My interview with former Spurs player Dennis Bond:
Walthamstow born midfielder Dennis Bond made his debut for his first professional club Watford as a 16 year old. And the boyhood Spurs fan would go onto make many appearances during his first spell at the ‘ Hornets ‘ before the former England schoolboys player joined Spurs in 1967 for £30,000. A good passer of the ball, Dennis who was also a skilful player who went onto make 27 competitive first team appearances for Spurs under legendary former manager Bill Nicholson before leaving the Lilywhites in 1970 to go to Charlton who he enjoyed a good spell at. However, Bond would then move back to his first club Watford in 1972 and would go onto make a further 179 league appearances for them, scoring 21 goals. Dennis finished off his playing career with Dagenham in the Isthmian League. Even after retiring from the game Bond still kept strong links with his second club Spurs and he even used to play for the old veterans team. I had the great pleasure of catching up with Dennis Bond recently to look back on his three year spell at Tottenham Hotspur.
What are your earliest footballing memories?
Dennis: I can remember playing for the England schoolboys team and I can also remember my early years at Watford, but I’ve got loads of early football memories growing up especially of Spurs, because I was a Spurs supporter. Obviously I went to Watford first because I thought that I’d have a better chance of getting on there than at Tottenham. Because at the time Tottenham never really brought a lot of youngsters through their ranks however, it all worked out fine in the end but as I say I’ve got loads and loads of memories. I was very fortunate and it was just a pleasure to play football.
What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs and how did you come about joining the club?
Dennis: Well I was first at Watford and I actually played in their first first team when I was 16 when they were in the third division. However, Spurs bought me when Bill Nicholson was manager and they had some great players there at the time such as Alan Mullery, Dave Mackay, Cliff Jones, Jimmy Greaves and Pat Jennings who I knew when he used to play at Watford. Pat came to Watford when he was about 18 or 19 from Newry and it was just nice to meet up with him again at Spurs. However, as I say the players at Spurs at that time were very good players in my opinion and they’ve always had good players as long as I can remember as a supporter.
What was your time at the Lilywhites like on the whole?
Dennis: It was really enjoyable but I would have liked to have played more first team games, but there you go the manager picks the side.
Could you talk me through your competitive debut for Spurs against Liverpool on the first of April 1967?
Dennis: I can’t actually remember the game but I know it was against Liverpool and the thing was that I had actually played against Liverpool the same year in the cup for Watford, so when I went to Spurs I was cup tied. However, just making my debut with Spurs was a big experience for me because as I say I had supported them since I was about eight and my brother-in-law used to walk me across Tottenham marshes from Walthamstow. So yes it was a very proud moment for me but I can’t actually say that it was a boyhood dream because I don’t even think that I dreamt about being a professional, and then all of a sudden I got invited to Watford when I was playing Sunday football for a Sunday football side, and the manager of that side was actually a Watford scout. So he took me along there and I enjoyed myself there playing in the Southeastern Counties League and it just went on from there and I went onto play as a schoolboy for England and I could have went to one or two clubs. However, I got used to it and I stayed at Watford and it worked out.
Did you have any footballing heroes/inspirations and if so who were they?
Dennis: Well I was a big fan of Dave Mackay when he was playing in the double winning side because it was just the way that he played and the way that he was. There were many great players in the Spurs side at that time but Dave Mackay was just one of them outstanding sort of character players.
What was it like to play under legendary Spurs manager Bill Nicholson?
Dennis: It was an honour considering the time that Bill had spent at the club and winning the double and that. Bill had the respect of all of the players because he was that type of man.
Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?
Dennis: I suppose that Dave Mackay was in a way because he was still there when I went to Spurs. He set an example in training and things like that but then I could also say that for people like Alan Mullery and Terry Venables and Jimmy Greaves however, Dave Mackay was the best all round player. He was one those players who could play in goal and still have a good game. Obviously Cliff Jones was still there too and both him and Dave Mackay were my heroes in a way from being in the double winning side. So it was an honour to play for Spurs.
Were there any players at Spurs who you would watch closely to try and improve your game or look to learn from?
Dennis: Although it is not a conscious thing you do basically learn off of the other players, it’s silly sort of things that you learn. Such as Jimmy Greaves used to like the ball early so you got to learn things like that by playing with him and training with him. Learning things from players helps your game and also I’m not saying that it helps their game but it becomes an understanding.
What was it like to play with some of the legendary players that were around at Spurs during the late 1960’s?
Dennis: As I say it was an honour not just to play for Spurs but just to play football as I said earlier because I’m very fortunate. Nowadays parents take their kids over to the park to try and teach them this and teach them that, whereas in my day you just used to go over to the park with your mates to play and have a kick about. At that time you never really dreamed of being a professional footballer.
What prompted you to leave Spurs and could you talk me through your career after you left the Lilywhites?
Dennis: Well I wanted to get more first team football and Charlton happened to come along so it was an opportunity to kickstart my career again. I’m not boasting but I had a good name at Watford which was why Spurs bought me and it was getting back into the limelight sort of thing if that is the right word. So after spending some time at Charlton I then went back to Watford and then from Watford I went to Dagenham who were in the old Isthmian League, it was actually quite funny because one day I bumped into Frank Saul and he actually finished off his career with Dagenham as well.
Could you describe to me what it was like to score your first goal for Spurs in a 3-2 defeat to Everton at Goodison Park in 1970?
Dennis: Well it was actually a penalty and I think that the regular penalty taker was injured and if I can remember correctly Alan Mullery said to Bill Nicholson that Bondy could take a good penalty after Bill had asked whose going to take it. I’d taken penalties at Watford so it wasn’t as if it was anything different, and so Mullery said to me where are you going to put it and I I said that I was going to hit it to the left hand side of the goalkeeper. And fortunately I managed to do it. I think that Gordon West was in goal if I remember correctly.
What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?
Dennis: I suppose it would be signing for the Spurs because as I say I was a big fan. Even when I was at Watford the result that I would look for was always Spurs and remembering that my brother in law used to walk me across the marshes every home game, I was always a big fan. Back then the supporters used to pass you down to the front.
Who was the greatest player that you have had the pleasure of sharing a pitch with?
Dennis: My best all round player was Dave Mackay but there were a lot of other players such as Bobby Moore who was a great player, but he was a different type of player to Dave Mackay. It’s difficult to say who was the greatest but for an all round player I’d have to say Dave Mackay. However, the greatest goalscorer that I had ever seen was Greavsie and fortunately enough Jimmy was best man at my wedding. Another great player was Cliff Jones and the way that he used to soar up in the air behind tall defenders was incredible. I actually still see Cliff now and again.
What was it like to don on the famous Lilywhite shirt of Tottenham Hotspur and how did it feel to represent the team that you’d supported as a boy?
Dennis: As I say it was great and an absolute honour. When it came that I was going to be an apprentice footballer at Watford then that was what you wanted to get to but as I say playing for the team that you’ve supported all your life is just an honour.
Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories of your time in the Tottenham first team?
Dennis: I suppose that the Everton goal would be one as well as playing at Manchester United and other such big grounds as Glasgow Rangers. The atmosphere at the grounds years ago was just terrific due to the big crowds that they had and that brought excitement, they were all genuine supporters of their own clubs in them days. I know that the stadiums have all got a bit bigger now but in them days it was all terracing.
Who was the toughest player that you ever came up against?
Dennis: Tommy Smith I would have to say because he was hard and honest.
Do you have any interesting or funny stories from your time at Spurs that you’d like to share?
Dennis: We had some good times and while I can’t really say anything but when me and Cliff Jones have a little chat now we have a little laugh about what things happened. It was a different way of life as a professional footballer in those days and the difference was that you met the ordinary supporter, and when I first went to Spurs the players used to meet friends and the likes in the Bell and Hare. After the games you used to go to the pub and meet the ordinary supporter and had a chat whereas nowadays the players are so far adrift from the ordinary supporter which is unfortunate but yeah it was a different way of life in the football fraternity. Money wise I’d say that we earned a bit above the man in the street however, not like it is today but as I say we used to meet the man in the street. I can remember when I first got married I lived in Cheshunt so I could walk to the old Spurs training ground and when I used to go to White Hart Lane I used to get the bus. And I used to travel down with one of the young apprentices such as Les Boughey who I still see today.
Were you particularly close with any of your old Spurs teammates?
Dennis: I suppose Cliff Jones because I used to room with Cliff when we went aboard and away. Also Jimmy Greaves was another one who I was close to as he was my best man at my wedding, and if we weren’t playing on a Saturday we used to go to Walthamstow dogs with our wives at night. And then after the dogs finished we used to go and have a beer somewhere.
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?
Dennis: I still hold them close to my heart and I used to play for the veterans side and I used to go and watch every home game before they stopped the complementaries. I have however, been to the new stadium as one of the supporters who used to come and watch the veterans team phoned me up and asked me if I’d like to go down and see the new stadium, and so he took me down there.