I am an avid Spurs supporter! I have been all my life, I go to many home games and watch all away games on TV I also have a great interest in the academy set up, and shall report on every aspect of this wonderful club. COYS
Paul Shoemark was a very highly rated England Schoolboys international, who had a very impressive goals to games ratio for his country at that level. Born and brought up in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, Paul Shoemark played local football in the Wellingborough area prior to playing for England Schoolboys. He was in the same England Schoolboys side as Peter Shilton, Alan Evans and John Stenson. And it was with England that the very highly rated young footballer was being scouted by a number of top clubs. In his last game for the England Schoolboys side, Paul Shoemark scored two goals against West Germany in Berlin. Clubs such as Arsenal, Southampton, Coventry City and obviously Spurs, all wanted to sign him. However, in the end Paul made the decision to join Bill Nicholson’s Spurs in 1965. He joined the club as an apprentice for the start of the 1965/66 season, and of those in his age group at Spurs, Paul came further away from Spurs, than any of the other apprentices and part-time/amateur youth players.
Although Paul joined Spurs as a centre-forward, he also played as an inside-forward, during his time at the club. With outstanding pace and an excellent low centre of gravity, Shoemark was a great finisher inside the penalty area, and he was also good with both feet. As one of the two forward players in the Spurs Youth and A side, Shoemark was strong on the ball and was capable of shielding it well. However, it was his brilliant pace, skill on the ball and finishing ability which made him one of the most highly rated youth footballers in England during the mid 1960s. Joining Spurs as a Youth team player in 1965, Shoemark played in the same Spurs youth side as future Spurs first team player Ray Evans, and during his first season at the club, Paul was a member of the Spurs youth side that won the South-East Counties League Division II, scoring five goals from nine league games. Shoemark was a clever player, and just like some of the more recent players that Spurs fans will remember who have played for the club and youth level, and who have been described as outstanding prospects, such as Terry Dixon, Shaun Murray and Marcus Edwards, well Paul had exactly the same amount of hype around him, at Spurs and around England.
Paul Shoemark would progress up to the senior Spurs youth side, into the A team for matches in the Metropolitan League, and also to the Spurs reserves, later on in the 1960s. Playing alongside the likes of future Spurs first team players Steve Perryman, Jimmy Pearce and the previously mentioned Ray Evans, would have been great for the young Paul Shoemark. Paul joined the Spurs first team on the coach to an away game at Northampton (near to where Paul is from), during the mid 1960s, and he would sit on the touchline for that game, in what must have been a very special day for him. Other memorable moments for Paul during his time at the club, would have been travelling to a tournament in The Netherlands with the Spurs Youth team, being a member of the Spurs A team that won the Metropolitan League and also just being at such a top club, at such a special time. I recently spoke with former Spurs player Terry Naylor, and he spoke very highly of Paul Shoemark’s ability at Spurs.
Paul later played non-League football for Hatfield Town, Kings Lynn and Downham Market after leaving Spurs in 1969. I had the great pleasure of interviewing Paul about his time at Spurs in 2021, and I was also very happy when he attended my mid 1960s Spurs Youth team reunion last summer. He is a really top man, who I believe was very unlucky to not have featured for the Spurs first team during his time at the club in the 1960s, owing to the fact that the first team and reserves were just so incredibly strong. However, Paul has so much to be proud about, looking back on his time at Spurs and his overall footballing career.
Spurs Academy player Maksim Paskotši is an international footballer for Estonia, and at 20 he has already won 16 caps for his country. The former Flora Tallinn player who joined Spurs in 2020 and who impressed for the Spurs Under 18 side in his first season at the club, also scored quite a lot of goals for a defender whilst playing at that level for the club. Since the start of the 2021/22 season, the versatile defender has been with the Spurs Under 21 side on a permanent basis. And although he hasn’t always been a regular in the Under 21 side, he has started all four of Spurs’ Under 21’s four games this year, and I personally think that he has done very well in those matches. Although he started off in central defence when he first joined Spurs, Maksim has also shown his versatility in defence. He has defended really solidly in all four competitive matches that he has been involved in for the Spurs Under 21 side this season, and starting with the Liverpool game last month when Maksim completed 61 minutes and defended well against talented winger Ben Doak during some of that match, he has since gone onto put in three more really fine defensive performances.
Maksim Paskotši is a tenacious defender, who at left-back has shown his really good pace. He is strong in the challenge and can tackle well, and he has also shown his good reading of the game, and also his ability to get forward well to support the forward players. In the recent Under 21’s games against Arsenal, Brighton and Everton, Maksim has impressed with his all-round game, and defensively with his tackling and positioning, and I think that he has done really well. He defended well on his side of the pitch against Charles Sagoe Jr in the game against Arsenal and against Liam Higgins and Nathan Patterson in the Everton game, whilst also doing well in the recent game with Brighton. Hopefully Maksim gets a really good run of games in the Spurs Under 21 side at left-back during the remainder of this season, as he continues to improve.
The Spurs Under 21 side recorded a 1-1 draw against Everton in Southport on Friday evening, to keep up their unbeaten start to the new year. The game didn’t get off to the best of starts for Spurs, with the home side taking the lead through Stanley Mills after just two minutes. However, Spurs grew into the game, and by the time that the final whistle was sounded, Spurs had created the better chances of the two sides, and thanks to Alfie Devine’s clever headed equalising goal, Spurs secured a good point in Southport. In the following piece I will be writing about some of the impressive performances in the Spurs side, in what was a good team performance. Defensively I thought that it was a good performance from Spurs. The impressive Brooklyn Lyons-Foster and Malachi Fagan-Walcott worked well together in central defence, and were decisive in their defending. Also, Lyons-Foster was as always impressive on the ball, and he passed the ball well into midfield.
Midfielder Max Robson once again started the match at right-back. The 20 year old impressed, in my opinion. He defended well, but he also got forward well, impressing with his good pace and determination. And his forward runs were good, and he made one really good forward pass during the match. On the other side of the pitch, Maksim Paskotši had another good game at left-back. The Estonia international defended solidly on that side of the pitch, including against Everton’s first team right-back Nathan Patterson, who started the match for Everton’s Under 21 side on Friday. And in central midfield, Matthew Craig was very good for Spurs yesterday evening. The Scotland Under 21 international was everywhere in midfield, and his work-rate was superb. Craig used the ball well, and at times also covered well for other players. He has started the year really well for Spurs’ Under 21 side.
Finally I thought that Spurs’ goalscorer Alfie Devine had another good game for Spurs, and as well as taking his goal well, he also showed his class on the ball during his time on the pitch, whilst working well off the ball as well. And on the left flank for Spurs, Romaine Mundle had another very good game. Always very inventive on the ball and direct, Romaine did well against Nathan Patterson, during the Everton player’s time on the pitch. The 19 year old Spurs player also provided the assist for Alfie Devine’s first half goal, by delivering a good free-kick into the Everton penalty area. Spurs’ Under 21 side face Crystal Palace on Monday the 27th of February, in their next Premier League 2 fixture.
Anthony George Want joined Spurs as an apprentice professional in 1964. He would sign professional forms with the club in 1965, and would work his way up from the youth teams into the A team, and later the reserve side. The Hackney born former England Youth international was a tough and defensively solid full-back who read the game well. Want would go on to make 56 competitive first team appearances for Spurs (he made his competitive debut in the March of 1968). Tony Want had a lot of competition in the full-back roles, and would leave Spurs to sign for Birmingham City in the summer of 1972, and would become a regular and important player for them during the six years that we was there. He would spend the final years of his football career in America. I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of speaking with Tony about his time at Spurs.
What are your earliest footballing memories?
Tony: I suppose it would be playing on Hackney Marshes for your local team on a Sunday morning or a Saturday afternoon. I was only about 11/12 then, but as it went on and when I was about 13, one of the scouts saw me playing in a match. I’ll always remember his name, and his name was Dickie Walker, and he found loads of famous players, and he was from east London himself. The lad who used to do the scouting with him was Ronnie Clayton (Eddie Clayton’s brother), and he was a good man who was always smart and well dressed. But Dickie Walker saw me and asked me if I wanted to train at Spurs, and that was it. So I would go training twice a week, and so that’s my earliest memories of my time at Tottenham.
What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs?
Tony: That would be the apprenticeship itself. One of the first things that you were told by the more senior players was to build yourself up. There used to be a fight everyday in the gym! I’ll always remember Johnny Wallis, as he used to look after us apprentices.
Did you have any footballing heroes/inspirations and if so who were they?
Tony: Players like Dennis Law and Bobby Charlton were the ones, and then as I got a little bit older there was Jimmy Greaves. I think that as a youngster your favourite players are the ones who score the goals, rather than a centre-half for example, but that’s how it was.
Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?
Tony: The biggest influence was without doubt Dave Mackay. And you could ask players like Graeme Souness, and he’d say the same. Dave Mackay had a massive influence on the youth players at Spurs. Pre-season was the only time that we used to play on green grass in training, as during the season we used to run around the pitch at the ground, and then play in the gym on concrete, and so the football was one and two touch football. If you were on Dave Mackay’s side you were his friend, but if you were playing against him then he’d give you a really difficult time in matches. I remember him saying to a few lads in pre-season if they wanted to stay out and practice training, and he was someone who would stay out there with you for half an hour to help you improve a part of your game. He was without a doubt my biggest influence at Spurs. And I’m sure that he was Brian Clough’s biggest influence, when he took him to Derby.
Could you describe to me what type of player you were and what positions you played in during your time at Spurs?
Tony: I went there as a midfield player who got goals, but I never played a game for Tottenham in midfield, because in a couple of weeks of being there they started playing me at full-back. In them days all the wingers were very quick, and so they wanted someone like me, who was reasonably quick but who could also give them a bit of stick as well. So I played in that position for Spurs from youth team level, and then when I got called into the England Under 19 squad during the World Cup year of 1966, the man who was running the team asked me if I could play in midfield, as I could get forward. We played a lot of games (around 28), and not all against international teams. We played against sides like Manchester United Under 21’s and Arsenal Under 21’s, when we were all Under 19’s. So I played all of those matches in midfield. I liked playing in midfield as it obviously meant that you got forward and got chances to score goals. In those days if you played at left-half then your responsibility was to defend against the inside-right. And so you couldn’t get forward as the inside-right was your responsibility. So there was a lot of man to man marking in those days, in football. I loved those early days at Tottenham, and although I never had to do national service, it was a bit like that in those days, as you weren’t going to make it if you were relaxed.
Were there any players at Spurs who you would watch closely to try and improve your game or look to learn from?
Tony: I suppose it depends on your position, but for me Dave Mackay was a massive inspiration. Outside of Spurs someone I always liked was Franz Beckenbauer, as he was someone who could do everything, and he showed this at World Cup’s. He was brilliant.
Could you talk me through your memories of your competitive first team debut for Spurs, in a league game against West Brom in the March of 1968? And how did that day come about?
Tony: I remember that Terry Venables had a bet with someone that I’d get in the Spurs first team before the Christmas of the 1967/68 season. However, it went past Christmas and then into March, and what was ironic about that West Brom game was that Jimmy Greaves was waiting for either his 200th or 300th league goal. And I remember the game finishing 0-0, as I so wanted him to score. But I didn’t find the game any different, although it was a good game for me as we never looked like conceding a goal. And I was also expected to get forward from full-back, which was good as well.
What was your time at the Lilywhites like on the whole?
Tony: Well I liked it, but in the end I probably stayed a couple of seasons too long. In them days you only had one sub, and for example Jimmy Pearce was a sub for Spurs in home games very often. Whereas when we played matches away I was the sub, although Cyril Knowles used to do what he could to make sure that I could get my appearance money, and the money between then and now in football is so different. However, although I probably stayed a bit too long, I loved my time at Spurs. All you wanted to do was play, as a footballer, and so rather than being a standby at Spurs I moved to Birmingham City, and I loved it there as well. After training at Birmingham it was a bit different to being at Spurs, as at Spurs everyone used to go their own way, but at Birmingham a good number of us used to go out together after training.
What prompted you to leave Spurs and could you talk me through your career after you left the Lilywhites?
Tony: I had a phone call from Bill Nicholson one day, and he said that a decent financial offer had come in, and so I said yes. And so I went up to Birmingham and I liked what I saw, and the manager of Birmingham at the time even said to Bill Nicholson that I had probably wasted a few years of my career by staying on a bit too long with Spurs. After spending some great years with Birmingham City I continued my playing career in America (Tony played for Philadelphia Atoms, Minnesota Kicks and Philadelphia Fury) and that was a great time. I first went to play for Philadelphia Atoms, and I was there for a couple of months, which was a great experience. As was the whole experience of playing in America.
What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?
Tony: I didn’t ever win a cup, so I can’t say that. But as for matches there were many, such as games against the likes of Liverpool. There are also great memories of playing for England at youth level, as well. And there were so many great players in that England team.
Who was the greatest player that you have had the pleasure of sharing a pitch with?
Tony: I would have to say when I was in America, when I got to play against the very best players right from 1978, although not the very best on the day. By the very best I mean Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff, Eusébio and George Best, although Pelé had just retired then. But you had teams with great players, such as New York Cosmos, who had six players who had just won the World Cup.
Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories or ones which stand out from your time in the Spurs youth teams, A team and reserves?
Tony: The Spurs Youth team that I was a part of was really successful. We won the South-East Counties League countless times and also the Southern Junior Floodlit Cup, which everyone loved as they were played at night. In the Spurs programmes at the time, they used to have listed the First Division, the Football Combination for the reserves, and then you had the Metropolitan League which was for the A team, and then you had the Southern Junior League and also the Juniors side. One day my dad spotted in the Spurs programme that every different Spurs team were top of their respective league, at one point of the season. However, coming through the ranks at Spurs, we must have won about 90% of our games up until I got into the first team. We also won the London Challenge Cup three times, and what amazed me was that we played top amateur teams like Enfield Town, and I remember when we played them that they didn’t even get a kick of the ball. They had decent players and yet us who were in the reserve team at 17/18 won the match 4-1. Then when you do progress into the Spurs first team you find it difficult at times and then easy at other times, but Spurs in the 1960s were terrific.
I remember after Spurs had won the 1967 FA Cup final, that they played a Celtic side who had just won the European Cup, at Celtic Park in a friendly in front of a sell out crowd. And Spurs recorded a 3-3 draw in that game, and so they never even lost that. To have won the European Cup meant that you had to be the best of the best. I remember then going up to Old Trafford to watch Spurs in the Charity Shield, and Bill Nicholson couldn’t believe that I’d traveled up there on my own to watch the game. He had seen me and my friend who was an Arsenal fan, and he asked me to stay where I was in the stadium after the match and then he’d take us down to the dressing room, where the players were. I remember that the game ended in a draw and so both teams had to share the cup. But my mate who was an Arsenal supporter couldn’t believe it as we came back in the Pullman’s carriage on the train with the team. While I was at Spurs as a young player I’ll always remember us being told to tuck our shirts in and pull our socks down, as we were representing Tottenham Hotspur.
Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories or ones which stand out from your time with the Spurs first team?
Tony: My first team debut against West Brom really stands out, but then there’s other games that I played in, that you don’t even remember that you played in, whereas in other games you remember the little things that standout. We won at Arsenal quite a few times, which I remember, and they always used to finish above us in the league at that era. One game that I’ll always remember, was playing against Liverpool in the sixth round of the FA Cup. Jimmy Greaves scored the opening goal, but then Liverpool equalised later on in the game, and so the game went to a replay. So that game does standout, but as for the games with the best atmospheres, they would be the games between Spurs and West Ham.
Who was the toughest player that you ever came up against?
Tony: That would probably be Peter Thompson of Liverpool. I had a difficult game against him one time at right-back, and I remember that Bill Nicholson selected Alan Mullery to play at right-back in another game, against Peter Thompson. I remember at half-time in that game after Peter Thompson had given Alan a really difficult first half, that Alan said to Bill Nicholson to never, ever play him at right-back again. I was sitting in the dugout with Joe Kinnear, who had been dropped for that game, and he said to me that we’ve just got to sit back and watch the Peter Thompson show! However, going back to your question there’s so many players, and in particular wingers who were so good and difficult to play against.
Were there any players at Spurs who you were particularly close to?
Tony: It was mainly John Pratt, as he was from Hoxton, and I was from very close to Hoxton, in Hackney. However, he wasn’t at the club when I signed as an apprentice, and there was really no one from my area at the club when I joined as an apprentice. But me and John Pratt did a lot of things together when we were both at the club, and for example we’d go out for a drink together on a Saturday night. Terry Venables always got on with me at Spurs, and years later when I bumped into him when he was the Crystal Palace manager, he said that we’ve got a player at Crystal Palace who will make it, and that he really reminded him of me. And his name was Kenny Samson. So I got on well with Terry Venables.
What would your advice be to the young Spurs players of today as they look to break into the first team?
Tony: I honestly wouldn’t know now, as it’s totally different. In my day the manager did everything, and no one answered back to him. It was very different in those days. For example in my day we used to have a fillet steak before games, and when I first went to play football in America I was asked what I wanted to eat, and so I said a fillet steak. The man who asked me thought I was joking, as he said that I wouldn’t get one ounce of energy from that fillet steak during the game that I was going to play.
After all these years how do you look back on your time at the Lilywhites and is Spurs a club that you still hold close to your heart?
Tony: Oh yes. My whole family are Spurs supporters. I still remember when Dickie Walker and Ronnie Clayton used to send two tickets for me to watch the first team, when I first joined Spurs as a youngster, and I remember going into the tearoom at the ground, which the players also used to use. They were great times at Spurs.
22 year old former Spurs Academy player Elliot Thorpe is a player who plays the game with great heart, skill and determination. At Spurs as an Academy player for many years, having joined them from Cambridge United. Elliot, who is a former Wales Under 21 international and Victory Shield winner, had to wait a little while before making his competitive debut for the Spurs Under 18 side, after signing scholarship forms with them in the summer of 2017. The Hinchingbrooke born midfielder had at times been unlucky with injuries during his time at Spurs, but he would have some really good games for the Spurs Under 18 side during his two seasons of scholarship. He would also impress for the then Spurs Under 23 side when he featured for them during the following 2019/20 season, and he would also impress greatly during that pre-season for them. However, it was during the 2020/21 season that Elliot really enjoyed a really good consistent run of games in. He really impressed during that season, and he had some really fine games for the then Spurs Under 23 side.
Scoring a fine brace against Liverpool’s Under 21 side at The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium during that 2020/21 season, would have been a really memorable moment for Elliot. A versatile midfield player who is capable of playing in central midfield, as a CAM or out wide on the flanks as a winger, he is a player with good pace, a lot of skill and excellent movement off the ball. His ability to glide past players with skill and pace, make intelligent runs into space to receive the ball and also score goals, makes him a very difficult player to defend against, especially when playing as a CAM. He is also a really hard worker off the ball and someone who gives his all for his team, while playing the game with real creativity, and a smile on his face. Elliot left Spurs officially during the beginning of the 2021/22 season to join Championship side Luton Town a permanent basis. He made his competitive debut for Luton’s first team in an FA Cup fourth round tie with Cambridge United, providing an assist and impressing during his 69 minutes on the pitch, in a 3-0 win for Luton.
Elliot made three competitive appearances for Luton’s first team (this included his Championship debut) during the early stages of the current 2022/23 season, before joining League One side Burton Albion on a loan move. The former Spurs man would make seven appearances for Burton Albion before returning to Luton Town, and since returning to Luton he made one appearance for Luton, with that coming in an FA Cup fourth round tie with Grimsby Town, a game that Elliot started. Elliot is a player who I believe still has tremendous potential. His ability on the ball is excellent, while his work off the ball is similarly excellent, and with some luck and a really good run of games I’m confident that he would do really well. I’d like to wish Elliot all the very best of luck for the remainder of this season with Luton Town. He’s a player who I’ve always thought very highly of, and he is without doubt one of the friendliest footballers in the game, who always makes time for the fans. He is a top man and footballer!
19 year old central midfielder Michael Craig left Spurs just after the halfway point of last season (2021/22). The Barnet born professional footballer, who is the twin brother of current Spurs Under 21’s player Matthew Craig, is a Scotland Under 21 international. Formerly of Watford and Arsenal’s Academy, prior to joining the Spurs Academy set-up, Michael made his competitive debut for the Spurs Under 18 side in the 2018/19 season. He would sign scholarship forms with the club at the end of that season, and although he started the 2019/20 season well for the Spurs Under 18 side, he would pick up an injury early on in that season which would unfortunately rule him out for a year. He returned for Spurs’ Under 18 side as a second year scholar during the following season (2020/21), and Michael did well during that season, getting plenty of game time, and also debuting for the Spurs Under 23 side during that same season.
Michael Craig made 11 competitive appearances for the then Spurs Under 23 side during his time at the club during the 2021/22 season. Always a player who I have thought highly of, and who is more than capable of influencing the game from central midfield, Michael mostly used to play slightly higher up the pitch in midfield, than his twin brother Matthew, at Spurs. Michael is a strong and assured midfield player, with good pace and great passing ability. He likes to push forward with the ball from midfield. After leaving Spurs early on in 2022, Michael Craig spent some time without a club, but he did trial with Southampton for a while, and would feature for them at B team level, in a Premier League 2 fixture. Later on in the season he featured for Reading’s Under 23 side, in the Premier League 2. And just last summer he signed for Reading on a permanent transfer.
Making good progress with Reading during the current 2022/23 season, the former Spurs Academy player who appeared on the bench twice for Spurs’ first team during his time at the club, has featured again for the Reading Under 21 side on occasions this season. However, he has also impressively made five competitive appearances for the Reading first team this season. Michael made his competitive debut for the Reading first team as a late substitute in a first round Carabao Cup tie with Stevenage last August. Michael’s most recent first team appearance for Reading came at Old Trafford, in an FA Cup fourth round tie with Manchester United last month, as a second half substitute, in what must have been a memorable day for him. I would like to wish Michael all the very best of luck for the remainder of this season, and for his future in the game.
Anthony Brian Smith was one of the finest youth teams prospects in the Spurs youth system during the 1950s/60s era. Born in Lavenham, Suffolk, on the 5th of October 1941, the talented centre-half who could also play at left-half, grew up in Royston, Hertfordshire. The player who once represented the old FA Youth XI, was as a schoolboy footballer, scouted by a number of top sides. Smith trialled with Millwall and even Manchester United for a time, before signing for Spurs, initially joining as an amateur in the summer of 1957. The defender would later sign professional forms with Spurs just under two years later. In those early days at Spurs, when Tony was playing for the talented Spurs Youth team, one of Tony’s teammates was a future Spurs Deputy Chairman, the late Tony Berry, and also future Spurs first team player Frank Saul. Part of the Spurs Youth sides which went on tour to Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands, to participate in tournaments, those early days at Spurs would have been memorable for Tony.
A highly skilful and vocal defender who read the game really well, Tony Smith is also remembered well by some of his old Spurs teammates, for his excellent ball juggling skills. After progressing up to the old Spurs A side, where he won a number of Eastern Counties League titles, Smith was soon playing regularly for the Spurs reserve side. In one such season (1961/62), Tony made 30 appearances for the Spurs reserve side in the Football Combination League (the second most appearances of anyone in the Spurs side), and that was a season which Spurs won the league in. Back in the October of 1959, Tony Smith would make the first of two first team appearances (in friendly matches). He was 18 when he debuted for the Spurs first team in a friendly against Reading. Smith made his other first team appearance in 1964, this time in a friendly with Leytonstone. He would remain a regular for the Spurs reserve side up until leaving the club in the spring of 1966.
Upon leaving Spurs, Tony Smith moved to South Africa to join a team called Southern Suburbs. Spending the rest of his footballing career in South Africa, the former Spurs man would also play for Addington (Spurs legend Peter Baker was the manager during that time), Durban Spurs, Durban United, Durban City and Hillary. Smith would later go into management, becoming the manager of South African side Bush Bucks for a time during the early 1980s. Although he didn’t get to play for the Spurs first team in a competitive fixture, owing to some of the international players in front of him at Spurs during the early 1960s, just like all of the Spurs players who were at the club at that incredible time in it’s history, and who worked their way up the ranks at the club, Tony should be very proud of all that he achieved in his playing career. He was like others, very unlucky to not really have been given a chance with the first team at Spurs, but he was very highly thought of at the club, by teammates and coaches alike.
Tony Smith is now retired and still living in South Africa.
Versatile midfielder Jack Roles was at Spurs as an Academy player for many years, and was an important part of a very talented age group in the Spurs Academy set-up. A local lad from Enfield, and a boyhood Spurs supporter, who would have grown up watching the club. After signing scholarship forms with Spurs in the summer of 2015, Roles featured a lot for the Spurs Under 18 side over the course of his two seasons as a scholar with the club, and I thought that he did very well at that level, scoring some really important goals for them. He would make his competitive debut for the then Spurs Under 23 side fairly early on in the 2017/18 season, and although he wasn’t always a regular for the side during that season, Jack did score four goals in four games at one point during that season. As a CAM Jack Roles is a player whose excellent movement off the ball makes him very difficult to defend against. Equally as skilful and clever on the ball, Jack is capable of ghosting into the penalty area and scoring goals.
Jack Roles is capable of successfully scoring spectacular goals, and that is something that he has done throughout his career so far. The 23 year old is literally capable of scoring goals from pretty much anywhere on the pitch. It was the 2018/19 season that would have been a very memorable one for the former Spurs player, as he was consistently outstanding for the Spurs Under 23 side and the Under 19 side in the UEFA Youth League. He scored lots of goals that season and was without doubt one of the very best players in the Spurs Under 23 side. The player who has represented Cyprus up until Under 21 level in the past, would join then League Two side Cambridge United on loan for the 2019/20 season, after featuring for the Spurs first team in pre-season. Although he did have some trouble with injuries during that season, Jack still became a fans favourite during his time at the Abbey Stadium. Scoring five goals (some of those goals were finished with such outstanding technique) from 25 competitive appearances for Cambridge United, Jack would return to Spurs for the following 2020/21 season.
Jack Roles would spend some time out on loan with Burton Albion and Stevenage during that 2020/21 season. Unfortunately however, he would leave Spurs at the end of his contract with the club at the end of the 2020/21 season, after spending 16 years with the club. Jack would then sign for Crystal Palace at the beginning of the following season, and would score a memorable goal for their Under 23 side against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, during his time there. He would later sign for National League side Woking, during that same season, after leaving Crystal Palace. He would make 24 competitive appearances for Woking, scoring two goals for them. And only very recently Jack Roles returned to the Football League, when he signed for Crawley Town. He made his debut for Crawley as a substitute in a League Two fixture against Gillingham at the weekend.
I believe that this is a fantastic opportunity for Jack in the Football League. I also believe that he will be very important for Crawley, from now until the end of the season, as they battle to avoid relegation. Jack is a tremendous player who still has a lot to give to the game. He is also a great lad, and I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see him rise through the leagues over the next couple of seasons.
Zenon Stylianides signed scholarship forms with Spurs in the summer of 2014, and would go on to feature for the Spurs Under 18 side and Under 21 side over the next couple of seasons. A local lad to Spurs, Zenon Stylianides was a skilful, tenacious and very hardworking midfield player, and someone who was also versatile on the pitch, during his time with Spurs. Zenon also likes to score goals, and in recent seasons he has scored plenty of goals. Zenon would cover a good amount of positions for Spurs at Academy level, during his time at the club. Positions as varied as left-back, as a winger and in central midfield. Able to take players on for skill, tenacious off the ball and positive with it. Zenon Stylianides featured a lot for Spurs at Under 18 level, and was part of a very good side for Spurs at that level. He would of course also make the step up to the then Spurs Under 23 side, making a good number of appearances for them in his final season with the club (2016/17).
I particularly remember from that 2016/17 season, Zenon having some excellent games against Chelsea Under 23’s and Sunderland Under 23’s respectively. In the game against a Chelsea Under 23 side which included Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount, Stylianides performed his central midfield duties really well. Helping Spurs to record a 2-2 draw. In the other game against Sunderland (at home), Zenon again started the match in central midfield, and would put in a man of the match performance as Spurs won 1-0. That Sunderland game was to be one of Zenon’s last games for the Spurs Under 23 side, as he left the club at the end of that season. That summer he would join QPR’s Under 23 side. He would spend one season with the West London club, before signing for Cypriot side Omonia Aradippou (Zenon is eligible to represent Cyprus at international level).
Omonia Aradippou, in the second tier of Cypriot football when Zenon joined them, were a club that he would spend one season with, before returning to England. Upon his return to England the former Spurs man spent a little bit of time without a club, but he has since played for a number of non-League sides. Sides that include East Thurrock, FC Romania, Cheshunt, New Salamis and currently Hertford Town. In one season with FC Romania, Zenon impressively scored 22 league goals for them. I actually fairly recently saw Zenon play for New Salamis. The team who play in the eighth tier of English football and who are based near to Spurs’ stadium, also recently had former Spurs Academy player Rayan Clarke playing for them for a short time. Zenon really stood out on a technical level in the game that I saw him play for New Salamis. Impressing with his skill and desire to go forward with the ball (he was playing in a more forward position in this particular game). I would like to wish Zenon all the very best of luck for the remainder of this season with Hertford Town.
Chay Cooper is one of the most skilful players that I have seen play for Spurs at Academy level. From Harlow in Essex, and formerly of Southend United’s Academy set-up, winger Chay Cooper was at Spurs for a number of seasons as an Academy player, up until leaving the club at the end of the 2020/21 season. Mainly playing as a winger, Chay could also play in central-midfield or as a CAM. Another player who was a part of the very talented 2018/19 Academy first year group, Chay Cooper is a player with an excellent low centre of gravity. He is a very creative player, who is direct with the ball, and has tremendous ability to go past players with skill. Chay also has a real eye for goal, and he scored a good number of goals for Spurs at Academy level. Chay loves to test the goalkeeper from distance, and the player who first featured for the Spurs Under 18 side in 2018/19, would get a lot more game time for them in the following 2019/20 season. It was to be a season that I thought Chay excelled in for the Spurs Under 18 side.
Getting a good number of goals and assists during 2019/20, the then second year scholar Chay Cooper did really well during that season for Spurs. In the important FA Youth Cup fourth round tie away to Wigan Athletic, which Spurs lost 2-0. Chay unfortunately missed that game through injury, but such was the form that he was in that season for Spurs’ Under 18 side, I reckon that he could well have given Spurs a much better chance of winning that game, had he played. After featuring for the Spurs Development side during the 2020/21 pre-season, Chay Cooper didn’t actually feature for the then Spurs Under 23 side that season, in competitive matches. He left Spurs at the end of 2020/21, and would go onto sign for League Two side Colchester United for the following season. A regular and very important player for Colchester’s Development side during that season, Chay scored an impressive 13 goals for the then Colchester Under 23 side.
I attended one of the Colchester Under 23’s league matches (against Watford) during the 2021/22 season, and I thought that Chay was Colchester’s best player, in what were very windy conditions in Essex, on that day. The former Spurs man also made five competitive appearances for the Colchester United first team in 2021/22, scoring one goal and providing one assist from those matches. His goal, which came on the final day of the 2021/22 League Two season against Hartlepool, was yet another stylish and well taken goal. This season however, Chay hasn’t played a lot of football for Colchester, because of injury. He has made one appearance for Colchester’s first team, and some for their Under 21 side. And on his fairly recent return from injury he scored two goals for Colchester against Saffron Walden Town. Just this week it was announced that Chay had joined National League South side St Albans City, on loan until the end of the season. He could well make his debut for St Albans on Saturday afternoon, in their home league game against Hampton & Richmond Borough.
I would like to wish Chay a very successful remainder of the season. I look forward to hopefully attending a St Albans game before the end of the season.