My interview with former Spurs player Gary Hyams:

Talented left-sided winger Gary Hyams was a young player at Spurs during the 1970’s. Hyams would play for the various youth teams and reserves during his time with Tottenham, and the player from Edgware played in a very talented Spurs youth team of which included the likes of Glenn Hoddle, Neil McNab and Noel Brotherston. Gary was made available for a free transfer by the club in 1976, and he would later play for the likes of Crystal Palace, Urban Services and the Los Angeles Aztecs, in what was a very interesting footballing career for Gary. I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of catching up with the former Spurs man to look back on his time at Spurs during the 1970’s.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Gary: I imagine that my earliest memories would be from the age of five/six playing in the garden where we lived in Edgware, with my dad and family, and also in the park. It progressed from there and playing in the school team, and then from school I suppose I ended up playing for the Borough of Barnet as I lived there, and then there was a Sunday team that I played for called Weardale, and I played there for quite a few years, up until I signed schoolboy forms at Spurs. Getting up at like seven o’clock in the morning on freezing cold days and I remember my dad waking me up and saying that we’ve got to go to football, and so he was like my chauffeur, and he took me here, there and everywhere. And so it all went so quickly, and here we are now.

What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs and how did you come about joining the club?

Gary: So I was playing for the Borough of Barnet and then I played for Middlesex, but I was actually playing for the Sunday team Weardale, and I remember a talent scout called Dick Walker approaching my dad after the game. I then ended up going training two nights a week at Spurs, and I think that it was a Tuesday and a Thursday, or it might have been a Monday and a Wednesday. So I ended up doing two nights a week there and then maybe within a month of that happening I then had another talent scout from Arsenal approaching my dad. So I ended up as a schoolboy doing two nights training at Arsenal which I think was on a Wednesday and then I did training on a Tuesday and a Thursday at Spurs. So four days of my week after school was spent training in the gym at Highbury and White Hart Lane. And then Spurs approached my dad and said that they’d like to sign me on schoolboy forms, and actually my dad was a mad mad Tottenham supporter, and in his day he used to travel all over the world to watch them play and the double team. In actual fact he was such a Spurs mad supporter that in our house and as you came into the front door there was like a Tottenham foot mat. And when people used to come into the house they weren’t allowed to step on the mat and you had to step over it, but he was thinking of getting an Arsenal one for the outside of the house so people could wipe their feet on that one, and that was the rivalry between the Arsenal and the Spurs.

My career at that time was basically managed by dad and he wanted me to stay at Spurs because of his history. We had to obviously then go and approach Arsenal and tell them that Spurs wanted to sign me as a schoolboy, and I can remember being invited into Highbury and I actually sat in-front of Bertie Mee. He said don’t sign for Spurs, it’s early days and we would like to see Gary develop a little bit more and we’d like him to stay here with us and train for a bit longer. However, my dad was like Spurs mad and the thought of me playing for Tottenham was kind of more of his dream than mine, so I ended up signing schoolboy forms for Spurs and then from there it was like training twice a week. In the gym I remember that we were coached by Steve Perryman and John Pratt who used to take the coaching sessions, and then from that I went on to apprentice professional. 

Did you have any footballing heroes/inspirations and if so who were they?

Gary: Well I suppose because my dad was a Spurs fan and we used to watch all of the Spurs games and so a player like Jimmy Greaves was an inspiration to watch along with a lot of the Spurs double winning team. There was also Allan Clarke at Leeds United who was a winger and of course George Best, so more of the talented sort of players that were inspirational to watch, and that I found exciting and entertaining to watch. 

Could you describe to me what type of player you were and what positions you played in during your time at Spurs?

Gary: I was a natural left footer, so whatever team I played in I always played on the left wing wearing the number 11 shirt. I don’t think that I ever changed my position, apart from maybe a few times when I was an apprentice at Spurs and they put me on the right wing, and so I could cut in on my left foot kind of thing.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Gary: Well obviously there was a lot of people, so there was people such as Steve Perryman who I connected well with and also Bill Nicholson who I had a good relationship with. I found Bill Nicholson to be such a nice person and also there was Eddie Baily, and I was also quite connected with Glenn Hoddle because we came up together and grew up together at Spurs, and obviously we connected and we played golf quite a bit together and we socialised quite a bit together. In actual fact we used to clean the first team dressing room together as apprentices when you had to do your chores when you finished your training sessions, and to do a few hours of cleaning the boots of the first team players or whatever, or sweeping the terraces or sweeping the gyms. Three other people I forgot to mention that were an inspiration to me whilst at Spurs in my Schoolboy days were Ron Henry, and later on as a pro in the reserve team Keith Burkinshaw and Peter Shreeves. 

Were there any players at Spurs who you would watch closely to try and improve your game or look to learn from?

Gary: So there was like Jimmy Robertson and Ralph Coates who was a winger there as well, and also Neil McNab when he came in and at one point played as a winger. And obviously it was great watching Glenn play and also Steve Perryman who I also used to enjoy watching along with Cyril Knowles who was a left-sided fullback, and obviously Pat Jennings. Pat was I suppose my overall idol out of everyone and for me he was probably the best goalkeeper ever worldwide, and I was so proud in a training session to score a penalty against him one time.

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories or ones which stand out from your time in the various Tottenham youth teams and reserves?

Gary: I think that playing in the youth team (I don’t remember what season it was) but I think that we were close to winning the South East Counties League. And I remember that Peter Shreeves was our youth team manager and I liked Peter a lot, and I kind of felt that I connected well with him. It was hard in those days and it was physically and mentally draining training everyday and thinking that I’ve got to get through this session, but I think then that it was more focused on a physical element, and we were lucky to see a ball in a training session. It was nice when you got to play because you got to play with a ball, but obviously we did have practice matches and we did use a ball, but a lot of the time it was more about the fitness and the physical elements rather than the ability elements. So obviously as a ball player myself I was kind of more interested in having a ball than sort of running around a pitch for two hours and feeling sick.

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Gary: I suppose my debut for the Spurs reserve team as obviously I never got to play in the first team, and that was probably one of my greatest memories at Spurs. I think that me and Glenn were selected to play in the reserve team and it was against Southampton if my memory is correct, so that would be one of the memories. Another memory was playing my first ever youth game at White Hart Lane when you came out on the pitch, I mean obviously we used to train on the pitch occasionally and run around the pitch a lot, but playing an actual game at White Hart Lane and having a crowd was great, and would probably be my fondest memory of my time at Spurs. I was actually put on a free transfer after Bill Nicholson resigned and Terry Neill came in as the manager, and I was told that Terry Neill didn’t really see me in his plans at Spurs, and so I was put on the transfer market, and so eventually I went to play in Hong Kong. So flying to Hong Kong and then arriving and being met at the airport, and then it being on the news that I as a Tottenham player was playing for a team called Urban Services in Hong Kong. Then obviously playing there in front of 30,000 people was something that I had never experienced before, so playing in-front of that amount of people was a tremendous feeling.

Who was the greatest player that you have had the pleasure of sharing a pitch with? 

Gary: I suppose that I would have to say Glenn to be honest with you with his ability, flair and talent. Also playing with him we had a connection, and you know what a player is going to do and know to do a pass exactly where he wanted it. I also played for England Youth with Graham Rix, and I also played against him too. I also played against Liam Brady, who is another player who springs to mind.

Who was the toughest player that you ever came up against?

Gary: Every game was different and I suppose sometimes you had a good day and sometimes you had a bad day. I don’t think that I really thought about it like that, but one time I remember playing in a Sunday league team, and some of the teams used to put a man marking me. So when the tactics of the other team are to man mark you then I would say that that was probably the hardest thing to overcome.

What prompted you to leave Spurs and could you talk me through your career after you left the Lilywhites?

Gary: I wasn’t prompted to leave Spurs as Terry Neill decided that there were too many left wingers, and so at the time when Terry Neill came in there was like Alfie Conn, Jimmy Neighbour and Ralph Coates. So there was like two or three, or four left wingers in line for the first team and so Terry Neill didn’t think that there was a future for me at the club. Before I went to play in Hong Kong I went to Crystal Palace for a while on a loan and I was also at Charlton for a while and Crystal Palace, and then I got an offer to sign a contract and go and play in Hong Kong, and it sounded exciting and my dad said that it would be a good move for me. In those days you didn’t have managers managing your affairs even in the first team I think. Players then weren’t getting more than £50/£100 a week, so it wasn’t a lot compared to today. I later ended up in Los Angeles playing for the LA Lasers who I first started playing with, and then I ended up going from there to the LA Aztecs, and George Best was playing for them at that time. I remember training with him in LA and spending many many evenings in his bar in LA with the team in those days, and that was a terrific experience. So probably one of my greatest experiences was playing in LA and you were really well looked after, so that was an amazing experience.

What was your time at the Lilywhites like on the whole?

Gary: It was obviously a privilege to have had that opportunity to be there and it was something that will live with me, and it was a privilege to have had that experience. I’m not saying that it was all roses, it was hard you know but it was a good experience and it was rewarding, but it is something that will always be with me and also something that people find interesting. It was a privilege to have had that experience.

Were there any players at Spurs who you were particularly close to?

Gary: I was close to quite a few players and obviously I was close with Glenn and also another player called Freddie Barwick who was at the same school as me before we went to Spurs. So I was connected with quite a few players, also there was John Margerrison who used to live locally to me and pick me up and take me to training because he was driving at that time. So there was quite a few players but there was no one that lived in my Borough, and so obviously your playing and training with these guys everyday but socially the only one that I had a real connection with was Glenn I suppose. Everyone else was living in different parts of the country so I don’t think that there was too much of a social scene outside of the club, but I might be wrong and maybe there was, but I certainly didn’t have that.

What would your advice be to the young Spurs players of today as they look to break into the first team?

Gary: My advice is that you really have to be dedicated and have a hunger for it and also have a correct mindset to deal with all of the politics. I don’t know if there is still that much politics involved in football but you definitely need to be strong minded. So I’d say that you definitely have a hunger for it and also the correct mindset. 

After all these years how do you look back on your time at the Lilywhites and is Spurs a club who you still hold close to your heart?

Gary: Obviously I’m not involved in football that much anymore and I don’t follow it that much anymore but I kind of tend to look at the Spurs results and see how they are doing, so I like to see how they are doing, and It’s nice to see that they are doing well. I did do some coaching and I got my UEFA coaching badge and I did quite a bit of coaching with different clubs, but as I’ve got older it kind of seems like a different lifetime ago.

Spurs under 23’s versus Brighton & Hove Albion: (match preview)

Our under 23 side return to Premier League 2 action on Friday evening (the game starts at 19:00pm), when Spurs take on Brighton at the AMEX Elite Football Performance Centre, in Lancing. Spurs’ last Premier League 2 game saw them beat Liverpool 4-3 in a pulsating game of football, and Wayne Burnett’s side are only five points off league leaders and reigning champions Chelsea in the league table. Today’s hosts Brighton are one point behind Spurs in the league on 16 points, and we have actually never beaten them in the Premier League 2. A well structured side who play good football, we recorded a 1-1 draw with Brighton at Hotspur Way in our first league game of the season. Some Brighton players that the Spurs players will have to be aware of this evening include midfielder Teddy Jenks who has scored four goals from 12 league appearances this season, also summer signing from Wigan Athletic Jensen Weir is another player who has an eye for goal, while forward Stefan Vukoje is another player who is potent going forward. Spurs will be without captain Jubril Okedina and Jack Clarke who have both left the club this month to join Cambridge United and Stoke City respectively, however, Kazaiah Sterling has returned to Spurs following the end of his loan at Southend United, and I would imagine that he could well play some part in the game against Brighton. As with all games in this league, this will be a tough one. However, Spurs were in good form in 2020, on the whole, and they’ll be hoping to continue that into this year. I would like to wish the team all the very best of luck for today’s game.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Austin, Marsh, Lyons-Foster, Omole, Lavinier, Bowden (c), White, Markanday, Devine, Bennett, Etete.

Subs from: Oluwayemi, Skinner, Thorpe, Pochettino, Mukendi.

Injured/unavailable: N/A.

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: N/A.

My score prediction: Spurs 2-1.

My one to watch: Former Wigan Athletic player Jensen Weir. The midfielder has scored four goals from 12 Premier League 2 appearances for Brighton this season.

Some notes on Spurs loanee Troy Parrott’s performance against Boreham Wood:

Dublin born Republic of Ireland international and young Spurs loanee Troy Parrott completed 81 minutes of Millwall’s two-nil FA Cup third round victory against Boreham Wood, on Saturday afternoon. Parrott (18) played off lone centre forward Kenneth Zohore, mainly operating down the left hand side, as Gary Rowett’s Millwall side lined up in a 3-4-3 formation. Early on in the game Millwall created a good chance after Parrott played a one-two with Zohore before firing a low effort just wide of Boreham Wood goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore’s left hand post, from quite far out. After a Boreham Wood free-kick was intercepted Millwall broke forward down the other end of the pitch as Parrott picked up the ball and went forward showing good speed, before eventually playing the ball through to Tyler Burey whose first touch let him down. Looking quite sharp early on in the game, and soon after trying to play Burey through he managed another attempt at goal. Dan McNamara’s ball into the Boreham Wood box from the right was headed down by Zohore to Parrott, but his first time effort on goal was deflected behind for a corner kick off of David Stephens. After receiving Ryan Leonard’s pass Parrott travelled into the oppositions penalty area before curling the ball narrowly wide of the goalkeepers left hand post. A Scott Malone corner kick came to Jake Cooper who headed the ball down to Troy Parrott in the box, and with his back to goal his flicked effort towards the goal was cleared off of the line by Kane Smith. Millwall took the lead soon afterwards as Parrott received the ball, before flicking it to Malone who then found Zohore who finished well from inside the box. The Irishman volleyed wide a cross a couple of moments later, in what was his last piece of action from the first half.

The beginning of the second half saw Parrott have an effort on goal from the edge of the Boreham Wood box deflected behind for a corner. He then took a free-kick in a promising position, which went high over the Boreham Wood crossbar, before threading a pass through to substitute Tom Bradshaw (it took a deflection off of Femi Ilesanmi) which put the Welshman through on goal. Parrott then delivered a cross into the box which was cleared, before a couple of minutes later receiving a pass from Ryan Woods and latching onto it inside the oppositions box, but his touch let him down and it ran through to the goalkeeper Nathan Ahsmore.

Spurs under 18’s versus Newport County: (match preview)

Our under 18 side start 2021 by playing their first FA Youth Cup game of the season. A third round cup tie against Welsh side Newport County takes place on Tuesday at 1pm at Hotspur Way (behind closed doors), in England’s most prestigious youth cup competition. Last season Spurs were knocked out by a very talented Wigan Athletic side in the fourth round, a side which included Alfie Devine. However, this year Matt Taylor’s side who sit in second place in the Under 18 Premier League South, will be looking to do better as they look to build on finishing 2020 in such good form in the league. Newport County’s under 18 side play their league football in the EFL Youth Alliance south-west division, and they haven’t played a competitive game of league football since the fifth of December, 2020, when they beat Swindon Town by three goals to nil. Newport had to beat non-League side Brockenhurst FC (they won 3-2) to reach the third round of the FA Youth Cup, and this is the second season in a row that they have reached the third round of the competition (they lost 3-1 away to Blackburn Rovers at this stage last season). Newport do have a number of players who have joined them from category two academy sides, such as Harrison Bright (formerly of Cardiff City), Jack Karadogan (formerly of Swansea City) and Charlie Bullock (formerly of Bristol City). There is no doubting that this will be a tough game, despite the difference in leagues that the two sides play in. Newport will be really up for this, just like Matt Taylor’s Spurs side will be, but in a one off cup game anything can happen.

Usually these games are the first competitive ones that many of these under 18 players get to play in front of fans at a stadium, but due to the current situation this year will be very different, though it will still be a fantastic opportunity and experience for the Spurs under 18 side. Talented first year scholar Alfie Devine made headlines on Sunday when he became our first teams youngest ever scorer and player in a competitive game, by scoring against Marine in the third round of the FA Cup, as he played 45 minutes. Spurs will no doubt put out a very strong side against Newport County, but with our under 23 side playing Brighton later in the week, Devine could well be being saved for that game. However, I would imagine that top scorer Dane Scarlett will most likely play on Tuesday afternoon. This is a very big game for Spurs, and I would like to wish them all the very best of luck for the match. Here’s hoping that this talented side can become the first Spurs under 18 side to win the competition since 1990.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Lo-Tutala (c), Cesay, Muir, Matthew Craig, Hackett, Michael Craig, John, Mundle, Robson, Santiago, Scarlett.

Subs from: Hayton, Maguire, Kyezu, Torraj, Carrington, Mathurin, Whittaker.

Injured/unavailable: Paskotši (suspended).

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: N/A.

My score prediction: Spurs 5-0.

My one to watch: Newport player and second year scholar Zack Maher. A midfielder by trade, Maher scored an important goal against Brockenhurst in the last round to help book Newport’s place in the third round of the cup.

Some notes on Spurs youngster Jubril Okedina’s loan move to Cambridge United:

20 year old defender, Spurs academy player and development side captain Jubril Okedina has enjoyed a really fine two and a half seasons, since the beginning of the 2018/19 season. A versatile, adaptable and hardworking defender, Okedina hardly featured in a competitive game for our under 18 side as a first year scholar, mainly due to injury. However, the youngster from south London has become stronger and stronger since getting a good run of competitive games at a youth level, and yesterday it was announced by Spurs on Twitter that Jubril had signed a new contract with the club, and also joined League Two side Cambridge United on loan until the end of the season. A fantastic loan move for Jubril in my opinion, the player who has yet to experience competitive first team football, will now get the chance to test himself further, by being at a League Two side who are just five points off top spot in the league standings. The player who is comfortable at playing as a right back and as a centre half, is in my opinion a very well rounded player, who can also go forward and make an impact in the final third. The former Beths Grammar School pupil is currently the joint top scorer for our under 23 side with three goals, something which he has added to his game during the current campaign. Good in the air and strong on the ground, Jubril is a very good player technically speaking, and he is a good passer and crosser of the ball. He also has good pace which is a really good thing for a defender to have, but I think that his greatest attribute is his reading of the game, as well as his well-roundedness as a defender and ability to get tight to his man. I’ve been doing some research on the current Cambridge United side and the second year professional will be mainly competing with former West Ham United player Kyle Knoyle (Knoyle is the main right back) and Leon Davies for the right back spot. 

Cambridge United play with a back four, but it will be interesting to see where Okedina plays the most, between centre half and right back. At centre half the main players for Cambridge United who play in central defence are Greg Taylor, Harry Darling and Robbie Cundy. 35 year old Cambridge United boss Mark Bonner and his side will be preparing for a League Two game against Harrogate Town on Saturday afternoon, and it will be interesting to see whether Okedina goes straight into the match-day squad. If not then, then he could well be included in the side that takes on Oxford United in the Papa John’s Trophy next week. I’m sure that Okedina will get a good amount of game time at the the League Two Club, and I’ve no doubts whatsoever that the young defender will gain invaluable experience from his loan move, which will make him an even stronger player for when he returns to Spurs. I’m a big fan of Okedina as a player, and I really admire just how consistent he has been at both right back and centre half for our under 23 side over the last season and a half. The player who likes to go on good overlapping forward runs can hopefully contribute a lot for Cambridge, both in a defensive and an attacking sense to a degree. The player who made the bench for José Mourinho’s Spurs first team in a friendly against Watford back in pre-season, will be eager to get going at Cambridge United. I wish him a very successful loan spell, and I shall be following his progress at the club, and I do plan on watching their league game against Harrogate Town on Saturday.

Spurs under 23’s versus Liverpool: (match preview)

After putting in a very good first half performance against Chelsea on Monday evening, before eventually losing by three goals to two, Spurs’ under 23 side can take confidence from that game going into Saturday’s Premier League 2 game against Liverpool (the game starts at 15:00pm) at the Liverpool Academy. Last season in our two Premier League two games against Liverpool, we managed to score eight goals against them (we won both games four-nil). Tomorrow’s hosts have made a decent start to the league season, and as both clubs prepare for their final competitive game of 2020, Liverpool occupy fifth spot in the league, while Spurs sit in tenth place on 14 points, two points behind Liverpool. Spurs have only won once away to Liverpool since the Premier League 2 was formed for the 2016/17 season, but they have been unlucky in a number of those games, all of which were very competitive and close games. Liverpool play good attacking football, which is played at a high intensity, and they have a team of very good players as well. This will be another demanding game of football for Wayne Burnett’s side, but I’m sure that it will be a very entertaining one (it is sadly not being shown on Liverpool TV), and I shall be tweeting score updates on my Twitter account. Finally, I would like to wish the team all the very best of luck for their final match of 2020.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Whiteman, Okedina (c), Lyons-Foster, Omole, Lavinier, Marsh, White, Scarlett, Thorpe, Clarke, Etete.

Subs from: Kurylowicz, Skinner, Pochettino, Pedder, Mukendi.

Injured/unavailable: Alfie Devine (suspended).

Doubtful: Malachi Fagan-Walcott, Dilan Markanday.

Previous meeting: Spurs four-nil Liverpool. 

My score prediction: Spurs 2-1.

My one to watch: Liverpool’s 18 year old forward Layton Stewart, who has already scored 13 goals from just nine appearances for their under 18 side this season (he is the leagues top scorer), but he is yet to find the net for Liverpool’s under 23 side in the Premier League 2.

Spurs under 18’s versus West Bromwich Albion: (match preview)

Matt Taylor’s Spurs under 18 side take on a team (the game starts at 11:30am on Saturday at Hotspur Way) who they haven’t faced for a number of years at this level, in West Brom, a side who they last played back in the 2015/16 season. West Brom had been playing in the Under 18 Premier League North until the start of this season when they joined the southern division, and the club from the English Midlands have so far picked eight points from nine league games this season. Peter Gilbert’s side have only won one of their three league away games this season, something which will come as an encouragement to Spurs who have won three and drawn two of their opening five home league games this season. The last meeting between these sides saw a lot of goals, as Spurs eventually won four-three on the day. Unbeaten in five league games at this level, third place Spurs are only one point away from league leaders Fulham, albeit Spurs have played a game more than the west London club. Matt Taylor’s side recorded a really impressive five-one win over Crystal Palace in their last league game, while West Brom beat Southampton three-one. The inform Dane Scarlett scored another hat-trick in that game against Crystal Palace, but after making his competitive debut for our under 23’s last Monday against Chelsea (Dane scored in that game), I do wonder whether he will travel up to Liverpool with the under 23 squad for their away game against Liverpool, which is also on Saturday. If that is the case then it could mean that under 16’s player Jamie Donley could step up once again to play for our under 18 side (he scored in the last game that he played for them), or possibly versatile forward Tarrelle Whittaker could play as the lone striker.

I can’t really comment on what kind of team West Brom’s under 18 side are e.g. their style of play, etc. This is because I haven’t seen their current group of players play however, every game in this division is a challenging and demanding one. Saturday mornings game will be played behind closed doors unfortunately, but I will be providing live score updates of the game on my Twitter account. As I previously mentioned, 16 year old forward Dane Scarlett made his competitive under 23 debut on Monday against Chelsea, but so did under 18 regular Romaine Mundle (he has been directly involved in five of our under 18’s goals so far this season) as he came on as a substitute late on in the game, which was great to see. I would finally like to wish the Spurs under 18 side all the very best of luck for Saturday’s game, which is the final competitive one that they will play in 2020.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Lo-Tutala (c), Cesay, Muir, Paskotši, Hackett, Matthew Craig, John, Whittaker, Mundle, Santiago, Donley.

Subs from: Hayton, Kyezu, Michael Craig, Carrington, Mathurin. 

Injured/unavailable: Alfie Devine (suspended).

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: Spurs four-three West Brom.

My score prediction: Spurs 4-2.

My one to watch: 18 year old forward Jovan Malcolm, who has scored five goals from eight league appearances for West Brom’s under 18 side this season. Malcolm has also made two Premier League 2 appearances for West Brom’s under 23 side this season.

A short piece on Spurs’ under 23’s recent signings Tobi Omole and Marcel Lavinier:

Back in early October Spurs announced that they had signed Tobi Omole and Marcel Lavinier on contracts until the end of the 2020/21 season, after they had played for the club on trial. Omole had previously been on Arsenal’s books for a number of years, while Marcel Lavinier had been with west London club Chelsea. Earlier on in the season Spurs announced the signing of right back Keenan Ferguson, a player who had previously been with Yorkshire based club Sheffield United. However, I’m not able to write on him in this short piece, as Spurs haven’t played Sheffield United in a competitive youth match (under 18 or under 23 level) in recent years, and I have only seen him play once for Spurs since he joined the club in the summer. Due to the current situation I have been restricted to watching only a handful of under 23 matches (all of which were online) and unfortunately I haven’t been to a single Spurs under 18 match this season, which is obviously a real shame as I am somebody who has gone to and reported on virtually ever Spurs under 23 and under 18 game in recent years. However, relying on my memory of watching both Marcel Lavinier and Tobi Omole (I was really pleased when Spurs had announced that they had joined the club) play for their respective former clubs on a number of occasions over the years, predominantly playing against Spurs, in this piece I will be writing a short profile on each player, writing about each players style of play and best attributes, etc. Our under 23’s next game is away to Liverpool, on Saturday afternoon at the Liverpool Academy, with the game starting at 15:00pm.

Tobi Omole: Versatile 20 year old defender (turns 21 on the 17th of December) Tobi Omole from Brockley in south London, went to St Columba’s School in Bexleyheath, and had previously been playing for Thamesmead prior to joining Arsenal at under 14’s level. The young Englishman who is also eligible to represent Nigeria at international level, was actually predominantly playing in a midfield role for Thamesmead before moving to Arsenal, when he eventually settled down into a more defensive role in the heart of defence. However, I have seen Omole play for Arsenal at both under 18 and under 23 level at centre half (he usually plays at LCB), left back and at CDM, and he always looked very adept at playing in all of those three defensive positions, since I first saw him play during the 2016/17 season as a first year scholar. A tall defender who reads the game well, is dominant in the air and who often shows good composure on the ball. Omole is one of those defensive players who regardless of where he plays, goes about his job in a quietly very effective manner. For example when he played for Arsenal and captained their under 18 side as a second year scholar, in an Under 18 Premier League South end of season game back in the 2017/18 game, Omole stood out. This was despite the fact that Spurs beat Arsenal 9-0! This was partially down to the fact that Arsenal had an important FA Youth Cup game soon after that match, and ended up fielding a number of players from their under 16 side. In that particular game, Omole showed his good pace and defensive nous and experience, as he performed well at left back, up against Spurs’ tricky and highly skilful winger Dilan Markanday (Markanday enjoyed more luck after Omole was replaced).

The former Arsenal player shows that he is more than comfortable playing as a number four, with his ability to come out from the back with the ball at his feet and pass it out with precision coming in very useful. Playing more than 35 competitive under 18 games for Arsenal and over 20 competitive games for their under 23 side during his time at the club, the Londoner is a strong defensive player who gets stuck in and is good at making important blocks in games. Omole’s versatility as I previously mentioned, is a very good thing for him to have as a young player and it will no doubt put him in very good stead for his future in the professional game. Always a player who has caught my eye (I am somebody who really likes to watch games very closely) with both his ball skills and reading of the game, plus his desire to get tight to forwards, I couldn’t personally spot any real defensive errors from the couple of games that I have seen him play in a Spurs shirt this season, and they were both against very good sides in the Premier League 2. Of course we conceded three goals in the second half of our last under 23 game against Chelsea on Monday, but I feel that it would be very harsh to say that Tobi was at fault for any of Chelsea’s goals. I thought that he asserted himself well on the game, read it well and made some good and important clearances. The 20 year old has already featured in six games for Wayne Burnett’s Spurs under 23 side in the Premier League 2 this season (three starts and three appearances as a substitute), and I can see him becoming an important player for the side over the course of the season, providing he doesn’t go out on his first ever loan move of his career during the January transfer window. I look forward to seeing more of Tobi this season.

Marcel Lavinier: 20 year old right back and Londoner Marcel Lavinier had been on top Premier League academy side Chelsea’s books, for a number of years before leaving the club at the end of the 2019/20 season. Reportedly trialing for a number of clubs before signing for Spurs in October, like Omole the player who has been capped as high up as under 17 level for England, and who has also represented Portugal at youth level (under 18 level), is a player who I have also been impressed with whenever I have seen him play at academy level over the years. Possessing real pace, Lavinier can operate either at right back or left back, as well as at centre half and on the right side of midfield as a wing back. A quadruple winner with that great Chelsea under 18 team during the 2017/18 season, the fullback can be just as effective in the final third as he is at defending his side of the pitch. His ability to glide past players at speed as well as being comfortable to play on either flank, makes him a really potent player going forward for his team, and he registered a number of assists for Chelsea at under 18 level from playing out wide. Making over 40 competitive appearances for Chelsea’s under 18 side and over 20 competitive appearances for their under 23 side, the former Chelsea Academy school pupil certainly tested our defenders whenever we played for Chelsea at under 18 level in particular. A defender who is good technically, Lavinier has already made eight starts for our under 23 side since joining Spurs in October, and he seems to have settled in well. As a defender he is somebody who is alert defensively and also tenacious and aggressive in his defending too, and in the recent under 23 game against his old club Chelsea his great pace and desire to get forward and time his runs well with left winger Jack Clarke, was really evident.

Although Lavinier is right footed, he is as I previously mentioned more than capable of playing on that left hand side. He was tested a lot in the second half of that Premier League 2 game against Chelsea, and with the quality forwards that they had playing for them last Monday, it is not surprising that a lot was asked of the young Spurs man in that particular game. The same happened in the game against Manchester United earlier in the season, when Marcel had to defend against the talented Shola Shoretire, and this demanded him to be focused and alert at all times. I like Lavinier a lot as a player, and I think that like Omole he could have a good future at Spurs, and I really look forward to seeing both players (when I get the chance) play for our under 23 side during the remainder of the season, and I would also like to wish both Marcel and Tobi all the very best of luck for the rest of this season.

Spurs under 23’s 2-3 Chelsea: (match report)

Our under 23 side started Monday evenings Premier League 2 fixture against Chelsea at Kingsmeadow really well, and they found themselves leading by two goals after just 17 minutes, courtesy of goals from Jubril Okedina and Dane Scarlett, in what was a fantastic first half performance from Spurs. However, Chelsea came back at Spurs strongly in the second half of a very lively match, and unfortunately for Spurs they ended up winning the game three-two, in a match which saw two red cards, shown to Alfie Devine and Danny Drinkwater respectively. Lining up with Brandon Austin in goal, a back four made up of captain Jubril Okedina, Brooklyn Lyons-Foster, Tobi Omole and Marcel Lavinier started in front of the 21 year old goalkeeper. George Marsh and Harvey White teamed up in the centre of the park while Dane Scarlett (competitive under 23 debut) and Jack Clarke lined up either side of CAM Alfie Devine, while Kion Etete started up front for Spurs. Spurs got the game underway at Kingsmeadow, and the first real chance of the game ended in a goal for Wayne Burnett’s side. 38 year old Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech had been put under pressure by Kion Etete in the Chelsea penalty area, and Cech ended up putting the ball behind for a Tottenham corner kick. Alfie Devine played the corner short to White, whose delivery into the Chelsea box was deflected off of a Chelsea player, and the ball bounced up to Lyons-Foster on the edge of the area and he nodded the ball to Jubril Okedina whose shot went beyond Cech and into the back of the net, 1-0.

Brandon Austin comfortably gathered Dion Rankine’s low cross from the right, before Valentino Livramento blocked Kion Etete’s effort on the edge of the box, at the other end of the pitch. Spurs continued their strong start to the game, and after Alfie Devine won the ball off of Dynel Simeu he went forward down the right flank and delivered in a good low cross towards Jack Clarke, but Danny Drinkwater got back to intercept the ball well. Still yet to be tested by Chelsea, Spurs were enjoying a good spell of possession when the impressive Harvey White picked the ball up about 35 yards out from goal, and he picked out young Dane Scarlett down the right hand side of the Chelsea box with a brilliant curling pass. Scarlett rose ahead of a Chelsea defender and powered a quite brilliant header beyond Petr Cech and into the goal, 2-0. Chelsea weren’t playing with much of an intensity during the opening periods of the game and Spurs continued to go forward. Jack Clarke’s cross in from the left picked out Dane Scarlett, and he got a toe on the ball but it ended up going behind for a goal kick. The Spurs forward then claimed that Chelsea defender Dynel Simeu had handled the ball inside his penalty area a couple of minutes later, but the referee saw nothing in it. After Jubril Okedina passed the ball to Alfie Devine, the former Wigan Athletic player tried to get around Dynel Simeu before trying his luck on goal, but his effort was deflected behind for a corner kick. Tobi Omole’s long ball up to Kion Etete was taken down well and controlled by the centre forward, he took the ball into the Chelsea box but was put under pressure when he tried to beat Cech, who comfortably saved his effort which was straight at the Chelsea goalkeeper.

Wayne Burnett urged his Spurs team to keep their shape as Chelsea upped their intensity during the closing stages of the first half. Spurs defender Tobi Omole headed clear Valentino Livramento’s cross, before Marcel Lavinier was shown a yellow card after giving away a free kick (taken by Marcel Lewis), which Harvey White cleared, in what was the final piece of action of the first half. Chelsea got the second 45 minutes underway, and Jubril Okedina cleared away Thierno Ballo’s low cross before Kion Etete cleared away a corner kick which had been taken by Marcel Lewis. Petr Cech gathered Alfie Devine’s pumped ball into the box before Dynel Simeu headed narrowly over at the back post, from a Chelsea corner kick. Marcel Lewis headed over Valentino Livramento’s cross before giving away a free kick after being deemed to have pushed George Marsh inside the Spurs box, as Chelsea were now on top of the game. After Valentino Livramento had passed the ball to Chelsea forward George Nunn, Nunn took on Okedina inside the Spurs box and got a toe on the ball to put it through the Spurs mans legs, but he (Okedina) lunged in and ended up giving away a penalty. Chelsea’s Myles Peart-Harris took the resulting penalty kick, and he slotted the ball straight down the middle of the goal as Brandon Austin dived to his right, 2-1. A couple of minutes later Henry Lawrence whipped a dangerous cross into the Spurs box, but it was cleared away brilliantly by the lunging Tobi Omole. A long ball to Valentino Livramento down our left flank resulted in Livramento surging past Lavinier before passing to Marcel Lewis inside the middle of the Spurs box, and he calmly slotted it past Austin and into the back of the net, 2-2.

Spurs looked to respond through Harvey White who had a shot blocked by a Chelsea defender. Brandon Austin then passed the ball straight to Chelsea substitute Jude Soonsup-Bell on the edge of the Spurs box, and the 16 year old forward advanced into the box before attempting to take the ball around Austin who was able to recover excellently to get a hand on the ball and take it away from Soonsup-Bell. After Jack Clarke had won a free kick on the edge of the Chelsea box, Harvey White hit his resulting effort straight into the Chelsea wall, before Jack Clarke had an effort blocked. Levi Colwill headed behind a corner kick from Lewis Bate at the other end of the pitch, before a long forward ball to Alfie Devine was brilliantly brought down by the midfielder, who then managed to do well to get past George Nunn before shooting wide after getting into a more central position. George Nunn cleared a Jack Clarke free kick before a melee took place, after a strong two footed lunge on Danny Drinkwater from Alfie Devine resulted in Drinkwater kicking out at Devine. After the melee had ended the referee showed straight red cards to both players, before showing yellow cards to several players including Kion Etete. Elliot Thorpe replaced George Marsh in the middle of the park, before White fouled Jude Soonsup-Bell right on the edge of the Spurs penalty area. However, Marcel Lewis curled his resulting over Brandon Austin’s crossbar, before Henry Lawrence excellent strike from range went just wide of Austin’s goal. Under 18 player Romaine Mundle then replaced Dane Scarlett out on the right flank to make his competitive under 23 debut, before Lyons-Foster put behind a cross from Marcel Lewis. 

Chelsea went ahead in the game on 88 minutes after Thierno Ballo had passed the ball to Marcel Lewis on the right flank, before Lewis dragged the ball back for Myles Peart Harris in the Spurs box, and he slotted the ball well into the bottom left hand corner of Austin’s goal, 2-3. Spurs responded by sending on Maurizio Pochettino for Marcel Lavinier, as Spurs tried desperately hard to level up the scores. After Clarke had won a free kick Harvey White tried to test Cech, but his effort was stopped by the Chelsea wall. A good late move for Chelsea saw George Nunn pass the ball to Jude Soonsup-Bell who then gave it to Lewis Bate who found Myles Peart-Harris down the right side of the Spurs box, but his volley went wide of the goal, in what was to be the final piece of action from a pulsating game of Premier League 2 football. Spurs’ next game at this level is against Liverpool on Saturday, in Merseyside.

Player reviews: 

  • Brandon Austin: The Spurs goalkeeper surprisingly didn’t actually haven’t an awful lot to do against Chelsea, apart from facing their three efforts on goal, which he really couldn’t have done anything about. Austin did make a superb recovery to get a hand on the ball to prevent a certain goal for Chelsea’s Jude Soonsup Bell, after he had given the ball straight to him on the edge of the Spurs box.
  • Jubril Okedina: The Spurs captain had a solid first half, and he always stayed tight to his man throughout the game. Okedina did make a slightly untimed challenge on Chelsea’s George Nunn inside the Spurs box during the second half, but these things can happen to any defender especially against a team as good as Chelsea. 
  • Brooklyn Lyons-Foster: Operating at RCB, 20 year old defender Brooklyn Lyons-Foster made some good clearances and I thought that he read the game well against what was a very good Chelsea front line.
  • Tobi Omole: A defender who I have always been impressed with when I have seen him play for Arsenal at academy level over the years, Tobi Omole put in another impressive performance for our under 23 side. Making some fine clearances, like Lyons-Foster I thought that he read the game well but was also disciplined from a defensive point of view, while also looking good on the ball. 
  • Marcel Lavinier: Starting against his former club for the first time on Monday evening and playing at left back, Marcel Lavinier showed great pace on occasions during the game. He also went on some good forward runs for Spurs and showed good tenacity during his time on the pitch.
  • George Marsh: The CDM never stopped running and he allowed Harvey White to get forward more.
  • Harvey White: My man of the match, see below.
  • Dane Scarlett: Our under 18’s top scorer this season marked his competitive under 23 debut for Spurs by scoring a really well taken headed goal. What I really liked about Scarlett’s performance while he was playing out of position on the right wing, was his good defensive work and his determination to track back and help out Okedina. Scarlett also showed some good movement off the ball, and he took his goal brilliantly by scoring yet another header!
  • Alfie Devine: Showing some fine pieces of individual skill, CAM Alfie Devine’s night may have been ended by him receiving a late red card, but there was plenty that he should be proud of. He was confident on the ball and not afraid to take players on, but he was also intelligent and not afraid to get stuck in and make his mark on the game. 
  • Jack Clarke: Another player who showed good pace, left winger Jack Clarke liked to take on his man. He was confident and showed good skill, and I thought that he gave a good account of himself on the night.
  • Kion Etete: After scoring in our last three under 23 games, hardworking centre forward Kion Etete may not have scored against Chelsea on Monday, but he did work really hard and pressed the Chelsea defence well, while also showing good strength on the ball and also laying it off well to the other forward players.
  • Elliot Thorpe: The 20 year old substitute got stuck in during the latter stages of the game after replacing George Marsh.
  • Romaine Mundle: N/A.
  • Maurizio Pochettino: N/A.

My man of the match: After Monday evenings game against Chelsea, central midfielder Harvey White has now been directly involved in seven goals (four assists and three goals) from ten Premier League 2 matches for Spurs’ under 23’s this season. White (19) was as always nice and tidy on the ball, using it well and intelligently throughout what was a very demanding game. However, his defensive work really impressed me, and his willingness to get stuck in as well as not being afraid to be on the other end of some strong challenges, showed how good his desire and determination is. The Maidstone born midfielder also assisted Dane Scarlett’s goal with a superb curling pin point pass, to cap off another fine performance from the consistent and versatile midfielder.

Spurs u23’s stats:

Goals: Kion Etete – 3

Harvey White – 3

Rodel Richards – 2

Kazaiah Sterling – 1

George Marsh – 1

Jack Clarke – 1

Dilan Markanday – 1

Alfie Devine – 1

Maurizio Pochettino – 1

Dane Scarlett – 1

Jubril Okedina – 1

Assists: Harvey White – 4

Brooklyn Lyons-Foster – 2

Jack Roles – 1

Dilan Markanday – 1

Dennis Cirkin – 1

Kazaiah Sterling – 1

J’Neil Bennett – 1

Jack Clarke – 1

Danny Rose – 1

Alfie Devine – 1

Substitutes (not used) against Chelsea: Kurylowicz, Muir.

Spurs under 23’s versus Chelsea: (match preview)

After recording an impressive three-two win over a good Blackburn Rovers team the previous Monday, Wayne Burnett’s Spurs under 23 side will now be preparing to face the reigning champions of the Premier League 2 Division one, in London rivals Chelsea (the game takes place on Monday at Kingsmeadow, with the game starting at 7pm). Starting for Alan Myers’s Chelsea side on Monday is 38 year old goalkeeper Petr Cech who has decided to come out of retirement, after having last played a competitive game of football in the May of 2019. So the former Czech Republic international and Chelsea legend will definitely add quality and experience to a Chelsea side who sit in third place in the league table, and have won all four of their home league games this season. Spurs recorded a draw (two-two) away, and lost one-nil at home to Chelsea last season in the Premier League 2, with both games demanding a lot from the Spurs players against a high intensity and physical Chelsea team. Danny Drinkwater (30) and Ghana international Baba Rahman (26)  have played for Chelsea’s under 23 side already this season, so I’m sure that the Spurs players will be aware of their quality going into tomorrow’s game. Some of the Chelsea’s players to keep an eye on tomorrow (the game is being shown on Chelsea’s Fifth Stand app and official website) include attacking midfielder Thierno Ballo, former Tromso forward Bryan Fiabema who has four league goals this season and commanding centre half Sam McClelland. There is no doubting that this will be a very tough game for Wayne Burnett’s side, but after ending a three game run without a win last Monday, I reckon that tomorrow’s game will be quite a close and very competitive one. I would like to wish the team all the very best of luck for the game.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Austin, Lavinier, Okedina (c), Lyons-Foster, Rose, Marsh, White, Pochettino, Devine, Clarke, Etete.

Subs from: De Bie, Omole, Thorpe, Pedder, Mukendi.

Injured/unavailable: N/A.

Doubtful: Malachi Fagan-Walcott and Dilan Markanday.

Previous meeting: Spurs nil-one Chelsea.

My score prediction: Spurs three-two Chelsea.

My one to watch: 17 year old Norwegian forward Bryan Fiabema, who has four Premier League 2 goals from seven appearances so far this season.