Peter John Garland was a hardworking midfield player who liked to pass the ball, and he had a good passing range too. The Croydon born former player who played for Spurs during the 1980s and 1990s, would make one competitive first team appearance for the club during his time in north London, but he did make additional first team appearances in friendlies. However, Garland was a regular and important player for the Spurs youth team and the reserves. After leaving Spurs in 1992, the one time England Under 17 international signed for then manager Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle United side. Peter later played for the likes of Charlton Athletic, Wycombe Wanderers and Leyton Orient. I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of interviewing the Spurs fan and former player about his time at the club.
What are your earliest footballing memories?
Peter: That would be playing for my grassroots team which was called Selsdon Juniors. We were out of Croydon and we were a good team and we had some good players, like Gareth Southgate, who was in our team. I really enjoyed playing for them, and then because I was local I ended up training with Crystal Palace, before then training with Arsenal for a while. But Tottenham was always my team and so at 14 a Tottenham scout asked me if I would like to come to Tottenham, and Arsenal had offered me schoolboy forms, but as Tottenham came I said that I was going to go to Tottenham. So I left Arsenal and signed schoolboy forms with Tottenham, and then at 16 I signed the YTS forms.
What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs?
Peter: When I first came to Tottenham I used to travel up a couple of times a week, and we used to train behind the ground (White Hart Lane) in an indoor AstroTurf area. Spurs had two youth teams and they had the A league and the B league as such, and so on a Saturday you used to play for one of those. I can remember when I was still at school and I had been playing with the South East counties Division Two team, and I had been doing quite well. I got a phone call on a Monday from Keith Blunt, and he said that he wanted me to play in the FA Youth Cup for the main team. And there were a few of the older lads in there like Vinny Samways, and so that was a good achievement for me.
Did you have any footballing heroes/inspirations and if so who were they?
Peter: I loved Glenn Hoddle and that’s why Spurs was my team. I used to think that he was brilliant, and I also thought that Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa were fantastic. But Glenn Hoddle was just fantastic with his passing and everything, and it was just a shame that he had already left Spurs when I had actually came to the club. But then when I signed you had the likes of Chris Waddle and Paul Gascoigne, which was great. And actually Chris Waddle was a good friend to me when I eventually left Spurs and went to Newcastle.
Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?
Peter: Keith Blunt was very good in the youth team when I started off there, and there were some good players there like Shaun Murray. I was going in there thinking that me and him were like the same position and that I’ve got to be better than him to play. But Keith Blunt helped me and after playing at Spurs I got picked for the England youth team which was good. But then once I moved on it was Ray Clemence who was the reserve team manager, and I really respected him because he was such a good person, but he helped me out too.
Could you describe to me what type of player you were and what positions you played in during your time at Spurs?
Peter: I played central midfield, and I could either play holding midfield or attacking midfield. I liked to pass the ball as I liked Glenn Hoddle, and I liked the way that he was, and so I wanted to be like him. So one of my strengths was my passing of the ball.
Were there any players at Spurs who you would watch closely to try and improve your game or look to learn from?
Peter: Paul Gascoigne was just phenomenal and he was on a different level to everyone else, but when Nayim came to Spurs he was like the most technical and gifted player that I’d been in the team with. He was so calm on the ball and just brilliant, but Gascoigne was just the best by far. It’s a shame that he got that injury because he would have just went on and been the best ever.
Could you talk me through your memories of your competitive first team debut for Spurs against Norwich City in the April of 1991. And how did that day come about?
Peter: I was a sub in an FA Cup match at Blackpool which we won, but I never got on. Then when the Norwich game was coming around Paul Gascoigne had just had an operation and so Spurs had told me that I was going to be on the bench that day. They needed Paul Gascoigne to have some minutes and I think that he played about an hour before I got the call that I was being brought on, and I was thinking wow! I didn’t expect it as there were some other good players on there who played in the same sort of position, but Terry Venables told me to get on there, and it was just magnificent and a dream come true.
What was your time at the Lilywhites like on the whole?
Peter: I really enjoyed it and I learnt a lot but there just wasn’t as many opportunities as you would have liked. Sometimes if a player got injured and you’re in the reserves then you think that you’re going to step into that position in the first team, but sometimes it wouldn’t happen and they’d give someone else a chance. There were no transfer windows then, but at the end of the day you train all week and you just want to play and at the end of it I just wanted to play, as Spurs had a a big squad with big players and so I ended up getting a move. But I loved my time at Spurs and I learnt a lot, and I met some great people and I was coached by one of the best coaches in Terry Venables and I really enjoyed my time there. I’m just glad that I did get on to make my debut for the club that I support, and still support now.
What prompted you to leave Spurs and could you talk me through your career after you left the Lilywhites?
Peter: Like I said Spurs had a big squad and it just came about that the old comedian Kenny Lynch, who was a friend of mine was also good friends with Kevin Keegan. He rang me up and said that he had been telling him about me and that he’s had a look at you, and he’s spoke to his scouts who have given you good reviews, and would you like to go up there and sign for them. So I said let’s give it a go and Newcastle at the time were down at the bottom of the First Division as such, but I signed for them on transfer deadline day. I played the last game of the season for them when we needed to stay up against Leicester, who were going for the play-offs, but we beat them 2-1 in the last minute of the game and Newcastle stayed up. Then the season ended and I went home and then Sir John Hall had came in to Newcastle and given Kevin Keegan millions and millions of pounds to go and buy the players. So he started buying all new players and so then I’m up in Newcastle as a reserve team/first team player again, but more likely to be playing in the reserves. I was a London boy and I just thought to myself that I could be back in London with all of my family instead of being up here doing the same. At the time Gavin Peacock was playing for Newcastle and his dad was assistant manager at Charlton. Keith used to know me as he used to always try and get me on loan from Spurs when he was manager of Maidstone. So after explaining the situation to him he said that he would see what he could do, and then Kevin Keegan said to me that I could down to Charlton but only play for their reserves, and not their first team and we’ll see what happens.
I played for Charlton’s reserves in my first game and we beat Chelsea 1-0 and I scored the goal and so then Charlton said that they wanted to sign me. So I said let’s do this and I signed for Charlton and spent three and a half years there before I got injured. I also went to Wycombe on loan after Martin O’Neil phoned me up, and I had five games with Wycombe who were in the play-off positions against the top five teams. I had a months loan there and things were going well when Martin O’Neil asked Charlton to extend my loan, but they said no as you’ve got to sign him permanently. I went back and asked Charlton why they were doing this and so I had a bit of a fallout with Charlton as they could have let me play and help Wycombe for the rest of the season. So when that didn’t happen and I went back to Charlton the atmosphere between me and the manager wasn’t that great, and I still had a year left. I spoke to Martin O’Neil, who said come and sign for me, but when I went to sign he left just before as he’d got the job at Leicester and so that all fell through. So I had to go back to Charlton, but when I started off I was not involved at all when one day I got a phone call asking me what I wanted for pre-match meal today. I said what do you mean as I’m not in the squad? But they said yes you’re in the squad to play against Wimbledon to play tonight in the cup. I’d been training with the youth team as that was where they’d put me. But when I got to the hotel (I thought that it was a joke) all the lads were laughing saying that it was nice of me to come and watch them tonight. So we were all having a laugh about it.
I remember when we went into the team room and the manager named the team and I found out that I was starting. I played and scored and we beat Wimbledon 4-3 in the cup. I played a couple more games and we I played in the return leg at Wimbledon which we also won. In the next game that I played after that I was given man of the match, but then the manager dropped me again as he said that it was my fault that we lost 1-0. So we fell out and I was dropped and so I had come back in after not being fancied and done well, but then they dropped me again. So then they said that they’d pay me to leave, but then Patsy Holland who was one of the youth team coaches at Tottenham had gone to Leyton Orient. So he said to me come down to Leyton Orient, and so I went to them and signed a years contract. We played a game for Leyton Orient against Wales in a friendly when I was on trial there, and I scored a goal in that game and so they signed me for a year. Then Patsy Holland stayed and had a lot of old players playing like Alvin Martin and Peter Shilton, but then Patsy got the sack after five months and Tommy Taylor came in. All he wanted to do was play the long ball, but being Tottenham I was brought up to pass, pass, pass. And so every time that you went to pass across the pitch he’d stop the training and make you do press-ups. So they then said that they weren’t going to renew my contract at the end of the year, so I said that’s fine.
Then non-League Crawley we’re just opening their ground and the manager of Crawley who I knew had phoned me and said why don’t you come down as we’re opening the ground and we want a couple of ex-players in the team. So I ended up going to Crawley and then my dad was manager at Dulwich Hamlet, and so after a while at Crawley I went to play for Dulwich Hamlet, with my dad as my manager. And also my brother and friends were in the team as well.
What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?
Peter: Just playing for Spurs because I was a Spurs fan, and getting on that pitch was great. Also representing my country at youth level was good, but apart from making my debut for Tottenham I also scored on my full debut for Charlton, which was also good.
Who was the greatest player that you have had the pleasure of sharing a pitch with?
Peter: I would have to say Paul Gascoigne as he was just on a different level.
Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories or ones which stand out from your time in the various Tottenham youth teams and reserves?
Peter: We always used to have good cup runs with the youth team in the FA Youth Cup, and one day we got through to I think the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup after playing Manchester City. They were the team to beat and they came down to White Hart Lane and we beat them, so that was good. You met good people and I was just enjoying my football at Tottenham and to start your career at a team that you supported was just better than anything. You were playing football and you were getting paid for something that you loved doing which was great, and I did love doing it.
Who was the toughest player that you ever came up against?
Peter: When I played for Charlton I played against Roy Keane and he was at Nottingham Forest at the time, just coming through. He was tough, and strong and quick. He wasn’t just an enforcer but he was also a good player.
Were there any players at Spurs who you were particularly close to?
Peter: After I left Spurs and moved to Newcastle, Chris Waddle (he was at Marseille at the time) rang me the day that I joined from Marseille to say to me congratulations, and he asked me what I was doing and I just said that I was sitting in the hotel room. And he said to go down to the bar in half an hour and my best friend will come down and pick you up and take you out for dinner tonight. Every time that Chris used to come back home from Marseille we would always go out together in Newcastle, and I always appreciated that. I used to have to clean his boots at Spurs. As for at Spurs I used to have to go back to south London so you didn’t really have too many friends then, as a few of the lads were staying in lodgings. They are your friends and you would do anything for them but at the end of the day you’re all competing to play at the weekend. And also everyone had their own lives outside the football.
What would your advice be to the young Spurs players of today as they look to break into the first team?
Peter: I think that you need to keep your feet on the ground, enjoy what you’re doing and just keep working hard and never stop learning. Because everyone will help you, and you need to watch the players who play in your position to see what they’re doing. But just enjoy it and just be happy when you’re playing.
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?
Peter: Yes. I loved my time there and I learnt a lot from some very good people, and like I say they’re my team and I support them. I still go and watch them and also my son supports them as well.