Jimmy Pearce was born in Tottenham (in 1947), supported Tottenham Hotspur as a youngster, and got the chance to join the club and work his way up into the first team, from the youth and reserve team levels. In fact Pearce was up until late 2020, when goalkeeper Alfie Whiteman came on for Spurs as a late substitute in a UEFA Europa league game against Ludogorets Razgrad, the last player who was born in Tottenham to play for the Spurs first team in a competitive match. Pearce, a tricky and highly skilled winger, who was direct and had a great body swerve, was much liked by the Spurs supporters during his playing days, and is still remembered well and thought of highly by those fans who used to watch him play. Joining Spurs in 1963 as an apprentice, despite interest from other London clubs, Jimmy had previously played for Tottenham Schools and also England Schools, but had followed his local team Spurs, since the 1950s. The former Rowland Hill School pupil progressed up from the Spurs youth team that played in the South East Counties League, and then into the A team, where he played in the Metropolitan League along with the likes of John Pratt and later Ray Evans.
A regular for the talented Spurs reserve side for quite a while, Jimmy Pearce once instead of going for goal from a penalty kick in a Spurs A game with Metropolitan Police, actually laid the ball off to Stephen Pitt. Unfortunately the move didn’t work, with Pitt having his resulting effort saved by the goalkeeper, although the good news was that Spurs were 10-0 up by that stage of the match. Making his non-competitive Spurs first team debut against Anorthosis (in 1968) during an end of season tour of Greece and Cyprus. Pearce made his competitive first team debut for Spurs less than three months later in a North London Derby against Arsenal, at White Hart Lane. He made the very most of his chance in the first team (Martin Chivers was injured at the time), and he had got a lot stronger and physical from his days as an apprentice with the club (he signed professional forms with Spurs in 1965). Over the next six or so years, during the remainder of his time with the club, he made an additional 192 senior competitive appearances for Spurs during that time.
The player who scored a fine total of 35 competitive goals for the club, mainly from out wide, got to play on the same pitch as two of his Spurs heroes Dave Mackay and Jimmy Greaves. Pearce would be introduced off the bench in a League Cup semi-final second leg tie against Bristol City, where he would make the difference and score the decisive goal which would help Spurs get to the final of the competition for the first time in their history. Although he didn’t start the final against Aston Villa that year, Jimmy Pearce did collect a winners medal, as he also would for the following years UEFA Cup triumph. However, he would start the 1973 Football League Cup final at Wembley, against Norwich City, which Spurs won. A very clever player and winger, the Londoner had fine balance and great skill on the ball. However, he was a direct and traditional winger who fitted in well to the Spurs team of that time, even though he was not always a regular starter. Pearce could hit a ball really well and scored some really good goals at youth, A team, reserve and first team level for the club.
In many ways Jimmy Pearce the footballer oozed class on the pitch, with the ball at his feet. I recently asked a Spurs youth team player and apprentice from the mid 1960s (Martin O’Donnell) about Jimmy Pearce, and he was basically saying that Jimmy was a wonderful player and guy, but he always thought that he was better as an inside-forward rather than as a winger. Although the only way that he would have got into the Spurs first team during that time in the clubs history, was to be a winger, but he was a very versatile player, as he showed throughout his career. Jimmy Pearce is still really well thought of by the Spurs fans, who watched him play during the late 1960s and 1970s. He was like them an avid Spurs supporter, but one of fairly few youth team graduates of the time to make over 100 first team appearances, because of the fact that the Spurs side at that time had so many outstanding players in it. Very sadly Jimmy suffered from a rare bone condition called Chondromalacia of the higher patella, which meant that he had to retire from playing for the club that he loved so much, at the age of only 26, in 1974. Similarly old Spurs teammates Roger Morgan and Peter Collins also had to retire early on in their careers, at similar times.
Jimmy did play non-League football for Walthamstow Avenue for a short time, but he didn’t play for them for long. A proper Tottenham Hotspur player with skill, confidence on the ball and a real desire to make a difference in games. I had the great pleasure and privilege of interviewing Jimmy Pearce back in 2020, and it was obvious that he is a great guy, and his great love for the club is still so clear now, after all these years. It is also particularly fitting that boyhood Spurs fan Jimmy Pearce set-up one of his Spurs idols Jimmy Greaves, for the final ever goal that he scored for the club, during the 1969/70 season.