dedicated and have a hunger for it and also have a correct mindset to deal with all of the politics. I don’t know if there is still that much politics involved in football but you definitely need to be strong minded. So I’d say that you definitely have a hunger for it and also the correct mindset. 

After all these years how do you look back on your time at the Lilywhites and is Spurs a club who you still hold close to your heart?

Gary: Obviously I’m not involved in football that much anymore and I don’t follow it that much anymore but I kind of tend to look at the Spurs results and see how they are doing, so I like to see how they are doing, and It’s nice to see that they are doing well. I did do some coaching and I got my UEFA coaching badge and I did quite a bit of coaching with different clubs, but as I’ve got older it kind of seems like a different lifetime ago.

Spurs under 23’s versus Brighton & Hove Albion: (match preview)

Our under 23 side return to Premier League 2 action on Friday evening (the game starts at 19:00pm), when Spurs take on Brighton at the AMEX Elite Football Performance Centre, in Lancing. Spurs’ last Premier League 2 game saw them beat Liverpool 4-3 in a pulsating game of football, and Wayne Burnett’s side are only five points off league leaders and reigning champions Chelsea in the league table. Today’s hosts Brighton are one point behind Spurs in the league on 16 points, and we have actually never beaten them in the Premier League 2. A well structured side who play good football, we recorded a 1-1 draw with Brighton at Hotspur Way in our first league game of the season. Some Brighton players that the Spurs players will have to be aware of this evening include midfielder Teddy Jenks who has scored four goals from 12 league appearances this season, also summer signing from Wigan Athletic Jensen Weir is another player who has an eye for goal, while forward Stefan Vukoje is another player who is potent going forward. Spurs will be without captain Jubril Okedina and Jack Clarke who have both left the club this month to join Cambridge United and Stoke City respectively, however, Kazaiah Sterling has returned to Spurs following the end of his loan at Southend United, and I would imagine that he could well play some part in the game against Brighton. As with all games in this league, this will be a tough one. However, Spurs were in good form in 2020, on the whole, and they’ll be hoping to continue that into this year. I would like to wish the team all the very best of luck for today’s game.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Austin, Marsh, Lyons-Foster, Omole, Lavinier, Bowden (c), White, Markanday, Devine, Bennett, Etete.

Subs from: Oluwayemi, Skinner, Thorpe, Pochettino, Mukendi.

Injured/unavailable: N/A.

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: N/A.

My score prediction: Spurs 2-1.

My one to watch: Former Wigan Athletic player Jensen Weir. The midfielder has scored four goals from 12 Premier League 2 appearances for Brighton this season.

Some notes on Spurs loanee Troy Parrott’s performance against Boreham Wood:

Dublin born Republic of Ireland international and young Spurs loanee Troy Parrott completed 81 minutes of Millwall’s two-nil FA Cup third round victory against Boreham Wood, on Saturday afternoon. Parrott (18) played off lone centre forward Kenneth Zohore, mainly operating down the left hand side, as Gary Rowett’s Millwall side lined up in a 3-4-3 formation. Early on in the game Millwall created a good chance after Parrott played a one-two with Zohore before firing a low effort just wide of Boreham Wood goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore’s left hand post, from quite far out. After a Boreham Wood free-kick was intercepted Millwall broke forward down the other end of the pitch as Parrott picked up the ball and went forward showing good speed, before eventually playing the ball through to Tyler Burey whose first touch let him down. Looking quite sharp early on in the game, and soon after trying to play Burey through he managed another attempt at goal. Dan McNamara’s ball into the Boreham Wood box from the right was headed down by Zohore to Parrott, but his first time effort on goal was deflected behind for a corner kick off of David Stephens. After receiving Ryan Leonard’s pass Parrott travelled into the oppositions penalty area before curling the ball narrowly wide of the goalkeepers left hand post. A Scott Malone corner kick came to Jake Cooper who headed the ball down to Troy Parrott in the box, and with his back to goal his flicked effort towards the goal was cleared off of the line by Kane Smith. Millwall took the lead soon afterwards as Parrott received the ball, before flicking it to Malone who then found Zohore who finished well from inside the box. The Irishman volleyed wide a cross a couple of moments later, in what was his last piece of action from the first half.

The beginning of the second half saw Parrott have an effort on goal from the edge of the Boreham Wood box deflected behind for a corner. He then took a free-kick in a promising position, which went high over the Boreham Wood crossbar, before threading a pass through to substitute Tom Bradshaw (it took a deflection off of Femi Ilesanmi) which put the Welshman through on goal. Parrott then delivered a cross into the box which was cleared, before a couple of minutes later receiving a pass from Ryan Woods and latching onto it inside the oppositions box, but his touch let him down and it ran through to the goalkeeper Nathan Ahsmore.

Spurs under 18’s versus Newport County: (match preview)

Our under 18 side start 2021 by playing their first FA Youth Cup game of the season. A third round cup tie against Welsh side Newport County takes place on Tuesday at 1pm at Hotspur Way (behind closed doors), in England’s most prestigious youth cup competition. Last season Spurs were knocked out by a very talented Wigan Athletic side in the fourth round, a side which included Alfie Devine. However, this year Matt Taylor’s side who sit in second place in the Under 18 Premier League South, will be looking to do better as they look to build on finishing 2020 in such good form in the league. Newport County’s under 18 side play their league football in the EFL Youth Alliance south-west division, and they haven’t played a competitive game of league football since the fifth of December, 2020, when they beat Swindon Town by three goals to nil. Newport had to beat non-League side Brockenhurst FC (they won 3-2) to reach the third round of the FA Youth Cup, and this is the second season in a row that they have reached the third round of the competition (they lost 3-1 away to Blackburn Rovers at this stage last season). Newport do have a number of players who have joined them from category two academy sides, such as Harrison Bright (formerly of Cardiff City), Jack Karadogan (formerly of Swansea City) and Charlie Bullock (formerly of Bristol City). There is no doubting that this will be a tough game, despite the difference in leagues that the two sides play in. Newport will be really up for this, just like Matt Taylor’s Spurs side will be, but in a one off cup game anything can happen.

Usually these games are the first competitive ones that many of these under 18 players get to play in front of fans at a stadium, but due to the current situation this year will be very different, though it will still be a fantastic opportunity and experience for the Spurs under 18 side. Talented first year scholar Alfie Devine made headlines on Sunday when he became our first teams youngest ever scorer and player in a competitive game, by scoring against Marine in the third round of the FA Cup, as he played 45 minutes. Spurs will no doubt put out a very strong side against Newport County, but with our under 23 side playing Brighton later in the week, Devine could well be being saved for that game. However, I would imagine that top scorer Dane Scarlett will most likely play on Tuesday afternoon. This is a very big game for Spurs, and I would like to wish them all the very best of luck for the match. Here’s hoping that this talented side can become the first Spurs under 18 side to win the competition since 1990.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Lo-Tutala (c), Cesay, Muir, Matthew Craig, Hackett, Michael Craig, John, Mundle, Robson, Santiago, Scarlett.

Subs from: Hayton, Maguire, Kyezu, Torraj, Carrington, Mathurin, Whittaker.

Injured/unavailable: Paskotši (suspended).

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: N/A.

My score prediction: Spurs 5-0.

My one to watch: Newport player and second year scholar Zack Maher. A midfielder by trade, Maher scored an important goal against Brockenhurst in the last round to help book Newport’s place in the third round of the cup.