My interview with former Spurs player Andy Rollock:
I caught up with former Spurs player Andy Rollock today to talk about his time as a youth and reserve team player at the ‘ Lilywhites ‘ during the early 1980’s. A left sided forward, Rollock would go onto become a prolific scorer for Spurs at youth team and reserve level and he would also feature for England at schoolboy level. Andy kindly agreed to doing an interview with me about his time at the world famous Tottenham Hotspur.
What are your earliest footballing memories?
Andy: Probably starting about under 10’s I started playing for a team called Craig Park and then I went to play for another team about 11 or 12 in the local league. I then went to play for Eversley, managed by Don Ball who was a great influence on my football career. From there I got scouted to go to quite a few clubs, so at one point I was at Tottenham, QPR and Fulham training pretty much everyday of the week.
What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs and how did you come about joining the club?
Andy: My earliest memory is probably training on a Tuesday and Thursday night at White Hart Lane. They had two gyms there, one was a smaller gym downstairs and the other was a big gym upstairs. You’d start off in the little gym and then once you got older and better you sort of progressed up to the top floor gym which was the bigger one. I got to join Spurs by being scouted through my Sunday club by Bill Nicholson who was the chief scout at Tottenham at the time, and he scouted me and took me to Spurs. He used to pick me up from school on a Tuesday and a Thursday and take me down to training.
What was the great Bill Nicholson like?
Andy: Bill Nicholson was unbelievable, you’d never think that he had been the manager who’d won the league and the cup for Tottenham and done the double. He was really down to earth and a really decent man and to be honest with you if it wasn’t for Bill I probably wouldn’t have gone to Spurs, but he had a lot of faith in me and made me join the club even though there were other clubs that wanted to sign me. Bill was like a father figure really and he pushed me to go to Tottenham which is where I ended up.
What was your time at the Lilywhites like on the whole?
Andy: I can’t say it was a bad experience because it was probably one of the best experiences of my life. There’s not many kids that get to sign for a club like Tottenham and I’d been there since I was 12 so I was lucky.
Did you have any footballing heroes/inspirations and if so who were they?
Andy: I think at Spurs I’d say Glen Hoddle because he was just an unbelievable player to watch, and to play with him was just second to none really. Also Garth Crooks was somebody who I spent quite a bit of time with and he’d give hints and tips, so I looked up to both Glen and Garth Crooks as well.
Could you describe to me what type of player you were and what positions you played in for Spurs during your time there?
Andy: I was a forward and I used to play on the left wing, I was pretty quick back in the day and I always had an eye for goal, and I used to score quite a few goals. That was the only position I ever played for Tottenham.
What was it like to brush shoulders with some of the legendary players that were around at Spurs at the time?
Andy: It was an unbelievable experience, at the time you don’t realise it but as you get older and move on through the game you realise that you’ve rubbed shoulders with some of the greats, such as Glen Hoddle, Garth Crooks, Steve Archibald and Ricky Villa and Ossie Ardiles, two players who had just won the World Cup. However, back then they were just two players at Tottenham but when you look back now and look at the things that they’ve done in the game you think to yourself that you’ve been in the presence of two legends.
Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?
Andy: I’d say Bill Nicholson because he always had faith in me, and I’d also say youth team coach Peter Shreeves because he always used to look out for me and give me some hints and tips, and he used to try to drive me forward.
Were there any players at Spurs who you would watch closely to try and improve your game or look to learn from?
Andy: Yeah I’d say obviously Glen Hoddle and Ricky Villa who used to play in a similar position to me. So I would watch him in training and I was lucky enough to train with him as well. I’d also say Garth Crooks as well because he was a natural finisher so as far as finishing was concerned I used to learn quite a lot from Garth, so I’d say them two.
Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories of your time at Spurs or ones which particularly standout within your memory?
Andy: I’d say probably the night they won the FA cup against Manchester City, we’d been to Wembley on the Saturday and seen them draw and then we’d seen them on the Wednesday night at Wembley, where Ricky Villa scored a wonder goal. So that was a great memory for me. Personal memory for me was coming off the subs bench against Charlton, I think there was 20 minutes to go and we were losing 2-0, and I scored a hat trick and we won the game so personally that was a good memory for me. Another one was actually training with the first team a couple of times, being on the same pitch as some of the other guys who I’d mentioned before was really special.
What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?
Andy: I’d say when I played for England schoolboys at Wembley against Germany. That game was televised and I scored a goal that day at Wembley, so for me that’s probably the greatest memory for me.
Who was the greatest player that you had the pleasure of sharing a pitch with?
Andy: There’s been a few but I would say just for his pure goalscoring ability it was Terry Gibson. He was an absolute goal machine and I was lucky enough to play with him both in the youth team and the reserves and he was probably one of the best players I ever played with on a pitch to be honest.
Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories of your time in the Tottenham youth team?
Andy: I think the year that we got into the FA youth cup final against West Ham where we played the first leg at Upton Park and the second leg at Tottenham which we won, so I got an FA youth cup medal which was the highlight for me. And also playing at Old Trafford in the FA youth cup against Manchester United was another one and I can still remember it vividly. I’ve played at Wembley three times, but you walk out at Old Trafford and to be fair it’s just something special, it’s an unbelievable stadium.
What prompted you to leave Spurs and could you talk me through your career after you left the Lilywhites?
Andy: Spurs offered me a contract to stay on for a year but I turned it down because I wanted a better contract. I then went to Arsenal for six months and played in their youth team and reserve team but I left them after about six months. After leaving Arsenal I went to Wolves before playing out in Finland for a year and a bit. I then went into non league football where I kind of dropped out of the professional game and I played for Enfield Town and Walthamstow Avenue and I did the non league circuit to be honest.
Who was the toughest player that you ever came up against?
Andy: I would say there’s two players, Nigel Winterburn when he was at Wimbledon and a lad called Keith Stevens who was at Millwall. They were two tough fullbacks who I didn’t get a lot of change out of!
Were there any players at Spurs who you were particularly close to?
Andy: I was close with Allan Cockram and we kind of went through the ranks together and it’s a shame that we lost contact. There was also another lad from Enfield called Steve Cox who I was pretty close with, we used to go to training together because we lived literally round the corner from each other, so I would say that Allan and Steve were the two players who I was closest to at Spurs.
What would your advice be to the young Spurs players of today as they look to break into the first team?
Andy: I would say to them to not take it for granted and to listen to every piece of advice that they are given from coaches and senior players in the game. What got me is that I wanted it too soon and too quick, I thought that I should have been in the first team when I was competing with players who were World Cup winners! Players should believe in their talent but they must listen to people because if you push yourself too far the chances are that you’re going to end up out of the game.
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?
Andy: Yeah definitely even though I’m not a Spurs supporter but I do hold the club in high esteem, and they’ll always have a piece of my heart. I’m actually proud to say that I played for Tottenham because back then they were one of the big clubs in English football and they are still a big club. So I’m extremely proud that I was able to represent the club and be a part of their history.