My interview with former Spurs goalkeeper Ian Cranstone:
A key component of the 1973/74 FA youth cup winning side, goalkeeper Ian Cranstone played a significant part of Tottenham successes. A talented young goalkeeper who signed for the club in 1972, Cranstone was a part of one of the most talented Tottenham youth teams in the clubs history. I caught up with Ian to chat about his time at the club and subsequent career at both Colchester United and Wealdstone.
What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs and how did you come about joining the club?
Ian: Playing for Essex County schools. Scouted by Dicky Walker who was the chief scout at the time and a legend. Aged 15 ½ years of age it was a big deal to leave home and stay in a strange place. Being cared for by another couple (adopted parents). Playing for the club was an honour. Wherever you went in the Tottenham area people would know who you were and would stop and talk to you. Even away games, supporters would ask for your autograph. I would always oblige. It was great!
What was your time at the lilywhites like on the whole?
Ian: A great experience, a dream come true. The experience still remains with me. Being around famous people and socialising with the first team players and players from other clubs, it was fantastic.
Did you have any footballing heroes/inspiration and if so who were they?
Ian: Apart from Pat Jennings of course, my goalkeeping hero was Peter Shilton. I met him by chance in a hotel in Nottingham prior to me playing for Notts County for a trial match when I was playing for Wealdstone. Peter was playing for Nottingham Forest at the time and lived in the hotel.
Who were your greatest influences at the club?
Ian: Pat Welton the youth team coach and ex Leyton Orient goalkeeper. The coach that had all the character was Eddie Bailey, first team coach and assistant to Bill Nicholson. Johnny Wallis was the clubs first team trainer and he had to make sure that all the kit was ready for training sessions and boots were cleaned etc. Johnny was in charge of the apprentices when not in training and it was our jobs to clean up and do jobs around the ground (White Hart Lane) etc.
Who were you favourite players at the club?
Ian: Cyril Knowles was my favourite as he always had a smile on his face and joked about a lot.
You shared a house with the likes of Graeme Souness and Noel Brotherston in Tottenham during your time as a youth player, a far cry from the luxury that our current youth players enjoy today. What was that experience like for you?
Ian: Quite daunting! I was not a very confident person, so to share a house with established players like Graeme Souness and Chris Jones was a big deal. In total there were six of us at one point in the house, (Clive Avenue). I had the opportunity of going home once a month subject to football fixtures… My parents were living in South Wales at the time. I would travel by train Saturday afternoon and return Sunday night. At 15 ½ years of age and an only child it was quite a life change. One I wouldn’t want to swap.
How did your time at Spurs prepare you for your subsequent career in the game?
Ian: My expectations were quite high and the training regime was tough. It taught me to work hard and never expect anything. Moving from Spurs to other clubs was a shock as other clubs could not come up to the standards Spurs had given me.
Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories of your time at Spurs or ones which particularly standout within your memory?
There are so many. During my Spurs career we were the most successful London youth football team around. We won every youth competition in London, plus the South East Counties League. My best moment was in the second half of extra time in the second leg of the FA youth cup final. The score was 0-0. Huddersfield had an attack. A high ball came into the penalty box and one of their players got on the end and headed it towards goal. It was in all intense purposes a goal. I was on my six yard line and the ball went over my head. I ran backwards and leapt up into the air and managed to tip the ball over the bar for a corner. Minutes later Roger Gibbins scores at the other end.
The rest is history!
Sadder story was the occasion I broke my 5th matatarsus bone in my right foot whilst playing in a tournament in Rotterdam prior to the UEFA cup final between Spurs and Ajax. Having smothered a through ball, the opposition forward decided to carry on and kick my foot. I stood up to kick the ball out and I heard the bone break. I had to travel all the way back to Tottenham in a plaster cast and then a taxi took me all the way to South Wales.
After departing the lilywhites you went onto play for teams such as Colchester United and Wealdstone. could you talk me through what prompted you to leave the club, and your career post Spurs?
Ian: I was given a free transfer from the club by Keith Burkinshaw. Spurs signed a young up and coming goalkeeper, Mark Kendall. At the time the club had Barry Daines, Nicky Markwick and myself. One of us had to leave and it was me. After lots of rejections from lower clubs I finally ended up at Colchester United. Again like Spurs I had joined a club that had a well established goalkeeper, Micky Walker (father of Ian Walker). I signed a one year contract with a one year option. This was a standard contract format at the time. Unfortunately the one time I had to make my league debut was against Newport County away. The game got called off due to a waterlogged pitch.
After that I sustained a broken scaphoid bone in my left wrist and it needed surgery and a one inch screw inserted. I was in plaster for 15 weeks. To this day I still have the screw inside me. A cover goalkeeper from Ipswich Town came to the club on loan. He was fortunate enough to play three league games and that was the end of my career at Colchester United.
After Colchester United I held down a civvy job and played semi pro for Wealdstone in the Alliance Premier league. Notable claim to fame was Stuart Pearce being my left back and substitute goalkeeper when I was concussed during a match at Scarborough. Although not mentioned directly in Stuarts autobiography the incident is mentioned.
Who was the toughest forward that you came ever came up against?
I have played against some well known forwards during my youth years and reserve games. Notable forwards: Charlie George, Frank Stapleton, Kerry Dixon, Jimmy Greaves (Barnet), Martin Chivers, Alan Gilzean during training sessions.
What was the pinnacle of your career?
Without a doubt the FA Youth cup victory. If it wasn’t for a penalty save against Leyton Orient (Dean Moody) we wouldn’t have progressed. Signing professional forms as well.
Who was the greatest player that you had the pleasure of sharing a pitch with?
Ian: One year I played in the London Evening Standard football five a side tournament which was televised. We got beat 5-0 by Millwall. That was my 15 minutes of fame! Our team was Glenn Hoddle, Martin Chivers, John Pratt, Jimmy Robertson and myself. We were abysmal. So the greatest has to be Glenn. He was groomed to be great.
You’re still a Spurs fan and member at the club, what does the club still mean to you now after all these years?
Ian: I have enjoyed seeing the club evolve. Money has been a big influence how clubs are run and the facilities they can provide. I wish I was born in the 90’s. The opportunities for players is much greater and the off pitch support the club can offer players. It is a shame however that having played for the club there is no contact. At the end of the day players are only a commodity.
1974 will be a year which will always be synonymous with our triumphant FA youth cup campaign. A campaign in which you played a major part in, could you talk me through your memories of that campaign?
Ian: The team had the confidence to walk onto the pitch and had the belief we would win. I can recall playing at Birmingham City (St Andrews) midweek with empty stands and the thumping of an industrial hammer pounding away constantly. As mentioned before the penalty save against Leyton Orient
the semi final, two legged against Arsenal. They had a talented team and many went on to first team glory and beyond. It was 0-0 at W.H.L. Under floodlights at Highbury was magical. We won the final 1-0 at W.H.L. It was disappointing. There wasn’t much atmosphere. Huddersfield were content to frustrate us and so it proved, 0-0. At Huddersfield in front of 14,000 home supporters the atmosphere was electric. The goals were tight up against the stands and I had coins and coke cans thrown at me, along with verbal taunts. All tactics to unsettle me and break my concentration. It didn’t work! I did come into some money! LOL. After the game in the dressing room and having photos taken with Bill Nicholson (he signed me as an apprentice professional) it was special and who would have thought I would be writing about such an occasion 46 years on?