In an occasional series of articles I’ll be looking at some of the trialists who came close to joining Spurs at Academy/youth team and reserve team level during the last 50 or so years. Northern Irishman Graeme Philson was a talented and very tenacious defender who started his footballing journey with Coleraine, having previously played for some of the top youth sides in his local area. Graeme had already played for Coleraine’s first team on a good number of occasions as a teenager, but his footballing career saw him attract the interest of some English sides. Robert Walker was Spurs’ former Northern Ireland scout, and he would have been well aware of Graeme Philson, when he was playing for Coleraine, and most probably before he had joined them. Robert recommended Graeme to Spurs, and so he traveled to London to trial for them, with the hope of earning a contract at the club.
I met Spurs’ former Northern Ireland scout Robert Walker in 2021, and have previously interviewed him about his time at Spurs. He mentioned Graeme well, and you could tell that he was proud of what he would go on to achieve in the game. After joining Spurs on trial around the summer of 1993, Graeme played maybe one match for the club at youth level, plus a number of games for the reserves (he scored for them on his debut against Aylesbury United) and from what Robert remembered of Graeme’s time at Spurs, he was close to being offered a contract at the club. Not too long after Graeme’s trial with Spurs came to an end however, Robert Walker had left his role with Spurs, and would instead work for West Ham United manager Harry Redknapp as their Northern Ireland scout. He had recommended the now 20 year old Graeme Philson to the club, and so he did very well and earned a contract with West Ham.
The one time Spurs trialist and former captain of the Northern Ireland Under 18 side, who came close to joining Spurs at one time, would become a regular for the talented West Ham United reserve side during the mid 1990s. Graeme would even captain them, and he would surely have many great memories from his time at the club, and he would share a pitch with some fantastic players. After a time out on loan from West Ham with Wigan, Graeme would later return to Northern Ireland, where he would play for clubs such as Linfield, his local team Insitute and also Lisburn Distillery. Although he didn’t sign for Spurs, Graeme is someone who like all of the former players who either signed for the club or who came close to jointing them, should be proud of all that he has achieved in the game.