Tricky Hammersmith born winger Matt Edwards came up through the youth and reserve ranks at Spurs during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Edwards who grew up in County Surrey, went out on a couple of loans (Reading and Peterborough United) during his time at Spurs to help aid his development before leaving the club after being given a free transfer at the end of the 1992/92 season to join Brighton & Hove Albion. Edwards had a successful time down on the south coast where he played over 60 games, scoring six goals. After departing the ’ Seagulls ‘ the winger dropped into non league where he played for a host of clubs of which included Kettering, Walton & Hersham and Enfield. The good two footed winger who could play on either flank also made 8 appearances for Spurs’ first team (he started two of those games) and made his debut in a testimonial for West Ham manager Billy Bonds in 1990. Edwards was also a part of the Spurs side that toured Japan in the early 1990’s, and he scored his first and only goal for Spurs on that tour. I recently was fortunate enough to interview Matt about his time at the Lilywhites.
What are your earliest footballing memories?
Matt: I’ve always loved football but I guess that my earliest memory was as a Crystal Palace fan because I ended up being a Palace fan, as my dad went out and got me a football shirt around Christmas. And the only shirt that they had left was a Crystal Palace shirt, so that I guess is my first kind of memory of football as such however, football was something that I always did as much as I can remember.
What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs and how did you come about joining the club?
Matt: I joined when I was probably about 13/14 and so I was playing locally where I lived in the Surrey area and one of the guys who used to play in my team his dad used to be a footballer, a guy called Fred Callaghan. And he was very good mates with Ted Buxton who at the time was obviously at Spurs, and I didn’t know that Ted had come along to watch me and then after one of the games they said do you want to come to Spurs. So I used to do the journey up to Spurs on a Tuesday and Thursday night, and I used to have to leave school kind of early to get myself up to Seven Sisters and along the road to White Hart Lane to do training every Tuesday and Thursday at the old White Hart Lane. They used to have an indoor pitch next to the reception area and we used to sort of train in the indoor pitch on a Tuesday and Thursday night.
What was your time at the Lilywhites like on the whole?
Matt: It was thoroughly enjoyable but I guess like a lot of footballers you kind of take a lot of things for granted because it just almost becomes the normal. You don’t really think about it as you’re playing football however, it’s only when you leave a club like Spurs that you kind of look back at playing for a club like Spurs and really take in what you were doing and all of the rest of it. I’ve still got pictures at home with likes of Gascoigne and Chris Waddle and people like that, and I’ve also got programmes. I think that it’s only when you look back that you kind of realise how good it was.
Did you have any footballing heroes/inspirations and if so who were they?
Matt: My hero was always Chris Waddle as I was a winger myself and I guess that the time that I was playing as a kid it was always Chris Waddle for me.
Could you describe to me what type of player you were and what positions you played in during your time at Spurs?
Matt: So I was always a winger and I was kind of reasonably good with both my right and my left foot, so I was always on the left and the right wing although it was more the left than the right. However, I was always a winger basically.
Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?
Matt: That’s a difficult one but I guess it was ultimately when we were kids on the YTS’s and there was a guy called Keith Blunt and another Keith whose name I forget. So I guess that they were as they were the guys who you did training with and you did your YTS apprentices with, so I guess that they were probably my greatest influences at Spurs.
Were there any players at Spurs who you would watch closely to try and improve your game or look to learn from?
Matt: Gazza was always the one even though he was as mad as a hatter there is no doubt about that, but yeah he was always the one that you would kind of keep an eye on and want to see what he was doing and how he did it and all of the rest of it. He was just so skilful.
What prompted you to leave Spurs and could you talk me through your career after you left the Lilywhites?
Matt: So I never played for the first team apart from a couple of tours and testimonials and it just got to a point where it was evident that I was never going to make it in the first team. I was sent out on loan a couple of times, so I went to Reading on loan and then came back to Spurs and then I went on loan to Peterborough United towards the end of the season and I think it was probably that Spurs weren’t going to offer me a contract then because they were trying to get me into a new club as such. So I went to Peterborough United and played a handful of games for them on loan and so then after the season had finished I was then contacted by Brighton & Hove Albion. They wanted to sign me and so I went down and I signed for two years down at Brighton and had two happy years with them, and I think that I played 60/70 games for Brighton. I think that the highlight for them was scoring against Man United on David Beckham’s debut for Man United, and then we had a new manager Liam Brady and me and him didn’t really see eye to eye, or he didn’t particularly fancy me as a player. So I was released after my two years their and I then ended up signing for Kettering who were then in the Conference, and I think on pretty much my first game for them I actually managed to do my cruciate ligament. I guess that that was the start of the end of my career as such, I had a year out of the game and I then sort of played for a couple of non league sides. I played locally for Walton & Hersham and I had a couple of good seasons with them and then I ended up back in north London playing for Enfield however, my knees just kept on going for me. So I did the non league circuit for a couple of years and then after that my knees just weren’t up to playing football, so I had to call it a day and that was the end of the career as such.
What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?
Matt: It would be playing and scoring on David Beckham’s debut for Man United, we played Man United three times in the cup when I was at Brighton and we drew 1-1 with them at the Goldstone and then I scored on David Beckham’s debut. So I guess that it’s always something that is very relevant now based on what he went onto do in his career.
Who was the greatest player that you have had the pleasure of sharing a pitch with?
Matt: That’s a good question but it would certainly be Gazza I would say.
Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories of your time in the various Tottenham youth teams and reserves?
Matt: Again we were quite successful in the reserves and I think that we used to win the league pretty much every season but I guess that the highlights would have been the following. We had a tour where we went off to Hawaii and had seven days in Hawaii and then we had a couple of games in Japan so that was towards the end of the season. Then at that the start of that season I was actually in a first team squad for a couple of tours and I think that we went over to Norway and Ireland and Italy. So they would probably be the highlights of it.
You played for Spurs’ first team on eight occasions what was that like?
Matt: So I played for them a couple of times and I certainly remember playing in Billy Bond’s testimonial at West Ham on a cold winters Tuesday night. I was sort of young and had long blonde hair and I can remember getting absolutely slaughtered by the West Ham fans that day. However, apart from that it was just in tours and testimonials for the first team.
Who was the toughest player that you ever came up against?
Matt: I would say that it would probably be one of the Man United guys when we played against them, so it would be Gary Pallister because he was playing up front that day.
Were there any players at Spurs who you were particularly close to?
Matt: I had some good mates at Spurs and one of my good mates was a guy called Peter Garland, and as he was from Croydon and I was from Surrey we used to travel up to training. We were both in the same youth team and were both pros for sort of four years. So he would probably be somebody that I would say that I was probably the closest with during my time at Spurs. Peter I think then went off to Charlton and Newcastle after I think playing a handful of games for Spurs in the first team.
What would your advice be to the young Spurs players of today as they look to break into the first team?
Matt: That would be a really difficult one because I think that it is just such a different world this day and I think that clubs are much more professional now than they were when I was playing. So I guess making the most of every minute at Spurs basically and not taking it for granted, because I think when you are a young player and you’re playing for Tottenham and things like that you just never think that life’s going to be any different.
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?
Matt: Yeah I always look for the Spurs results and I’ve got mates that are Spurs fans and so it is always a team that I always look out for their results and stuff like that. I must get up to the new ground at some point but in my mind it’s still the old place and how it was, where you had the Hummel shop in the corner, but it would be amazing to go up and see the ground as it is today.