Remembering the day that Spurs played a Bermuda Select XI without a number of first team squad members available to them:

The year is 1979. Spurs were on a world tour and had traveled to Hamilton, Bermuda, to play a friendly match against a Bermuda Select XI to finish off the post season world tour on the 6th of June. A number of first team players of which included club captain Steve Perryman, Gerry Armstrong, Ossie Ardiles and countless others were unavailable to make the trip because of injury, or because they had already gone away on holiday. Spurs traveled to Bermuda with a first team squad containing just nine players, and only seven of those players were footballers. The other two who had traveled to Bermuda for the match were Mike Varney (Spurs’ club physio) and Peter Day (Spurs’ club secretary). The seven Spurs first team players who were starting for Spurs that day were Barry Daines, Don McAllister, Colin Lee, John Lacy, John Pratt, Milija Aleksic (Milija played outfield during the match as a midfielder), Terry Naylor, Chris Jones and Gordon Smith. Because Keith Burkinshaw’s Spurs side were short of numbers for the friendly match Spurs (this was the first to time to my knowledge that this had happened in a Spurs match in recent history) they asked the home side whether some of their players could be part of the Spurs squad for the match. In what must have been a fantastic experience for the Bermudan players, all four would play in that match for Spurs against their own side, although all four players started on the bench for Spurs, with Peter Day and Mike Varney starting for Keith Burkinshaw’s side.

The Bermudan players were Marischal Astwood, Ralph Bean Senior, Alan Marshall and Simmonds. Alan Marshall was a midfield player, but following his introduction in the second half of the match he would play for Spurs as a full-back, because Spurs were short of numbers in that position. A then 27 year old Ralph Bean Senior made a fine impression on the game following his introduction in the second half, and he scored a goal and also registered an assist after creating a goal. Spurs won the match 3-1. Chris Jones and Colin Lee got the other goals for Spurs, in what would have been a memorable game and day for most of the Spurs players involved. It was certainly a day that won’t be repeated in regards to how Spurs lined up, and also with how many players that they were missing. Although that was a very special day, it wasn’t actually the first time that Spurs had played a friendly match in Bermuda, as they had travelled there to play a match in the 1960s. They would also later travel back to Bermuda to play another friendly in the December of 1986. However, after reading about some of the Spurs players who played in that friendly match all those years ago in 1979, I thought that I’d write a short piece about the match, but also try to collect the memories of some of the players who played in it for Spurs. I was lucky enough to speak to former Spurs players Don McAllister and John Pratt about the day and game, and also former Bermudan footballer Ralph Bean Senior, who I had the great pleasure of speaking to recently.

Thanks must go to Ralph Bean Senior’s old team North Village Community Club, who were kind enough to put me in touch with Ralph. Below are some memories of the trip, day and match from three of the Spurs players who played for Spurs on that day.

Memories of the match from some of the Spurs players who played that day:

Don McAllister: It all started when we won the Japan Cup in an end of season tour. I think that we played a game in Malaysia (I could be wrong). We had a great time in Japan visiting things like a sumo fighters training camp, and of course Tokyo. So we win the cup and some prize money, we could take it home and lose most of it to the tax man, but the club asked if we would be interested in going to Bermuda and for those who could bring out their family, but obviously there would be some of the guys unable to come. I had been to Bermuda a couple of years before when I had finished playing with Washington Diplomats recovering from surgery, after the end of season tour a couple of years earlier. So I knew what a beautiful place it was. We arrived and stayed in a resort called Coral Island, and our families (those available were already there). But there was a little problem. We had to play a match because the club could not just pay for the players holidays, and we were short of players. So new players included Mike Varney, Peter Day the club secretary, and local guest players. And a great day in the history of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club was had by all. Plus we had a great holiday in one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

John Pratt: Although I can’t remember the game, from that trip I can remember that our families also went, and that they met us there (we did a world trip and had ended up in Bermuda). I always remember that we were there for seven days, and for six of those days it was raining! But it was a very nice trip and I met up with my mate Clyde Best (ex-West Ham player), who I had played with in America. But as for the game I haven’t got a clue about it, but it was a very relaxing trip. 

Ralph Bean Senior: We had normally hosted English teams before like Aston Villa and Coventry, and each time they had beaten us because of how good they were. We knew that Tottenham were just finishing their league season and that they were coming to Bermuda for a bit of rest and relaxation. But while they were here they decided that they would play a friendly game with our Bermudian national team. But on that particular trip they didn’t bring their full list of players, as they might have been going off somewhere else on vacation. So they were short of a few players, especially outfield players anyway. And so our national coach decided that if Tottenham wanted then they could use a couple of players to make up their numbers. Of course I was one of those players that they decided to bring to Tottenham. But I was a little bit surprised when they (Tottenham) decided to put me on the bench and allow one of the goalkeepers (Milija Aleksic) to play out on the field before letting an outfield player play, but I was content and it wasn’t a problem. Then at half-time the Bermudian team were thinking that Tottenham weren’t going to use me, and that I might as well play the second half with them. So anyway later on in the second half Tottenham decided to bring me on as a substitute, because the goalkeeper that they were using had run out of steam. So that’s when they decided to bring me on as a sub, and when I did come on the field at the beginning they didn’t pass me the ball to see if I could play or not.

It just so happened that the ball bounced towards me and I got it and scored a goal. After that they realised that I could play a bit and so they started to play the ball to me, and later on in the game I managed to create a goal for one of the other Tottenham players, and in the end they won 3-1. It felt really good to play for Tottenham and around that time I was about 27 and I don’t know whether the coach here thought that if Tottenham had saw me playing then they would have given me a trial or something. But maybe I was too old for that. It was a very long time ago, but it was a nice time for me and going back that far to that game I didn’t think that anyone was interested anymore.

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