My interview with former Spurs player Dennis Bond:

My interview with former Spurs player Dennis Bond:

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Walthamstow born midfielder Dennis Bond made his debut for his first professional club Watford as a 16 year old. And the boyhood Spurs fan would go onto make many appearances during his first spell at the ‘ Hornets ‘ before the former England schoolboys player joined Spurs in 1967 for £30,000. A good passer of the ball, Dennis who was also a skilful player who went onto make 27 competitive first team appearances for Spurs under legendary former manager Bill Nicholson before leaving the Lilywhites in 1970 to go to Charlton who he enjoyed a good spell at. However, Bond would then move back to his first club Watford in 1972 and would go onto make a further 179 league appearances for them, scoring 21 goals. Dennis finished off his playing career with Dagenham in the Isthmian League. Even after retiring from the game Bond still kept strong links with his second club Spurs and he even used to play for the old veterans team. I had the great pleasure of catching up with Dennis Bond recently to look back on his three year spell at Tottenham Hotspur.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Dennis: I can remember playing for the England schoolboys team and I can also remember my early years at Watford, but I’ve got loads of early football memories growing up especially of Spurs, because I was a Spurs supporter. Obviously I went to Watford first because I thought that I’d have a better chance of getting on there than at Tottenham. Because at the time Tottenham never really brought a lot of youngsters through their ranks however, it all worked out fine in the end but as I say I’ve got loads and loads of memories. I was very fortunate and it was just a pleasure to play football. 

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

Dennis: Well I was first at Watford and I actually played in their first first team when I was 16 when they were in the third division. However, Spurs bought me when Bill Nicholson was manager and they had some great players there at the time such as Alan Mullery, Dave Mackay, Cliff Jones, Jimmy Greaves and Pat Jennings who I knew when he used to play at Watford. Pat came to Watford when he was about 18 or 19 from Newry and it was just nice to meet up with him again at Spurs. However, as I say the players at Spurs at that time were very good players in my opinion and they’ve always had good players as long as I can remember as a supporter.

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

Dennis: It was really enjoyable but I would have liked to have played more first team games, but there you go the manager picks the side.

Could you talk me through your competitive debut for Spurs against Liverpool on the first of April 1967?

Dennis: I can’t actually remember the game but I know it was against Liverpool and the thing was that I had actually played against Liverpool the same year in the cup for Watford, so when I went to Spurs I was cup tied. However, just making my debut with Spurs was a big experience for me because as I say I had supported them since I was about eight and my brother-in-law used to walk me across Tottenham marshes from Walthamstow. So yes it was a very proud moment for me but I can’t actually say that it was a boyhood dream because I don’t even think that I dreamt about being a professional, and then all of a sudden I got invited to Watford when I was playing Sunday football for a Sunday football side, and the manager of that side was actually a Watford scout. So he took me along there and I enjoyed myself there playing in the Southeastern Counties League and it just went on from there and I went onto play as a schoolboy for England and I could have went to one or two clubs. However, I got used to it and I stayed at Watford and it worked out.

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

Dennis: Well I was a big fan of Dave Mackay when he was playing in the double winning side because it was just the way that he played and the way that he was. There were many great players in the Spurs side at that time but Dave Mackay was just one of them outstanding sort of character players.

What was it like to play under legendary Spurs manager Bill Nicholson?

Dennis: It was an honour considering the time that Bill had spent at the club and winning the double and that. Bill had the respect of all of the players because he was that type of man.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Dennis: I suppose that Dave Mackay was in a way because he was still there when I went to Spurs. He set an example in training and things like that but then I could also say that for people like Alan Mullery and Terry Venables and Jimmy Greaves however, Dave Mackay was the best all round player. He was one those players who could play in goal and still have a good game. Obviously Cliff Jones was still there too and both him and Dave Mackay were my heroes in a way from being in the double winning side. So it was an honour to play for Spurs.

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

Dennis: Although it is not a conscious thing you do basically learn off of the other players, it’s silly sort of things that you learn. Such as Jimmy Greaves used to like the ball early so you got to learn things like that by playing with him and training with him. Learning things from players helps your game and also I’m not saying that it helps their game but it becomes an understanding.

What was it like to play with some of the legendary players that were around at Spurs during the late 1960’s?

Dennis: As I say it was an honour not just to play for Spurs but just to play football as I said earlier because I’m very fortunate. Nowadays parents take their kids over to the park to try and teach them this and teach them that, whereas in my day you just used to go over to the park with your mates to play and have a kick about. At that time you never really dreamed of being a professional footballer.

 

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

Dennis: Well I wanted to get more first team football and Charlton happened to come along so it was an opportunity to kickstart my career again. I’m not boasting but I had a good name at Watford which was why Spurs bought me and it was getting back into the limelight sort of thing if that is the right word. So after spending some time at Charlton I then went back to Watford and then from Watford I went to Dagenham who were in the old Isthmian League, it was actually quite funny because one day I bumped into Frank Saul and he actually finished off his career with Dagenham as well. 

Could you describe to me what it was like to score your first goal for Spurs in a 3-2 defeat to Everton at Goodison Park in 1970?

Dennis: Well it was actually a penalty and I think that the regular penalty taker was injured and if I can remember correctly Alan Mullery said to Bill Nicholson that Bondy could take a good penalty after Bill had asked whose going to take it. I’d taken penalties at Watford so it wasn’t as if it was anything different, and so Mullery said to me where are you going to put it and I I said that I was going to hit it to the left hand side of the goalkeeper. And fortunately I managed to do it. I think that Gordon West was in goal if I remember correctly.

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Dennis: I suppose it would be signing for the Spurs because as I say I was a big fan. Even when I was at Watford the result that I would look for was always Spurs and remembering that my brother in law used to walk me across the marshes every home game, I was always a big fan. Back then the supporters used to pass you down to the front.

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

Dennis: My best all round player was Dave Mackay but there were a lot of other players such as Bobby Moore who was a great player, but he was a different type of player to Dave Mackay. It’s difficult to say who was the greatest but for an all round player I’d have to say Dave Mackay. However, the greatest goalscorer that I had ever seen was Greavsie and fortunately enough Jimmy was best man at my wedding. Another great player was Cliff Jones and the way that he used to soar up in the air behind tall defenders was incredible. I actually still see Cliff now and again. 

What was it like to don on the famous Lilywhite shirt of Tottenham Hotspur and how did it feel to represent the team that you’d supported as a boy?

Dennis: As I say it was great and an absolute honour. When it came that I was going to be an apprentice footballer at Watford then that was what you wanted to get to but as I say playing for the team that you’ve supported all your life is just an honour. 

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories of your time in the Tottenham first team?

Dennis: I suppose that the Everton goal would be one as well as playing at Manchester United and other such big grounds as Glasgow Rangers. The atmosphere at the grounds years ago was just terrific due to the big crowds that they had and that brought excitement, they were all genuine supporters of their own clubs in them days. I know that the stadiums have all got a bit bigger now but in them days it was all terracing.

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

Dennis: Tommy Smith I would have to say because he was hard and honest.

Do you have any interesting or funny stories from your time at Spurs that you’d like to share?

Dennis: We had some good times and while I can’t really say anything but when me and Cliff Jones have a little chat now we have a little laugh about what things happened. It was a different way of life as a professional footballer in those days and the difference was that you met the ordinary supporter, and when I first went to Spurs the players used to meet friends and the likes in the Bell and Hare. After the games you used to go to the pub and meet the ordinary supporter and had a chat whereas nowadays the players are so far adrift from the ordinary supporter which is unfortunate but yeah it was a different way of life in the football fraternity. Money wise I’d say that we earned a bit above the man in the street however, not like it is today but as I say we used to meet the man in the street. I can remember when I first got married I lived in Cheshunt so I could walk to the old Spurs training ground and when I used to go to White Hart Lane I used to get the bus. And I used to travel down with one of the young apprentices such as Les Boughey who I still see today. 

Were you particularly close with any of your old Spurs teammates?

Dennis: I suppose Cliff Jones because I used to room with Cliff when we went aboard and away. Also Jimmy Greaves was another one who I was close to as he was my best man at my wedding, and if we weren’t playing on a Saturday we used to go to Walthamstow dogs with our wives at night. And then after the dogs finished we used to go and have a beer somewhere.

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?

Dennis: I still hold them close to my heart and I used to play for the veterans side and I used to go and watch every home game before they stopped the complementaries. I have however, been to the new stadium as one of the supporters who used to come and watch the veterans team phoned me up and asked me if I’d like to go down and see the new stadium, and so he took me down there.

My interview with former Spurs player Graham Thomson:

My interview with former Spurs player Graham Thomson:

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Graham Thomson of King’s Lynn, County Norfolk was a creative, skilful and pacy inside forward during his playing days at Spurs. Making his debut for his old club King’s Lynn at the very young age of 15 years 9 months and 5 days (this still stands as a record at King’s Lynn) Thomson transferred to Spurs in 1955, when legendary manager Arthur Rowe was still in charge. Although he never played a competitive game for Spurs’ first team during his time there, Thomson played regularly first for our juniors and then for our old A team, he also played for our talented reserve side which contained a number of internationals. Thomson was also a member of the Spurs A team that impressively won the 1960/61 Eastern Counties League. I had the great pleasure of catching up with Graham recently to discuss his spell at the Lilywhites which lasted from 1955 to 1962.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Graham: I was a young lad and like everybody else I used to kick a tennis ball in the streets. A chap from South Lynn called Jack Thorpe used to look after the A team at King’s Lynn and he invited me to go and train at the club as a young lad and so I used to go there, and the manager at that time was a chap called Paul Todd. While there I used to play for the A side with all the local lads and then I got into the reserve side, and then one night King’s Lynn were playing Bradford Park Avenue at The Walks, and I got picked to play on the right wing and I was just 15 years old. I can remember beating the fullback and going to the byline and pulling the ball back and the centre forward was called Steve Bloomer and he scored.

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

Graham: I started to get on at King’s Lynn and because I was 15 several clubs were interested in me. A chap called Percy Hooper who was a goalkeeper at King’s Lynn, came and saw my father and he wanted to take me for a trial with Spurs at Wellesley road Great Yarmouth. In them days that was in the Eastern Counties League with the likes of the Tottenham A team, and so my father and Percy Hooper took me to Wellesley road and Bill Nicholson came. He was the coach at Tottenham at the time and he came, and he played right half and I played on the right wing. So Spurs were interested in me and they wanted me to go on the ground staff, and in them days you went on the ground staff if you showed potential and you would sweep the terraces and do those sorts of jobs (there were three other lads on the ground staff with me). When I turned 17 that was the age that were you good enough to be a professional or were you going to be sent home. However, I got called into the office and Bill Nicholson signed me as a professional.

Was it difficult for you being a young lad from Kings Lynn and then moving down to the big smoke in London?

Graham: Yes it was. I was put in digs just outside White Hart Lane which was strange at first being a King’s Lynn lad however, it turned out to be alright and I was able to see all of the football matches and everything which was great.

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

Graham: It was both very good and very hard. Bill Nicholson was a very hard taskmaster but part of it was that I was a good sprinter so he wanted to make a winger of me but I wanted to be in the midfield. I can remember playing for the youth side in the FA Youth Cup in Brentford and I scored a hat-trick and when I came in the dressing room after the game I was so thrilled and all as I’d done ever so well. However, Bill Nicholson gave me the hairdryer treatment because I was running with the ball whereas the Tottenham style in them days was push and run, and because I was running with the ball they weren’t very happy. Playing with the likes of Blanchflower, Maurice Norman who was also a Norfolk lad was great and they were great memories. Also playing with Jimmy Greaves and Bobby Smith was also great. When we won the FA Cup in 1961 and me and my wife went to Wembley and then afterwards we went to the celebrations at the Savoy hotel in London, so they were all good memories that I have from my time at Spurs.

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

Graham: There were so many of them! I used to look up to Danny Blanchflower and Dave Mackay but there were so many of them because they were all great players. I was also very friendly with Cliff Jones.

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

Graham: Because I was quick they tried to make a winger of me but I didn’t like that because I used to like to play in midfield however, I had to do what I was told, and that’s why I got very disillusioned with the game. I used to keep coming in from the wing into the midfield and getting it wrong because I wasn’t staying out wide, and that was in the days of wingers.

How difficult was it for a young Spurs player like yourself to break into the first team back in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s?

Graham: It was very difficult because in those days you had three teams. You had your first team, your reserves and the A team. The A team was for young lads who had just signed professional and our team used to be selected from 15 or 16 players every week. You did well to even get into that A team and Tottenham at that time had three full internationals in the reserves in them days, that was the talent at that club at the time so it was very difficult to get into the first team.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Graham: Cliff Jones would have been one as he used to talk to me a lot and advice me because he was also a winger. Maurice Norman was another influence because he was a Norfolk lad like I was.

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

Graham: There was a player at Spurs at the time called Johnny Brooks and he had a body swerve and I always used to look at him when he did his body swerve, because the whole crowd used to swerve with him! So Johnny Brooks was a player who I used to look at. 

 

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

Graham: Well I got called up for national service so I had two years to serve but luckily enough they posted me to Didcot. So every Saturday I used to ring Bill Nicholson up at ten o’clock to see where I was playing on the Saturday, so for two years I would do my national service playing for the army. I was actually married very young and my wife spent a year in London with me before I got called up for my national service and so she went home to King’s Lynn while I did my two years national service. Then when my time was up in the national service I had a meeting with Bill Nicholson again and because in them days you only used to sign yearly contracts, and so I was retained but the trouble was that my wife didn’t fancy coming back to live in London again. So with great regret I left Spurs. I came back and played a little bit with King’s Lynn when Len Richley was the manager, but in them days I played part time. I played for Spalding in the Midland league, also March Town in the Eastern Counties League and enjoyed my time there as it was very nice. However, in them days clubs would come after you and offer you a little bit more money so you could get some good money.

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Graham: When I was at Spalding we had a very good cup run in the FA Cup and we beat Grantham where Terry Blyth the ex Norwich City was player manager. And we beat Grantham so we made the pot for the first round of the FA Cup and we got drawn against Newport County away and we lost 5-3, but that was one of my greatest memories.

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

Graham: That has to be Jimmy Greaves. When I was at Tottenham as a young lad I got picked to play for the FA youth eleven and playing in that team was John Lyall the West Ham player and along with him was Jimmy Greaves, Bobby Moore and Ken Shellito who I can remember being in that team. However, Jimmy Greaves was just brilliant even though he didn’t do a lot of running but he did score the goals.

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories of your time in the Tottenham A team team and reserves?

Graham: We had a very good A side and we won the Eastern Counties League one year as young lads. Then when I got into the reserves which I thought that I did very well to get into the reserves, because in them days you had Cliff Jones and Terry Medwin who were all international wingers so it was a job to break into that side.

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

Graham: Dave Mackay and in practice games you used to keep clear of him because he was very tough. 

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

Graham: Mostly it would have been Cliff Jones during my time at Tottenham. It was recently our sixtieth wedding anniversary and Cliff was going to come down but he was ill so they put a video up, and he had recorded a message on it which was very good of him. 

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

Graham: If I had my time again for a start I wouldn’t go to a big club instead I would go to a smaller club where I would have more chance to go on. And then if I was good enough then I would get on. So my advice would be to go to a smaller club. 

Do you have any regrets about leaving Spurs when you did?

Graham: Oh yes I do. My father never did forgive me for leaving Spurs.

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?

Graham: I always look for Tottenham and I’m still very keen on them it’s just a shame that it was so difficult for me to breakthrough there with all of the great players that they had at the time.

My piece on one of Spurs’ last surviving former players from the early 1950’s – John Gibbons:

My piece on one of Spurs’ last surviving former players from the early 1950’s – John Gibbons:

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Back in the year 1950 Tottenham Hotspur football club was being moulded by manager Arthur Rowe into a side capable of achieving great things. During the 1949-50 season Rowe had guided Spurs to win the old second division, and get them promoted back to the first division where they belonged. With players such as goalkeeper Ted Ditchburn, commanding centre half Harry Clarke, wing halves Ron Burgess and Bill Nicholson, and centre forward Len Duquemin, Spurs had a richly talented squad of players with talent and potential aplenty. During the 1950-51 season with Arthur Rowe’s revolutionary push and run style of football, Spurs would go onto spectacularly clinch the first division title for the first time in their history. This was not only a historic time in our clubs history, but also in the history of English football. To have been a player and have been on the books at Spurs during this magical time in the clubs history in the 1950’s, must have been a sensational and invaluable experience. One young man named John Ronald Gibbons experienced just that after joining Spurs during the 1949/50 season from Ipswich Town. Gibbons who was then a budding centre forward who had previously had first team experience with QPR and Ipswich Town, weighed around 11 stone and stood at five feet, ten inches tall. A bustling centre forward who liked to chase the ball, Gibbons stayed at the Lilywhites for three seasons and although he didn’t make a competitive appearance for the first team, he did play in a talented A and reserve team. Still going strong at the age of 95 John still follows Spurs and enjoys watching football. With the help of John’s son Paul I was able to write this brief piece on his footballing career and time at Spurs. Born John Ronald Gibbons on the eighth of April 1925 in Charlton south-east London, the young John Gibbons used to collect Will’s and Ogden’s football heroes cigarette cards. These cards would have had the likes of the great former Everton striker Dixie Dean on them, players who the young football fan John would have undoubtedly looked up to.

Gibbons’ footballing career started off at local club Charlton Rovers’ youth team who he played for. However, when the Second World War broke out young John’s hopes of becoming a footballer (John was also interested in cricket) would have been temporarily disrupted. He joined the army in 1943 and spent around five years there before being demobbed in 1948. After being demobbed the then young footballer made his first foray into senior football when he joined County Kent based club Dartford F.C in the same year. Gibbons made his competitive debut for Dartford in a 9-2 defeat to Bristol City in one of the earlier rounds of that seasons FA Cup (John scored a brace in this game). After impressing for Dartford during his first month there, Gibbons caught the attention of former QPR player and then chief scout at the west London club – Alf Ridyard. Ridyard was impressed so much by John’s performances for Dartford during his first month there that he wanted the young centre forward to come with him to QPR. Dartford however, were reluctant to let their recent acquisition leave however, they were unable to stop John leaving them as he had signed ‘ M ’ forms and therefore had no ties to them. A regular and consistent performer for the ‘ Hoops ’ reserve team who he scored roughly around 16 goals in 20 appearances for. Gibbons made his competitive first team debut for QPR on the 23rd of October 1948 at Loftus Road. One newspaper at the time said on Gibbons debut that the “ Choice of John Gibbons to lead Queen’s Park Rangers attack against West Ham at Loftus – road today raises the question whether it is wise for a young player to make his league debut in a full-blooded Derby game. ” Gibbons played around another seven first team games for the ‘ Hoops ’ scoring two goals. He also helped QPR get promoted from the third division to the second division that season and was awarded with a QPR shield.

After doing his bit at QPR John Gibbons departed the west London club to join Ipswich Town in the May of 1949, he played a few matches for Ipswich’s first team before leaving them in the March of 1950 to join Spurs. Former QPR player George Smith knew Tottenham manager Arthur Rowe and would have most likely recommended John to him. During that 1949/50 season John Gibbons made five appearances for our reserves in the Football Combination League (statistics for goals scored are unfortunately not available). In the following seasons he would go onto play for Spurs in the Football Combination Cup, the Eastern Counties League (he made 20 appearances in that league during one season alone), the East Anglian Cup and the Metropolitan And District League Professional Clubs’ Cup amongst others. However, one of the highlights of John’s time at Spurs was helping them win the Metropolitan And District League Challenge Cup. He played in most of the games leading up until the final when he scored two goals against Headington United to help Spurs to a 6-2 victory to clinch the trophy. John played with future Spurs great Tommy Harmer in the Eastern Counties League, a certain Viv Buckingham in the Football Combination League and also a very young Mel Hopkins in the Metropolitan And District League Challenge Cup. Gibbons would also mix with the likes of first Spurs team players such as Bill Nicholson and Alf Ramsey who he remembers as gentlemen. He liked and respected these players as well as Arthur Rowe, but above all else he enjoyed his time at the Lilywhites. What an experience it all must have been for John to pull on that Lilywhite shirt during one of the greatest times in the clubs history. And for him to have been at the club and playing in a talented reserve side during that time is a testament to his ability as a footballer. After leaving Spurs in 1953 Gibbons returned to Dartford where he saw out the rest of his footballing career. We as Spurs fans should be  proud to call John one of our own.

My interview with former Spurs player Andy Reid:

My interview with former Spurs player Andy Reid:

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Skilful midfielder Andy Reid played for Spurs between the years 2005 to 2006. The Dublin born former player who won 29 caps for the Republic of Ireland over a ten year period, was a player who had a wand of a left foot and who was good at making key passes in games. After starting his career off at Cherry Orchard, Reid joined Nottingham Forest in 1998 where he spent seven years at before joining our beloved Spurs in the January of 2005. Reid made 26 league appearances for the Lilywhites before moving onto Charlton Athletic in the summer of 2006. He would also go onto play for the likes of Sunderland and Blackpool before returning to Nottingham Forest in 2011 who he finished off his career with. Now retired from playing, Reid coaches Nottingham Forest’s under 23 side as well as being the head coach of the Republic of Ireland’s under 18 side. I had the great pleasure of recently catching up with Andy to discuss his time at Spurs. Reid was a player who along with Robbie Keane was a player who I admired and looked up to greatly when I was a young child, and when they both played for Spurs.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Andy: There was always football in my house as a kid, my dad played semi-professional football for St Patrick’s Athletic over in Ireland so there was always football in the house. I suppose probably my earliest memories were probably going to watch him play. He used to play all over the country and we used to be there going to watch him, so I think probably going to watch my dad playing football would have been one of my earliest memories.

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

Andy: It had been in the pipeline for quite a while and they (Nottingham Forest and Spurs) had been trying to get the deal done for probably nearly a year before it actually got completed. It was kind of proving difficult to get over the line and Nottingham Forest were in a precarious situation in the league, but the chairman was holding out for what he wanted and what he felt was right, and obviously Daniel Levy wanted to get a good price, so it really dragged on. Then quite late on in the deal after it had been in the pipeline for about a year the club (Spurs) who really liked Michael Dawson who they had been keeping tabs on, so they decided that it might be easier to get us both in a deal rather than just getting me on my own. So it worked out really really well for everybody to get a double deal done. As for my earliest memories of my time at Spurs, I’ll always remember my debut which was really really good, we played against Portsmouth at home and I set up a goal for Robbie Keane. White Hart Lane had always been a ground that I had always seen and I’d been to watch a couple of games there but hadn’t actually played there before, so to walk out and make your debut at White Hart Lane was really really special. It still is really special in the new arena but the old one had a really special feel to it and was historic, and the pitch was always immaculate and the crowd were really close, and to cap my debut off with a win was really special.

As an Irishman were you aware of the rich history that Spurs have had with Irish players over the centuries before joining the club?

Andy: I was actually and probably part of the reason was because not long before I had signed for Tottenham Joe Kinnear had been my manager at Nottingham Forest. And he had known of the interest from Tottenham so he kind of spoke to me about it, so I was very aware of the more recent history and also having played with Robbie Keane, Stephen Carr and Stephen Kelly with Ireland all the way up so I knew that there was a big link there. Also Mark Yeates was there at the time as well and he was and still is a great lad who i still keep in touch with now. So I was fully aware of the history and the connection in the past and also the more recent connections as well. 

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

Andy: I really enjoyed it I have to say even though I didn’t stay as long as I anticipated and maybe played as much as I would have liked. However, Spurs is and was a fantastic club and I was really honoured to play for the club and all of the people there were absolutely fantastic, and I’ve got nothing but fond memories of my time at the club. Sometimes in football things don’t go as well as you’d have hoped but I’ve only got to say nice things about Tottenham and during my time there I was looked after fantastically well. However, it just so happened that when it was my time to move on it was the right thing to do as I wasn’t getting as much playing time as I would have liked. I was at an age where I just wanted to play football and it was no reflection on the people at Spurs or the fans, or the club as a whole as I was really proud to have played for Tottenham as it’s such a fantastic club. I’m really, really pleased to see where Spurs have ended up and the scale of the club and how it has really grown and flourished over the last 15 years.

Could you talk me through your competitive debut for Spurs against Portsmouth on the fifth of February 2005?

Andy: I didn’t really expect to play even though I was fully match fit having played a lot of games for Nottingham Forest, but I was also aware that there was a lot of quality at Spurs. I think that I signed for the club on the Thursday before the game on the Saturday, so I think that I only trained one or maybe two days and I don’t think that I was expecting to play to be honest with you. However, on the Saturday when the team used to meet up for their pre-match meal at the stadium, after that we had a little meeting and Martin Jol told me that I was starting so it was brilliant, and it was a really nice way to start off and get going. However, the most important thing was that the team got the win and that’s what we managed to do.

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

Andy: I always loved watching football when I was really young and one of my real heroes was Maradona growing up. Watching him and watching what he was able to do and seeing what he achieved with Argentina and Napoli and just watching him play, and seeing how technically gifted he was, was brilliant. Ok he has character flaws but everybody does and I think that it makes him more human at times. So Maradona was the real kind of icon for me and the fact that he was left footed sort of led to me admiring him. Also that goal against England that he scored helped him go up in my estimations!

What was it like playing under Spurs manager Martin Jol?

Andy: I had a reasonable relationship with Martin and I thought that he was decent and done a really good job at Spurs, and was probably unlucky to lose his job when he did. I think that when I arrived at Spurs first Frank Arnesen was director of football and he did a lot of work in trying to help sign me, so I was actually quite disappointed when Frank left and went to Chelsea. Obviously it was a fantastic opportunity for him and I understand that, but for me I was quite disappointed. When he left Martin assumed a bit more control and became the manager however, a big part in helping me to come to Spurs as well was Chris Hughton obviously working with him at Ireland and having a really good relationship with him. I respected him and enjoyed working with him, so he was a big factor in me wanting to join Spurs.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Andy: Well there was a lot of players there that I looked up to and sort of kind of learned from. Ledley King was a massive influence and he is a fantastic guy and what a player he was considering the injuries that he had and how he was able to perform at the highest level every time he ran out onto the pitch. Also Michael Carrick was a fantastic player who you could look to and learn from, and also Robbie Keane who I had obviously played with for Ireland, so he was a big character. So they were probably the players who I was most impressed with and would have wanted to have played with more on the pitch. There was a lot of strikers competing for a place on the pitch at that time at Spurs, but Freddie Kanoute was fantastic and he was a great player who Spurs fans probably didn’t get to see enough of how good he was.

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

Andy: I don’t think you kind of sit back and watch any particular player when you’re training, but you’re always trying to pick peoples brains during conversations and asking questions and trying to learn, so it was a good environment for that as there were a lot of top players there. I definitely left Tottenham a better player than when I arrived that’s for sure.

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

Andy: There were a good few signings made by Spurs during the summer and so I had a chat with Martin Jol and he said that it might be difficult for me to get some game time. Ian Dowie who was manager of Charlton at the time contacted me to say that he was rebuilding kings of Charlton, and he asked me if I would be interested in having a bit more of a chat with him about it. So I said yes as long as everything could get agreed with Tottenham and if they were prepared to let me go then I would definitely be prepared to come and talk with him about it. So they managed to get a deal agreed and so I went over to speak with him, I think that when a club accepts a bid for you the writing is on the wall. As I said with you earlier all that I wanted to do at that time was play football, so to be offered the opportunity to play at Charlton was great. I really enjoyed my time at Charlton who were a family club, and I had some good times during my two years there. I then moved to Sunderland where I spent three years and I think that it was decent there and I really really enjoyed it. From there I went to Blackpool for six months when they were in the Premier League before then moving back to Nottingham Forest which was really nice, and I probably played some of my best football of my career during the second time around there, as I was more experienced and more mature, and also really enjoying my football with the club that I started off with and came through the ranks at. So it was really good to finish off my career at a club who I have a great affinity for and I look back on my career with a lot of pride.

Could you describe to me what it was like to score your fantastic long range goal for Spurs at the Lane in a 5-1 victory over Aston Villa?

Andy: It was probably the highlight of my time at Spurs and I can remember the game being early on a Sunday and it was a really nice day, and I just got a really good feeling. We played particularly well that day and I can always remember Simon Davies being excellent along with Freddie Kanoute, also Stephen Kelly got a goal at the end. And I also managed to get my only goal for Spurs, which if you’re only going to score one goal it wasn’t a bad one to score! I can remember picking up the ball in Aston Villa’s half and driving forward and nobody came to close me down and so I just remember having a go and connecting really sweetly with it and it hit the crossbar and went in. So that’s something that I’m really proud of.

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Andy: I think that some of the highlights were making your debut for your club and your country which are always really really special. I can remember making my competitive debut for Ireland in a World Cup qualifier against Cyprus at the old Lansdowne Road in Dublin, and I managed to score a really good goal after cutting inside from the right and hitting it with my left foot into the far corner of the goal, so that was a decent goal. So I can always remember that day being really special and something that you think that your really proud of.

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

Andy: I was very very fortunate to play with and against a lot of top players, I played against Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano Ronaldo so there were a hell of  a lot of top players. However, I think the one that really stands out and who was really really special was Zinedine Zidane and the way that he used to glide around the pitch, and was really strong technically was brilliant. So it is really difficult to top him even though I’ve played with and against a lot of top players, but I think that Zidane is the one that takes it. 

What was it like to don on the green shirt of the Republic of Ireland and how did it feel to represent your country at the highest level?

Andy: I’m a very proud Irishman and it’s always special, people always love the country that they come from but I think (maybe I’m biased) that Irish people have that extra affinity with their country. I can remember making my debut against Canada and my family were in the stands, and I was lining up for the national anthem. Again it was a pretty busy Landsdowne Road, but it was such a proud moment not just for myself but also for my family as well, so it’s really special to represent your country. I’d come up all the way through the ranks from under 15’s all the way up, so to then make that step up to the senior international team was fantastic for me.

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories of your time in the Tottenham first team?

Andy: I think that they were some of the ones that I mentioned earlier on such as my debut and the game against Aston Villa which was really special. However, the season that we just missed out on the Champions League was a really good season but listen it’s a really really good club and it’s somewhere where I felt really comfortable. So just the whole experience of it was great and all that I’d experienced up until then having come through the ranks at Nottingham Forest was Nottingham Forest. So to experience a new club and to learn from the quality of the players that Spurs had at that time, as well as doing my bit was just fantastic for me overall. Do I wish that I could have played more games for them? Yeah of course I do but football doesn’t always work how you want and things don’t always work out how you expect them to.

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

Andy: Probably the toughest was Cafu when we played against Brazil in Dublin and Cafu who was a World Cup winning captain was fantastic. He was up and down the wing the whole night, I played left wing and Ian Harte played left back and we almost had two left backs really as I wasn’t doing too much attacking. Cafu was just playing as a second right winger, so he was definitely a tough one to mark, I also remember when we played against Italy and I played on the right and Zambrotta played as a left back, and he was a fantastic footballer who had a great engine and was really up and down the whole time. I think that in international football when you come up against players like that you come off the pitch mentally drained because you can’t switch off for a second, or these players will run off the back of you. So Cafu would be one and Zambrotta wouldn’t be too far behind.

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

Andy: Ones that I’ve kept in touch with are Robbie Keane, another one who I do keep in touch with quite often is Mark Yeates who was only a young lad when I was at Spurs and who was still trying to find his way. So I’d like to think that I helped him about a bit being a bit older than him. He’s another player who would have liked to have got more game time at Spurs and more of an opportunity which unfortunately he didn’t, but I think that he was a fantastic player who was really talented. 

As a coach for Nottingham Forest’s under 23’s and for the Republic of Ireland’s under 18’s what would your advice be to the young Spurs players of today as they look to break into the first team?

Andy: I think that hard work is the key and I know that it might seem to be an easy thing to say but it really is because you can’t achieve anything in football now unless you have that real work ethic. You have to have a real energy about you, and I say to the players today what I’m looking for in players is energy and I want players who really have that will to go and do it and that desire, which is what you want to see from your players. You want them to get about the park and make tackles and win the ball back, as well as having the desire to get on the ball and be brave, and pass the ball as well as keep it under pressure. So I think that hard work and desire are important, also when everyone’s finished training be the one to stay out and do a little bit more. At times I wish that I had have done it more because your career is short and it goes really really quickly, so you’ve got to try and grab it with both hands.

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?

Andy: As I mentioned earlier I’m very proud of all of the clubs that I played for and I was treated fantastically well at Tottenham and met some great people, and I loved the feel of the old White Hart Lane. I haven’t managed to get down and see the new stadium yet but I’ve heard all about it, so I’m proud to have done my bit for Tottenham and as I say it’s a fantastic club, and I always have a smile on my face when I see them in the Champions League and especially seeing where they got to last season and how unlucky they were. Tottenham is a fantastic club that has such a proud history and tradition, and I love clubs like that. So to be able to pull on that shirt was a real proud time for me.

My interview with former Spurs player Peter Corder:

My interview with former Spurs player Peter Corder:

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Former Spurs player Peter Corder operated as a goalkeeper during his time at the Lilywhites in the early and mid 1980’s. The goalkeeper from County Essex spent a number of years at Spurs, and after progressing through the youth team set up that we had at the time he went onto play for our talented reserve team. I recently caught up with Peter to discuss his time at the Lilywhites who after leaving Spurs went onto play for Peterborough United and Nuneaton Borough. It was both a pleasure and a privilege to interview Peter and I’d like to thank him for his time. 

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Peter: My earliest ever footballing memory is probably watching the 1975 FA Cup final between West Ham and Fulham for some reason, as it just sticks in my mind. So I remember watching that and then on the 15th of November that year (this is probably what made me want to play in goal) in 1975 I went along to see Tottenham play Stoke City in the old first division. I went with my dad, three brothers, cousin Paul and his dad my uncle Brian. You had in goal one end Peter Shilton and you had in goal the other end Pat Jennings, so I was watching two of the best goalkeepers to have ever played the game, in that my first ever league game that I ever watched, and from that moment onwards I was obsessed with goalkeeping. So they were probably my earliest footballing memories.

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

Peter: I actually played in a game for Basildon schools against Harlow schools and in the Harlow schools team was John Moncur junior and Carl Hoddle, and I just had one of those games as a goalkeeper where I think the game finished two each and they battered us to be fair. However, I’d just played really well and John Moncur juniors father who was John Moncur Senior was chief scout at Tottenham at the time. Then funnily enough two weeks later we played John Moncur’s school and I just happened to have a really good game, and from that I got invited to trials at Cheshunt. So on either the 22nd of December 1980 or 1981 was my first experience of being at Spurs and what makes it so vivid was that during the trial there were three pitches at Cheshunt. There was a trial on the middle pitch which I was playing on and I also think that there was also a trial on the top pitch that the first team used to train on, and it was hailing a blizzard. There was a snow storm going on during these games which makes it just so vivid, so that’s my first memory of being at Tottenham. Then from that I eventually signed schoolboy forms and then played games on a Sunday initially and then when I was 15 I started playing games for the under 16’s in the Southeast Counties League. However, my first real memory was that trial at Cheshunt in the snowstorm.

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

Peter: I loved it as I was a Spurs supporter and my whole family are Spurs supporters. I was actually lucky enough to have a choice of clubs that I was asked to go on trial at or sign schoolboy forms, one of them was Arsenal which was never going to happen in a million years however, I loved being at Spurs from the time I was there as a schoolboy to the time that I left, I was there in the crowd watching the 1984 UEFA Cup final and yeah it was just fantastic. Ray Clemence was first team goalkeeper and an absolute legend anyway, and in my opinion a far better keeper than Peter Shilton was. Tony Parks was the reserve team goalkeeper and then there was myself, so to have those two in front of me and to learn off them was a fantastic experience. Being at Spurs was just brilliant all round and I just thoroughly enjoyed my time there and I was devastated when I left, but these things happen in football.

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

Peter: Ray Clemence was one especially when he was at Liverpool, also there’s obviously Pat Jennings who is a legend at Spurs and my first memories of watching Spurs were with him in goal. Obviously then Pat moved up the road and so you had Barry Daines, Mark Kendall and Milija Aleksic and obviously my interests were goalkeeping so I always watched them. Other keepers that stood out for me at that time such as Jimmy Rimmer and Joe Corrigan who people looked up to. However, the two that I really looked up to were the ones who played for Tottenham, Pat Jennings and Ray Clemence.

 Could you describe to me what type of goalkeeper you were at Spurs during your time there?

Peter: Obviously not the best one as I’d have probably made a career of it there however, I tried to model myself on Ray Clemence. I think that my strengths as a keeper were shot stopping and one on ones which were definitely my strengths, I’d also like to think that I trained hard. I’ve always found it difficult to talk about myself but I would say as a keeper was I confident? Probably not in my own ability and I never felt that I deserved to be at the club and so I probably spent three years wandering around the club thinking should I be here, why I am I here and am I good enough to be here. So that probably didn’t help my cause but if your looking for what type of keeper I was, I tried to model myself on Clemence but shot stopping and definitely one on ones were my strengths.

How difficult was it for a young Spurs player like yourself to break into the first team back in the 1980’s?

Peter: You just had to look at who was in the first team at the time, you had Hoddle and Ardiles, Micky Hazard and Ian Crook who went onto have a fantastic career at Norwich City. The midfield talent at the time was ridiculous and if your looking for proper footballers Tottenham would have been embarrassed with what they had there at the time. You just had so many gifted players at Spurs at that time and as a goalkeeper to have Ray Clemence to watch train and try and learn from was just incredible really, so it was tough. After I left the club a number of players did go onto do really well at Spurs such as David Howells and Vinny Samways who are the two that really stand out but it was really hard during my time as Spurs had a really strong squad which went from the first team right through to the reserves, so to try and break into that as a youth player was tough. I can actually remember playing in a reserve game at Cheshunt once and the two central midfielders were Ossie Ardiles and Glen Hoddle which was just ridiculous. My biggest memory from that game was only kicking the ball out of my hand twice as Glen Hoddle and Ossie Ardiles would just run up to me and say drop the ball, and I’d drop the ball and they’d be gone. In another reserve game that I played in you had Danny Thomas at right back, Chris Hughton at left back and Gary Mabbutt as one of the defenders, and then I think you had Garth Crooks and Alan Brazil up front so it was just lunacy.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Peter: Going back to Ray Clemence for goalkeeping, Robbie Stepney god rest his soul, his training sessions were legendary fitness wise and he was a big influence and he did make me believe in my own ability but he was there only for a year as he left with Keith Burkinshaw to go off to Bahrain I think it was. John Pratt then took over the youth team and then Keith Blunt who is another one who is no longer with us. So all of them had big influences on me during my time at Spurs but I think probably Robbie Stepney from the point of view that he was always very positive to me and Ray Clemence as well with the training, so probably those two stand out for me.

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

Peter: Being a keeper it’s really difficult because you are limited to who you can watch but yeah Ray Clemence in the first team and Tony Parks in the reserves because they were professional players, and you don’t play in the first team at Tottenham unless your good enough to play for the first team at Tottenham. So those two players were the ones that I would watch closely because there were only three keepers there at the time, whereas nowadays clubs have probably got what six keepers. So you were limited on who you could watch but for me at that time I couldn’t have had any better goalkeepers to watch and try and learn from.

 

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

Peter: After my apprenticeship I had a one year pro and then I got offered a second year pro which in those days you took. There were a few factors that may have worked against me towards the end of my time at Spurs, one of them I probably have to hold my hand up and say that I wasn’t good enough. However, my second year pro contract was signed on the basis that Tottenham had qualified for Europe again and I was going to share reserve team duties around UEFA Cup games with Tony Parks, so I would have got reserve games. However, the Heysel stadium disaster happened and we got kicked out of Europe, so suddenly those games that I was going to play in weren’t there and then another thing that happened was Pat Jennings came back to the game to prepare for the 1986 World Cup finals. So suddenly I fell down the pecking order again, so you had Ray Clemence, Tony Parks, Pat Jennings who during my time at the club to watch train even at the age of 39/40 was just a completely incredible experience, but him being there didn’t do me any favours. So I needed to play football so I requested to go on the transfer list so I had a couple of loan spells, I got loaned out at Colchester for a month but never played because I was understudy to Alec Chamberlain who obviously went onto have a decent career at Arsenal and Watford. So I went back to Spurs and I ended up coming up to Peterborough United on loan and played a couple of first team games again which ended up turning out to be traumatic. I played my first game in October 1985 and I played my first game against Cambridge United on the Saturday, completely oblivious that it was there local derby. I didn’t even know where Peterborough was!

So I played on the Saturday against Cambridge United in a local derby and it was coming up to November so near to fireworks night, and yet I couldn’t understand why Cambridge United supporters were throwing bangers at me on the pitch. We ended up getting beat 3-1 but I had a decent game and I was really pleased with my own performance, and then Tuesday night happened where we played Tranmere Rovers away. Tranmere Rovers had the legendary Frank Worthington managing them as player manager and so we’ve gone in at halftime 1-0 down, and to be fair we did ok. Anyway in the second half we got beat 7-0 and I had three own goals put past me, it was just absolute madness. So again that didn’t do my professional career any favours and so I went back to Spurs where I was still contracted at until the summer of 1986, but whilst I was at Peterborough the assistant manager was a chap called Jimmy Holmes who used to play for Spurs and he was a really nice guy. He’d left Peterborough and become manager of Nuneaton Borough and they used to be in the Gola League which is now the National League. So he contacted me saying do you want to sign for us as at least you’ll be playing, and so I did. So I went off to Nuneaton to play and I played the remainder of that season, and when I signed for them they were bottom but in the end we managed to finish fifth from bottom and stay up, I’m not saying it had anything to do with me but we did manage to turn the season around. Football is full of could of beens and two weeks after I signed for Nuneaton the Peterborough keeper broke his leg and Peterborough had gone back to Tottenham and wanted to sign me permanently, but I’d already gone to Nuneaton. So I left Tottenham to go to Nuneaton unaware that I could have signed for Peterborough as I only found out later, but that’s why I left Spurs.

If I’m not mistaken after you stopped playing you became a physiotherapist?

Peter: Yes I did. After leaving Nuneaton after about 18 months I went on a trial at Coventry City who were then in the first division and I’d done really well and was sat in the managers contract having agreed a two year contract, when Nuneaton decided to increase the transfer fee ten fold because they’d gone into financial problems. And so the deal fell through but looking back on it they beat Spurs in the 1987 FA Cup final, so I would of been sat on he bench suited and booted. However, it didn’t happen but it was just one of those situations that might have happened. At school I either wanted to be a professional footballer or a physiotherapist so I always knew what I wanted to be but the first qualification that came was sports massage and so I gained that qualification and started working at Peterborough United with Paul Showler who is a friend of mine now, and they wanted some help. So they brought me in to do some sports massage and so I started doing match day sports massage, and then I gained the FA qualification in sports therapy, and then they took me on full time. So I worked at Peterborough United between 1999 and 2003 and in that time I was lucky enough to have been on the back room staff when Peterborough played Darlington at Wembley in the League Two play off final. Which we won 1-0 and got promoted so that was a really good experience, and then in 2003 Peterborough got taken over and I was doing the youth and reserves as a sports therapist, but the club ended up shutting down the whole youth policy. 

So I ended up leaving the club because of that because I was no longer needed and so that was my incentive to go off and do my degree, so in 2007 part time while working in the NHS and working at Cambridge City as their sports therapist with a guy called Gary Roberts who used to play for Brentford and what a character he was, I did my degree. So I qualified in 2007 and worked in the NHS as a physio and then in 2010 I went back to Peterborough as first team physio up until 2012. Then after that I concentrated on my private clinic which I still run now in Peterborough, so that pretty much brings you up to date with where I am now.

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Peter: As a player it would have to be playing in the Southeast Counties League Cup final in 1985 beating Arsenal over a two leg final 5-3. We won 3-2 at Arsenal and we then beat Arsenal 2-1 at White Hart Lane, so it would have to be that. The Arsenal side then had Tony Adams, Michael Thomas, Merson and Niall Quinn so they were a decent side and the nicest part of winning the cup was winning the second game at White Hart Lane, so to raise the trophy there was something else. So professionally there was that, I also had England under 16 trials but that didn’t come to anything, but my biggest highlight was definitely winning the Southeast Counties League Cup final and beating Arsenal 5-3 over two games.

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

Peter: For outfield players I’ve got to throw in Glen Hoddle, Ossie Ardiles and I once played a half a game against George Best, so I’d have to put those three in. 

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories of your time in the Tottenham youth team and reserves?

Peter: Not all of them are positive actually, in the first season we were there I think that we finished third bottom in the Southeast Counties League Divison One, and then we got beat 10-1 and 9-2 by Arsenal but they stick in my mind because in the following season we completely turned it around and finished third and beat Arsenal both times, and beat Arsenal twice in the Southeast Counties League Cup final. I can also remember playing in the semifinal I think of the Southeast Counties Cup and we played at Fratton Park, and we drew 1-1 and I had a decent game but there was one save that I made where there was no way that I thought that I was going to get it. However, I just put my arm up at the last minute and managed to tip the ball over the bar, but if my memory serves me right I think that we had a player sent off and we then managed to hold on for a draw before then beating them at home, so that always sticks in my mind. There was another youth game when I was 15 and I played in the under 18’s game at London Colney where we played against Arsenal. And we had players playing then like Richard Cooke and Ian Culverhouse and we won 1-0 , so for me playing as a 15 year old keeper in that game and winning 1-0 against them up the road was something that sticks in mind as well. The games that stick in my mind for the reserves was making my debut in the reserves playing at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace when we won 7-1 and also a couple of other games which stick in my mind were one against Watford. Because the side we had out was ridiculous and it was just such a strong squad and we won that one 4-1, and then in another game at the Old Den we played Millwall and beat them 3-0 and I made two of my best saves against Teddy Sheringham, so they really stick in my mind as really good memories. Football is all about bad memories and good memories but combined they are probably the ones that stick in my mind.

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

Peter: That’s easy and that’s Niall Quinn because he was so tall and you’d be trying to take a cross and his boot be up around your ear or something like that. Kevin Russell of Portsmouth was another one because he absolutely smashed me in a game once and I’ll never forget that however, Niall Quinn was the probably the most difficult and awkward player to play against as a keeper. 

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

Peter: Although we all got on pretty well there wasn’t one really as I was always a private person and I like to keep myself to myself and I wouldn’t say that I made any great buddies or anything like that. I’m friends on Facebook with some of the guys that I used to play with, but yeah I didn’t fall out with anyone at Spurs or anything like that. So amongst the team I was probably the quietest player in the squad.

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

Peter: You’ve got to work hard and I know that it sounds ridiculous but you’ve got to work hard and stay focused on what you want to achieve. If your in the youth team at Spurs and not wanting to achieve first team football which unfortunately I never did at Tottenham then you shouldn’t be there. So your focus should be train hard and believe in yourself as well, but don’t be arrogant with it, but do believe in your own abilities because you wouldn’t be at a club like Tottenham Hotspur if you weren’t good enough. To represent a team of that stature in a youth team is something else and it is something that I am proud of, but for players today it’s very different and I know that it’s very different today because you’ve got players who don’t even make their debuts until they are 21/22. So football especially the Premiership is a completely different world these days however, my advice would be to train hard, believe in your own ability and be focused on what you want to achieve.

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?

Peter: Absolutely, whenever they are on the telly I watch them and I always will do. From that first game that I watched in 1975 to 1986 that is my era, but yeah I’m a big supporter.

Remembering legendary Spurs fullback Mel Hopkins:

Remembering legendary Spurs fullback Mel Hopkins:

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Mel Hopkins stood at about six foot heigh, he was a commanding left back who loved to attack and dart forward down the left flank for the mighty Lilywhites. Born in Ystrad, Rhondda, Wales on the seventh of November 1934, Mel Hopkins was the son of a miner. Starting his football career at the Rhondda Valley Boys’ club, Hopkins was spotted playing by Welsh scout Joe Fisher (Mel was also watched by Manchester United) as a 15 year old in 1950, he was invited down to Spurs for an extended trial along with 40 other boys before signing amateur forms with Spurs in May of 1951. The former Tonypandy Grammar School pupil had already played for Spurs’ B team in the London Midweek League by the end of that season. During the following season the ever improving full back progressed up to the Spurs A team in the Eastern Counties League before then making his debut for the reserves against Bristol Rovers in the April of 1952. Such was Hopkins’ fine progress, he made his debut for Spurs’ first team under the tutelage of manager Arthur Rowe in a league game against Derby County in October of 1952, the game finished in a goalless draw. Living in lodgings in Enfield at the time it must have been difficult for the young Welshman to adapt to life in the big smoke, and before he knew it he had to do his national service shortly after signing professional forms for the club. However, while doing national service, Mel was still able to turn out for Spurs’ intermediate sides. When he returned to Spurs he pretty much made that left back spot his own up until he suffered a horrific nose and upper jaw break after colliding with Ian St John in an international friendly with Scotland at Hampden Park in late 1959. Hopkins would go onto win 34 international caps for Wales, with arguably his finest game coming against Brazil in the quarter finals of the 1958 World Cup, when Hopkins effectively marked legendary Brazilian winger Garrincha out of the game, as a result of this Mel was named man of the match. 

Back before that incredible performance at Sweden, Mel’s performances for Spurs made him regarded as one of the finest full backs in the country. Racking up appearance after appearance for the Lilywhites (Mel made 240 for Spurs’ first team in total, scoring one goal) things were going so well for the Welshman who was a key player under managers Arthur Rowe, Jimmy Anderson (the majority of his appearances for Spurs came under Anderson) and Bill Nicholson, up until he broke his nose and upper jaw in 1959. Upon returning to full fitness Hopkins could never dislodge Ron Henry in the first team, and he would ultimately not make a single appearance for Spurs’ first team during the 1960/61 season when they won the double. Mel stayed at Spurs up until October 1964 when he joined south coast club Brighton & Hove Albion. While playing for the ‘ Seagulls ’ the versatile left back who had played in a number of positions when he was younger, often played over on the right flank at right back. After notching up 58 appearances for Brighton scoring two goals, Hopkins left Brighton in 1967 to join Canterbury City before then playing for Northern Irish side Ballymena United, both spells were short ones. Hopkins finished his footballing career off at then fourth division side Bradford Park Avenue before hanging up his boots in 1970. After retiring from the game Mel played for Lancing as well as coaching them, he also served as secretary to the Sussex coaches association, as well as working for the Brighton Education Authority, Mel also scouted for former teammate Dave Mackay at Derby County. He also spent a total of 20 years working as a sports officer and sports centre manager at Horsham Sports Club. Later on in his life Hopkins was awarded with a merit award which was given to him by the Football Association Of Wales. 

Sadly Mel passed away back in the October of 2010 at the age of 75. His funeral took place at Worthing crematorium near to where he lived down on the south coast, and the service saw a number of former teammates make the trip down to Worthing to pay their respects. Hopkins is undoubtedly one of Spurs’ all time greatest left backs and he is so very rightly remembered as a legend by fans and player alike of the Lilywhites. Known for taking the time to speak to youth players during his time at Spurs, all the former Spurs players that I know who knew Mel couldn’t have spoken highly enough of him. One such player was Eddie Clayton who I caught up with recently to talk about Mel’s time at Spurs. Clayton himself desperately unlucky not to play for Spurs during the double winning season, remembers Hopkins with great fondness as he used to be close to the Welshman. Eddie spoke to me and explained that Mel was a tough tackling wing half who was good on the ball and possessed good pace. “ He was probably the best left back in the country at the time up until his unfortunate accident when he lost his place ” recalls Clayton who also went onto say that Hopkins loved to attack down the left flank. On comparing Hopkins with Ron Henry, Eddie said that “ if you put the two together Hopkins was miles ahead ”. He could distribute the ball well and he was just a terrific guy said Clayton. Eddie also told me that Mel used to be very upset that he didn’t make the double winning side and that he would have loved to have been a fullback in the modern game as you don’t have to defend as much.

My interview with former Spurs player John Clancy:

My interview with former Spurs player John Clancy:

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(John is pictured on the left of the above photograph).

Hardworking inside forward John Patrick Clancy was a part of the youth set up at Spurs during the 1960’s, after signing for the club early on in that decade. Clancy would spend a number of years at Spurs where he would predominantly play for the various youth teams that Spurs had at that time. After leaving Spurs the Perivale born forward who had great stamina during his playing days,  joined Bristol City before then playing for Bradford Park Avenue, Yeovil Town where he became a legend and spent over ten years at playing 516 games, and finally Sherborne Town. I had the great pleasure of catching up with John recently to discuss his time at the Lilywhites. Spurs still means an awful lot to John to this very day.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

John: My earliest memories were when I was in my last year at my primary school called Woodend in Northolt. I was about ten then and I managed to get in the school team. I was a little bit of a late starter in football because I lived in Ealing and I didn’t get out too much really, it was only when I moved to Northolt when I was about six or seven that I started to play in the playground with a little tennis ball. Then when I went up to secondary school when I was 12 I managed to get in a really good school team and we won the local area league, which included Ruislip Manor and a few other teams and I was in a team called Vincent secondary school. I stayed at this school for three years and after two years of playing I got in the third year team but halfway through the season we moved to Stevenage so I had to change school to a school called Barnwell where I managed to get in the fifth year team, when I was still in the third year. I managed to become captain of that team and they were not a bad side.

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

John: When I was living in Stevenage I moved to a youth team in Chells and we used to play local matches all around Stevenage. One day we were playing a team from Welwyn Garden City and we won 6-3 and I got a hat-trick, and then the week after that the manager of this Chells team got a letter from Spurs. This letter was asking me if I would go down to Spurs after school to train on a Tuesday and a Thursday. My mum and dad weren’t interested in football that much so the manager of the Chells youth team used to drive me down to Tottenham which would have been in 1963. However, I’d already been going down to Spurs to watch them play on a Saturday as they were my team so it was brilliant and I couldn’t believe it to be honest, but that’s where it all started really. I can remember going down to Tottenham and walking through the big main gates and thinking how brilliant and exciting it was. I used to train at the big gymnasium that they had at the ground there because it was winter time and we wouldn’t go out too much at night. Laurie Brown used to take the training with Ben Embery and Jimmy Lye who were both in the reserves at the time. Then eventually, I think it was around November time I got selected for the South East Counties League junior section and that was brilliant. We used to go to Cheshunt on a Saturday morning and play the likes of Chelsea, West Ham and Arsenal, and eventually we ended up winning that league and won the cup as well. In the cup final one of the legs (the second leg) was played at White Hart Lane after we’d lost the first leg away at Crystal Palace 2-1.

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

John: I really enjoyed it as it was brilliant, seeing as I was a supporter pulling on the old shirt with the cockerel on and wearing those navy shorts used to make me feel a million dollars. Also the club didn’t put me under a lot of pressure which was good as although I did play about three games in the Metropolitan League I did find it hard and it made me realise that I wasn’t going to be a regular in that team, once I realised that I just enjoyed it more playing in the junior section. I was really enjoying my time playing at Spurs up until the March of the 1967 season just before Spurs won the FA Cup, Bill Nicholson called me into his office and told me that I hadn’t developed as quickly as he hoped that I would which was fair enough and I couldn’t have any arguments about it. I knew that I should have been in the Metropolitan team at 17 and a half, or even the reserves but there were just so many players better than me there. So after that I was on my way. However, while I was at Spurs it was the best part of my life. After training at Cheshunt on a Saturday morning you could always come back to White Hart Lane and then watch the first team play. We used to sit on  on a bench near the side of the old running track which went around the whole pitch, all us apprentices used to sit there and watch the match where we used to be so close to the action. I can remember watching George Best play for Manchester United once however, Jimmy Greaves was my real hero and I loved him. Some of the goals that he used to score were just unbelievable. Anyway, I was really proud to play for Spurs as not many people have got that on their CV so I was very lucky, and also that I had such a good game for Chells when the Spurs scout was down there. However, I must have improved a little bit when I was down at Spurs to be signed on. Throughout my career I’ve always been lucky, as when one door shut another door always opened for me.

Do you have any interesting stories from your time spent at Spurs that you would like to share?

John: One day after I’d cleaned Jimmy Greaves’ boots which I used to like doing, I had to stay on and sweep the big gym that we used to train in with a big brush, so two of us used to go up to clean it. I was up there with one bloke one day and after we had finished sweeping I had spotted a ball up there which was stuck in between the roof. So I said shall we try and get it down and then have a little kick about, so I saw in the corner that there was an old punchbag which was a bit flat and was on a chain. So I picked it up and I thought that I might be able to hit the ball down if I swung it onto the roof. So I swung the chain up to the roof and gave it a big swing and it did get to the roof but ended up missing the ball and catching the chain of one of the neon lights. And one of them came smashing down onto the floor, so I thought oh my god! And so I had to tell Johnny Wallis who could be frightening, what I’d done. He said to me that if anyone gets cut tomorrow in training you’ll be for the high jump! And that frightened the life out of me, but I swept it all up and luckily nobody got cut. They (Spurs) said that they were going to take it out of my wages but luckily they never did. So that was a little story which might not have helped my time at Spurs. Another story was when I was cleaning the boots of the players and I was going through a bit of a bad spell of not having scored for a couple of weeks in the senior section. I’d always noticed this pair of boots in Jimmy Greaves’ locker that had dust on them as he never seemed to use them even though they were lovely boots. So one week I took them out and played with them on the Saturday and scored a goal, so then I did it on the next week and I scored as well but after that I thought that I better not use them again.

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

John: That would have to be Jimmy Greaves and Cliff Jones who were the main ones really. I used to like to pretend that I could do what Greavsie did and pass the ball into the net however, I never did make it look so easy. I also couldn’t emulate Alan Gilzean as I was never that great in the air, as I was more of a keep the ball on the deck sort of bloke. However, I did end up becoming a winger after coming down to Yeovil because they had a space out on the left wing and I enjoyed my time there, but obviously it was better at Spurs.

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

John: Well I was always an inside forward, mainly an attacking inside right apart from when I played in some friendlies against other youth teams when they used to play me at right back which I suppose was to give me a bit of experience as well as being quick. I was a wholehearted player who would always give 100%. Ray Evans used to say to me before games Harpo (Clancy’s nickname) have a run up today which basically meant keep running all of the time, so I used to run a lot off of the ball however, I didn’t shout that much when I would make a run so no one would know that I had made a run. Although I did used to get involved and find the centre forward and the wingers. Jimmy Neighbour used to put through balls for me to run on to and cross the ball in. So basically I was just a ball playing inside forward.

How difficult was it for a young Spurs player like yourself to break into the first team back in the 1960’s?

John: For me it was nearly impossible because there were so many players ahead of me who were more or less my sort of age. Such as John Pratt and Billy Mail, John Collins, John Cutbush and Brian Parkinson who used to be able to do anything with a ball. And all of those players were still in the reserves, but in front of them you had Keith Weller and Derek Possee and Eddie Clayton, and Frank Saul who hardly got any games. Spurs in those days used to pay a lot of money to sign the best players who were around even though they had a good youth set up. When I started at Spurs there were 12 apprentices with me, and out of that 12 only four got signed, so to breakthrough to the first team you had to be exceptional.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

John: Johnny Wallis who was the trainer who used to look after us was one of them and there was another bloke called Bill Watson who was a physical trainer who used to do sessions with us, which included weights and sit ups where you had a plank going up at a 45 degree angle, and you had to do about 50 of these sit ups which were hard. Eddie Baily was another influence, and whenever we went to Cheshunt he would coach us, and he was good and enthusiastic and I learned a lot from him. I can remember him reprimanding me  once after we got knocked out of the FA Youth Cup against Fulham at Craven Cottage and that was a night game that we lost 2-1. However, I missed the chance to score an equaliser after Paul Shoemark came down the left hand side of the box and he crossed it, and as his cross came past the keeper and ended up bouncing right over my foot as I tried to tap it in, because it was going too fast. Eddie was annoyed and he said to me that if something comes across like that you throw everything at it, you don’t just put your foot out! Perhaps if I’d have converted that chance and got the equaliser then maybe Eddie would have been happy and I might have stayed on for another year at Spurs, but these things happen don’t they. I can remember on the way home on the train going over it in my mind so many times as it was just so unlucky that it never went in at the far post.

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

John: I used to like watching Jimmy Pearce and Billy Mail for the reserves as I thought that he (Billy Mail) was a really good player. They both used to play as inside forwards but I wasn’t as good as them and that’s what I was competing with, as I had to be as good as them. However, if I had have got as good as both of those players I might have made it at Spurs. 

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

John: After getting that call into Bill Nicholson’s office and being told that my time was up at Spurs (I enjoyed every minute of my time there!) he softened the blow by telling me that Bristol City wanted to sign me. After Spurs had played Bristol City in about the fifth round of the FA Cup what happened was that Bill Nicholson had had a word with their manager who said that he’d take me on to finish my apprentice contract when I was 18. So that was it then, I got on the old train and went to Bristol and I played in the youth team there where we won the Wessex youth league. I also did have a couple of games in the reserves but by the end of the season the manager said that he didn’t think that I was much better than the players that he had there, and so I got a free from there. I was thinking of packing the game in but then I had a letter from a scout called Jack Housley, the manager was Jack Rowley (ex Manchester United player) who had seen me at Bristol City. Anyway he had just taken over at Bradford Park Avenue and he was trying to emulate the Busby babes, so he’d brought quite a lot of youngsters to Bradford Park Avenue however, we needed a bit of experience as we were all a bit too young really. I spent two seasons there and I did enjoy it and although we were losing I was getting a lot of experience which was helping me really, so I did end up getting a lot stronger. After Bradford Park Avenue I came down to Yeovil Town where I found it a lot easier. They say that some of the fullbacks in the Southern League were hard but they weren’t anything like the ones that used to be at Doncaster Rovers and Rotherham and teams like that, they just didn’t compare, so anyway I found it a lot easier in the Southern League. After leaving Yeovil I did play for a little team called Sherborne Town for two seasons in the Dorset league. I did get a bad injury when I was about 30 which is why I stopped playing for Yeovil however, one of my mates who had just taken over at Sherborne Town wanted me to join them and although I couldn’t train while I was there I still managed to play for two seasons and I won the league and cup with them. 

However, after two seasons there I’d had enough of it because I’d ran out of steam, so after that I did a bit of marathon running and I ended up doing ten marathons which was enjoyable. However, I’d fell out of love with football as I’d done too much of it which made me too tired along with the fact that I used to work at a local helicopter factory, and the job I had involved a lot of walking so I’d end up being shattered. In the end I ended up working at that factory for 40 years. 

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

John: Probably when Yeovil in 1971 got drawn away at Bournemouth when they were a third division side, and we beat them 1-0 in the FA Cup. And then we went to the third round and drew Arsenal which was the side that done the double and that was probably the highlight playing in front of 14,000 at Huish Park on a Wednesday night, and Arsenal ended up winning 3-0. However, the next year we did have another little run when we beat Brentford 2-1 at home and then went and lost to Plymouth. 

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

John: I did play against Greavsie when he had all of his troubles and when he was trying to get better he played for Barnet. We ended up playing Barnet and he was playing in midfield so I’ve got to say that he was the greatest bloke who I played with. Funnily enough there was a funny story from that night, after I’d fouled him in the midfield and so I felt bad and lifted him up and as he stood up he said cor blimey I’ve seen it all now! And there was this white rabbit running about in the penalty box and everyone was chasing it. It actually belonged to our centre forward who lived in a house right by the ground, and it had ended up getting out and running onto the pitch.

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories of your time in the Tottenham youth team and A team?

John: I can remember my debut being against Chelsea down at Cheshunt and you can imagine walking out how proud I felt, and we won 4-2 and although I didn’t score that day I had a pretty decent game. Then the next game I remember was against West Ham which we won 2-1 before then losing 3-1 to them away, but I got my first goal in that game, I ended up scoring five goals in that season from nine appearances and that was when we won the league and the cup. Obviously the highlight of that season was winning the actual cup at White Hart Lane which was the first time that I’d ever played there and I scored a goal too. After the game Bill Nicholson came into the changing room to congratulate us all, so that was the real highlight along with when I scored four goals at the Lane against the Metropolitan Police in the FA Youth Cup.

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

John: A fullback at Doncaster called John Hazelden was one when I was playing in the fourth division. Another one was when I was playing for Yeovil, and that was Ron Atkinson whose thighs were as big as my waist. During a game between Yeovil and Kettering I was able to get past their fullback quite easily and I heard Ron say show him inside. So I thought he won’t be there as he wasn’t that quick as he was coming to the end of his career. I went down the wing when all of a sudden crunch, he hit me with his thigh on top of my thigh and my knee got badly hurt and I was out for six weeks then with knee trouble.

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

John: Martin O’Donnell, John Gilroy, Ray Evans, John Pratt, Ray Bunkell, John Cutbush and Joe Kinnear were the ones that I used to knock about with the most.

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

John: Listen to all what the coaches say I should think however, you’ve also got to have ability and confidence in your own ability as well. So you’ve got to be confident which was something that I lacked, you’ve also got to listen and work as hard as you can. Someone like Geoff Hurst was never the most naturally gifted football however, he kept on working and working and in the end he made it. So the harder you work the more lucky you’ll get. 

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?

John: I definitely hold them close to my heart as they are my team and it was brilliant when they got to the final of the European Cup however, it was just so disappointing. Spurs have been my team since I was about ten or younger even though I did have a little soft spot for Wolves before that but since they did the double they’ve been my team and I’ve just loved them. To be there and to play in the youth team at Spurs was just unbelievable as I never dreamt that I’d ever get there. I wouldn’t have swapped it for anything and they’re definitely in my heart.

My interview with former Spurs player Mark Yeates:

My interview with former Spurs player Mark Yeates:

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Dubliner and former Spurs man Mark Yeates came through the academy ranks at the Lilywhites to progress into the first team where he made four appearances in total. Yeates’ Spurs debut came on the final day of the 2003/04 Premier League season against Wolverhampton Wanderers, when the then youngster helped Spurs to a 2-0 victory by assisting fellow Irishman Robbie Keane who scored the opening goal of the game. Yeates would go onto make a further three competitive appearances for Spurs’ first team as well as appearing for them in pre-season, before then leaving the club to join then League One side Colchester United, after spending the last couple of years of his time at Spurs out on loan. The skilful winger/attacking midfielder who had won three under 21 caps for the Republic of Ireland during his youth, would enjoy a successful career in the Football League playing for the likes of Middlesbrough, Sheffield United, Watford and Bradford City. However, since 2017 the Tallaght born player has been plying his trade in the National League. First for Eastleigh where he once registered a phenomenal 26 goals in a season, and now at AFC Fylde where he is still going strong at the age of 35. I caught up with Yeates to discuss his time spent at Spurs and can I just it was an absolute pleasure and a privilege to do so.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Mark: Obviously just being out in your road on your estate and playing with your friends. Just around the corner from my house there was the local football pitch, and all of the lads just used to go up there and you’d have teenagers right down to kids who were seven years old, and you’d be playing a game of Wembley or two v two, so they’d probably be my earliest memories. Also the club that I started with is a club that my grandfather and my father were involved in and my grandfather still is, which is a club called Greenhills Boys which is where I started my football at.

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

Mark: My earliest memories would have been when I was at Cherry Orchard which is probably the best schoolboy set up back in Ireland (I’m probably being biased) especially at that time, a lot of the lads in our side ended up moving away. A really close friend of mine called Willo Flood who had a decent career and me were in the same side at Cherry Orchard, but anyway a Tottenham scout called Terry Arber came over and he basically did a two day coaching session with our youth set ups. And a week later a phone call was put in (I’d been on trial a with a few clubs already being in the Ireland youth set up) and me, Willo and Stephen Quinn were invited over to come and have a trial at Spurs so that would be my earliest memory. However, it’s quite funny because after coming over for our trial we stayed in a lady’s house in Enfield somewhere, anyway Willo went to the toilet in the house on the first night and whatever he’d done he’d flushed the chain, and he ended up flooding the whole house before we’d even kicked a ball, and we’d ended up ruining someone’s bathroom, upstairs and landing. So the next day when we came to Spurs we met John Moncur and people like that and they were saying that we were the three Irish lads who’d just ruined one of our digs, and we were like oh my god this isn’t going to go well. Anyway we went into a youth team game soon afterwards, we were 15 at the time so it might have been in the under 19’s or under 17’s mixed together. So we got thrown in and got told that were going to do 15 minutes each sort of thing, and we were three small and slight lads but coming from quite tough estates we had a little bit about us and I think that a few of the lads didn’t expect it, but we were flying into challenges and giving a bit of lip. So I suppose I sort of made a good impression on the youth team coaches that were there.

Two days after we had flown back to Ireland I had a phone call from the club saying that they’d love to sign me. I’d been on trial at a few clubs but I think that the way that Tottenham made me feel straight away and the faith that they put in me made me jump at the opportunity to sign for them.

It must have been tough making that transition from life in Dublin to the big smoke in London. How did you find it and was it difficult to adjust?

Mark: Dublin I suppose is the big city back in Ireland and it’s probably as close to being used to growing up in a London situation I suppose, but nothing can sort of ready you for moving to London when you’re just an Irish lad coming across. Plus for myself in my first couple of years at Spurs I had some tough moments away from football, I lost my father when I was around 18 when I’d only been in the youth set up for a year and he had passed away after having an accident, so that was really tough for me however, the club were really good from top to bottom. David Pleat, Glen Hoddle, John Gorman who was Glen’s assistant at the time and John Moncur who had a little soft spot for me when he used to come down and watch the youth team. Going back to life in London, it was tough, I’d moved into digs with an Italian family in South Woodford who were a lovely family. Actually their son was a little bit mad because he was a big drum and base DJ, so he had his studio in the front room of the house and there was two of or three of us Spurs youth team players in the house, and it used to be as noisy as anything, so it probably wouldn’t be the sort of digs that they’d stick lads into now however, they were a lovely family. I then ended up moving to a different family in Chigwell who I’m still quite close to. Mark Hughes who was in the youth team is married to one of the daughters Carly and that family were brilliant, it was also closer to the Tottenham training ground and I was in the house with other Spurs lads who I was close to. You recently did an interview with Fozzy (Danny Foster) and he was probably my closest mate coming through the youth set up, especially coming from our side.

I don’t think that I ever knew what garage music was before I moved to London but Fozzy used to do a bit of DJing on the side, and I think that I was the only Irish fella to give a go at MCing and stuff like that, so it was brilliant. I settled in really well to life in London and I love the city because it’s an unbelievable place and I’ve still got loads of mates who live there. So realistically from my time at Colchester and Watford, and from when I’d bought my first place when I was at Tottenham when I was in Buckhurst Hill, I did probably most of my growing up and living down in that part of the world, so I have loads of fond memories of London. 

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

Mark: Like I said it was an unbelievable chance to move over and sign for such a good club, and when I was in the youth team I suppose that they knew that I  had ability but I was always quite slight and small so there was obviously things to work on. And with my father passing away that was a tough little spell for me but the club were brilliant and while I had thoughts of just jacking it in, in the end I said to myself I’m playing for Tottenham Hotspur here and what a chance this is, I don’t want to be back on an estate in Dublin where I could end up going down any path. So actually after all that happened it was mad because I was in the youth set up where I was a decent player but I wasn’t the one that they were saying that he was going to go all the way. However, after that happened to my dad, at the end of that season I sort of started being involved and training with the first team, and I ended up getting on the bench for the last game of the season away to Middlesbrough when we had a horrendous result and got battered. Then the season after I went out on loan to Brighton which was unbelievable for me because I sort of learnt my trade there. Then at the end of that season like you mentioned to me the other day that I made my full debut 16 years ago to the day against Wolves. So my time at Tottenham was unbelievable, getting experience and learning my trade was as I say was unbelievable. When I first went to Spurs you had Les Ferdinand, Teddy Sheringham and Tim Sherwood who were proper men who you were a bit in awe of. However, after you get used to being at Spurs and you’re in and around the place and have got your bearings it’s all great. So then luckily enough I started to train with the first team at a decent age and really being involved quite a bit as well as being a regular with the reserves group with Colin Calderwood and Chris Hughton at the time. I’ve just got so many unbelievable things to say when I look back now and I can only say so many good things about Spurs because it sort of built me and gave me so much. What a club! 

Could you talk me through your competitive debut for Spurs against Wolverhampton Wanderers on the 15th of May 2004, and how it came about?

Mark: Like I said I’d been on loan at Brighton for the first half of that season and it had gone pretty well. I predominantly always liked playing as a second striker but a lot of managers used to play me off the left so I would come in on my right foot and stuff like that. So I went down to Brighton and after one game Mark McGhee called me in and he put me in central midfield for the whole spell that I was there, so that was brilliant. Then Tottenham called me back and for the second half of the season I pretty much I trained as part of the first team group and I was on the bench quite a few times, and I was probably unlucky not to get my go a bit earlier to be honest, but the season was a bit of an up and down one I think. Anyway I was training and I think that it would have been on the Friday and I was down there training whatever, and then the bibs started being handed out and if I remember rightly it was Stephen Carr and Robbie Keane who was from the same estate as me in Dublin who said I think that they’re going to give you a start tomorrow. So I was obviously a bit shocked and a bit nervous as you would be as a young lad, so obviously I rang the family and rang my grandad who I still now am always on the blower to on a Friday before my game when we’ll have a chat about stuff. However, yeah obviously it was a really proud and emotional moment for me after a mad couple of years on and off the pitch, but for the club to see potential in me and want to give me my Premiership debut is probably what academies are all about where you want to see the lads that you’re nurturing given a chance. So obviously Stephen Kelly and Johnnie Jackson had been given quite a few opportunities so we sort of knew that there was a pathway at Spurs. The game and the day itself went really well and it was a great day even though I can only remember parts of it. To play with the likes of Jamie Redknapp and others was just a proud moment for me as well as getting an assist on my debut for Spurs.

Could you describe to me what it was like to play for Spurs at the highest level?

Mark: I suppose looking back I had a decent reputation at the club and I always did well for the reserves and stuff like that. I probably chose to go out loan more than sticking around most of the time because I just wanted to go out and play mens football after getting a taste of it so young. So playing on a Monday night in the reverses knowing that you’re probably not going to get a sniff of playing for the first team on Saturday, that sort of didn’t do enough for me. And that’s why ended up going out on loan quite so often, quite a few times especially when Martin Jol was in charge and he was very fond of me and liked me with him being Dutch and the technical side of stuff, he took a shine to me and he did give me some run outs but I think that at that spell he probably could have given me a lot more. Because I thought that I was doing well enough in the reserves and the games that I was playing in, so he could probably have given me a few more games. So that’s the only thing that when I look back on I think that it’s a pity that I didn’t get more run outs because at the time I was in and around stuff but every six months the transfer window would come along and the club would want to progress that much more, that they’d want to bring in two of three players to go into the first team set up and two or three to go into the reserves. We had such a big squad of reserve players that it was crazy let alone the first team. So I went down and chose a different pathway a few times, I went to Colchester which was unbelievable and we got promoted from League One and had a brilliant FA Cup run, and I was only 20 and I played 50 odd games that year which you just don’t get in a reserve league. I came back again at Spurs and Martin Jol was really, really happy with how I’d down and he was all for wanting to keep me and give me a new deal, and I ended up going on a season long loan to Hull City. Which in hindsight having just come back from a shoulder injury I probably should have stuck around at Spurs and seen what happened that season at Tottenham because Martin Jol wasn’t very keen on me going.

I ended up coming back early from that loan at Hull and I was back around Spurs in the January time and Martin Jol had said don’t go anywhere because I want you to stay. However, in the last few months of the January transfer window Leicester City came in for me and offered me a half season loan for the second half of that season, and after weighing it all up I decided to go there. So maybe if I’d have stuck around and not gone out on several loans I might have made more appearances for Spurs, but all in all Spurs was an unbelievable football club where I did so much growing up. However, it does kill me a little bit that I didn’t play for them a little bit more, but the names and characters that your trying to get in ahead of makes it very hard for you and at the end of the day managers have to hit certain goals, whether that be trying to get into Europe or into the top six etc. So I’ve got no regrets about anything but I suppose going back could I have done things a little bit different myself such as getting myself in the gym which I wasn’t the best at and stuff like that. So I’ve got to look at myself on certain things like that as well as liking a bit of fun with the lads such as a night out, so I’ve got to look at myself in that sense too but about the football club in general and all of the people that were there from Jimmy Neighbour to Pat Holland and John Moncur, Glen Hoddle and Chris Hughton they were just great.

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

Mark: I probably wasn’t old enough to see enough of him but growing up Maradona was great to watch. Also my father was a good footballer himself and he played League Of Ireland and he was a tricky player. My father was actually a Chelsea fan so for me to play at Watford under Gianfranco Zola was unbelievable. So players like that and Dennis Bergkamp and at Tottenham Robbie Keane and Teddy Sheringham and also at Colchester with Teddy, they were all proper technical footballers. So number ten sort of players were the players that I sort of looked to. Funnily enough people used to give me a little bit of banter because I used to have a little bit of weight on me and on my face so at Spurs they used to call me baby Gazza, and I remember Martin Jol said it after a game that I reminded him of Gazza, which to be fair was probably more how I looked, and then Clive Allen said to me you can’t be getting compared to him because he is a hero here, so he put me in my place on that one. So I didn’t have one sort of player who I would call my footballing hero or inspiration but the sort of number ten ilk of a player was what I looked at. However, growing up my father was massive in my football and I used to watch him growing up and without sounding a bit funny he was actually a super footballer who had a lot about him, so as a young kid you’re sort of a bit biased towards that.

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

Mark: I was always sort of seen myself as a withdrawn striker/a number ten and that’s where I’ve always believed is my best position, and that’s where I started off at Tottenham. I only started getting pushed out to the left wing because I was quite good with both feet and I could drop my shoulder, and although I was never rapidly quick or anything like that I had decent feet. Then when I went into men’s football it was all 4-4-2 back then and to be honest we actually used to play 3-5-2 in the FA Youth Cup at Spurs because that’s what Glen Hoddle was playing at the time at Tottenham, and I used to play as a number ten in the three in midfield, behind the two strikers. I also played in that position at Watford and at Eastleigh where I was last season so that brought back good memories for me. However, going through my career and people saying that you were that winger I sort of say to myself that I wouldn’t have pigeonholed myself as that. As I didn’t think of myself as a head down get to the byline and cut a ball back sort of player. Obviously when I was at Tottenham there were players like Aaron Lennon and Wayne Routledge who to me they were wingers who were really quick and could zoom past people. Whereas I was the sort of player who would drop my shoulder and jink inside, and I liked doing that from a central place as I liked slipping passes. So for me I would always say that I was a number ten or central player but as I went through my career I spent about 70% of my time playing as a wide player for other gaffers teams, and then when I was out there I used to get hammered because I was terrible at tracking back.

How difficult was it for a young Spurs player like yourself to break into the first team back then?

Mark: I think for any youth team player now it’s tough and despite the money spent on academies you don’t see bucket loads of these lads coming through. It was probably the same back then to be honest and back when I was at Tottenham it was a team full of men if I could put it that way as it had a lot of experienced professionals such as Gus Poyet and people like that, who were central to the teams and the managers liked trusting them. All of those players by the way were unbelievable top players anyway but that was sort of the way the team was built back then, so as a young lad you had to obviously impress. If you didn’t train well it wasn’t the manager who told you not to come back, you’d have five or six first team players who would be able to say that he wasn’t ready to be up here. Luckily enough I had a decent relationship with them and they probably just thought that I had one of them cheeky ways about me that the first team lads all took to me. However, as I say it was tough and as I look back I made four or five appearances for Tottenham and I think really over a whole spell at the club that I should have got to double figures, as my performances in the reserves in spells where I was scoring in the reserves and where I was scoring every week or doing really well and then be pulled in and told that I might get some first team minutes on the pitch at the weekend, but then it wouldn’t happen. However, Johnnie Jackson got into the side and became a bit of a regular for some time, me and Johnnie are really close and still speak all of the time. Then you also had Dean Marney who got his bit of a chance as well as Phil Ifil who got a few games, so there was lads who were given opportunities but I don’t think that any of them really became full on established players in the first team apart from maybe Johnnie Jackson who got quite a good run and also Rohan Ricketts who signed as a bit of an older lad. 

So it was very tough and as a young lad coming over from Ireland you dream regularly of playing in the Premiership but sometimes that just doesn’t happen for whatever reason. I was at Spurs through four or five managers including Jacques Santini who was there for a short spell, but who had no interest in anything to do with the youth set up, so you’d go through different spells with different managers. However, there was such a strong group of strong senior professionals at the club who were very established and it was hard to move them. Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe were unbelievable up front and then you had the likes of Ledley King so there was just unbelievable people and players at that club that it was very hard for young players and people at that club to get in and get a decent go at it. Since I’ve left Spurs there’s been a few more who have broken through, I think there was a spell when Harry Kane, Tom Carroll and Andros Townsend came through, so that was a decent group at one stage. However, you can’t really think of loads coming through that set up, especially not when I was there.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Mark: When I first came over on that trial period the Spurs side included David Ginola and what a player he was. However, when I actually joined and was in the youth set up everyday there was the likes of Tim Sherwood, Teddy Sheringham, Stephen Carr and Gus Poyet and people like that. Then when I started going up and training with them there was Jamie Redknapp, Robbie Keane, Ledley King and Christian Ziege who were full internationals and top, top professionals and they all had different influences on everyone. Obviously Robbie Keane being an Irish lad and being from the estate as me and knowing each other’s families. I was actually Robbie’s boot boy for a good while at Spurs, so he was a good lad with me. Then we signed Andy Reid, me and him are still very close and still speak, and our families are friends, so there was loads of different influences for different reasons. Like I said with what happened to my dad Pat Holland was just super with me and he’d gone through some similar things when he was a lad. Also John Moncur was somebody who took to me and looked out for me as I sort of rubbed off on him. However, listen you take bits of advice off of all these people but ultimately it’s down to yourself.

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

Mark: I think when I was there I would have fell into the category of a Robbie Keane type player even though I stuck out a bit wider than what he would of. However, looking at players day to day you’d have to look at players who you might be similar to with there movements or what they do. During finishing sessions you’d watch how Jermain Defoe who was probably the best finisher at the club strike a ball with both feet. You’d try and take bits from every player for example Gus Poyet’s professionalism and how he played at the top for so long. I also look back at my second season at Watford when Gianfranco Zola came in and I had my first sort of trial. I started getting my head down and realising how you should train everyday and how you should do it. As I said I was a bit of a cheeky lad and I was always one of them who sort of just relied on my ability and didn’t track back. I thought that I was in the team to bend the ball over the wall sort of thing and we’d win 1-0 so what else matters, so when you’re young you have that sort of attitude but when you get older you sort of say yeah you can see why these lads were top professionals for so long. So those were the things that you wish that you’d have taken and instilled in yourself a little earlier in your career.

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

Mark: I think my time had definitely come to an end, I had a year left at the club but I had, had two loan spells at one season that I had spoken about when I wasn’t fit with my shoulder and I’d went to Hull, and then the manager was sacked like two and a half months in. Then I went to Leicester and scored on my debut with my first touch and we ended up going on a good run in my first few games and got ourselves out of the relegation zone so it was a good loan spell, but then again they were a club who were in transition and while I was only on loan there for five months I had three different managers. So I came back to Tottenham and Martin Jol was in charge, and we used to have chats and he’d give me a bit of stick because he thought that I was a lively lad so he used to say to me to stay out of those bars and clubs. Me and Martin had a good relationship but I was at an age where at 20/21 every season he sort of brought in different forwards and different attacking midfielders, and I was saying I’ve got a year on my deal here and if I come back for pre-season I’m going to be well down the pecking order. I might play in a few pre-season games but ultimately I’m not going to get a go in the first team set up once the Premiership gets up and running. So I didn’t sort of feel that that was going to be the case for me, so I weighed everything up. I’d been at Colchester and I’d been up to Hull on loan and it was the first time that I’d been up north but being honest I hadn’t settled up there as I’d done all my growing in London. So in the end I decided to go to to Colchester who were in the Championship at the time and so I signed as I knew the club and the people. Teddy Sheringham signed a couple of weeks later and so I’d signed a three year deal there. On a personal level it was a brilliant move for me in the sense that I think that I got eight or nine goals in the first half of the season, and we weren’t one of the better sides in the league, we were one of the smaller clubs. However, personally I was doing well and getting my reputation back after the year before that had gone a little bit up and down for me.

However, I dislocated my shoulder again and so I ended up missing the second half of that season and unfortunately we just didn’t have enough to stay up. Crystal Palace came in for me right after the season ended and I agreed to move there and so I went there and done the medical etc and it was a week or so later that they called me and told me that my shoulder wasn’t right. So they wanted me to go on a programme for the rest of the summer to come back for pre-season before finalising the deal, but for whatever reason that didn’t happen so I stayed at Colchester for another season. In that season I probably had my best output for goals and had a great season in League One, but I felt that I was definitely not a League One player you know and at a minimum I felt that I was a Championship player. Luckily enough then Gareth Southgate came in and bought me at Middlesbrough, and I mean what a club with unbelievable facilities. For me to come from Colchester to go to a club that had been a Premiership side for a long time made it a massive move for me. I think that I got in the side and played pretty regularly all the way up until the club ended up parting ways with Gareth which for me was just terrible to be fair. If I go through my whole career it’s been the case that I’ve been unlucky that the managers who have brought me to clubs for whatever reason hadn’t lasted as long as they should have. Gordon Strachan came in and he wanted to do his own thing, and he brought in a load of boys from Scotland and a few of the lads that Gareth had brought in had moved on pretty quickly. I signed a three year deal at Middlesbrough and bought a house up there so I ended up turning around and speaking to the manager who’d didn’t want me to go. However, by the time the summer had come round he’d probably have signed another seven or eight boys up in Scotland which would have been pointless. So I ended up moving onto Sheffield United who are a huge club and we just missed out on the play offs in the Championship, finishing seventh that season. Kevin Blackwell left and Gary Speed took over, and it was under Speedo that I had my best ever spell.

He was just an unbelievable man and going back to when I was at Tottenham as a young lad he was the prime example of the player you should aspire to be like. He had faith in me and I had a really good spell under him but he ended up going and taking the Wales job and Micky Adams came in and he was a bit of an old school manager who wanted physical players to head and kick it. In the end I didn’t play enough and so they went down which I believe was unfortunate as to this day I believe if he’d have used the likes of myself and Leon Britton we would have stayed up. I then ended up leaving the club and joining Watford which for me was a no brainer as I still owned a house down in Buckhurst Hill and I still had really close ties to the London/Essex area. So I signed for Sean Dyche and all in all when I look back him and Zola used me in two completely different ways. Dyche played 4-4-2 and I played on the right for him which was something I didn’t always like being a technical player. Anyway he ended up moving on because the club had new owners the Pozzo family and they put Zola in charge, and for that year it was just unbelievable on and off the pitch. He was actually the one who after a few games in pre-season pulled me aside and said that you’re not a wide player I don’t know why people have been playing you there. And I said that I’ve always believed that myself but you play where your picked. So I think that I made 33 appearances for Watford that season, playing in a three in midfield. The football that that Watford side played was unbelievable and to be honest I don’t think that there has been many Championship sides who have played that sort of football, and we should have won the league. In the end we just didn’t end up turning up for the play off final which was unfortunate being beaten in extra time that day. That year was just superb though and I loved everything about it but inevitably I knew that with these owners who owned Udinese and Granada were just filtering players in. So I probably did well enough to play as much as I did and I had to prove that I was good enough to play over these players who they’d brought in from Udinese.

My next move was to link up with an old manager Phil Parkinson who I’d been at at Colchester and he took me to Hull who’d just won League Two and had plans to go straight up to the Championship. I ended up having a great start there and scoring on my debut and the fans took to me however, I ended up picking a shoulder injury again and I ended up having to strap myself up for training every day and in the end I wasn’t showing my full potential I suppose. However, in my second season there I got myself fully fit and right and I ended playing number ten in the team regularly and chipping in with goals and going on a great cup run where I scored against Chelsea, so everything was going great. However, this shoulder which has been a bit of a killer for me throughout my career went again against Doncaster and that was sort of the end of my time there. Since leaving Hull it’s been a bit up and down, I was on a short term deal at Oldham which went alright before then deciding to go to Blackpool because of a longer contract which was put in front of me which I don’t regret, as I’ve been living around the St Annes area now for five years and my children have grown up here and are at school and it’s a great area to raise a family in. However, the football side in the last four years has really been a rollercoaster of up and downs. After helping to keep Notts County up I decided to drop out of the Football League and join Eastleigh who came in for me as well as a couple of other non league clubs. I was contemplating it and also maybe going back to Ireland to sign for Shamrock Rovers, but I spoke to an ex teammate of mine called Paul Reid at Eastleigh who said that they were going to sign six or seven lads out of the Football League and have a real real go at winning the National League, so I decided to go down there. The first season was a bit up and down and then in the second season we got beaten on penalties in the semi final of the play offs. I really enjoyed my time there and I don’t think that there’s really any difference between playing in the National League and League Two because the level is very similar. 

Then last summer I ended up signing for AFC Fylde which is right on my doorstep and is a lovely little football club with all of the right facilities and things needed to go forward. However, we’ve ended up having a funny season down near the bottom of the league which I don’t think that anybody expected, but I’m still loving every minute of it, and I still feel fit and more than capable. Having not done many of these reflective things it’s been a crazy old career and I wouldn’t change anything.

What has been the greatest moment of your footballing career thus far?

Mark: I suppose that there’s certain stand outs at different clubs, obviously being a youth team player at Tottenham and making my Premiership debut there is one. Also the goal against Chelsea for Bradford in the FA Cup, and for moments and goals that is probably the one. That goal sort of showed what type of player I was and am because that was a proper footballing goal, which brings a smile to my face when people mention it. Also being at Colchester which is a football club that I love and had great times at, also being promoted from League One to the Championship with them was an unbelievable achievement. This sort of sums me up but during our second last game of the season against Rotherham we needed to win and I ended up scoring the winner and doing a celebration, and I landed and dislocated my shoulder for the first time there, so that was a bittersweet moment. Another great moment was playing for the Ireland B squad and I suppose that the one thing that I was missing was being capped for my country at senior level, especially when I was playing well in the Championship for that five year period however, that just didn’t happen. However, they would be the moments really, there’s no one stand out.

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

Mark: I suppose when I look at that Spurs team which I made my debut in where you had Ledley King, Robbie Keane and Jamie Redknapp who was a great player. However, the greatest one of all is a tough question but I think that when I came on for Martin Jol against Chelsea when I think they beat us 2-0 at White Hart Lane I thought that Arjen Robben was unbelievable at his time at that club. I think that when I came on that day I actually ran straight on the pitch and put one on him and got booked, so he would be the greatest. However, it’s a tough question because I suppose I was so young at Tottenham whereas there were lads who I spent seasons with who although not in those brackets were great players. Troy Deeney and Matej Vydra at Watford were probably the best front two that I ever played with. Also Iwelumo and Cureton were brilliant when I was at Colchester but it’s difficult to just pigeonhole one player, but I suppose when I was at Tottenham as a young lad and I’m going to put myself in my 18/19 year old shoes and say Teddy Sheringham and Robbie Keane and say that they were the two players that I looked up to the most. Robbie being a local lad in Ireland and Teddy being the legend that he is and the top man that he is (I was actually close to signing for him when he was Stevenage manager). Probably now looking back it would have been the right thing to do, but having family I decided to stick it up north. The players I’ve mentioned are all players who you can be proud of to have played with and it’s just so hard to pick one to be honest.

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories of your time in the Tottenham youth team/reserves?

Mark: There’s so many and some of them would probably get you in trouble if you printed them on a piece of paper. Every day was just unbelievable, you just imagine going into a dressing room for work and kicking a ball and just having banter and craic, it was just nonstop every day but there are quite a few things in my mind which stand out. If I can remember rightly there used to be some of the lads in digs who were London or Essex lads and there was a lad called Nicky Wettner who was a proper tough lad. I think that he loved a tear up more than football to be honest, I think that he said that he was going to arrange a boxing tournament for all the digs lads on Buckhurst Hill near the high street. So when all the people who lived in the digs had gone out for the day, he had set up his own boxing ring and got mitts and boxing gloves for each lad and a weights class for each bloke to fight each other. So we’d had this full on boxing tournament as youth players and I mean we were proper punching the heads of each other when all of sudden we see this car come down the road. And we see this guy whose beeping and horning and screaming, and we’re just thinking that it was somebody going past thinking what’s going on in that garden. However, it ended up being the youth team manager and there’s like two of us in a thorn bush on top of each other. So we all ended up getting pulled in the next day and it was like what are you playing at kind of thing. There were so many silly things and pranks etc, and when I’d first gone over there as a young Irish boy getting used to the London lingo and banter, and the older lads from the youth team used to pull the younger lads into the changing room and they’d have a whole lot of DP and they’d knock the light off and just attack you with it. So it was just silly stuff like that just what makes football clubs with the banter and camaraderie. Fans just see 90 minutes of us on a pitch, but for a week it’s obviously hard work and dedication and ups and downs and stuff like that however, there’s also the fun elements too. 

Obviously Fozzy and Johnnie Jackson are still really close pals of mine so you make friends for life. So Tottenham was where I had my upbringing and it made me stronger, but analysing my time there from the the time that I left, I went through quite a lot. From leaving home and moving in with a family that you don’t know to losing your father and then coming back and trying to get your head down it’s tough. Then a year down the line making your Premiership debut, there was a lot in there as well as making my senior debut for Brighton against men. So that five or six years that I spent with Spurs was life changing in every single way so I’ll always have loads of fond memories and loads to talk about because it’s such an unbelievable football club where so many good things happened to me there. In our youth team which was really good at that time we won our regional league a couple of times and we were unlucky in the FA Youth Cup where we probably should have gone further. I can remember Middlesbrough beating us late in one cup game and that really killed the lads and I can remember the bus journey back. I can also remember the likes of Teddy Sheringham and Ledley King in the crowd and wanting to impress them, but footballs completely changed now and is different as the academies are so big whereas in my day the set up was a lot tighter and smaller and Chigwell wasn’t the biggest of training grounds. We also had coaches who were proper old school such as Jimmy Neighbour, Pat Holland and Colin Calderwood who was our reserves manager, and they were all proper characters. I have such great memories of that place but as I said before it’s just a pity that I didn’t make more appearances for the first team. However, coming through and so on I must ask myself did I do everything right and what’s expected but I wouldn’t change anything. I’ve played at some unbelievable football clubs and I’m still playing and I feel fit, but that all started from coming over to Tottenham and doing my schooling there.

Who is the toughest player that you have ever come up against?

Mark: My captain at Sheffield United was Chris Morgan and he was tough and somebody who if you went near him in training you’d get booted up in the air, he was just a proper old school centre half who took no prisoners. For my toughest fullbacks I suppose there’s not one that stands out having played in the Championship that I didn’t get a sniff out of. However, to train with and as a proper tough man Chris Morgan stands out as a typical northern centre half.

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

Mark: Like I said in the youth team coming through me and Danny Foster just clicked. We were from similar sort of backgrounds and had grown up on an estate and in a working class area. I got really close with Fozzy’s dad Steve and still am close with him, but yeah me and Danny just sort of had the same banter and he kind of took me under his wing a little bit. Danny was the boy at the start in our youth team, he was our centre half and captain and was in the England youth team and were still close to this day. He also introduced me to garage music and he’s got a few tapes of me MCing which I don’t think should ever get shown. Another player who I was close to was Nicky Wettner in that age group and he was very protective of me. Once I’d moved up to the first team/reserves I got really close with Johnnie Jackson and were still tight to this day and obviously being at Colchester together, and he’s also a legend at Charlton. Dean Marney was another player who I was close with and who I was at Hull with, so I’m lucky enough to still be in touch with a few lads from that set up as well as Mark Hughes. So you’ll always have that bond in football even if you don’t speak in years and years and years you can just pick up a phone and put a text out on the WhatsApp and it feels like it was yesterday that we were together. Obviously then going into the first team set up the Irish lads Robbie Keane and Stephen Carr and Stephen Kelly always kept an eye out for and were fond of me. I also got on well with Sean Davis as well as Aaron Lennon and Tom Huddlestone who I still see when I can and have been on holiday with together. Also Andy Reid was another one who I was close with and when I was at Notts County I used to stay at his house. So there’s still people from my days at Spurs that I’m still in loads of contact with and hopefully will be for a long, long time.

What was former Spurs great Robbie Keane like to play and train with?

Mark: I’ve mentioned Keano loads in this interview but being an Irish lad he is a superstar and I don’t think that he gets the credit enough. For somebody to do the stuff that he did when he was so young and the fact that he is one of Tottenham’s greatest forwards and did plenty of off the cuff stuff which comes from playing on your estate against the older lads gets stuck in you, so watching Keano and then training and playing with him was just unbelievable. Watching back my assist for his goal against Wolves it’s just a pity that I didn’t get a chance to play with him a bit more and maybe do that a bit more. Look he had a soft spot for me when I was at Spurs and we’re not too far in age, and we also have family who are friends so we sort of knew of each other when he was first on our books. Then I was on his boots and he was the Ireland number ten star forward when I was in the Ireland under 19/21 set up. There’ll always be comparisons between us, Jamie Redknapp used to call me little Keano which I don’t think that Robbie liked to be fair. Robbie was just a top, top player and being a youth team player you used to have to to watch, and there were so many games that standout such as when he hit a shot with the outside if his boot that flew into the top right hand corner of the goal against Everton, and we used to see that in training every day. The man played for Inter Milan and he’s our country’s highest scorer, and he did it all really through his career, so I think that people need to give him the full, full respect. He was a player who had that fight in him and being from an estate that has drugs, joy riding and all that going on it’s been bred into you to have that fight about you. So I can only say top things about Keano and we’re always going to be linked in a way because we were at Spurs at the same time and we are from the same area.

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

Mark: I’ve been asked this when I’ve done some interviews before, you know advice I suppose is one of those things, I could say do this and do that but I don’t think that’s right. I think that people have got to learn things for themselves and as I’ve got older I believe that every day that you train, that you should train to your maximum and enjoy it and embrace it. What a job that your doing and I think that you need to have a winning mentality I think, the youth set ups now are about learning and development and you have to develop as that’s normal, but I think that you have to push yourself to be the best, and if the best isn’t good enough then you’re at a level where you’re up there with them. I think that it’s so hard now for young boys to break into Premiership set ups and teams, you’ve got to be outstanding really in every way. In your fitness, in your ability and in your mental side of things. However, if your at a Premiership club and you’re doing everything right and you do drop down then you’ve got all these good traits inside of you. If I could go back and with all of the natural ability that I had and the way that the club perceived me, and I’d have just worked a bit harder in the gym and on my diet (I still eat horrendously and drink bottles of coke and eat bags of crisps which I definitely wouldn’t advice!) so to get the best out of you, you’ve got to do what these guys are telling you and maybe say to people you know with the gym stuff don’t look at it as a chore. And when you’re on the football pitch show what your about and stick your chest out and believe in your own ability, and take on board what the people are trying to help you are saying. When I was at Tottenham one of the people who I used to think was always on me was Martin Jol even though I knew that he liked me. I remember Michael Carrick one day telling me that the day he stops screaming and shouting at you is the day that you start worrying, because he’s come to the end of his tether with you. 

I used to let his attitude and him needing everything to be perfect something that would get to me and that’s probably why I didn’t get the run outs with the first team that I probably deserved. I’ve got loads of funny stories with Martin where he’s not been happy with me but ultimately he had a soft spot for me and had a lot of time for me. One funny story which I’ll tell you is when I was on loan at Colchester and I ended up popping out for a couple of drinks one night, I was at the bar or whatever and the media lad whose still there at Tottenham now, he came over to me and said Yeatesy there’s someone I want you to come over to and say hello. So I said yeah alright and an hour later when I’d had a couple of drinks on me and he said I want you to meet this guy who was a big tall guy. So he said in a Dutch accent how are you Mark and I was thinking where is he from and then the media guy said it was Martin’s brother, and I was thinking oh my god I don’t need to be in this situation. Then the next day when I was on my way to training down to Colchester and it was Keano who was on the phone, and he said what were you up to last night? I was out for a couple of drinks for a friends birthday and Keano replied well Martin’s not happy, so I’m thinking oh no! So he used to be on my case for things like that but like I say I’ve got so many good memories of Tottenham and funny stories, which I can take with me for the rest of my life so I’m very blessed that I got to spend my time at that football club.

 

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?

Mark: Like I said I’ve got so many good memories from that football club, good and bad and things that put me in good stead going forward in my life, but the  memories I have are ones that I’ll cherish for ever. Ultimately every young lad has a dream of wanting to play in the Premiership or getting to the FA Cup final or whatever it may be. When I first joined Tottenham my goal was to get into the first team and play a game in the Premiership. Luckily enough I played a few games for the club and I also had things that went on outside of football that had to make me stronger and that put me in a good space and to stay strong for my family. So there’s just so many things about that football club that have linked into my life, especially my early life. For a young lad at 15/16 to move away from home it’s basically the start of your learning, and I did all my teenage years and early 20’s at Spurs as a young lad who was on my own with no family. So I’ve only got super memories of my time there, and when I meet up with former teammates such as Gus Poyet or Teddy Sheringham they all say complimentary things about me. So there’s just so many lads from that club that I’ve got friendships with. It’s a super place and I was privileged to play there. 

My interview with former Spurs player Danny Foster:

My interview with former Spurs player Danny Foster:

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I caught up with former Spurs man Danny Foster on Thursday to discuss his ten year spell at Spurs from the age of ten to 20. As a schoolboy, youth team player and as a reserve team player. Foster who operated primarily as a central defender, would later go onto play for Dagenham & Redbridge, Brentford and Wycombe Wanderers before being forced to retire from the game at the age of 28 due to suffering a serious knee injury. Foster has since taken the step into coaching and he was most recently the assistant manager of Isthmian League Premier Division club Wingate & Finchley. A big thank you must go to Danny for taking the time to speak with me about his time at the Lilywhites and his footballing career in general.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Danny: My earliest footballing memories would have been probably playing out in the front in the road with friends and next door neighbours who lived nearby. We just used to get a ball and play in the street as there wasn’t so much traffic and cars back then, so you could play sometimes for an hour and not see a car drive past.

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

Danny: I joined the club when I was ten and I was picked up by a scout called Terry Adambar, and I caught his eye playing for my local club which was Brimsdown Rovers in Enfield. I then got invited down for a trial and back then we were training at White Hart Lane at the ground in the old ball court, and I went down for a trial and it sort of went from there. I remember that we would train in the ball court for about an hour in the under 10’s under a coach called Johnny Martin and after that hours training you would get your one pound expenses and a cup of tea and a custard cream on your way out. 

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

Danny: It was amazing to be fair, it’s a great club and being a local boy who was born and bred in Enfield which is predominantly a Spurs area. They were just great days and being at Spurs for ten years in total from under 10’s right the way through, so I experienced all parts of the club from when it was centre of excellence as I’ve just described, to when the academies started coming in and the academy was first built. Also moving over to Chigwell and being part of all of that, it was just great and I have such fond memories. They’re a great club to have been affiliated with and learnt your trade with, and also made some good friends with some of the really great people who were at the club, so I’ve only got good things to say about the club.

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

Danny: When I was growing up you had Gazza who was a big name so he was somebody that you’d always look up to and aspire to be like during the early days being a young player. However, as I got a little bit older and you start moving up you start looking at who is playing in the first team then and people like Ledley King who were coming through. I can remember going down and watching the games at White Hart Lane and David Ginola was the man of the moment, he literally was unplayable on his day on the left wing. The tickets we used to get were right down at the front in the stand which I can’t remember the name of, but you literally had Ginola for 45 minutes standing right in front of you and he was just great to watch, but you had so many great players back then at Spurs.

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

Danny: I was always predominantly a central defender during my time at Spurs and I was quite a big lad in the early years although it did level off in later later years. However, naturally I was a centre half although I did play a bit at fullback   as well, but I was predominantly a centre half and I was very comfortable on the ball obviously coming through the academy at Spurs where we did a lot of technical stuff. So I was probably a ball playing centre half, so that is probably the best way of describing me.

How difficult would it have been for a young Spurs player like yourself to break into the first team back in the 2000’s?

Danny: It was difficult and for any youngster coming through in the Premier League the statistics don’t lie. To make that transition from youth team to reserves and then to first team football is tough, it’s one of those things where you need to be going and getting experience out on loan as a young player. A loan move I believe is key for a young player to go and experience first team football where you are playing for points and where there’s a lot more for stake. Youth team football and reserve football is more of a development type game whereas first team football ultimately has a lot more at stake. Ultimately the lads at Spurs who progressed and done well were probably the ones who had loan experience and had successful loan moves. I was unfortunate enough that I didn’t get that opportunity which undoubtedly would have benefited me and my progression at Spurs. However, things just didn’t quite materialise for me so yes it was very tough to break through.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Danny: I’d probably say Teddy Sheringham who I met at Spurs as a young apprentice and professional, and he was always somebody who used to keep his eye on the youth team games. He was one of those model professionals who took the the time to speak to the young players and give them guidance and tips and what not. We sort of knew each other enough to say hi or what not when we saw each other away from football. So Teddy was a great influence and role model, and it just shows you how long his career went for and that shows the type of model professional that he was. 

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

Danny: Ledley King for me was a player that was a rare breed, he was a proper Tottenham player. Technically he was just unbelievable right foot and left foot, he was also just a great guy on and off the pitch and he very rarely lost his cool, and he very rarely got booked. He was just a model professional and the way that he conducted himself on and off the pitch, and me being a centre back as well I’d just have to say Ledley King at that time.

 

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

Danny: When I left school I had a contract in place at Spurs and I was in the England youth sides which was good but I was unlucky a bit with injuries. I had signed a two year professional contract at Spurs and I played quite a lot of reserve team football but I could never quite force my way into the first team set up and I was eventually released after the end of my second year when I had sort of a bad spell with injuries and what not, so it was difficult again for me to get going again the following season. Anyway I ended up signing for Dagenham & Redbridge who at the time were in the Conference, so that at the time was a massive, massive culture shock to me to go from ten years at a Premier League club and being on the international stage to going straight into the Conference and non league football. However, I was very fortunate enough to have a good manager at Dagenham called John Still who took a chance on me and we had a great group of young players, and many of them including myself moved up and had careers in the Football League. At Dagenham I had five great years at the club where we won promotion with the club to the Football League which was a massive achievement. From Dagenham I moved on to Brentford which was a step up for me as I wanted to test myself so I moved up into League One. Brentford was another great club and I had a really good time there even though I was only there a year due to a sort of misunderstanding with the manager at the time.

I then moved on to Wycombe Wanderers where we had Gary Waddock who was another great manager and superb coach. I think that I really progressed my game when I was at Wycombe, that whole approach to the game and training was first class and it was a great club and set up who had some great players. We managed to achieve a promotion from League Two to League One however, a couple of years later I unfortunately suffered a serious knee injury which ultimately forced me to retire and hang my boots up, so that was a tough one at the time at 28 and in my prime years. However, it’s one of those things that happens and you’ve sort of just got to dust yourself down and move on and keep positive and keep trying to move on forward with your life. However, I had some great years in the game.

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Danny: That is a very tough one! Obviously being capped by your country is something that I’m very, very proud to have done but promotion with Wycombe was fantastic when I think we went on a ten game unbeaten run at the end of the season to secure it. However, I’d have to say that my promotion with Dagenham was my biggest achievement because it really was against all odds, and at the start of the season we were second favourites for relegation and probably had the smallest budget in the league. We also had Oxford United in the league that season and they were running away with it during the first half of the season but the turnaround was just fantastic, the determination in that Dagenham team was just absolutely fantastic and during the second half of the season we just stormed home.

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

Danny: When Glenn Hoddle was manager of Spurs he used to join in the sessions when we used to train with the first team squad, and he was probably still the best player even though he couldn’t run as much! Again Ledley King stands out, Robbie Keane was fantastic too but there were so many great players. In a professional game Carl Cort at Brentford was a fantastic player who was phenomenal but again I’d probably have to say Ledley King as the greatest player that I shared a pitch with.

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories of your time in the Tottenham youth team/reserves?

Danny: There was a funny day at the training ground where it snowed quite heavily so we were all sort of pitched up in the dressing rooms, looking out hoping that the snow was going to clear. A couple of the lads (Ronnie Henry and David Galbraith) had actually been out and had been building a snowman in the car park at Chigwell training ground and they were all proud of themselves. So they’d came back up and we were all saying to each other that we were going to go down there and smash it up and break it up, but they said that anybody who touches that snowman is dead! So to cut a long story short there was a welfare officer at the time called Gwyn Walters who was a lovely man, and he’d just pulled into the car park in his car, and he was on the phone and it seemed to be an important call as he seemed quite stressed to be fair. David and Ronnie had gone back down and started making snowballs and throwing it at Gwyn’s car while he was on the phone, and he was signalling at them to get lost as it was an important call sort of thing. However, they kept on throwing snowballs at his car (we could all see what was unfolding) and they were getting bigger and bigger, and Gwyn was getting angrier and angrier and he ended up losing the plot and driving his car into the snowman to try and break it. 

However, because it was such a big solid snowman, all that happened was, was that it hit the snowman’s belly and the head rolled off onto the bonnet and dented the bonnet of the car. So one of the lads I can’t remember which one, had got a massive big load of snow and thrown it at the window of the car, and if must have had a stone in it as it shattered the window so hard all over Gwyn, who was still on the phone. He ended up running out in a rage chasing after the two lads while he was still on the phone. It was just like something out of a comedy sketch, it was hilarious and just brilliant as they were slipping all over the place in the snow as he was chasing them. Another funny story was when we went to a tournament in Switzerland and we got delayed at Heathrow airport for 12 hours, and we were all sort of sitting around as there was nowhere to go and this was during a heatwave when it was about thirty degrees. Anyway we finally got on the plane and got out to Switzerland but when we arrived none of our bags turned up (I think about three turned up) so everyones kit, boots and personal belongings and training kit and match kits hadn’t arrived. So once we got on the coach to go to the hotel where we were staying at, we had to stop off at random sport shops in Switzerland to try and buy new boots and to try and buy what ever we could. We ended up wearing the same kit for the three or four days of the tournament! 

There was another trip where we went to Germany on a winter tour with Pat Holland who was our manager at the time. As we were flying back in late on a Sunday night there was a snow blizzard so instead of landing at Stansted we had to divert to Portsmouth or somewhere like that. And in the end we had to drive back in the snow, so that was another one of those calamity journeys. Meanwhile on the pitch we had some good players in our side, including Mark Yeates who went on to make first team appearances as well as Jamie Slabber so we went on to have a good little side to be fair even though we didn’t win any trophies or anything like that, but it was a really good side.

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

Danny: In terms of big strikers the likes of Grant Holt who was an old school centre forward when he was at Shrewsbury Town, and he was always a nightmare. Another was Rickie Lambert and Adebayo Akinfenwa when he was at Northampton, also Jamie Vardy when he was at Fleetwood and unfortunately knocked us out of the FA Cup when I was at Wycombe, but he was a tough opponent. However, those big old centre forwards which you don’t seem to see a lot of anymore. However, all those players that I named went on to play at the highest level so it just shows you that there are players down there in League One and Two who are capable of playing at the highest level.

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

Danny: Mark Yeates was probably my closet friend at Spurs and we still keep in touch and have a chat on the phone. We used to live quite close to each other and when he moved over from Ireland we struck a bit of a friendship. However, another player was Stuart Lewis who was a couple of years younger than me and we’re still good friends now (we also played with each other at Wycombe).

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

Danny: My advice to any of the young Spurs players would be to get out on loan and do what it takes to get out on loan and get first team experience under your belt in any of the leagues. Just get out there and rough it for a couple of months and develop and progress, and get all of the benefits of going out on loan and experience of first team football. 

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?

Danny: It’s great to see the new stadium and what they are doing, and being a local boy from Enfield it’s just great to see. The new training ground is also unbelievable so it’s great for Spurs. I can actually remember well the first day I went to Spurs like it was just the other day. Spurs are a special club and a special place, and my memories of being at them for ten years are only good ones. Without going too deep you’ve only got to look what’s going on in the world at the moment to appreciate what you’ve done and achieved in the game, so I’m just grateful to have experienced it and been a part of that club, and also have people like yourself even after all these years still getting in touch.

My interview with former Spurs player Jimmy Lye:

My interview with former Spurs player Jimmy Lye: 

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I caught up with former Spurs player Jimmy Lye recently to interview him about his time at the Lilywhites during the late 1950’s and early and mid 1960’s. Lye, who was born in County Tipperary, Ireland but brought up in Hackney, London was a left half during his time at Spurs though he would later become a fullback after departing the North London club when he played for Barnet where he played with fellow former Spurs teammates Ben Embery, Ricky George and Ian Fusedale who sadly passed away recently. Lye also played for  Dagenham and Redbridge and Cambridge City. Lye was only ever a part time player at Spurs (he played for the juniors, A team and reserves) as he also worked in the printing trade, this would have been a great challenge for the then promising young footballer.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Jimmy: It would have to be being picked for the school team when I was nine years old for the under 11’s.

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

Jimmy: I actually played in a cup final in the Star shield against Tottenham under 15’s when I was playing for Hackney boys under 15’s and we drew at Leyton Orient and then the replay was at Tottenham. Anyway we ended up winning 4-3 and one of the scouts from Tottenham was there and he ended up coming down my house, and I ended up signing for Tottenham and that was in 1959.

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

Jimmy: I thoroughly enjoyed it although I was only ever part time as I was working in Hackney during the day and then I used to train on nights. However, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Spurs.

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

Jimmy: Well Dave Mackay was the best player that I thought was at Tottenham and Cliff Jones who I also used to like as a man as well as a footballer, as he was a great player. They were in my opinion the two best Spurs players at the time when they did the double.

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

Jimmy: While I was at Tottenham I normally played at left half, it was only when I left Tottenham and when I came to Cambridge City that I ended up playing fullback. In fact when I went for a trial when I was 14 I was playing fullback then, but what Spurs did was they moved me forward to wing half so the amount of time I was at Tottenham the old style of football was as a left half. However, later on in my career when I went to Barnet and Dagenham I was a fullback/right back. 

What was it like to brush shoulders with some of the legendary players that were around at Spurs at the time?

Jimmy: It was really good because they weren’t one bit off handed and during that time I used to take a big interest in boxing in the time when there was only eight weights in boxing. I used to talk to the first team players as they were quite interested in boxing at that time. You used to mix with the first team and being in the reserves there could be a first team player getting over an injury playing in the reserves for two of three weeks to try and get over an injury, so you would get to play with those type of people.

During the 1962/63 season you played with Danny Blanchflower in the old A team, what was he like to play with?

Jimmy: Well in fact he once gave me a lift after he was coming back from a knee operation which was a cartilage, and at that time it was quite a serious operation. After picking up this injury, he was in his mid thirties at that time and he actually played in the A team just to get a bit of fitness. What we used to do was turn up at the ground at White Hart Lane and get on the coach and drive down to Cheshunt where the pitches were, but Danny said to me do you want to come with me as I’m going by car, and so I went in his Jaguar car with him. Danny was a nice man but he didn’t have that much to do with me as I wasn’t actually at Tottenham full time as a ground staff boy or even as a full time professional so I wouldn’t mix with the likes of Blanchflower. The only time that I would mix with them was during pre-season training when I used to get two weeks off of work and go to Cheshunt to train, and when everyone would get their picture taken together.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Jimmy: When you say greatest influences I suppose when I was a kid there was a gentleman called Sid Tickridge who was the youth team manager and he was a very nice man who would pass on his information down to you. You would also look up to Bill Nicholson however, at the time Eddie Baily was the manager when I was in the reserves but all in there own way you looked up to them as an 18, 19, 20 year old and of course you would take notice of what these people were saying to you. 

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

Jimmy: I’m a great believer that you can look at players but at the end of the day you are only as good as what you are yourself. We’d all like to be able to play like Dave Mackay but if you were a wing half you couldn’t play like Dave Mackay because he was in the first team. Every game you went out and did the best that you could and hoped that the coaches would pass that onto Bill Nicholson, and ultimately I had a few seasons in the reserves as a part time professional which I was lucky to do as the only other player to my knowledge that did that was Peter Baker.

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

Jimmy: At the end of the day I was 21 coming up to 22 and after being a part time professional for five years and let’s be fair I had progressed as far as I was going to. I was never going to get into the first team at Spurs because they were a team of internationals and things like that. So what happened was that I got called in at the end of the season and they said thank you very much Jim but we feel that you’ve gone as far you can with us but we’ll have to let you go. So what you done then was hoped that some would come in for you, I had a couple of opportunities at going up north for a couple of league sides but I wasn’t interested in that because I didn’t want to become a full time professional who was playing in the third division or something like that. So at that time Tony Marchi he had just become the manager of Cambridge City in the Southern League and what happened was that he took me Alan Dennis and Ian Fusedale down to Cambridge City, but after six months Tony Marchi got sacked. The three of us stayed on for that season but at the end of the season Alan Dennis and Ian Fusedale were let go and were given a free transfer, but they wouldn’t let me go. So there I was travelling down to Cambridge City on my own for the following season which was what I did but at the end of the day I turned around and said to the chairman that I couldn’t carry on like this because I worked in the print so I was unable to play any games that were away from home. So after that I ended up signing for Barnet and I was at them for about six years where we managed to get to the FA Trophy final where we were beat unfortunately. However, we had a good team and we were a very good footballing side. Then at the back end of my career when I was 30 in about 1972, and in them days when you were a professional you couldn’t play for an amateur side. However, they changed the rules around that time so I ended up joining Dagenham and Redbridge as my final club which I enjoyed.

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Jimmy: Probably when we (Barnet) went to Wembley and played Stafford Rangers in the FA Trophy final. I was the captain of the team in front of 35,000 people standing before you which was nice, but unfortunately we got beat 3-0 with a team that really had nine players on who weren’t fit, while two were only semi fit, but that was just the way it was and we got beaten.

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

Jimmy: Well I’d played in the reserves with Jimmy Greaves who was a great goalscorer and Pat Jennings who was a great goalkeeper. I also played in the reserves with Bobby Smith who won the double with Spurs, so they were all players that I would class as great players.

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories of your time in the Tottenham youth team/A team?

Jimmy: During the first season I was at Spurs we didn’t have a great youth side. However, in the second season that I was there you had players like Philip Beal and Roy Low, and at the end of the day we seemed to win every game that we played. And then when you’d step up to play for the A team in the Eastern Counties League which was a professional league at that time where you played against men who played for the likes of Colchester, Lowestoft and Cambridge who were all decent players.

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

Jimmy: The toughest player in opposition was probably Ronnie Harris I suppose. As well as being tough he was also dirty and he was a hard tackler however, he wasn’t trying to put the boot in . 

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

Jimmy: Well when we were kids at Spurs I was close with Alan Dennis and Ben Embery who I later spent many years with at Barnet.

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

Jimmy: To be truthful unless you’ve got natural ability and are dedicated it is very tough, If you’re good enough you’re good enough and that’s just how it is. I’m a great believer that you can only get to a certain standard. Later on in my career I became a fullback I just wish that I’d moved into that position when I was a youngster as I was better there, so that was one of my regrets at Spurs.

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

Jimmy: Of course, I always look for their results but the trouble is that when we were at Spurs it was the glory times when they won the double so I was fortunate enough to be at Tottenham when they did all of that.