Nowadays Spurs’ Academy/youth players often go abroad to compete in an end of season tournament, as well as often participating in a pre-season tournament and sometimes a mid-season tournament (in recent seasons for example: they have competed in a French pre-season tournament). However, it was during the late 1950’s, in the years after the Second World War, that I believe that Spurs first started regularly entering their Youth Team into tournaments in Europe, with this trend first starting just prior to the beginning of the 1960s, in around 1958/59. Spurs would enter youth sides into tournaments in Switzerland, Germany, The Netherlands as well as one in Austria, during the late 1950’s/early 1960’s. These tournaments, although not always end of season tournaments, were often the pinnacle of the players’ footballing careers, and many of those former Spurs youth team players still talk about those tournaments/tours with great affection. During the early days of the tournaments that Spurs used to enter, one of the teams that they sent to compete in a tournament was in Groningen, in The Netherlands, during the 1958/59 season. Spurs won this tournament.
In the tournament in Groningen, Spurs competed with the host club Groningen’s youth team, as well as Ajax, Belgian side Beerschot and a couple of other sides. Spurs won this tournament, with players such as Frank Saul featuring for Spurs in the Netherlands. For that particular tournament the Spurs youth players would all have to meet at Liverpool Street Station in London, and then with the Spurs members of staff (usually it was Jimmy Joyce and former player Sid Tickridge, who were in charge), they would get the train to Harwich, before getting the ferry to The Netherlands. In another tournament this time in Zurich, Switzerland, the Spurs Youth Team stayed in a great hotel in Zurich – The Hotel Stoller. Although they didn’t actually win this tournament (the Blue Stars Youth Tournament) Spurs did reach the semi-finals, which they lost to Italian side Juventus. Former Spurs youth and A team player David Sunshine played in the tournament in Zurich, and when I interviewed him in 2019, he was pretty sure that Manchester United won that tournament, which took place in May of 1961. Spurs had a really talented team at the Blue Stars Youth Tournament, and with forwards such as Frank Saul and Terry Lloyd playing, Spurs would have been a difficult team to play against.
Other youth tournaments that took place around the time of the late 1950’s/early 1960’s include one in Berrenrath in Germany, in 1959/60, which I understand that Spurs won. There was also an interesting tournament which took place in Imst in Austria. This tournament was particularly interesting as a number of junior players who weren’t on the Spurs ground-staff, were included in the squad, as a thank you for their hard work during the season in the Spurs Youth Team. Although as I understand it, Spurs did include a number of more experienced/older players in the squad that traveled to Austria during the late 1950’s. However, there was some sort of misunderstanding regarding player eligibility in the tournament, and so some of the players were unable to really play in the tournament in Imst. Fast forward a couple of years to the mid 1960’s, and Spurs had competed in a couple of youth tournaments in Den Haag, in the Netherlands. In one of these tournaments, which included future Spurs first team players such as Jimmy Pearce and Joe Kinnear, Spurs played against a talented Ajax side which included the legendary Johan Cruyff.
During another year and tournament at Den Haag, Spurs won the tournament. Other teams competing in that tournament were Arsenal, Ajax and Charlton Athletic. Former Spurs assistant manager Eddie Baily traveled out with the Spurs Youth Team for that tournament. This is just a very brief history of some of the early days of Spurs entering teams into end of season tournaments. However, in the many years that have followed, Spurs have competed in very similar tournaments on many, many occasions. Just last season a Spurs Under 19 side competed in the annual end of season Terborg Tournament, in The Netherlands. These tournaments are an important part of Academy development, where you get to play against some top, top sides in a very competitive tournament scenario. Youth football has certainly changed in the years since the days of youth tournaments in Groningen, but as I mentioned previously, they created memories for those Spurs youth players that they won’t ever forget.