(Many thanks must go to Alan’s son Nigel and also Ronnie Hanley, for all of their help in writing this piece.)
Alan Reed was at Spurs on part-time forms from 1956 until 1962. From Ilford, Reed attended Ilford County High, along with future West Ham manager John Lyall. Alan actually supported West Ham as a youngster. However, after being scouted by Spurs, the former London Schools footballer who played with another Spurs Legend, Terry Venables, and was actually managed by Terry’s father, joined them on part-time forms in 1956, following in the footsteps of his older brother John, who was with Spurs as a schoolboy footballer during the 1950s. Alan Reed was described to me a couple of years ago by his former Spurs A team teammate David Sunshine, as being a brilliant wing-half, and somebody who he thought was unlucky not to make it into the first team at Spurs. Reed was a talented midfield player, who was as competitive as he was skillful. He loved to make challenges (Bill Nicholson once asked him why he was always making challenges, to which he responded “I just want to break the opposition play down”) and he was also a talented athlete, who always did well at cross country running as a youngster. Alan used to cycle nine miles there and back from his family’s home in Ilford, to Spurs’ old Cheshunt training ground, to train for Spurs on occasions during midweek, as he was only on amateur forms with the club.
He held many fond memories of his time there, where Alan looked up to Dave Mackay the Scottish international and tough, yet brilliant midfielder, perhaps somewhat of an inspiration. He remembered fondly a time he was in the physio room and one of the players rushed in, exasperated, suggesting that Mackay was slide tacking in the five-aside, which would have been accepted as normal, except for they were training in the club car park! Then his grace as a technical artist when in the gym at Cheshunt which was a famous wall with specific shapes or lines and the coach described a complex sequence of skills that needed to be handled as the ball returned from the wall, by thigh, or chest, etc and then the ball kicked back at a specific target, only for Mackay to step forward, go through the highly skilled sequence to perfection and trapping the ball at the end, asking “is that what you mean”?! Only Glenn Hoddle and Paul Gascoigne have managed the same sequence in perfect order, to demonstrate the brilliance of the man. Finally, his sheer nerve and grace as an entertainer, where he could flick a shilling up, catch it on his foot, flick it up onto his head, slide it onto his other foot before flicking it up, catching it in his side pocket and walking out of the pub frequented by the players after training.
Another memorable moment for Alan, in the 1960 pre-season training, was ensuring he kept pace with the seasoned international legend, Danny Blanchflower, for the entire cross country. Intrigued who this young lad was, Danny approached him in the canteen over lunch where Alan was seated with some fellow teammates, and where Danny gave praise to Alan for the run, asking him if he was new to the club, with which, Alan responded, “no, I’ve been here four years, Danny”, and met with high amusement from the other players, which typified Alan’s self-deprecating sense of humour.
Reed would have worked his way up the various ranks at Spurs and into the Spurs A team. He would have started off playing matches for the Spurs Juniors, where on one occasion in a Southern Juniors Floodlit Cup Semi-final tie against Chelsea, Alan played against the great Jimmy Greaves. However, Alan would have also made a good number of appearances for the Spurs Youth team, in the South-East Counties League, before progressing up into the Spurs A team, which was Spurs’ third team. In the Spurs A team, Alan Reed would have played against the likes of March Town and Biggleswade Town in the Eastern Counties League. They had tough first team players, but sides that Alan would have definitely enjoyed playing against. The double winning season of 1960/61 would have been a definite highlight of Alan’s time at Spurs, especially attending the FA Cup winning banquet at The Savoy Hotel. However, he was also a key member of the Spurs A team that won the Eastern Counties League during that season. Alan made 23 appearances for the Spurs A team during that league winning season, scoring two goals.
In 1962, Alan was informed his contract with Spurs was to be terminated at the end of the season, and he arranged to meet Bill Nicholson in his office. After discussing the situation, and even considering the possibility of staying with Tottenham full-time, Alan agreed it was time to move forward, therefore Bill suggested Watford wanted him, although this was too far to travel, and then suggested Romford FC where Bill Nicholson’s old teammate, Harry Clarke was manager. Alan always had the greatest respect for Bill Nicholson, typified by what was described by Harry Clarke that Bill had written a very positive letter in reference to Alan’s introduction. In 1962 the tough midfield player, who had also been doing a welding job when not playing/training with Spurs, signed for Romford.
Alan had a very successful time at Romford, after leaving Spurs. He was part of a a very good Romford side, and at 21 he was an important member of the Romford side that won the Southern League. Also in that Romford side was legendary former Spurs goalkeeper Ted Ditchburn. While playing for Romford, he once got to play against John Charles. After leaving Romford the year after they had won the Southern League, Alan’s wife wanted to go to Australia (Alan’s daughter Vanessa has since followed in her parents footsteps by moving to Australia) because she had family connections in the country. While in Australia Alan continued to play football, and he signed for Slavia Melbourne SC, who he remembered as the best quality team that he had played for in his career, and they played some quality football too. Alan played in the same side at Slavia Melbourne SC as former Czechoslovakia international goalkeeper Viliam Schrojf. Alan had the attitude that no one was better than him, as he came from a tough background, but he was just a very competitive footballer. After returning to England with his wife, Alan signed for Billericay Town in the early 1970s, where he would win the Essex Senior League on two occasions with Billericay.
At Billericay Alan became good friends with former Chelsea player Ronnie Hanley, and the pair of them would leave Billericay at the same time in the mid 1970s, to join Basildon United. Alan would become the player-manager of Basildon, with Ronnie as his coach. In his second season with Basildon, Alan helped Basildon win the Essex Senior League for the first time in their history. Later on and after spending some happy years with Basildon, Alan would resign from his role at the club, with Ronnie taking over as manager of the side. Alan continued to play football in his spare time, until the age of 47 such was his love of the game. He would later settle in the Dunstable area, with his family. Alan’s son Nigel, played youth football for Luton Town and Northampton Town, and Alan would go and watch many of his son’s matches, his daughter followed in the family’s footsteps and emigrated to Australia in 1997. Sadly Alan Reed passed away in 2015, but he always looked after his wife Daphne, who had become ill with Alzheimer’s, right up until he passed away. Like so many of the former Spurs youth and A team players who were at the club during the 1950s and 60s, Alan must have been very proud to have been at Spurs during that wonderful time in their history. He remained a lifelong fan of Spurs in later years, and would attend a number of matches at White Hart Lane.