A short piece on second year scholar George Abbott; after he signed his first professional contract with Spurs:

Following on from the piece that I wrote on Spurs Academy player George Abbott last summer, I thought that I’d write another short piece on George, who has made some really good strides this season at Academy level, and today Spurs announced that he had signed his first professional contract with the club, which is great news. The Londoner who was born in Islington and brought up not very far from the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in Muswell Hill, North London, is a versatile player. George can play as a defensive-midfielder, box to box midfielder, or as a full-back on either flank. Tenacious in defence and very hard working off the ball, Abbott reads the game very well, and has good skill on the ball. A regular starter for the Spurs Under 18 side this season, he has helped them to reach the final of the Under 18 Premier League Cup, as well as helping a Spurs Under 17 side reach their equivalent of the Premier League Cup final (the Under 17 Premier League Cup). 

George has really good balance to his game, and this season he has played in a variety of roles, and for the Spurs Under 18 side he has still managed to provided a respectable three assists so far this season for that Spurs side. George is very good at breaking up play from a defensive-midfield role, as he has shown for Spurs’ Under 18 side, since really establishing himself in the side early on in the second part of last season. Since impressing at full-back at the annual Terborg Under 19 Tournament, in the Netherlands last season, the second year scholar has impressed in that position for Spurs at various levels so far this season. Impressing for the Spurs Under 19 side in the UEFA Youth League this season at right-back, he has also stepped-up to represent the Spurs Under 21 side well, on six occasions so far this season. 

The 17 year old Spurs Academy player particularly impressed me in the recent Premier League 2 fixture with Crystal Palace, a game in which he started at left-back in. He was defensively solid during that game in my opinion, but he also showed his quality on the ball, as he travelled inside well with it into midfield, as well as looking to receive it in similar positions during that game. A player with good pace and whose off the ball work I really admire, George Abbott also impressed me when he came on as a substitute in the second half of the Spurs Under 21’s 1-1 draw with Everton, earlier this year. Signing a much deserved first professional contract with Spurs at this stage of his career must be a very proud moment for George, and I would like to wish him all the very best for the remainder of this season with Spurs. He will also have two cup finals to look forward to with Spurs this season!

Looking at how former Spurs Academy player Luis Binks is getting on in his footballing career (part 2):

Former Spurs Academy player Luis Binks left the club during the 2019/2020 season to sign for MLS side Montreal Impact. Binks had been in consistently outstanding form for Spurs’ two main academy sides since signing scholarship forms with the club in the summer of 2018 (he actually made his Spurs Under 18’s debut two seasons earlier in a Premier League South game, along with Noni Madueke). A tall central defender, Luis Binks has great ability on the ball and a really good sense of positioning. Having progressed up through the Spurs Academy ranks with the club, Luis had formed a very good central defensive partnership with Malachi Fagan-Walcott, who he would of course continue to team up with very well for Spurs at Under 18 and Under 21 level. After making further good progress with MLS side Montreal Impact, the Gillingham born former Spurs defender made a really good number of appearances for Montreal Impact, and it wasn’t long before Italian Serie A side Bologna signed Luis, although he was loaned back to Montreal for a short time. 

In his first full season with Bologna the former England youth international made an impressive 15 Serie A appearances, at the age of 20. However, this season he has joined Italian Serie B side Como 1907 on a season long loan, and Luis has already made 24 competitive appearances for Como during the current 2022/23 season. He has been in good form for Como this season, a Como side which includes Cesc Fàbregas. Binks has improved even more of late, and he is helping Como climb up the Serie B table, with his impressive defensive performances. Como are currently in 13th place in Serie B, with 35 points from 28 league matches played. They are just four points off the play-offs section of the league table. I always try and watch the games that Luis is involved in, and on last Sunday I was lucky enough to attend a Como match (against Modena) as he put in a really good defensive performance on the left side of a back three. Luis was defensively very solid and he made some really clever defensive decisions during the game, which Como won 1-0. 

Luis Binks also provided the winning assist (the first of his senior career), after setting-up Alberto Cerri’s goal with a cross, in the win on Sunday. It is so good to see Luis doing well this season and getting regular football for Como. He is one of my favourite former Spurs Academy players, and at Spurs he was excellent at Academy level for the club. I wish him all the very best of luck for the remainder of this season. 

Looking at how former Spurs Academy player Tarrelle Whittaker is getting on in his footballing career: 

Tarrelle Whittaker is a highly skilful and versatile forward, who can play in a variety of positions. The former Spurs Academy player who joined Spurs full-time in the summer of 2019, would feature regularly for the Spurs Under 18 side in his first season with the club, and he scored a good number of goals for the side that season. Whittaker featured for the Spurs Under 18 side on occasions during the 2018/19 season, prior to signing scholarship forms with the club at the end of that season. He would often play at centre-forward or out wide on the flanks, during the 2019/20 season, and in my opinion he did well during that season. Tarrelle is very skilful and has great ball control, as well as outstanding pace and off the ball movement. He can finish well inside the penalty area, and he is also well capable of creating good chances for his teammates. The 20 year old forward started the following 2020/21 season also with the Spurs Under 18 side, scoring two goals from 14 Premier League South appearances, and he would also make one appearance for the then Spurs Under 23 side (as a substitute) in a Premier League 2 game with Chelsea, during the same season. 

Tarrelle Whittaker didn’t really feature for Spurs at Academy level during the second half of the 2020/21 season, and at the end of that season he left Spurs at the end of his contract. Signing for Swansea City for the following 2021/22 season, Whittaker quickly started doing well for Swansea at Under 23 level, in the Professional Development League. He impressed for the Swansea City Under 23 side during his first season with the club, scoring seven competitive goals for them. And during the first part of the current 2022/23 season, Tarrelle was in really good form for Swansea’s Under 21 side, impressively scoring 11 competitive goals for them. This was made even more impressive by the fact that he was often not playing at centre-forward. I attended a Professional Development League fixture between Charlton Athletic and Swansea City Under 21’s, in January of this year, to watch Tarrelle Whittaker.

In the game against Charlton, the former Spurs Academy player was excellent. He scored a really good free-kick goal in the 1-1 draw, but it was his superb skill on the ball, dribbling ability and link-up play which impressed me the most. Tarrelle also showed his great pace, and his ability to bring the ball forward really well from wide positions as well as his movement off the ball, made him in my opinion the best player on the pitch during that game. His fine progress with Swansea was clearly noticed by other clubs, and he recently signed for National League side Wealdstone on a loan move. So far Tarrelle has made five appearances for Wealdstone, scoring one goal. His most recent appearance for Wealdstone came in a league fixture against FC Halifax on the 28th February. I would like to wish Tarrelle all the very best for the remainder of this season.

A piece on Spurs goalkeeper and Academy graduate Alfie Whiteman, following his new contract with the club:

Goalkeeper Alfie Whiteman is a local lad to Spurs, in Tottenham, and he has always been a Spurs fan. The 24 year old Academy graduate recently signed a new contract with the club until 2025, and the player who made his debut as a late substitute in a UEFA Europa League group-stage fixture against Ludogorets Razgrad in 2020, also impressed for the Spurs first team in matches during the following pre-season. A talented and commanding goalkeeper with great reflexes and a good amount of success at saving penalty kicks, Alfie Whiteman has been at Spurs for a long time, along with goalkeeper Brandon Austin, who was also part of the same very talented 2015/16 Academy age group. Impressing and featuring a lot for the Spurs Under 18 side during his two years of scholarship with Spurs, Alfie would later step-up permanently to the then Spurs Under 23 side, from 2017 onwards.

A vocal goalkeeper with good organisation skills, I remember well Alfie Whiteman’s time in the Spurs Academy, from the scholarship days onwards. He was consistent for both the Spurs Under 18 and Under 23 side, and the former England youth international who was capped by England up until Under 19 level, would put in some big performances for the two main Spurs Academy sides. I can remember him  putting in a brilliant performance at Old Trafford for the old Spurs Under 23 side in a Premier League 2 fixture with Manchester United in 2018, as well as some other really good ones against Arsenal and Leicester City respectively. And in the same season (Alfie and Brandon were the two main goalkeepers for the Spurs Under 23 side that season) Alfie got a really good amount of game time for Spurs. He would later often train with the first team in previous seasons, as well as playing some matches for the Spurs Development side, on occasions.

Very good at saving efforts from distance owing to his impressive positioning, the Spurs goalkeeper also claims corner-kicks and set-pieces well, and he has very good reactions from close range. Alfie Whiteman would join Swedish side Degerfors on loan during their 2021 season, before returning to Spurs and later rejoining them on loan for the 2022 season, where he got some very good experience of playing regular football in the Swedish top flight. Not long after returning from his second loan move at Degerfors, Alfie played a match for the Spurs Under 21 side against Liverpool, in the Premier League 2. He had a really good game against Liverpool, making some fine saves and also organising the Spurs defence well. I am very pleased that Alfie has had his stay extended at Spurs, as along with Brandon Austin he really deserves it. Also, given the opportunity with the first team in a match, I am sure that he would do the club proud. I would like to congratulate Alfie on his new contract, and I wish him well for the remainder of this season.

My interview with former Spurs player Steve Pitt:

Stephen William Pitt joined Spurs as an apprentice in 1963, and the very fast and skilful winger with a real eye for goal, was a very highly rated young player at the club. The Willesden born former Spurs player progressed up through the various youth ranks, the A team and the reserves to make two first team appearances for the club. Steve Pitt made his first team debut for Spurs as a 16 year old, in a friendly with the Maccabi club of Tel Aviv. He would also make a Football League appearance for Spurs, in a fixture with Blackpool, in the same year. Later playing for Colchester United, Stevenage and Corinthian Casuals, after leaving Spurs during the late 1960s, Steve did spend a really good number of years at Spurs during that decade, playing with some great players. I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of interviewing Steve about his time at Spurs during the 1960s. Steve is a really top man!

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Steve: My earliest footballing memories would obviously be at school. I was playing for the school team and then when I was ten I got picked for the county team. In fact in those days I used to have to borrow a pair of boots to even play football, from a friend of ours, and they were the old leather boots with studs, that you used to have to nail in. I later played for Middlesex and then London Schools, before being invited to the England squads for trials. And I can remember playing at Highbury against an Arsenal youth team, and I walked into Highbury and then they had underfloor heating, which was great. So they would be my earliest footballing memories.

How did you come about joining Spurs? And what are your earliest memories of your time at the club?

Steve: I left school just before I was 15 (I was born on the 1st of August, and the term finished on July) and so that’s when I left the school. So then from my time playing schools football Dickie Walker contacted me, as we had one of the only phones on the North Circular Road, as my dad was a bookies runner. So my dad told me that a scout had been in contact, and that he was going to see me tomorrow. I wasn’t really too interested, as I thought that this was a big club and so I was a bit nervous. So the next day I went out all day and didn’t come back to the house, because I didn’t want to see him. So my dad got annoyed when he realised that I wasn’t there, and so he then made arrangements for the scout to come back again to the house the following week. He would then invite me to a trial at Cheshunt, and so I went to Cheshunt. But back then I used to have to get the train from Stonebridge Park to Dalston, and so on and so on to Cheshunt. So anyway I went up there and had the trial and played pretty well, and then they offered me an apprenticeship straight away, and that was in 1963.

I enjoyed the camaraderie at Spurs in those early days, but going to a big club like Spurs was a big step-up for me. I didn’t used to enjoy training as a footballer, and me and Jimmy Greaves were probably the worst two trainers at the club, then. So I suppose that I didn’t push myself enough, and so I could have done a lot better. Just before I was 17, Spurs told me that they wanted me to sign me as a professional.

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

Steve: As a youngster I liked Dennis Law, who I thought was always a great player, and who had style and class. I also used to really like John White as a player, who was also a really lovely bloke. And so then you had Greavsie and Mackay, who most people would probably say were the real influences. And Greavsie was just so good, and he was so casual and laid back in training, and just a genuinely nice bloke. Most of the players were really nice, but the two that really impressed me were Greavsie and Mackay. I was also on the end of Danny Blanchflower’s career as well, but I would still mention Greavsie and Mackay as the main two, and that would probably be most people’s view.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Steve: Eddie Baily was a character, who wouldn’t stand any nonsense. But in them days the players mostly ruled the roost! When I was picked to play against Blackpool I travelled up by bus to training, and then Bill Nicholson told me that I was on the team. I couldn’t get back home in time, as the game was in the evening, and I had only came for the training at the ground. So I stayed in the snooker room at White Hart Lane, and on the biggest night of my life nobody explained to me what to do or give me advice, and so I was on my own all day, and so I was disappointed about that. They did tell me what to do when the players and I got into the dressing room, and I was of course up against England player Jimmy Armfield in that game, but things are so different these days. I went out onto the pitch at White Hart Lane completely nervy, obviously, and I didn’t really play my own game, which was getting on the ball and dribbling past players. But as I say, I was a bit overawed by it all on that day in front of 40,000 or so people.

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

Steve: When I was at school I used to play at inside-forward, and I was a little bit better than most of the other players as I had the speed and dribbling ability with the ball. I always scored a lot of goals from playing in that position, but then when I started playing for the county, I started playing on the wing. So I could play on the left or right wing, which were the positions that I eventually played in at Spurs. Later on when I was at Stevenage I ended up playing as a sweeper, and despite my height I ended up playing pretty good at it. I used to score a lot of goals as a winger at Spurs, and I remember that I was the top scorer in the Metropolitan League for Spurs, one season.

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

Steve: There wasn’t really anyone player that I used to study, as I just used to play my game, and so there wasn’t anyone that I used to watch closely.

Could you talk me through your memories of your two Spurs first team appearances for the club? (against the Maccabi club of Tel Aviv, and also the game against Blackpool).

Steve: I travelled with the Spurs first team to play a match in Tel Aviv after being picked to be a part of the Spurs squad (I was still 16 then). In that game against the Maccabi club of Tel Aviv, I played pretty good and I’m sure that Alan Gilzean scored a goal from a cross that I put into the box. So that was a great tour, but I was amongst the big players at the club, whereas I was in my comfort zone in the Youth team, A team and reserves, but stepping up to that level was different. But I did play pretty good in that game in Israel, and I had a really good time there, and we stayed in a big hotel. The game was the John White Testimonial game, and in that game I was able to play my own game, and I did well. I enjoyed that game a lot more than I did the Blackpool game, and I was a lot more relaxed than I was in the Blackpool game. As for the Blackpool game I can remember sitting in the dressing room before I went out, and it’s weird as I wasn’t really told what to do. So I was very nervous as I walked out at White Hart Lane, and I was very disappointed with my game against Blackpool. I actually should of scored in that game, as I got put through, but I just slotted the ball wide. That might have made a difference to me, had I have scored. 

In that game against Blackpool I found myself running back and forth, and not really playing my game. 

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

Steve: I had a great time. A lot of the lads who you have interviewed, who played at Spurs during my time, like Jimmy Pearce and Jimmy Walker, well we were like a unit. Most players at football clubs are mostly the same. They like a laugh and enjoy going out and having a few beers, and so I had great social times at Spurs, even in the first team. Even when I got a car when I was 17, I used to be able to meet up with the other players and go out with them. The Rolling Stones used to be my favourite band, and I remember when they used to perform at the Angel Edmonton, and I went with Jimmy Walker and Jimmy Pearce to watch them. We also used to go down to the Tottenham Royal to watch The Dave Clark Five. 

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories or ones which stand out from your time in the Spurs Youth sides, A team and the reserves?

Steve: I was also a good player in those sides, and I think that my goals proved it. I used to enjoy playing at that standard as well. I also obviously won the Metropolitan League during my time in the Spurs A team. And I can remember we played a penalty-kick short in one game in the Metropolitan League, to pass it. I don’t think that many people probably knew that at the time, but unfortunately I didn’t score from that penalty! We used to play against some tough teams and players in the Metropolitan League, and in them days we did have Dave Mackay and Ron Henry at times playing for the A side. Just before I made my first team debut for Spurs, I played in a game against the Spurs first team. And Dave Mackay, who was the hardest man who I ever came across in football, well me and him went in for a 50/50 challenge. I expected to get clattered by Dave Mackay, as it was a really hard tackle. However, he stopped me after the tackle and he told me that he admired me for that, and that it was a great tackle. 

Unrelated to that, I remember playing a game (probably with Stevenage or Spurs) and I think that it was away at somewhere like Brighton. And Bobby Smith was playing (either in the reserves or A team) and one of the fans in the stand was having a go at Bobby all of the time during the game. When the ball went out of play near where the half-way line was, he jumped over and got hold of this fan and went for him! I’ll never forget that. 

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Steve: Obviously I didn’t fully enjoy the game against Blackpool that would probably be the one, along with the game in Israel and the cup that we won there. Plus I was one of the youngest players to play for the first team at Spurs. Also, playing for that England Youth side against Arsenal was a big thing for me, as I got to play with some really good players, such as Frank Sibley of QPR.

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

Steve: There was so much individual talent in that Spurs team of the 1960s, from Maurice Norman at the back, right through to Dave Mackay, and Greavsie and John White. I was of similar stature to Terry Dyson, and he was someone who I used to admire. He was also at Colchester when I was playing for them, and he was living in Sudbury and I was at Wembley, but we used to meet at the tube station and travel to Colchester together, and we used to have such a laugh. 

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

Steve: My main friends were Jimmy Walker, Jimmy Pearce, Tony Want, Billy Mail and Ray Evans. We used to all meet in a group and get together quite often and  that was my main group of friends, although I got on with all of them.

Could you talk me through your career after you left the Lilywhites? And what prompted you to leave the club?

Steve: I was at Spurs until 1969. One day I got called in and I was told that the club weren’t going to renew my contract, and they then told me that Colchester United wanted me to sign. The Colchester manager at the time was a hard man, and he offered me a house in Colchester to sign for them at the time. So anyway I was there for a little while, and I’ll never forget a game for them against Doncaster Rovers, that I played. I got injured in both legs after a Doncaster player slide tackled me, which meant that I was off for probably four or five weeks. So I was just getting fit again after that injury, and the manager put me as a sub in a home game against Chester, after my return to the side. It was 0-0 until with about five minutes to go Chester scored. He told me to get warmed-up for the game, and after I got on I was probably on for about four or five minutes before the final whistle went, and so all of the lads knew what to expect if you lost at home. Anyway the manager went around and was having a go at the players for their performances. So he gets to me, and I’m thinking that he’s not going to say much to me, as I’d only been on the pitch for a couple of minutes. So he told me that he was going to have me in to train every morning, afternoon and evening to run until I could run no more. 

So nobody used to answer the Colchester manager at the time, but I told him that I ain’t going to be doing what you’ve told me to do. I also told him that he wouldn’t see me at Colchester United again, and at the time all of the players were looking at me in disbelief. I went up to the secretary’s office and told him that I wanted to finish with the club today. He couldn’t believe it, but I went around to my house after leaving, and as I got there I could see four or five of the Colchester players telling my wife that I was going to be leaving Colchester. So that was it anyway, and after four of five months we left Colchester the next day. After that experience with Colchester I wasn’t that bothered with playing football full-time. Jimmy Burton was a business partner of Dave Mackay’s tie making company, and he was a big Spurs fan. He  eventually got me to Stevenage, to sign for them, as he became a director of Stevenage. I ended up playing with them for almost four years, before finishing my playing career with Corinthian Casuals.

What would your advice be to the young Spurs players of today as they look to progress up the various ranks at Spurs?

Steve: I think that they have a lot better an opportunity than all of the players from my era at the club, so it’s difficult to say. The set-up nowadays is far better then when I was playing as a youth player, as we didn’t have that much personal one to one training, so it was very different.

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

Steve: I loved being a part of the group at Spurs, and I had a fantastic six years at the club. I could have done a lot better at Spurs, but I loved the six years that I was there, and I would have stayed there longer had they have wanted me to. I loved the people at Spurs and I also loved the camaraderie at the club. That gave me a good confidence for all aspects of life, and so Spurs taught me that.

My interview with former Spurs Youth Team player Donald Turner:

Donald Turner joined Spurs on amateur/part-time forms 1965, and would play for them at youth team and A team level during the 1965/66 and 1966/67 seasons. Turner was born in Finchley and brought up in Whetstone, and he was with QPR prior to joining Spurs as an amateur youth team player. Donald was a promising attacking-midfield player, who could also play at centre-forward. He left Spurs during the 1966/67 season, and he would later play non-League football for Walthamstow Avenue and Enfield. I recently had the great pleasure of talking to Donald Turner about his time at Spurs during the 1960s.

What are your earliest footballing memories? 

Donald: That would be playing football at school, and that was Queesnwell school in Friern Barnet Lane. I remember being at school when I was 5, and the earliest that you could play football at school was at eight, and so straight away I was interested in playing football. I can remember my first pair of football boots, and they weren’t the brand new boots of today that you just pull on, they were the ones with the big toe caps. Quite a few times I could remember my the studs on my boots actually come through and bit into my foot, because they were the only boots that my mother and father could afford. 

How did you come about joining Spurs? And what are your earliest memories of your time at the club?

Donald: I wasn’t signed on by QPR, but because I played for the Friern Barnet Boys. Club and also Middlesex Youth, our football manager Peter Johnson was friendly with the scout at QPR. There were about four players from our side that QPR took on, and so we played practice matches and everything else and so what happened was that out of the four of us, two of us got picked. And so we played in their Under 16’s team against Mansfield and another club. So what happened was that both of us got picked out and they offered me the actual captainship of the QPR Under 16’s team, but the manager knew a couple of people at Spurs and Arsenal, but mainly people at Arsenal. And so he told me that Spurs were after me, and I was so happy to hear that, being a Spurs fan. Back then QPR were in the old English Third Division, and so naturally being a Spurs supporter I thought to myself here we go, I’m off to Spurs. The first time that I played in a real Spurs match was in a youth game at White Hart Lane against Crystal Palace, but the first actual match was at Cheshunt. And that game was against either Millwall or Brentford, and I scored in that game and so straight away they asked me if I would sign forms with the club. So they are my first memories at the club.

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

Donald: When I first went down to Spurs, Dave Mackay was absolutely superb. Also, as a fan I used to really like watching Cliff Jones, Bobby Smith and John White, as they were all heroes of mine. And in the defence Maurice Norman was absolutely titanic, but my big football hero was Jimmy Greaves, and I used to watch him and he was just unbelievable. 

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Donald: The only person that I could honestly say had an influence on me was Eddie Baily. Sometimes I wouldn’t be in the first 11 for Spurs, and Eddie would say to me to get myself organised and it’s your time to go on the pitch, if nothing was happening. To be quite honest he was good to me. He was a hard man who would want you to do exactly as he said 

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

Donald: I was kind of like what you would nowadays call an attacking-midfield player. I was always put in at left-half or inside-left, and when I played in the FA Youth Cup side against West Ham I must admit that they probably thought that they had the better players in the middle, and so they put me out on the wing. Personally I thought that that was a bit of a waste of time, but when you go and play in the FA Youth Cup at Upton Park against West Ham, and you’re playing against Brooking, Redknapp and Lampard, well you’re just up in the air. Funnily enough when I played for the Spurs A team against Hillingdon, they put me at centre-forward. I was always the kind of player that wanted to score.

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

Donald: Dave Mackay. I was a player who could play left-half, and Dave Mackay was a superb player who was also a real professional. There was one player who was in the reserves a lot, and that was Tony Marchi. But if ever someone was injured then he would play in any position and play a great game, and yet still he wouldn’t get picked each week. 

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

Donald: I was three foot taller when I was at Spurs! I remember when I was at Cheshunt and we were training, and Pat Jennings had recently been signed by Watford, and when I saw him I thought to myself that that’s what I want to be, and I wanted to be a footballer. And I tried really hard to become a footballer, but it came to a point where I was playing for the South-East Counties Under 16’s, Under 18’s and the FA Youth Cup side and the A team. And so I thought to myself, why hadn’t I been offered an apprenticeship? Being big headed I said to Bill Nicholson that I needed to be signed, and so he said that he needed another six months to make his mind up. But I thought that I couldn’t keep doing this, and so I thought that I’ve got to say to him that you either want me or you don’t. And so in the end he said nice to meet you lad and you have helped us, but I’m awfully sorry but goodbye. And so in the end that was it. I thought to myself that I couldn’t say please sign me, and so in the end I just left. And so that was it in the end.

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Donald: I was playing for the England Boys club and we played Wales at Wycombe Wanderers’ ground. We were 1-0 down when I scored a goal from 25 yards, and that feeling was just unreal. Because it was the first one that was just unreal, and it’s hard to explain. Also, when I was with Middlesex Youth we went to The Netherlands to play in a tournament, which was held over a week. We won the tournament and I was voted the best player of the tournament by two Ajax players. I received a model of a footballer on a wooden carved block. I’m very proud of that. Another great moment/memory was when my old football manager at the Friern Barnet Boys Club had five complimentary tickets for the 1966 World Cup final at Wembley. So I got to attend the final.

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

Donald: I should think that it must be either Frank Lampard Senior or Trevor Brooking, but I would say Lampard, because he was a really, really powerful player. And Trevor Brooking was just as good as he was when he was a professional, as at that time he’d put the ball over you or push it around you and score a goal. And at Spurs I would have to say John Pratt and Jimmy Neighbour, as they were the ones who were outstanding that I remember well, and who made it. But I was with players at Spurs like Ray Bunkell and John Clancy, and John Cutbush, and I thought that I was of the same class as those good players, and without being a bit big headed, maybe even a bit over. I couldn’t understand how I didn’t get an apprenticeship at Spurs. Also, John Conway (former Spurs apprentice) used to live eight houses up the street in Barnet, and he could have been a very good footballer.

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories or ones which stand out from your time in the Spurs Youth sides?

Donald: The favourite one has to be that cup match against Crystal Palace. They were 2-1 down and Bill Nicholson was there watching the game, and I scored twice and we won 5-2, and afterwards he came into the dressing room with a bottle of bubbly and he handed it to me and told me that I’d played really well. So then I was sort of eight foot up in the air and I thought that this was it. So then later on to be told that I wasn’t quite there as a footballer, that was hard. 

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

Donald: When we got together as players I was close to Ray Bunkell, John Clancy and also Brian Parkinson. But I was friendly with all of the players and I didn’t get into a bad argument with any of them. 

Could you talk me through your career after you left the Lilywhites? And what prompted you to leave the club?

Donald: I thought that I was up to that standard at Spurs, and I had been there for just over 15 months, and I thought that I could be an apprentice. So me being me I asked Bill Nicholson, as so he said that he needed another six months, and so I thought to myself that I couldn’t stay around because I was just over 17, and I felt that I needed an apprenticeship now, or just find somewhere else to go. So that’s the reason why I left Spurs. After leaving Spurs I went to Walthamstow Avenue, and Charlton Athletic had been watching me and wanted to sign me. And They (Walthamstow Avenue) wanted me to play on the Friday, Saturday and the Monday over the Easter, as they were competing to be top of their league. However, I broke my leg and so I was in plaster for almost a year. It took me almost two years before I signed for Enfield and met my wife and moved up to Bedford. And so I didn’t play any sort of top football afterwards.

What would your advice be to the young Spurs players of today as they look to progress up the youth ranks?

Donald: You’ve got to eat the right food and also train so hard. But you’ve got to let people know that you can read a game and you’ve got to let them know that whatever happens that you don’t give up. You’ve got to listen to the people in charge and try to the best of your ability. 

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

Donald: Yes. It was a small amount of time in my life, but I wanted it and although I didn’t get it I’m still Spurs through and through, and I’m a big Spurs fan.

Looking back at former Spurs Youth Team, A Team, reserves and England Schoolboys international Paul Shoemark’s time at Spurs during the 1960s:

Paul Shoemark was a very highly rated England Schoolboys international, who had a very impressive goals to games ratio for his country at that level. Born and brought up in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, Paul Shoemark played local football in the Wellingborough area prior to playing for England Schoolboys. He was in the same England Schoolboys side as Peter Shilton, Alan Evans and John Stenson. And it was with England that the very highly rated young footballer was being scouted by a number of top clubs. In his last game for the England Schoolboys side, Paul Shoemark scored two goals against West Germany in Berlin. Clubs such as Arsenal, Southampton, Coventry City and obviously Spurs, all wanted to sign him. However, in the end Paul made the decision to join Bill Nicholson’s Spurs in 1965. He joined the club as an apprentice for the start of the 1965/66 season, and of those in his age group at Spurs, Paul came further away from Spurs, than any of the other apprentices and part-time/amateur youth players.

Although Paul joined Spurs as a centre-forward, he also played as an inside-forward, during his time at the club. With outstanding pace and an excellent low centre of gravity, Shoemark was a great finisher inside the penalty area, and he was also good with both feet. As one of the two forward players in the Spurs Youth and A side, Shoemark was strong on the ball and was capable of shielding it well. However, it was his brilliant pace, skill on the ball and finishing ability which made him one of the most highly rated youth footballers in England during the mid 1960s. Joining Spurs as a Youth team player in 1965, Shoemark played in the same Spurs youth side as future Spurs first team player Ray Evans, and during his first season at the club, Paul was a member of the Spurs youth side that won the South-East Counties League Division II, scoring five goals from nine league games. Shoemark was a clever player, and just like some of the more recent players that Spurs fans will remember who have played for the club and youth level, and who have been described as outstanding prospects, such as Terry Dixon, Shaun Murray and Marcus Edwards, well Paul had exactly the same amount of hype around him, at Spurs and around England.

Paul Shoemark would progress up to the senior Spurs youth side, into the A team for matches in the Metropolitan League, and also to the Spurs reserves, later on in the 1960s. Playing alongside the likes of future Spurs first team players Steve Perryman, Jimmy Pearce and the previously mentioned Ray Evans, would have been great for the young Paul Shoemark. Paul joined the Spurs first team on the coach to an away game at Northampton (near to where Paul is from), during the mid 1960s, and he would sit on the touchline for that game, in what must have been a very special day for him. Other memorable moments for Paul during his time at the club, would have been travelling to a tournament in The Netherlands with the Spurs Youth team, being a member of the Spurs A team that won the Metropolitan League and also just being at such a top club, at such a special time. I recently spoke with former Spurs player Terry Naylor, and he spoke very highly of Paul Shoemark’s ability at Spurs.

Paul later played non-League football for Hatfield Town, Kings Lynn and Downham Market after leaving Spurs in 1969. I had the great pleasure of interviewing Paul about his time at Spurs in 2021, and I was also very happy when he attended my mid 1960s Spurs Youth team reunion last summer. He is a really top man, who I believe was very unlucky to not have featured for the Spurs first team during his time at the club in the 1960s, owing to the fact that the first team and reserves were just so incredibly strong. However, Paul has so much to be proud about, looking back on his time at Spurs and his overall footballing career.

Some notes on Spurs Under 21’s defender Maksim Paskotši, and his recent impressive performances:

Spurs Academy player Maksim Paskotši is an international footballer for Estonia, and at 20 he has already won 16 caps for his country. The former Flora Tallinn player who joined Spurs in 2020 and who impressed for the Spurs Under 18 side in his first season at the club, also scored quite a lot of goals for a defender whilst playing at that level for the club. Since the start of the 2021/22 season, the versatile defender has been with the Spurs Under 21 side on a permanent basis. And although he hasn’t always been a regular in the Under 21 side, he has started all four of Spurs’ Under 21’s four games this year, and I personally think that he has done very well in those matches. Although he started off in central defence when he first joined Spurs, Maksim has also shown his versatility in defence. He has defended really solidly in all four competitive matches that he has been involved in for the Spurs Under 21 side this season, and starting with the Liverpool game last month when Maksim completed 61 minutes and defended well against talented winger Ben Doak during some of that match, he has since gone onto put in three more really fine defensive performances.

Maksim Paskotši is a tenacious defender, who at left-back has shown his really good pace. He is strong in the challenge and can tackle well, and he has also shown his good reading of the game, and also his ability to get forward well to support the forward players. In the recent Under 21’s games against Arsenal, Brighton and Everton, Maksim has  impressed with his all-round game, and defensively with his tackling and positioning, and I think that he has done really well. He defended well on his side of the pitch against Charles Sagoe Jr in the game against Arsenal and against Liam Higgins and Nathan Patterson in the Everton game, whilst also doing well in the recent game with Brighton. Hopefully Maksim gets a really good run of games in the Spurs Under 21 side at left-back during the remainder of this season, as he continues to improve.

Some notes on Spurs’ Under 21’s recent 1-1 draw with Everton, in the Premier League 2:

The Spurs Under 21 side recorded a 1-1 draw against Everton in Southport on Friday evening, to keep up their unbeaten start to the new year. The game didn’t get off to the best of starts for Spurs, with the home side taking the lead through Stanley Mills after just two minutes. However, Spurs grew into the game, and by the time that the final whistle was sounded, Spurs had created the better chances of the two sides, and thanks to Alfie Devine’s clever headed equalising goal, Spurs secured a good point in Southport. In the following piece I will be writing about some of the impressive performances in the Spurs side, in what was a good team performance. Defensively I thought that it was a good performance from Spurs. The impressive Brooklyn Lyons-Foster and Malachi Fagan-Walcott worked well together in central defence, and were decisive in their defending. Also, Lyons-Foster  was as always impressive on the ball, and he passed the ball well into midfield.

Midfielder Max Robson once again started the match at right-back. The 20 year old impressed, in my opinion. He defended well, but he also got forward well, impressing with his good pace and determination. And his forward runs were good, and he made one really good forward pass during the match. On the other side of the pitch, Maksim Paskotši had another good game at left-back. The Estonia international defended solidly on that side of the pitch, including against Everton’s first team right-back Nathan Patterson, who started the match for Everton’s Under 21 side on Friday. And in central midfield, Matthew Craig was very good for Spurs yesterday evening. The Scotland Under 21 international was everywhere in midfield, and his work-rate was superb. Craig used the ball well, and at times also covered well for other players. He has started the year really well for Spurs’ Under 21 side.

Finally I thought that Spurs’ goalscorer Alfie Devine had another good game for Spurs, and as well as taking his goal well, he also showed his class on the ball during his time on the pitch, whilst working well off the ball as well. And on the left flank for Spurs, Romaine Mundle had another very good game. Always very inventive on the ball and direct, Romaine did well against Nathan Patterson, during the Everton player’s time on the pitch. The 19 year old Spurs player also provided the assist for Alfie Devine’s first half goal, by delivering a good free-kick into the Everton penalty area. Spurs’ Under 21 side face Crystal Palace on Monday the 27th of February, in their next Premier League 2 fixture.

My interview with former Spurs player Tony Want:

Anthony George Want joined Spurs as an apprentice professional in 1964. He would sign professional forms with the club in 1965, and would work his way up from the youth teams into the A team, and later the reserve side. The Hackney born former England Youth international was a tough and defensively solid full-back who read the game well. Want would go on to make 56 competitive first team appearances for Spurs (he made his competitive debut in the March of 1968). Tony Want had a lot of competition in the full-back roles, and would leave Spurs to sign for Birmingham City in the summer of 1972, and would become a regular and important player for them during the six years that we was there. He would spend the final years of his football career in America. I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of speaking with Tony about his time at Spurs.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Tony: I suppose it would be playing on Hackney Marshes for your local team on a Sunday morning or a Saturday afternoon. I was only about 11/12 then, but as it went on and when I was about 13, one of the scouts saw me playing in a match. I’ll always remember his name, and his name was Dickie Walker, and he found loads of famous players, and he was from east London himself. The lad who used to do the scouting with him was Ronnie Clayton (Eddie Clayton’s brother), and he was a good man who was always smart and well dressed. But Dickie Walker saw me and asked me if I wanted to train at Spurs, and that was it. So I would go training twice a week, and so that’s my earliest memories of my time at Tottenham.

What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs?

Tony: That would be the apprenticeship itself. One of the first things that you were told by the more senior players was to build yourself up. There used to be a fight everyday in the gym! I’ll always remember Johnny Wallis, as he used to look after us apprentices. 

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

Tony: Players like Dennis Law and Bobby Charlton were the ones, and then as I got a little bit older there was Jimmy Greaves. I think that as a youngster your favourite players are the ones who score the goals, rather than a centre-half for example, but that’s how it was. 

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Tony: The biggest influence was without doubt Dave Mackay. And you could ask players like Graeme Souness, and he’d say the same. Dave Mackay had a massive influence on the youth players at Spurs. Pre-season was the only time that we used to play on green grass in training, as during the season we used to run around the pitch at the ground, and then play in the gym on concrete, and so the football was one and two touch football. If you were on Dave Mackay’s side you were his friend, but if you were playing against him then he’d give you a really difficult time in matches. I remember him saying to a few lads in pre-season if they wanted to stay out and practice training, and he was someone who would stay out there with you for half an hour to help you improve a part of your game. He was without a doubt my biggest influence at Spurs. And I’m sure that he was Brian Clough’s biggest influence, when he took him to Derby.

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

Tony: I went there as a midfield player who got goals, but I never played a game for Tottenham in midfield, because in a couple of weeks of being there they started playing me at full-back. In them days all the wingers were very quick, and so they wanted someone like me, who was reasonably quick but who could also give them a bit of stick as well. So I played in that position for Spurs from youth team level, and then when I got called into the England Under 19 squad during the World Cup year of 1966, the man who was running the team asked me if I could play in midfield, as I could get forward. We played a lot of games (around 28), and not all against international teams. We played against sides like Manchester United Under 21’s and Arsenal Under 21’s, when we were all Under 19’s. So I played all of those matches in midfield. I liked playing in midfield as it obviously meant that you got forward and got chances to score goals. In those days if you played at left-half then your responsibility was to defend against the inside-right. And so you couldn’t get forward as the inside-right was your responsibility. So there was a lot of man to man marking in those days, in football. I loved those early days at Tottenham, and although I never had to do national service, it was a bit like that in those days, as you weren’t going to make it if you were relaxed.

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

Tony: I suppose it depends on your position, but for me Dave Mackay was a massive inspiration. Outside of Spurs someone I always liked was Franz Beckenbauer, as he was someone who could do everything, and he showed this at World Cup’s. He was brilliant. 

Could you talk me through your memories of your competitive first team debut for Spurs, in a league game against West Brom in the March of 1968? And how did that day come about?

Tony: I remember that Terry Venables had a bet with someone that I’d get in the Spurs first team before the Christmas of the 1967/68 season. However, it went past Christmas and then into March, and what was ironic about that West Brom game was that Jimmy Greaves was waiting for either his 200th or 300th league goal. And I remember the game finishing 0-0, as I so wanted him to score. But I didn’t find the game any different, although it was a good game for me as we never looked like conceding a goal. And I was also expected to get forward from full-back, which was good as well. 

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

Tony: Well I liked it, but in the end I probably stayed a couple of seasons too long. In them days you only had one sub, and for example Jimmy Pearce was a sub for Spurs in home games very often. Whereas when we played matches away I was the sub, although Cyril Knowles used to do what he could to make sure that I could get my appearance money, and the money between then and now in football is so different. However, although I probably stayed a bit too long, I loved my time at Spurs. All you wanted to do was play, as a footballer, and so rather than being a standby at Spurs I moved to Birmingham City, and I loved it there as well. After training at Birmingham it was a bit different to being at Spurs, as at Spurs everyone used to go their own way, but at Birmingham a good number of us used to go out together after training. 

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

Tony: I had a phone call from Bill Nicholson one day, and he said that a decent financial offer had come in, and so I said yes. And so I went up to Birmingham and I liked what I saw, and the manager of Birmingham at the time even said to Bill Nicholson that I had probably wasted a few years of my career by staying on a bit too long with Spurs. After spending some great years with Birmingham City I continued my playing career in America (Tony played for Philadelphia Atoms, Minnesota Kicks and Philadelphia Fury) and that was a great time. I first went to play for Philadelphia Atoms, and I was there for a couple of months, which was a great experience. As was the whole experience of playing in America.

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Tony: I didn’t ever win a cup, so I can’t say that. But as for matches there were many, such as games against the likes of Liverpool. There are also great memories of playing for England at youth level, as well. And there were so many great players in that England team. 

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

Tony: I would have to say when I was in America, when I got to play against the very best players right from 1978, although not the very best on the day. By the very best I mean Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff, Eusébio and George Best, although Pelé had just retired then. But you had teams with great players, such as New York Cosmos, who had six players who had just won the World Cup.

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

Tony: The Spurs Youth team that I was a part of was really successful. We won the South-East Counties League countless times and also the Southern Junior Floodlit Cup, which everyone loved as they were played at night. In the Spurs programmes at the time, they used to have listed the First Division, the Football Combination for the reserves, and then you had the Metropolitan League which was for the A team, and then you had the Southern Junior League and also the Juniors side. One day my dad spotted in the Spurs programme that every different Spurs team were top of their respective league, at one point of the season. However, coming through the ranks at Spurs, we must have won about 90% of our games up until I got into the first team. We also won the London Challenge Cup three times, and what amazed me was that we played top amateur teams like Enfield Town, and I remember when we played them that they didn’t even get a kick of the ball. They had decent players and yet us who were in the reserve team at 17/18 won the match 4-1. Then when you do progress into the Spurs first team you find it difficult at times and then easy at other times, but Spurs in the 1960s were terrific. 

I remember after Spurs had won the 1967 FA Cup final, that they played a Celtic side who had just won the European Cup, at Celtic Park in a friendly in front of a sell out crowd. And Spurs recorded a 3-3 draw in that game, and so they never even lost that. To have won the European Cup meant that you had to be the best of the best. I remember then going up to Old Trafford to watch Spurs in the Charity Shield, and Bill Nicholson couldn’t believe that I’d traveled up there on my own to watch the game. He had seen me and my friend who was an Arsenal fan, and he asked me to stay where I was in the stadium after the match and then he’d take us down to the dressing room, where the players were. I remember that the game ended in a draw and so both teams had to share the cup. But my mate who was an Arsenal supporter couldn’t believe it as we came back in the Pullman’s carriage on the train with the team. While I was at Spurs as a young player I’ll always remember us being told to tuck our shirts in and pull our socks down, as we were representing Tottenham Hotspur. 

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories or ones which stand out from your time with the Spurs first team?

Tony: My first team debut against West Brom really stands out, but then there’s other games that I played in, that you don’t even remember that you played in, whereas in other games you remember the little things that standout. We won at Arsenal quite a few times, which I remember, and they always used to finish above us in the league at that era. One game that I’ll always remember, was playing against Liverpool in the sixth round of the FA Cup. Jimmy Greaves scored the opening goal, but then Liverpool equalised later on in the game, and so the game went to a replay. So that game does standout, but as for the games with the best atmospheres, they would be the games between Spurs and West Ham.

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

Tony: That would probably be Peter Thompson of Liverpool. I had a difficult game against him one time at right-back, and I remember that Bill Nicholson selected Alan Mullery to play at right-back in another game, against Peter Thompson. I remember at half-time in that game after Peter Thompson had given Alan a really difficult first half, that Alan said to Bill Nicholson to never, ever play him at right-back again. I was sitting in the dugout with Joe Kinnear, who had been dropped for that game, and he said to me that we’ve just got to sit back and watch the Peter Thompson show! However, going back to your question there’s so many players, and in particular wingers who were so good and difficult to play against.

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

Tony: It was mainly John Pratt, as he was from Hoxton, and I was from very close to Hoxton, in Hackney. However, he wasn’t at the club when I signed as an apprentice, and there was really no one from my area at the club when I joined as an apprentice. But me and John Pratt did a lot of things together when we were both at the club, and for example we’d go out for a drink together on a Saturday night. Terry Venables always got on with me at Spurs, and years later when I bumped into him when he was the Crystal Palace manager, he said that we’ve got a player at Crystal Palace who will make it, and that he really reminded him of me. And his name was Kenny Samson. So I got on well with Terry Venables.

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

Tony: I honestly wouldn’t know now, as it’s totally different. In my day the manager did everything, and no one answered back to him. It was very different in those days. For example in my day we used to have a fillet steak before games, and when I first went to play football in America I was asked what I wanted to eat, and so I said a fillet steak. The man who asked me thought I was joking, as he said that I wouldn’t get one ounce of energy from that fillet steak during the game that I was going to play.

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

Tony: Oh yes. My whole family are Spurs supporters. I still remember when Dickie Walker and Ronnie Clayton used to send two tickets for me to watch the first team, when I first joined Spurs as a youngster, and I remember going into the tearoom at the ground, which the players also used to use. They were great times at Spurs.