My interview with former Spurs player Ollie Morah:
Ollie Morah was a powerful centre forward and one time starlet at Spurs during the early 1990’s. The Islington born Morah was also highly thought of within the England youth set up, and attended the old FA school of excellence at Lilleshall, and subsequently went onto win numerous caps for England at youth level. Still fondly remembered by youth watchers from that period, Ollie also played a starring role in the Spurs side which won the 1989/90 FA youth cup. Ollie was the Troy Parrott of his day, but unfortunately he was unable to break into the Tottenham senior side during his spell at the club, for one reason or another. Morah spent time out on loan with Hereford and Swindon before being released by Spurs. Ollie would go onto forge a career in the lower leagues, first at Swindon then at Sutton United. Morah also spent time at Cambridge United, Torquay and Welling. Ollie kindly spoke to me about his time at Spurs and subsequent career in the game.
What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs and how did you come about joining the club?
Ollie: I was invited for a weeks trial at Tottenham’s training ground in Chestnut. Unbeknown to me I was training with the under 15’s and I was 10. Which was a bit of a surprise. But I really enjoyed the week. From that week on I was invited to train on Monday’s at White Hart Lane with my own age group and it went on from there.
What was your time at Spurs like on the whole?
Ollie: I really enjoyed my time there. It was a good experience.
Were there any other players at the club or outside who you’d try to model your game around?
Ollie: I didn’t particularly model my game around any specific player. I watched a lot of football and just tried to pick up some good tips from any games that I watched.
Who was your footballing inspiration/hero?
Ollie: My favourite player at the time was John Barnes.
Who were your greatest influences at the club?
Ollie: John Moncur he was the youth development officer. He was always very positive and helpful throughout my time at Spurs. Pat Holland and Keith Waldron were also very helpful too. All three were also very supportive when I left Spurs.
What was the toughest thing about being an academy footballer and how hard was it to breakthrough into the first team during the 1990’s?
Ollie: I found the most difficult thing was making the progression from being a youth team player to a professional. As a youth team player I’d been used to playing week in, week out. As soon as I became professional, it became a lot different. I had 7-8 much more experienced players ahead of me and it was very difficult to get any game time.
Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories from your time as a youth player at Tottenham Hotspur?
Ollie: One of my favourite memories at Spurs was winning the Southern Junior Floodlit Cup. We played Arsenal over 2 legs, we lost the first leg at White Hart Lane 1-0 (it could’ve been a lot worse). We didn’t play well as a team and I didn’t have a good game myself. In training the following week, John Lyall the ex West Ham United manager was working at the club at the time and we worked all week on a new system which we hadn’t played before. We went from playing 4-4-2 to playing 4-3-3. John was very forward thinking and an excellent coach. We played the 2nd leg at Highbury. What John and the rest of the coaches had been working on all week was hitting diagonal passes. In the first 20 seconds of the match Warren Hackett hit one of these passes out to me which I managed to control and run through and score. With about a minute to go of normal time. I managed to intercept a pass from their centre back to their full back and ran through and scored. We ended up winning the match 2-1 on aggregate.
Could you talk me through your career after you left Spurs? You played for a variety of clubs which included spells with the likes of Hereford, Swindon and Cambridge United.
Ollie: I played for a number of clubs once I left Spurs in the search for regular matches. My happiest memories were playing for Sutton United where I played in the FA Cup 3rd round.
You played a major part in Spurs’ triumphant FA youth cup winning side of 1990. Could you talk me through your memories of that campaign?
Ollie: We had a very strong youth team. Which included Ian Walker and Dave Tuttle who both went on to play for the Spurs first team and in Ian Walkers case he represented England at full level. We had a hard run and played some very good teams. The games that stick out most for me was playing away at Manchester City and winning 2-0. It was a really good team performance against the favourites to win the whole competition. We then played Manchester United in the semi final. A team which included Mark Bosnich in goal, Darren Ferguson (Alex Ferguson’s son) and a young Ryan Giggs who was a school boy at the time playing in the youth team. We managed to beat them 2-0 at White Hart Lane. However the 2nd leg at Old Trafford was very different. We were under pressure for the whole of the game. They went 1-0 up. But thankfully Anthony Potts, late in the game put in a good low cross and Lee Fulling tapped it in at the far post and we won 3-1 on aggregate. In the Final against Middlesbrough I can remember the kick off having to be delayed as fans were still entering the ground. Once the game kicked off, we played very well. Anthony Potts and Scott Houghton scored 2 really good goals and we should’ve won the game by more. However they did score a late goal. In the 2nd leg at White Hart Lane it was a much tighter game with both teams not wanting to give much away. Fortunately I managed to score from Anthony Potts cross which put us 3-1 up. They did manage to score a goal late on and the game finished 1-1. We managed to win the FA Youth Cup 3-2 on aggregate.
What was the pinnacle of your footballing career?
Ollie: Winning the FA Youth Cup and Playing at Wembley for England at school boy and youth level.
Who was the greatest player that who you shared a pitch with?
Ollie: Paul Parker ex QPR, Manchester United and England.
You coached the Spurs under 13’s side for a spell, what was that like and is coaching something that you’d like to pursue in the future?
Ollie: I coached at Spurs for 5 years. I got that opportunity through John Moncur who was head of youth development at the time. I enjoyed the coaching and you see football from a totally different perspective. I went onto work at Crystal Palace, Wycombe Wanderers and Dagenham and Redbridge.
As somebody who was a young striker at the club what would your advice be to our young centre forwards as they look to make that transition to the first team?
Ollie: My advice would be. Enjoy your time, work hard and look to work on all your weaknesses to develop your all round game.
What was the toughest moment of your career?
Ollie: The toughest moments are when you’re being released, but it’s part and parcel of the profession.