My interview with former Spurs player Bobby Scarth:

Outside-left Bobby James Scarth was born in Chatham, Kent in 1954. The son of former Spurs player Jimmy Scarth, Bobby was playing for local non-League side Haringey Borough when he was scouted by Spurs, and he joined the club in 1970. Scarth was a quick and direct winger, who like Steve Outram on the opposite flank, had the main job of getting to the byline and delivering crosses into the box, although he did also have a good eye for goal. Playing for our youth and reserve side during his time at Spurs, Bobby was released by the club at the end of the 1972/73 season. Scarth went in to the semi-professional game after leaving the club, and he played for the likes of Royston Town, Hertford Town, Ware and Enfield (after retiring from the game he used to play for the Spurs legends side). I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of catching up with the former Spurs man.

What are your earliest footballing memories and how did you come about joining Spurs?

Bobby: I played at a match for Haringey Borough and the scout Charlie Faulkner was there, and afterwards he came up to me and said would l like to train on Tuesday and Thursday with Tony Want and John Pratt who took the training. I used to go from school and go up there in 1970, so that was one of my earliest memories.

What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs?

Bobby: Well the year before l signed as an amateur and played in the junior and youth, we used to go up to Cheshunt to train now and again with Ron Henry our manager, and l really liked him. Then in the year next year when l signed as an apprentice professional we used to train in the morning and than do jobs in the afternoon, or sometimes we’d do weights.

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

Bobby: Alan Gilzean was the main one. l used to love wingers, so people like Roger Morgan, Jimmy Neighbour, Ralph Coates and Jimmy Pearce.

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

Bobby: I was number 11/outside-left. l was fast and my game was to get the ball and cross it. l would always cut inside and shoot at the goal and also get to the byline and get it over.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Bobby: Tony Want and John Pratt were really good l learnt from them. Ron Henry was an influence and also scout Charlie Faulkner.

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

Bobby: Steve Perryman was one of them, but also Jimmy Neighbour the winger was another one along Alan Gilzean who had a great touch, and could flick and head the ball well.

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

Bobby: Winning the youth league and London youth Cup and reserves league, and also when the first team won the League Cup in 1973, and we went to the Savoy which was a fantastic feeling with all the first team players around. Good times!

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Bobby: It was a fantastic feeling being signed by Spurs and invited for the training and being given a season ticket. Wonderful feeling. Amazing!                       

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

Bobby: Alan Gilzean. I could say Graeme  Souness as l played with him in reserves three times together.

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

Bobby: Graeme Souness was so hard and John Pratt too. He was pretty hard as well.

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

Bobby: Pat Welton came up to me and said you’re not going to make the grade, but l already knew that he didn’t like me. l was very disappointed as l trained very hard and had a very good attitude. After that l went semi professional.

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

Bobby: The first two years were really good as a schoolboy and an amateur, and then I signed apprentice professional, but I didn’t get on with Pat Welton who was the youth team manager, but l did get on with Ron Henry who always gave me confidence. Eddie Baily gave me my chance to play for the reserves and l will never forget that time. l alway supported Spurs since l was small.

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

Bobby: Roger Gibbins and Wayne Cegielski from our youth team. We keep in touch on text message. Roger and l have played in charity games.

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

Bobby: l would say to players to knuckle down and train hard and have a good attitude, and don’t give up like l did, whether you make it or not.

Your father Jimmy Scarth also used to play for Spurs. How big an influence was he on your footballing career?

Bobby: Yes my father played for Spurs from 1948-1952. Yes he did influence me and he made sure that l worked hard and had a good attitude, and also keep my feet on the ground. He helped my confidence in everything.

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?

Bobby: I still always love Spurs and that will never change since l was small, and I will never forget when I went to the Savoy. l wish l could go back and enjoy those times again.

My interview with former Spurs player James Yeboah:

James Yeboah was a technically gifted centre half who joined Spurs as a 16 year old from West Ham United during the 2010/11 season. Born in nearby Edmonton but brought up in Watford, Yeboah was at Spurs for three years, playing for the under 18’s and the old reserve side. Good at anticipating danger and excellent in the air, James had a fine future to look forward to in the game. However, sadly his career in the professional game was cut short due to injury, and despite a spell on trial with some non-League clubs, James is now no longer playing the game and he currently works for a construction company. I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of catching up with James to look back on his time at Spurs.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

James: So probably when I was six years old I started playing for Barnet Sunday league, and I played up until the age of 11 when I got scouted from like Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham. I ended up going to Chelsea on a trial but they took quite long to make a decision, and actually the runner Adam Gemili’s mum basically gave my mum a contact for somebody in West Ham. So I then went to West Ham and trialled there for like six week and got signed, and I spent six years there and got a YTS there but I didn’t sign my contract. It got to the stage where like oh I haven’t signed yet and so the club thought that maybe I was being a bit big time, so I ended up doing a trial for Tottenham at 16 for three to four weeks, and then they signed me straight away. My West Ham days were quite good as well and we were part of a very good youth team, and then obviously when I signed for Tottenham which would have been 2010, I played for the youth team and reserve team there. Harry Kane was the year above me and I think that Andros Townsend was the year above him, but my time there was good but the only bad thing were probably the injuries that I went through that really affected everything. I played reserve team games more often than youth team games even.

What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs?

James: So I signed when Spurs had just qualified for the Champions League, and my earliest memories were being a ball boy for a bit in the Champions League. As a player we travelled a lot, we went to Eurofoot and we won that, so my earliest memories would be the games on a Saturday and scoring my first goal. We also went to the Milk Cup which was quite good.

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

James: I was a very big fan of Rio Ferdinand and Franz Beckenbauer because obviously I was a centre back, so for me they were ones that really stood out. I’d say that I like modelled my game on them and I liked to pass and I liked intercepting as I was very technical. I was also good at long balls, quite fast and also great in the air as well, so in terms of players they were ones that really stood out for me.

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

James: So I played majority centre back and sometimes right back, but I would say that I was a ball playing centre half, and very good at interceptions like I said, and very good at attacking the ball and I never really lost a header. I was aggressive when I needed to be but I never really had to slide tackle unless I’d not defended properly or it was a last ditch tackle, but other than that I was smart with my positioning and stuff. When we did do reserve games I played with a couple of the first team like Jake Livermore, Ledley King and then maybe when it was like a first team training game Bale played, Crouch played, Modric played. So I’d say that that was probably the best experience that I had, training with the first team, that was amazing. Also meeting Beckham as well when he came.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

James: Most probably I’d have have to go for Brian Klug who was at the club at the time I was there, and probably John McDermott who was like a very strict father figure. And also probably Chris Ramsey who gave me my chance to play in the reserves.

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

James: I’ve always been one of them people where you can admire everyone that was there as a good footballer, but it was more about improving myself. We’d go on debrief and I’d watch more of the first team players and what they’d do because obviously they were more complete players. When Ledley King played I thought that he was magnificent and if he did not get injuries then he would have been one of the best centre halves in the world. He was absolutely unbelievable in the way that he read the game, and Gallas as well was good at reading the game, but in terms of players Ledley King was a very special player.

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

James: I’d say that the Milk Cup was really good and that was a good memory to be able to travel as a youngster, and we didn’t do too bad but for experience for being away from home and knowing that you were now a footballer was really good. Winning the Eurofoot in Belgium was another really good experience, but I was only there for three years and then it all went a bit down hill.

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

James: I think that it was actually signing I would say, knowing that all the hard work that you’ve put in from the age of six to 16, and signing your first contract is a change to your life. Obviously your family’s really proud of you and they know that you’ve worked really hard for that, so I think that that was probably the best moment if I’m honest.

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

James: It would have to be Gareth Bale from that training session although Modric was there as well and Adebayor was there at the time and he played. So in terms of the best player I’ve ever played against for the opposing team it would have to be them.

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

James: I would say Modric in training who was unbelievable as well and you could say Harry Kane as well, as another one. We trained and played together a lot.

What was Harry Kane like as a young player to play with?

James: Harry is a top professional and he’s always done the right thing, he’s one of those players where you can have the best game of your life and he can still somehow score one goal or two goals as he’s always been like that. I was there when he made his debut in the Europa League I think, and we knew that if he got a chance then he will score.

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

James: So basically it came up to my pro year and I had obviously played more reserve games than I had ever played youth games, and so we were just training and I got a tackle from one of the players and it was an impact injury. I ended up tearing my rec fem which is the muscle in your thigh where it had like lifted up the tendon as well in my thigh, so I had to have rehab from that and basically have to learn how to walk again which was not the best. A couple of weeks before that I’d been asked if I was offered a third year would I have accepted it, and I was like no I’d rather just go to another club and try my luck. I had an agent at the time so they would have set everything up so that would have been with Tim Sherwood, Chris Ramsey and Les Ferdinand, and they were all like you’ll get a club straight away as they knew that I had the ability. Then a couple of weeks later I got the injury and I tried to get fit from it but it was a really long injury and it put me out for a whole year. I went to clubs to like train like Banbury or some lower semi-professional teams to try and train up to see what would happen with that, but it never really materialised and so I then went in to working for a property developer in 2015. I worked for them for about half a year and then I thought that I wanted to make a living out of it so I applied to go to uni and I did three years at the University of Westminster, and then I got a job with a construction company. So I’ve just started working for them since last year September so it’s been a crazy couple of years, and actually the funny thing is in 2015 when I was working for the property developer I worked there for half a year. So when it got to June I used to go for a kick about with a couple of the lads, and I ended up snapping my Achilles unfortunately, which is one of the worst pains I’ve ever felt.

Again I had to learn how to walk again, and then when I was supposed to start uni for the first year I then ruptured it again so I had to have surgery, so it was a really tough time as it’s a really big injury. Everything seems to have worked out now and I’ve met my partner and I’ve just bought my first house and so things have got better and hopefully it will continue. I’m looking to open up my own business in the future, and so that’s about it for now.

Are you now officially retired from playing?

James: Yeah, so in terms of would I try and go semi-pro or try and play League Two or League One I know that it’s possible but I think if it’s meant to be it would have happened. I’ve got to just be careful with my body now because that first impact injury weakened my left side and then that’s when I got my Achilles ruptured two or three years later. So it’s like my body wasn’t strong enough and my mind knew how to do everything but my body failed me on that part.

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

James: It was good and it was a good experience for me as a young young man compared to the man I am now. In terms of good experiences yeah there were some great experiences, and there were also times where it’s bad but what can you really do. 

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

James: Andros was really cool and he dropped me home a couple of times and Harry Kane dropped me home like twice, because we all lived in digs which were close to each other. I seen Harry Winks come up and I trained with him and played with him and also Josh Onomah, but I would say that Grant Ward was the player that I was closest to, and me and him were really good friends and we still keep in touch sometimes as well. I was closest to him because in our digs we lived two doors down, and Grant is a really good lad.

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

James: I think that they need to understand that you need to enjoy it, and take it seriously and just train really hard but make sure you have a balance. A lot of players don’t have a balance from it, so have a balance and be strict with the way you eat and be strict with the time that you go out, and be strict with your sleep. Also figure out what you’re really good at and continue to do that and then figure out what you’re not so good at and work on that. You only ever lose when you give up in my opinion.

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?

James: I think of course it will be a club that I hold very close to my heart along with West Ham, because it’s made me the person that I am today. It’s given me so many opportunities and it’s let me meet so many different people and cultures, and I’ve met all the people you can think of such as heroes, David Beckham, Henry and even Johan Cruyff, so It was an amazing experience. One of my CEO’s actually used to play for West Ham when he was younger, so for me there is always a link to football and it’s something that you can’t escape. 

My interview with former Spurs player Gary Hyams:

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

What are your earliest footballing memories?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

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

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

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

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

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

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My interview with former Spurs player Steve Outram:

(Steve Outram is pictured above. He is the last on the right, of the back row.)

Romford born Steven William Outram was a fast and direct wide player who loved to get to the byline and deliver crosses into the danger zone. At Spurs from 1968 to 1971 as a youth player and part of the Spurs youth team that won the Southern Junior Cup in 1970, Steve Outram left Spurs as a 17 year old and ended up quitting the game altogether (Steve did go out on loan to Southend United during his time at Spurs). He did however, get into athletics as he was a talented athlete, and also surfing, a hobby which Steve still does to this very day. Now retired and living by the coast, I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of catching up with Steve who is a really nice guy, to look back on his time at Spurs during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Steve: I played at a match for Basildon at Redbridge and Dickie Walker was there and I didn’t know that, and then afterwards he came up to me and said would I like to train on Tuesdays and Thursdays with Tony Want and John Pratt, who took the training. So I used to go from school and go up there in 1968 and so that was one of my earliest memories. I’ll never forget that I went to pre-season training and Jimmy Greaves was my idol, and all of a sudden I’d gone from playing as a schoolboy to actually lining up against Jimmy Greaves, and I just froze as it was really difficult. It was weird because I was used to being at the stadium and then all of a sudden you’re on the pitch, so that would be my earliest memories.

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

Steve: Well the year before I signed as an apprentice I signed as an amateur and played in the junior side, and we played against West Ham and Chelsea and all them. We used to go up to Cheshunt to train now and again and Ron Henry was our manager and I really liked him, but then in the next year when I signed as an apprentice going to the ground was quite weird really. Nowadays you go into gyms and everybody’s singing and dancing, but I remember that we used to train in the morning and then do jobs in the afternoon or sometimes we’d do weights. The gym was underneath one of the stands at White Hart Lane and there was like two bits of wood with a pole across, and you used to put weighs on the end, and there was a few dumbbells and a couple of benches and that was it, can you imagine it? Also I remember Cecil Poynton and he was a lovely old guy and he was a Yorkshireman, and it was a running joke that you used to come in everyday and say where’s my keys! As he could never find his keys, so that was really funny. Also training around the pitch you used to have the things with the A, B, C, D and people used to put the half-time scores from other matches up, but we used to jog and sprint those. Also you had people like Terry Venables, Pat Jennings and Alan Gilzean and they were just incredible, and so going to Cheshunt and training with those guys were some of my earliest memories. I don’t think that I was mentally ready for it and that jump though.

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

Steve: Well Greaves was the main one but also people like George Best as I used to love wingers. So people like Cliff Jones, Jimmy Robertson, Francis Lee and Stan Bowles and the people like that were the characters that I loved, but I mean Best, Greaves and Dennis Law were the main ones, and also Eusébio from Portugal and Pelé, but Greaves was the man.

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

Steve: I was number seven so outside-right as they had five forwards back in the day. I was fast, and my game was to get the ball and run and cross it but I also scored quite a lot of goals as well as a winger, but it was really just to get the ball and run at people, which I don’t know if they do as much anymore. But I would just go down to the byline and get it over, so my game was pace, but I wasn’t very good with tactics. A newspaper clipping said that Steve Outram hit the jackpot, scoring five well taken goals with Bobby Scarth and Bob Field getting the other two as the Spurs juniors beat Leyton Orient juniors in a game at Cheshunt. So that was pretty much what type of player I was.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Steve: That’s interesting. I think that Tony Want and John Pratt were really good but I didn’t have much to do with the first team, but Eddie Baily was an influence and Dickie Walker the scout, but overall I would say Ron Henry. Ron Henry was incredible while John Pratt was good with the training, and Jimmy Pearce, Terry Lee and Phil Holder (he was incredible!) but that was about it really. 

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

Steve: Graeme Souness was one of them but also Roger Morgan the winger was another one along with Alan Gilzean who had a great touch, and was a big influence. 

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

Steve: Winning the league was the biggest thing really I would say, but also being around the first team when they won the cup and we went to the Savoy, and things like that. Earlier on that newspaper clipping that I read out, I didn’t mention that Bill Nicholson was watching me in that game and afterwards he criticised something that I did, and I let that affect me in a bad way. So my advice to anyone would be to take it on board and take it as a positive to get better and learn, and I didn’t and I used to let things like that, and things that Pat Welton used to say affect me and I would take it the wrong way. I took it as criticism and not creative criticism, and so I struggled with that. 

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Steve: I think it was getting signed by Spurs and just being invited for the training as it was incredible and unforgettable really. We used to be given season tickets and it was amazing.

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

Steve: Jimmy Greaves. There is no doubt about that, although I could say Souness but I think I would have to say Jimmy Greaves without a doubt. 

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

Steve: Graeme Souness. He was so hard although we did play West Ham once and they had a player (whose name I can’t remember) and he was pretty hard as well. 

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

Steve: Well Eddie Baily came up to me and he said sorry you’re not going to make the grade unfortunately, and that was before my 17th birthday when you had to sign professional, and so that was that. It was difficult and after that I never really played again which is interesting, but I did get into surfing and athletics, because as I say I was fast and I actually got an English national three A’s medal for 10,000 metres. I competed with Basildon and we had a great team which included the likes of Eamonn Martin, but I got into athletics and surfing and I never played again really. I did have the odd kick about with mates’ teams now and again but I never came back from it really, though I don’t regret it as I did other things which was good like I say and I was good at athletics. But it was hard and I admire people that pick themselves up like Peter Taylor who was rejected by Spurs, but he picked himself up and on he went. But to be honest I didn’t have the character at the time, but funnily enough and once I got into athletics I developed a mental character, and I had two coaches and one was big on psychology. If I’d have had that at Tottenham it would have helped me, and for example before a match if it was an away match then we would stop on the motorway and have steak and chips two hours before a match! Also, everyday we would go in the White Hart and we’d have soft drinks, but the pros wouldn’t as they’d be in the pub drinking. So anyway once I got into athletics I had a different mindset and if I’d have had that while I was playing football I think that things could have been different, for example just breaking things down. In athletics we looked at a six months training schedule and we’d aim at six months to a year, and we’d look at diet and specific training, which I am sure that they do now in football. 

We used to go out before a match and have a kick about and there was no stretching as we’d just start playing, and the first team did it as well. Jimmy Greaves never used to kick a ball about, and one day I’ll never forget that he was in the changing room and he was smoking, and I was thinking my hero’s smoking before a match and it was just incredible. I think that I would have been better playing football now as it has changed a lot, and I was never one of the boys if that makes sense, and I was never one for going down to the pub, and it was all about that then and that didn’t help. Another criticism that I got was for being distant and I weren’t, it’s just that I weren’t really interested in that sort of Jack the Lad stuff if that makes sense, but it’s funny now how it has changed.

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

Steve: The first two years was positive and really good as a schoolboy and as an amateur, and I enjoyed it but once I signed as an apprentice professional I can’t say that I enjoyed it. I didn’t particularly get on with Pat Welton who was our manager although I did get on well with Ron Henry, and I loved football but once you start doing something and getting paid for it, it changes for me. It’s funny with surfing and I’m still surfing now although I’ve got a problem with my back, but with football once you train everyday it’s different. If it had have been different then I think that I would have enjoyed it more, as I say I liked athletics because it was more scientific, but in football we used to go out and do a few drills and then have a five-a-side match but I found it a bit repetitive to be honest, you know. But now they’d be in the gym and doing all sorts of cardiovascular stuff and that, but overall I enjoyed my time at Spurs and it was good. But also it was difficult, because once you let your head go down it’s really hard, I mean for the last 20 years I’ve been retired as I was a teaching assistant with special needs pupils. When I used to look at pupils sometimes they’d be in class and do something, and fail and then their head would go down but I used to say to them that failure is part of success, but I never had that when I was younger. I never had that, and I used to think that I was not good enough and that was the end of it, and I don’t think that that was true actually, but there you go. Although it was really good at Spurs especially as I had always supported them and still do.

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

Steve: Terry Lee, Kevin Worsfold who you interviewed and Julio Grato who sadly died last year, also Micky Flanagan I was close to, so I was really close with those guys. Julio Grato was great and his parents were Spanish and I came from an east end working class background and I was brought up on bangers and mash. One time he took me to his house and they lived in Stoke Newington somewhere, and his parents cooked me this meal and it was something Spanish although I forget what it was, and it was incredible and I thought that this was great, and it showed me a different world from where I came from. But I was closest to Terry Lee really and he was a character and a half.

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

Steve: I would say to players don’t do what I did which was taking criticism personally, but take on board what is said, like when Bill Nicholson said that I could have done this or that, after I had scored five goals in a match. I should have taken that on board and got better you know, and the other thing is that I breezed through playing for my school and my county, but once I got to Spurs it was a different ball game, and I should have knuckled down. I thought that I had made it and I hadn’t, but I would say that it’s just a start and just take as much advice as you can get and knuckle down and train and take the knocks and move on. I would say basically to not give up, my one big regret was giving up, but there you go. I didn’t look to learn enough, and you asked me questions about who I looked up to to improve but if I’m honest I didn’t actually do that much. Although I did do that when I got into athletics and surfing, and in athletics especially I studied people and tactics, and all sorts of stuff as I was a track runner. So I would say to really study people and learn as much as you can.

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?

Steve: I still love Tottenham and that will never change. Afterwards it was hard but now when I look back and the hurts gone It was a privilege to be at Spurs, and to have been in the Savoy with the first team after they won the cup was something which I wish I could go back and enjoy now. It’s like a lot of things, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone as Bob Dylan sung. So it would be great to go back and savour it more. 

My interview with former Spurs player Jimmy Pearce:

James John Pearce was a versatile forward during his Spurs days, in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Tottenham born and bred, Jimmy Pearce had played for Tottenham Schools and England Schools during his schoolboy days before joining his boyhood club Spurs as an apprentice in the May of 1963. Admired by his teammates at youth level during those early days at Spurs, Pearce as a player was a very skilful one and he possessed great ball control and was a superb ball player, but he also liked to take on and beat his man. Able to play as an out and out winger or as a centre forward and as a midfield player, Pearce worked his way through the various youth ranks and up from the reserves to Bill Nicholson’s first team. He made his first team debut for Spurs in an end of season tour of Greece and Cyprus, in a game against Anorthosis in the May of 1968. At the beginning of the following season Jimmy made his competitive debut for Spurs, in a First Division game against Arsenal in the August of 1968. Going on to make over 200 more first team appearances for Spurs (not all of which were in competitive games) scoring 35 competitive goals, Jimmy Pearce played a big part in helping Spurs to reach the 1971 Football League Cup final, by scoring the winner against Bristol City in the semi-final second leg. Although Jimmy was an unused substitute in the final of that seasons cup final, and an unused substitute in both legs of the following seasons UEFA Cup Final, he did deservedly start in the final of the 1973 Football League Cup, when Spurs beat Norwich City one-nil, thanks to a Ralph Coates goal. Sadly and not long after that memorable day at Wembley, Pearce was forced to retire from playing due to injury. He did however, play again for a spell, playing for Walthamstow Avenue. I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of speaking with Jimmy about his time at Tottenham Hotspur during the 1960’s and 70’s.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Jimmy: Well being a Tottenham supporter is one. Also playing football at school in the juniors where I started off, but also playing at home on the grass. I played for the junior school and I played for the Tottenham under 11s before I went to the secondary modern school in Tottenham, and I then played for Middlesex Boys before playing for England Schoolboys. So you know it was all from there.

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

Jimmy: Well playing for the Tottenham Schoolboys and England obviously all the scouts were about, and I think that Fulham, Chelsea, Tottenham, West Ham and Arsenal (who I went to see early on when I was at school) were watching me, but I was a Tottenham supporter. I could have left school when I was 15 but I got invited down (by Spurs) in 1963 although I had a couple of England games left, and so I stayed on at school for a term and then when I left they (Spurs) signed me on as an apprentice, and that was in 1963. When I was going to my interview with Bill Nicholson with my dad, one of my school friends who played with me in the England team, we passed his house, and he called me and said that Ron Greenwood has spoken to me and he said whatever you do don’t sign for them (West Ham) because he knew that I was going to go down there. When I got down to Spurs I had the interview and I signed, and that was it really, but I did have Ron Greenwood coming round my house that night.

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

Jimmy: Well it was all the Tottenham team right from before the double side, so from about 1958. You know everyone was great, and from when I arrived at Spurs you had Dave Mackay and Jimmy Greaves and just so many names you know, I was just in awe of them all. 

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

Jimmy: I started off as an inside forward which was a position that you used to have at number eight and number ten. I was a number ten or whatever, but then when I started playing professional and that, I started playing on the wings and at centre forward, and I think that I played a game at left-half as well. So I was versatile and I never had a set position as I was a utility player.

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

Jimmy: I remember that the youth games were played at Cheshunt and we played the likes of Arsenal and all them you know, and we had a good side and I think that we won the league once as well. Being an apprentice was quite tough you know and you had to knuckle down, I can remember being an apprentice because we used to do the grounds and the covers on the ground, where you used to roll them out when the snow was coming and all that, so that was difficult. As regards to the games it’s a bit hard to pick out as there were so many, and I was trying to think the other night about reserve games but they all sort of role into one. I did get some goals for them but it was just a matter of carrying on and just sticking by it you know, and there was a lot of luck involved.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Jimmy: Well obviously the trainers. You had Johnny Wallis who was our main one in the A team which was above the juniors in the South East Counties. Also you had Eddie Baily who was the assistant manager and he used to do a lot of shouting, but I think that he tried to toughen me up to get the centre forward spot but also to get stuck in. Though I wasn’t that type of player as I was more of a ball player, and without sounding big-headed it sort of came naturally to me you know, and I loved dribbling. As regards to players there were such great names at the club and I was just in awe of them every time and it was just unbelievable.

What are your memories of your competitive debut for the Spurs first team against Arsenal in the First Division, in the August of 1968. And how did it come about?

Jimmy: That was unbelievable (we lost two-one) but I can remember having a shot on goal and Bob Wilson saving it, and I think that it was a left footed screamer from the edge of the box and it was going into my top left hand corner. And Bob Wilson had just got to it, but I thought what if I had got that, but that’s all that I can remember from that game as you just remember little things you know, but it was a tough old game as they (Arsenal) were becoming a good side you know. I think that Martin Chivers was injured for that game so that was why I got in and I was centre forward.

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

Jimmy: Well I loved Jimmy Greaves and also Dave Mackay as a kid, since he joined in 1959 and he was just unbelievable really with his determination and grit and everything that he done. But I liked every player in the team from Pat Jennings to Cliff Jones who I used to love as well, but really it was just the whole team as they were so good.

If possible could you share some of your memories of your time as a player at Spurs during the 1971 Football League Cup winning campaign, the 1972 UEFA Cup winning campaign and the 1973 Football League Cup winning campaign?

Jimmy: Well in the final I was a substitute against Aston Villa but I got a couple of goals in that campaign including in the semi-final second leg against Bristol City when I got the winner, and that was that. I know in the other campaigns such as in 1972 that I got an away goal against West Brom when we won one-nil in the League Cup. In the 1973 Football League Cup final I knew that I hit the post in that game and I thought how did I miss that! Although Norwich played well in that game Ralph Coates got a goal, and I can remember that John Pratt was very unlucky in that game to come off after not being on very long. It wasn’t a classic game I know that but it was fantastic to win, and I remember going back to 1971 against Aston Villa when we won two-nil, and that was a better game although I didn’t come on in that. Although I didn’t play in either leg of the final in the 1972 UEFA Cup, I did play in some of the rounds, and I do remember the game against Olympiakos well and I scored two goals in that, which was during the following season. 

Other than the various cup campaigns that you went on with Spurs could you share with me some of your other favourite memories of your time at the club, or ones which particularly stand out?

Jimmy: Every game that we won! It was just fantastic and I loved it you know but you always analyse yourself when you lose and you just think the worst, and you go through all of your bad points, and what you should have done and what you couldn’t do and this, that and the other. When I did start off I was totally besotted with Tottenham and I remember that we used to go straight from school to the ground for the cup games and the replays and all that. And I remember queuing up to get in the ground and the atmosphere and everything was just fantastic.

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

Jimmy: Well I remember that we won the League Cup and I remember that my last game was in 1973 and it was towards the end of the season, and against Sheffield United in the league was my last game. My knee was playing up and from then on I had this condition in my knee and at the end of that season I had an operation up at Stanmore, and the condition was Chondromalacia of the higher patella and I’ll always remember that. They did the operation on my knee and so then I was out for a year, and in that time I did a little bit of scouting for Spurs, but I didn’t want to leave Spurs, it was just because of this condition that I had. My ex brother-in-law used to play for Walthamstow Avenue and he used to keep on at me and say that he wanted me to come down to Walthamstow, and so I gave it a try. Although I only played about three or four games and that was it, as I was doing a job full time and my knee wasn’t good, and so that was it really. If my ex brother-in-law hadn’t have kept on at me then I wouldn’t have kept playing, as I knew that it just wasn’t right. 

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

Jimmy: It was brilliant really. I mean as an apprentice you used to do an hour and a half of training a day from half past ten to 12, and then you used to have lunch and then you used to come back for an hour or so during the afternoon and that was that. Then as a professional you just had the mornings and then you used to go back in the gym during the afternoons, but it’s so different now as they are all so organised with their diets and whatever. We (the players) used to go down the cafe down the road as apprentices and have competitions as to who could eat the most dinners and silly things like that, and then go back and train and run it off. However, my time at Spurs just went so quickly but it was a brilliant time.

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Jimmy: Although we lost it would be the game against Arsenal in my first game, so I think that that would be the highlight in a way, apart from winning the League Cup I suppose. I didn’t win a lot apart from that but when I look back now it was all like a dream for me and it was just fantastic.

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

Jimmy: It’s got to be Jimmy Greaves.

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

Jimmy: Well I played against Chelsea and they had some hard players, and also Liverpool had the likes of Tommy Smith and whatever while Chelsea had Ronnie Harris. Leeds were also tough but the pitches were different to what they are now and they used sand on the pitch as well, so it was a bit hard on your legs obviously, and nothing like the pitches that they play on now.

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

Jimmy: There were a couple who I used to be close with and as apprentices we all used to go around with each other, and you’d go bowling or something, however, the main players were all married and they had their own lives. I used to try to play golf but I couldn’t get the hang of it although I loved it and I still love it, but I never took to it because for me it seemed to take up too much time when you were bringing up a family and trying to get the balance right. I did used to get on alright with most of the players at Spurs though and we used to have a good laugh.

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

Jimmy: I think that the only advice I can give them is to make the most of what they’ve got now and really try and make each day your best day. I remember Cliff Jones saying to me that your career in football goes so quickly that you don’t realise it, and you wake up the next day and it’s all gone. So you’ve just got to make the most of it and make each day count as it’s a brilliant life.

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?

Jimmy: As I say it’s like a dream, and I’ve got all my old clippings from when Spurs won the double and from going to the town hall as a youngster and from taking photos on the balcony, and so afterwards I was part of that in a way. And I think that it was just unreal, and so that’s how I feel really.

My interview with former Spurs player Micky Hazard:

A technically gifted and highly skilled creative midfield player, Sunderland born Michael Hazard had his footballing talents spotted by a Tottenham Hotspur scout as a 14 year scout during the 1970’s, and the former St Aidan’s School pupil eventually joined Spurs as an apprentice, at 16 years of age. With great vision, a superb footballing brain and quick and tricky feet, Hazard created many a fine chance for the Spurs forwards during his two spells at the club thanks also to his fine passing range, and he also scored some really taken and important goals. After rising through the youth and reserve team ranks at Spurs, Micky would go on to make his competitive debut for the club in a First Division game against Everton at White Hart Lane in the April of 1980. Going on to make a further 169 competitive appearances for Spurs during his time at the club (scoring 25 goals), Hazard’s successful first spell saw him play his part in helping us to win the 1982 FA Cup and 1984 UEFA Cup, as well as being a part of the side that finished as runners up to Liverpool in the 1982 Football League Cup final. Hazard’s first spell at Spurs came to an end in the September of 1985 when he made the move across London to Chelsea. A shining light at the Blues during their time in the Second Division, Micky Hazard also helped them to get back to the First Division, by winning the 1989/90 Division Two league title, and also the Full Members Cup in 1986. A spell at Portsmouth and later Swindon Town (under Ossie Ardiles) followed for Hazard, and he helped Swindon to win the Division One Play-off final in 1993. However, towards the end of his career he joined Spurs for a second time, and it was at his first professional club where he ended his time in the professional game in 1995, before entering the non-League, where he played for Hertfordshire based club Hitchin Town for a time.

Hazard did return to Spurs once again though, when he joined them as an academy coach, spending a good number of years coaching Spurs’ talented young players, players that to this day still speak about with him such high regard. He would also go on to become an academy coach at Crystal Palace before holding a number of positions in non-League football. Now working in hospitality on match days at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Hazard is rightly regarded by Spurs supporters as a club legend, and is much loved by them, and he is without doubt one of the nicest former professional footballers that you’re ever likely to have the pleasure of meeting. I recently had the great pleasure of talking to Micky at length about his time at his beloved Spurs, a club that he still holds very close to his heart to this very day.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Micky: My earliest football memories was playing for my junior school and we was a top top footballing school, and there were lots of players that sort of came through that school, such as Kevin Dillon and Micky Harford, who were all in my teams and they went on and became professionals at the highest level. So that was my earliest memory, but in particular there are certain things, like we used to win cups such as the County Cup which was called the Bishop’s Cup, which was like the biggest cup for schools in the area. I can remember scoring a wonder goal in the final (it was a two legged final) and we went away to a team with the same school name as us – St Cuthbert’s, and mine was St Cuthbert’s. We drew one-one away and I scored a wonder goal, and then in the home leg we won one-nil, so we won the Bishop’s Cup and so my name or my school was written on the Bishop’s Cup, so I’ll always be a winner of the famous Bishop’s Cup. So that’s my earliest memory really.

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

Micky: Well obviously Spurs had an assistant manager in the day called Wilf Dixon who was born and bred in Sunderland, and he had set up a little small scouting network up there, basically a one man, and the one man came and befriended my dad. He came and watched me every week and got friendly with my dad and invited us for dinner, took me for extra training etc, etc, etc, and when it came to decision day at the age of 14 which in those days you couldn’t sign outside of an hours journey for anyone, so I had to wait until I was 14. So when the decision had to be made he won my dad’s heart and my mum’s heart and that was it, it was done. I’ll always remember coming down as a schoolboy and getting a train with the first team as they thought highly of me, and getting a train with the likes of Steve Perryman and Glenn Hoddle at the age of 14/15. I don’t remember too much about the playing as such in those days because you just got in little friendlies, but when I got to 16 I became full time and I remember this one game in particular when I scored a goal. If we had a video of it, it would probably go down as the best goal that I’ve ever scored and one of the all time great goals. We were playing Arsenal as well and we beat them five-nil and I scored this goal, and it was described in the programme (that’s probably how I remember it so much) as a copybook goal. I picked the ball up just inside Arsenal’s half and I played four one-two’s to the edge of the box, and the final one-two got me in behind the defence and I slotted it away. That is unheard of to have so many one-two’s and certainly at the young age of 16, it was an incredible goal, and because it was against them as well it sort of made it much more satisfying as well, and it’s something that’s probably stuck with me forever. That is probably my earliest memory of one of my first ever games for Spurs.

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

Micky: I did, my favourite all time player was Johan Cruyff and I thought he was incredible, graceful, elegant and stylish. He played the game in the way that I believe it should be played, the way that growing up my dad would preach to me. Also I loved Alan Ball and he was an absolutely wonderful footballer and the first to wear white boots, and the first to win the World Cup, so he was one of my heroes. But I loved the great Leeds team of the 70’s, and they were absolutely brilliant to watch and I thought that they were as hard as nails, but they played football the way that it should be played in terms of the passing game, and they were brilliant. It was only really when I joined Spurs at the age of 14 that they became my favourite team over Leeds, and obviously I’d been spotted by Spurs at 11 so I knew that I was going to go to Spurs one day, so they were there. But watching Leeds was brilliant, absolutely brilliant to watch, Johnny Giles, Billy Bremner, Allan Clarke were super super footballers. Norman Hunter, Bobby Charlton, Terry Cooper, I could name the team, but then obviously once I joined Spurs there is something about when you join a club, there is something about finding your home and a chemistry and something that just seems to fit. That didn’t happen immediately as obviously it takes time but once you settle and you get rid of the homesickness etc, I use the words chemistry and where the heart is, but you sort of just fall into it and then it’s like nowhere else you’ve ever been. It happens without you actually realising it as well, you don’t know how much you love the club until later down the line. My motto on how the game should be played, is be creative, play with flair and excite people. Me and Tottenham sort of fit like a hand to a glove in many ways, so that was the way I sort of fell in love with Tottenham really.

How would you describe yourself as a player during your time at Spurs?

Micky: I think I was very gifted and very talented, and without being big-headed I would say that there was only one player that I felt had more natural talent than me and that doesn’t mean that I was the best player. It means that in terms of natural ability that I think that me and Glenn Hoddle were very much from the same book, and so in terms of talent I didn’t fear anyone, I had no fear of any other player. Maybe at times I was a little bit in awe of Glenn with how good he was, but in terms of every other player I never felt in awe of any one, I  always felt well I’m very gifted and I can hold my own with anyone. I had a great range of pass, short pass and long pass, either foot, outside or inside. Technically I was very good as well and also very skilful, I had very quick feet and I was nimble and I could jump in and out of tackles as I was very aware of where the tackles were coming from. I could also see the pass too, so I would say that if you would sort of value me in today’s market then you would probably value me around about £4 billion or something like that!

Could you talk me through your time playing in the Tottenham youth team and reserves, and could you share some of your favourite memories or ones which stand out from your time in those sides?

Micky: Well that goal that I scored against the Arsenal youth team obviously, and obviously we had a great cup run in my second year at Spurs (when I was 17), and we reached the FA Youth Cup semi-final, where we played the great Crystal Palace team of Kenny Sansom, Jerry Murphy and Vincent Hilaire. They had an incredible team and we played them away in a two-legged semi-final and we’d been brilliant up until this semi-final. We’d been absolutely superb and then we played Crystal Palace away and it was two-legged, and we actually played really really well on the night, and I played really well as well against a very very powerful team. They were a lot more experienced than we were as most of them were playing in the first team, and then of course we’d got them back to White Hart Lane (we’d lost two-one I think in the first leg), and we’d got them back to White Hart Lane and we were incredibly confident, I mean incredibly confident. After two minutes Paul Miller got sent off, so not only were we playing the best youth team around at that time, we were now doing it with ten men and eventually we lost six-nil. So it was very difficult for inexperienced youngsters at that age to play against a top youth team, and of course when one goes in, and two goes in it becomes a very big ask, but it was a wonderful run and a wonderful time, and something that I thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed. I must be honest it built my taste for success up, because the following season I was desperate to win the FA Youth Cup and I thought that we had the team to win it. I thought that we played absolutely brilliantly and I can’t remember which round we went out in (I think we won two games) but we were brilliant. I think that we played Liverpool with Sammy Lee and we lost two-one and got knocked out although my memory sort of fails me a little bit, but so again it was disappointing because I thought having had the experience of playing with a very very young youth team from the previous year, we were now all experienced youth players, as we were in our third year.

You had three years in the youth team and we were in our third year and we were all coming up to our 18th birthdays and somehow we didn’t make the most of it, which was very disappointing. When I say it was disappointing more or less the similar group of players in the reserve league which was called the Football Combination in those days, we won it three years running. So we went from a youth team into a reserve team and managed to win the Football Combination three years running, and I don’t know if that’s ever been done before but we did it. So it’s strange because having been at school and won trophies every year for my school team whichever school I was in, it felt like the norm, so to win three Football Combination’s just felt like the norm because we used to win the league every year at school. So it just felt like eventually the natural progression would happen, and we’d win the league and the FA Cup every year, but it took me a little while to realise that it actually doesn’t happen like that, sadly. But winning the Football Combination is an incredible achievement as is winning the league three times in a a row, but especially as youngsters. What you have to remember about the Football Combination is that it was used as a stepping stone for good youngsters in the first team, but also as a place for experienced players to keep fit when they weren’t in the first team, or coming back from injury. So I played against the England captain (Gerry Francis) when I was 17/18 in the reserves you know, so that was the great thing and that is what I think is wrong about today’s football. I think that there should be a reserve team because of the experience it gives you of playing with great players. I played in the reserves with Glenn Hoddle, Steve Perryman, Ossie Ardiles, Ricky Villa and Steve Archibald, because they were coming back from injuries so you got the experience of playing with great players and playing against great players.

Today youngsters spend their time up to the age of 23 more or less playing in their own age bracket, which incredibly will stifle development because the better the player you play with and against the more you learn and the more you learn to cope with it. And the more you learn to actually become a better footballer, if you don’t learn it tells the story that you weren’t good enough to get there anyway.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Micky: I would say Keith Burkinshaw and Peter Shreeves, obviously they were my coaches but also Glenn Hoddle and Ossie Ardiles. Glenn Hoddle was someone I looked up to and admired and watched a lot, and would often try and learn from, from the things that he did. Ossie Ardiles was probably the single biggest individual influence on my career and he loved me as a player, and wanted to educate me in other areas of the game such as the little tricks. And the fact that I was up against Ossie from a positional sense, and the fact that he was prepared to help and advice me all along the way says a lot for his character. Steve Perryman was another one who would spend lots of time talking to me and advising me, so yeah  there were quite a few big influences, but if I had to choose one I would say Ossie Ardiles.

What are your memories of your competitive debut for the Spurs first team against Everton in the First Division, in the April of 1980. And how did it come about?

Micky: Well I was supposed to make my debut the previous week against Man United at Old Trafford, and we trained on the Thursday and I developed a blister on my big toe. That night I burst it myself at home, and when I woke up the next morning on the Friday it had got badly infected, and so I couldn’t walk and i couldn’t train and so I obviously didn’t play in the game. It’s an interesting fact that if Spurs had won four-nil then I might never have made my debut, but we lost four-nil at Old Trafford, so he was going to make changes the following week. I was fit and ready and I sort of had an idea all week because when we were playing first team versus reserves I was often in the first team, and then on the Friday they confirmed it that I was playing. I don’t remember too much about the game except that I got man of the match, I wasn’t because there were better players but I got the sympathy award because I was a youngster coming through the system and playing with all of these great players. I remember sitting in the dressing room and on one side I had Glenn Hoddle and on the other side I had Ossie Ardiles, and I was thinking to myself what the heck to do they need me for if they’ve got these two. So yeah, it was an incredible experience and another was John Pratt whose place I’d taken, had come up to me before the game and said listen Mick show the fans how good you are and they’ll absolutely love you, and your skill and your flair, express yourself and they’ll love you. That I thought was an incredible thing and after the game he came in to me while I was lying in the bath and said Micky absolutely superb today, pleasure to watch you. I thought that was wonderful and I hold him in such high esteem because of that.

It’s easy as a player to wish someone who has taken your place not to do well, but not John Pratt as he was full of praise and full of compliments, and he was brilliant.

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

Micky: There was so many! Obviously you looked to players who have played in your position but there was lots to learn from other types of players as well. You’ve got Glenn and Ossie and Ricky who were very similar positions to me, and if you don’t learn of them then you are not going to be learning at all. Then you’ve got Steve Perryman who would teach me things about being a leader and talking, and helping to make your game easier by talking to your teammates around you. So there’s lots of ways around you to learn from, such as Ray Clemence who was a born winner and there was just lots of things to learn. You should never ever put a stop to your learning, because the minute that you think you’ve learned it all puts limitations on what you can learn, and so you shouldn’t do that because there’s always something to learn. 

If possible could you share some of your memories of your time as a player at Spurs during the 1982 FA Cup winning campaign, the 1984 UEFA Cup winning campaign and the 1982 Football League Cup campaign when we finished as runners up?

Micky: It’s interesting the 1982 League Cup campaign, as right the way through to the final I played really really well. I scored three winning goals in the various rounds, and I got the winner in the semi-final, and we won one-nil in all three games and I scored all three goals. So I was very instrumental in us getting to the final, and I scored a very good goal in the semi-final for us to win one-nil against West Brom, and then in the final we were winning one-nil until I got taken off, as Keith had taken me off. I remember Jimmy Greaves in the paper after we had lost, saying (it’s easy to say this when you lose, by the way) it was the biggest mistake from a manager since someone (I can’t remember who it was) got taken off in the 1970 World Cup, so yeah I didn’t really deserve be taken off. But I got took off and I was sitting on the bench, and to compound my misery we were one-nil up and we lost three-one after extra time, so that was incredibly disappointing. But then in the FA Cup final a couple of months later we put it right, and we had all played 60 odd games that season so we were all exhausted. The final went to a replay and Wembley was amazing, my parents, my family and everyone was there. I remember walking out before the game and seeing them in the stadium and them seeing me, and imagining how they would feel looking down on me. One of their sons and their brother, who was walking out at Wembley stadium and about to be playing in an FA Cup final, it truly was an amazing experience. And we won it which made it even better, you know defeat is very difficult to take in a final but when you win a final it’s absolutely glorious. It glosses over every single bad thing that might have happened on the day and it clouds your judgement as time passes, and everything seems to have gone perfect and was wonderful. If we had lost everything sort of gets a bit darker, but no it was a wonderful memory.

Then in 1984 it was absolutely wonderful and for some reason I found my form and in the semi-final I remember that we had Hadjuk Split. I remember that I was outstanding away in Hadjuk Split and we came away with a two-one defeat, I don’t know how as we should have won by five. I of course then scored the winning goal when we got back to the Lane and again I was on top form, and then of course to get to the final in your own stadium in the second leg. We were in top form in both legs and away, and then obviously we lost our captain Steve Perryman and we had no Glenn Hoddle, and we had no Ossie Ardiles, and no Garth Crooks and no Ray Clemence. So a lot of the starting 11 were out, and a lot of the responsibility rested on my shoulders because I was the most creative player left and again I found my top form and we won it, and it crowned what was a wonderful week for me having been picked for the full England team. Three days after the UEFA Cup final I was sub for the full England team at Hampden Park against Scotland, so yeah wonderful memories which with age do get better. As I said everything clouds your judgement, I mean the goal that I scored in the quarter final of the FA Cup at Stamford Bridge for instance I know exactly how I scored it, but 38 years later ironically I had just scored a 20 yard shot from the edge of the box that went in instead of beating seven men from the halfway line. In victory everything seems wonderful but when I look back at all the winning goals that I got in the cup runs, and I got three winning goals in the League Cup including the semi-final winner, and I got the winner in the semi-final of the UEFA Cup as well as the winning goal in the quarter final of the FA Cup, and I think wow! If someone had have told me when I was a young boy growing up dreaming of playing in these big cup games and these finals, that I was going to score so many winning goals along the route, and particularly along the semi-finals, then I would have paid money to do that!

What prompted you to leave Spurs for the first time and could you talk me through your career after you left the Lilywhites prior to rejoining them?

Micky: I didn’t really have a choice, we had played Newcastle at home on the Saturday and we had won five-one, and I had scored. I was in the players lounge celebrating and Peter Shreeves called me in and told me that the club had accepted an offer off Chelsea for me, as they had a few cash flow problems, and Chelsea had offered a then record fee for them, for me. So that’s how my move to Chelsea came about though I never wanted to leave Spurs obviously, and I was quite a shy boy then as well, as the only club that I’d ever known was Spurs, and the only manager and players that I’d ever known was at Spurs. So suddenly I had to take my shyness elsewhere and I knew the problems that that would create for me and so I basically ended up joining Chelsea. I was basically given an ultimatum that if I don’t go then I won’t be picked again, which tended to happen in those days. So I went and then I longed to come back to Spurs, which isn’t putting down Chelsea or any other club that I played for, it’s just that Spurs were my club and I longed to come back. I was absolutely worshipped by the Chelsea fans, and they loved me and they sang my name every week, they loved my kind of player but ultimately your heart is where your heart is. And then I had three fantastic years at Swindon with Glenn and Ossie, helping them to win promotion to the Premier League, so to get the opportunity to come back to my schoolboy club and my first love was absolutely incredible at the age of 33. So yeah I grabbed it with both hands and in fact I was so happy to return, that at the age of 35 and when Gerry Francis arrived and obviously wasn’t going to build his team around me as I was too old, so obviously I wasn’t going to be in the plans. I was offered contracts, Birmingham City offered me a contract for quite a lot of money but I thought no, I’m finishing at my club as this is where I started and this is where I’m finishing. I don’t want to be anywhere else and I don’t want to go anywhere else and so I’m just retiring.

Obviously I was having a few injury problems at the time so it made the decision easier, but to retire at the club that I started with was absolute ecstasy, and I’ve worked at the club ever since. I also did go to Hitchin after Spurs, I did but I didn’t as what happened was that the former Spurs player Paul Price was playing for Hitchin, and he wanted to get the managers job. So to get the managers job he asked me to do him a favour and to play in one or two games. So I went and played in a game and I played really well, and then they decided that they’d give me and Paul the joint managers job but I’d had no experience of managing or coaching or anything at the time. So I went into Hitchin because of Paul really not because of me, as it wasn’t really my ambition at that stage. So I sort of went in and helped Paul as player-manager, and I would sort of bring myself off as it gave me an excuse not to play, so I would go home with 20 minutes to play when it was all slowed down. That lasted a while and then years down the line I went and managed one or two non-League clubs but I didn’t particularly enjoy it, and if I was living my life over I wouldn’t work at that level and I would stay at helping young players. I worked for Spurs for ten years in the academy and I would have stayed working there, because I was very successful. When I worked for Crystal Palace for instance I worked with Victor Moses, Nathaniel Clyne, Sean Scannell and Wilfried Zaha, and we got about 17 young players through into the first team over a three year period. So I enjoyed working at that level, one because it was part-time and it wasn’t 24/7 which management is, so if I was living it again I would stay working at academy level.

What was your second spell at Spurs like?

Micky: Even though I got a very bad tackle and injury and had two operations on it which I never really recovered from, I was playing but I was probably only 75% fit. And after the operations I never got back to 100% peak of fitness, and obviously with age the injuries take longer to heal, so by the age of 35 when Ossie left, he had  involved me from the start from some games and then rested me as a sub in others. Then when Ossie left and Gerry came in I knew that that was curtains for my career, and that was fair enough because I’m not going to say to a manager build your team around me I’m 35, but yeah it was fantastic and I loved every minute of it. The club had changed from my earlier days, in fact it had become very different so there was a lot of friction around, and that was not what I’d sort of been used to at Spurs because the club was never in that place when I was there as a youngster, not that I would have noticed it. But obviously when I came back at 33 the club had changed in many respects or was going through a very different era.

Other than the various cup campaigns that you went on with Spurs could you share with me some of your other favourite memories of your time at the club, or ones which particularly stand out?

Micky: The one at Liverpool stands out, when we hadn’t won at Anfield for 73 years and at some point, we must do, but 73 years is such a long time but I played a part in the goal that won the game. I was very unfortunate that I had hit an unbelievable volley into the top corner but somehow Bruce Grobbelaar had sprung and saved it, and as it dropped Garth Crooks had tapped it in. Then I remember the final celebration afterwards and it was just incredible to go 73 years without a win at a stadium against a certain opposition, and then you’re part of the team that breaks that spell or whatever it is and you’re part of the goal that did it, so that is just an incredible memory, and I absolutely loved it. There are so many wonderful memories that you have at Spurs, that you have in any football career and generally the best memories are not necessarily on the pitch, one of my favourite memories was rejoining them. I had a sponsored car when I played at Swindon and obviously when I left I didn’t have a car, but I would have walked the length of the M4 and the length of the M25 and A10 to get to Spurs. So that was one of the best moments of my career, but you can’t replace scoring big goals in semi-finals etc, but walking up the tunnel I don’t think that there is a greater feeling. And one of the sadnesses that I always feel about football is that the fans of a football club sort of unconditionally love a football club without any reason to. And when people say oh Micky you’re so in love with Spurs yes of course I am, but I do it from a point of being educated how great this club is, and I’ve done the things that every fan dreams of doing. I’ve walked down the tunnel and I’ve come onto the pitch in front of 40,000 fans to glory glory, and felt the goosebumps run through me as I’ve walked up onto the pitch, and it’s echoing round glory glory Tottenham Hotspur. I’ve felt these things and I’ve scored winning goals and felt the elation of the fans and felt the excitement and adulation of the fans, and them also singing my name one Micky Hazard when you’ve just scored a winning goal. So I’ve felt all of that and so my love for the club is born out by achievement within the club, and seeing from the inside just how incredible this football club is.

So my admiration for fans who have the same devotion to Spurs as I have is something that I admire so much, because they do it without doing the things that I did that make me love the football club, because I’ve seen and done it all there. So it’s easy for me to say yeah I love this football club because I’ve experienced the fans singing my name and I’ve experienced walking up the tunnel to glory glory, and I’ve experienced lots and lots of many good things off the football pitch. For instance one of the greatest memories that I’ve got and totally unexpected, is that  on February of the fifth of this year which is my birthday, I went to White Hart Lane and I was working at the club as there was a game on that day. I got told to go down to the pitch at half-time for an interview which is what I do and have done on numerous occasions, so it was nothing unusual. And then when I walked out onto the pitch there’s a presentation made to me by the football club of a Spurs shirt with Hazard 60 on the back as it’s my 60th birthday, so I mean wow what football club does that? So I’ve been a player there for not how many years and then on my 60th birthday I get presented on the pitch and the fans inside the stadium are singing happy birthday. So memories that you’d pay millions for and that’s without the football memories, so these fans don’t get to experience being given a shirt on the football pitch for their birthday, not like I did. So there’s so many things that enables me to love the football club and these guys unconditionally love this football club you know, and that’s incredible, incredible! So yeah there’s so many wonderful things that I could sit and talk about all night long, and it’s wonderful.

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

Micky: On the whole it was the best time but there was bad times like when you’re not in the team, so it wasn’t all hunky dory, but ultimately it’s not anybody’s else’s fault but your own. And not more so than in my case because I was one of the most gifted players at the football club, so if I’m not in the team then that’s my fault, it’s not the managers fault, it’s my fault. So it’s up to me to perform to a level that makes sure that I don’t get out of the team, so when you’re not in the team or you’re injured or you’ve had an operation, they are for sure bad times. You can get a bit down about it, but I always used to cling to the fact that I’m very gifted and I’m very talented and one day the manager will want me again, because he won’t be able to do without me, and that’s how I used to hang in there when the going was tough. I just used to tell myself that he’ll want me soon, as I was that sort of very talented footballer, and more often than not sort of nine or ten games later he’d pick me. Operations and injuries were the worst ones and you’re sitting in the stadium and watching the team, and there’s nothing you can do to help them or be part of it, because if they win six-nil and everyone’s celebrating you never feel part of it when you celebrate, because you’re injured. So yeah there were times like that time at Tottenham but overall I would give my time at Tottenham a ten out of ten. I once read a comment and I thought that it was one of the most wonderful comments that I’ve ever heard and it said that somewhere, somehow and sometime I found myself in a place I’d never been before, I found myself somewhere that I didn’t know, I didn’t know where I was. And I found myself looking around me and thinking this is my home and I get emotional because I’ve spent 40 years of my life at Spurs, but as I looked around it felt like my home, and in the end it became my home. And I don’t think that I can sum it up in a better way, and even though I’ve sort of channeled the words to my way of thinking, they are not 100% my words. 

That for me is now what I feel about Tottenham Hotspur football club, remembering that I’m from Sunderland and how did a young backstreet boy from Sunderland find himself in this place somewhere, somehow and sometime? And I did but was I lost? Yes I was lost and homesick, so that sums up my time at Spurs absolutely to perfection, and it’s still my home, and the Spurs family is my family. 

You served Spurs as an academy coach for a number of years. What was that experience like for you?

Micky: I loved it and I worked with some of the most talented youngsters that I care to imagine, and I was very blessed and obviously I preached the Tottenham way because it was my way. So any youngster that worked with me they would tell you that if you wanted to put it in row Z then you weren’t on my team! I wanted you to put it on the floor, and I wanted fast flowing, creative flair football which was the Tottenham way. When the goalkeeper had got the ball I had banned my goalkeeper from kicking the ball out, and one of the best compliments that I ever got was when we were playing Southampton and he (their coach) said wow, just wow. You’re goalkeeper has not kicked the ball out once today and you’re team are playing unbelievable football. And that’s a big compliment because I always believe that if I go over to the Premier League for instance or if I go over to Hackney Marshes and Pep Guardiola’s team is playing there, I would be able to pick out Pep Guardiola’s team by his style of play and the way the team plays. I wanted people to say the same thing about me, and the director of the academy came to me one day and said why are you not allowing your goalkeeper to kick the ball out? Because he said that he needs practice at kicking the ball as well he said. So I explained to him that he can practice goal kicks and kicking it out of his hands everyday of the week, but match play is where you learn as an outfield player, so when the keeper kicks it out he bypasses all the education of all of my defenders, and he bypasses all the education of all of my midfielders. I want to teach them how to make an angle for the goalkeeper so that it can be spread, and I want to teach my centre backs how to receive the ball off the goalkeeper, but also to make an angle for when the fullbacks got in. I want my midfielders to be able to split between two defenders and get the ball threaded between them, so by allowing him to kick it out it restricts the amount of coaching that I give the youngsters. So that’s why I don’t allow him to kick it out, and he said you’ve just had an unbelievable compliment of the opposing teams manager, so I guessed what he would have said, because it was that particular day. However, I never ever allowed my goalkeeper, and you have to remember at the age of 13/14 the youngsters aren’t very powerful to throw the ball out.

So often they would throw the ball out and it would lead to a goal, and the one thing that you can’t do when you’re coaching a youngster and when you’re telling him not to kick a ball out, is when he throws it straight to the centre forward and give him a telling off, because it’s not his fault, it’s your fault. What you have to do in that instance is educate them and say listen don’t try and throw it where the defenders are. Work out where the best angle is and the one in the most space, so you’re coaching the goalkeeper within that and so I never apologise for not allowing him to kick it out, as I think that it was better for him and his education, and all of the outfield players’ education. I loved it!

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Micky: From a playing perspective it would have to be the UEFA Cup final and from a team perspective the UEFA Cup semi-final, and from an individual perspective it would be that my children and grandchildren are ardent Spurs fans. My sons’ go home and away and my grandchildren have all been to games, so that fills me with pride that the legacy that I’m going to leave behind is one the Spurs player I was and the Spurs coach I was and the amount of work that I did for the club. But I’m also going to leave a legacy that the Hazard family throughout the generations will be ardent Spurs fans who will follow and support their club through thick and thin. From a Tottenham Hotspur football club perspective I think that’s a pretty good legacy to leave behind and it’s something that I’m incredibly proud of. Sometimes I’ve seen my sons’ on the TV at a Spurs away game and I can see them in the crowd singing and that brings a tear to my eye, because that’s what I would have wanted and wished for, so that would be my greatest thrill I think.

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

Micky: Well I’ve shared it with Ossie Ardiles and Glenn Hoddle and so I couldn’t put anyone else above them two. I’ve obviously played on a pitch with Johan Cruyff and he was my all time hero, but I’m talking about people who I’ve played with. So I couldn’t put anyone above Hoddle and Ardiles as I thought that they were two very different players, but unbelievable players in their own way. I think that Glenn was probably the best English footballer I’ve ever seen, certainly the most gifted and I’ve never seen anything that he couldn’t do. Ossie was a genius in a different way, and he read the game so well and was three or four steps ahead of everyone, and he was a wonderful footballer. So yeah I couldn’t put anybody above them two.

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

Micky: Ossie Ardiles when I played for Chelsea. I came up against Ossie Ardiles and I’d scored two at White Hart Lane the previous year for Chelsea to win three-one and then I came up against Ossie Ardiles, and I was sitting in the dressing room thinking Ossie’s got such a great brain, he’s going to know everything that I do, so I’m going to change my game today. Little did I know Ossie was sitting in the other room saying Micky’s a clever footballer and he’s not going to play his normal way, he’s going to change his game because he knows that I’m going to be waiting if he doesn’t. But he was waiting somewhere else where I went! So yeah he was very difficult, very quick, very sharp and very quick thinking, so he was always ready for anything that I tried, and so he was just a super player.

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

Micky: I was close to quite a lot of them although they might not have been as close to me, but I felt as close to them. Ossie was obviously my closest friend and he was my room partner, but I was very close to Ricky Villa and I get on great with all the boys, and I’ve got no problems with any one of them as they are all nice guys. When you watch football you can see someone as flash or arrogant or this or that by the way that they play football, but that’s not the case off the pitch, or in general certainly in my time. The vast majority of the players that I came across are lovely guys, and still are. 

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

Micky: I would say work hard, but don’t just work hard work on particular things that would improve you as a player. Don’t spend all of your time keeping the ball up as that won’t improve you as a player, instead work on things that are going to improve you as a player, and the next comment I’m going to make I got off Glenn Hoddle. Don’t do the same thing twice because when you get to the top you do it once, and the next time the best players are waiting for it to happen. So mix it up and vary your game and do something different, do a step over once and next time do a double step over so you fool them, or drop your shoulder one way then drop it the other way and do a turn this way. Always do something different because top class opponents will find it hard to read which one you’re going to do.

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?

Micky: My only club. I had great times elsewhere but nothing will ever touch Spurs, listen you can’t help who you fall in love with it’s as simple as, and it’s the same in football. You can’t help who you support as it’s in your blood and it’s in your soul, I don’t make any apologies for the fact that Spurs is my club and I don’t apologise for the fact that my sons’ are Spurs fans. It’s something that controls you rather than you control it, and it’s something that’s in your blood. 

My interview with former Spurs player Brian Woozley:

Islington born Brian Woozley was an attack minded midfielder who played for Spurs at youth team level during the mid 1960’s. Playing for Tottenham in the South East Counties League senior section and junior section, Brian’s brother David also played for Spurs during the same decade, while his nephew who is also called David, played for clubs such as Crystal Palace and Torquay United. Brian Woozley was an amateur with Spurs during his time there, and after leaving them he would go on to play for the likes of Croydon who he enjoyed a very good spell with, Hendon and Wembley. I recently had the great pleasure of speaking to Brian about his memories of his time at Spurs during the 1960’s.

What are your earliest footballing memories and how did you come about joining Spurs?

Brian: It would be going back to 1959 when I was playing for Islington Boys under 11 team, and their first game surprisingly enough was against Tottenham Boys at White Hart Lane, so that was a good start. Then after that and going to 1963, basically playing for Islington Schoolboys at under 15’s we used to train at Highbury the Arsenal ground once a week. And the one thing that I really remember about that was the underfloor heating at Highbury and it was magical, when you finished your game and you came into the dressing room you had underfloor heating, so in them days that was magical as you can imagine. Then basically after that a friends dad said to me would you like to get a trial for Spurs? And I said well yeah, I don’t mind. Anyway later on that year I got a letter signed by Bill Nicholson inviting me to take part in a junior trial match over at the Cheshunt ground, and that was at the end of July, so that’s how it all started.

What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs?

Brian: It was getting the 259 bus from Caledonian Road sort of twice a week to go training, and training was taken by Sid Tickridge, and one of the nice men there at Spurs was called Jimmy Joyce who was in the admin, and he was a lovely man who was really nice and very friendly. And so anyway I left school at 14 and took part in the trial which unfortunately I didn’t quite make the grade for an apprentice, but they offered to sign me on amateur forms, like a lot of the youngsters, and I think that even John Pratt signed amateur forms first of all. So at 15 I didn’t quite get up to the standard but they signed me on amateur forms and then two weeks later I got a job as a messenger with the Evening News, earning £3 a week, which was really expensive stuff! I was issued as an amateur player with a pass to go into the games (at Whiter Hart Lane) if I wanted to go in to watch the first team, and that was good. Anyway after that I played for the junior section of the South East Counties League, and my brother David also made the senior section of the South East Counties, and he played about 13 games for them, and he then went down a different road. I have two telegrams on me, one is dated 28/2/64 saying you’re playing tomorrow, meet at Spurs ground 1:30pm. The other one was, no training stop, meet at Spurs ground 1:15pm. And that’s how they used to communicate with you if you weren’t training that week. So in 1965 I signed the amateur forms and I was actually asked by the London FA to represent them in the FA Charity Youth Competition, which was mainly for amateur players like myself and John Pratt.

We played Kent in the first round and we won six-two, and Bill Nicholson was actually watching that match, and I was told that he was very impressed with my performance. And then shortly after and at one particular game John Pratt I think signed as an apprentice professional, and Ron Ashley took his place in the London side. After that I was made captain for London and then we went on to reach the final after playing five rounds, and we met Leicester who we beat in the final, after two legs. Notable players from Leicester at that was David Nish and he was playing for Leicester, and I think that he also went on to play for England. The other one was Rodney Fern who was quite famous, and as a result of playing for London I was issued with a cap which was beautiful. So that was my time and it was quite memorable really, it was three years that I actually played there and I think that I had one game in the Metropolitan League (it was five tiers as you had the first team, reserves, Metropolitan, under 18’s and under 16’s), so that was my time at Spurs. We had some good players in those times, lots of very good players.

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

Brian: I admired Dave Mackay and I just thought that he was an outstanding player, and obviously Jimmy Greaves you can’t take away from, and why he’s never been knighted I’ll never know. But they were two great players, and I didn’t even get to meet Bill Nicholson after all three years which is strange, although I know that he came to watch me but that’s about it I think. 

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

Brian: Mainly midfield, sort of attacking midfield as I liked to go forward and have shots on goal, and I carried on doing that through my amateur career as well, I also played for London in midfield and it was just enjoyable really. Going back to the days of playing at Cheshunt, the pitches at Cheshunt were just fantastic compared to playing at Hackney Marshes on a Sunday or something. It was out of this world and they were just some of the greatest pitches that you could ever have I think in them days, although it is a lot better today. It was also a pleasure to put on one of these yellow shirts when I first had my trial at Cheshunt, and it was one of these silky shirts with the cockerel on it, although I never had a picture taken of me when I was at Spurs, which I do regret. 

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Brian: I suppose anybody was because they were such a good side in the 60’s and they went on to good things.

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

Brian: Well as I say I always admired Dave Mackay and I mean you couldn’t get any better that. He was outstanding going forward, defending, tackling and you name it he could do it you know, he was my idol really and I like to say that I based my game on him.

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

Brian: In them days for a young lad of 15 years of age to sort of represent Tottenham made you feel like you were on cloud nine really, and that’s how I felt. It was just great and I loved every minute, and you know it taught you everything really, and although my hope was to have signed professional it wasn’t to be and I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. 

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Brian: I had quite a few times once I left Tottenham, playing for a club called Croydon FC we went the whole season which was 42 league games without being beaten, which is quite an achievement really, and I don’t think that any other club has really done that.  

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

Brian: Well there was quite a few actually. One year when I was playing for Tottenham youth I played against Trevor Brooking and that was in 1965, and he was playing at centre forward, and I was playing right-half with John Pratt playing left-half as that’s how it used to be in them days. I also played against Steve Kember who used to play for Crystal Palace, and also Jimmy Pearce used to play for Tottenham and he played when I first played for Islington Schoolboys under 15’s. Also Keith Weller who played for Spurs, went to Barnsbury Boys School which was the same school as me.

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

Brian: Basically I played for Maidenhead in I think around 1972, and basically Brentford came along and asked if I would like to represent them in a game at the London Charity Cup. I said yeah and I jumped at the chance to play for Brentford just for the one game, and you’ll never guess who it was against, it was against Tottenham at Tottenham! So I jumped at the chance and that was the first time that I came up against Graeme Souness, and boy did I know that I’d been in a tackle, and he really did see to me. He was a lot fitter than I was anyway, and he was always quicker on the ball than me so he really did stand out, and I think that was really just the start of his career at Tottenham really, because it would have just been a reserve side. So he was one player that really stood out during my career.

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

Brian: Well I didn’t think that I was going to go any further to be quite honest, I sort of played that well for London and Bill Nicholson said it was very good, but there was no sort of movement there and I wanted to be a professional. So I heard that Hendon were interested in me and they were a top amateur side at that time so I thought that I’d give it a try. I could have stayed on at a Spurs as they didn’t sort of say that they didn’t want me anymore but there you go. My time at Hendon was great and quite a lot of the side were England amateur internationals, and basically when I had went there they had drawn in the first round of the FA Cup at home to Reading. I was twelfth man that day at the age of only 18 which was very unusual, and I went on for the last 20 minutes but we lost the game in the end. Also Hendon in another year got through to the semi-final of the FA Amateur Cup, where they were drawn against Skelmersdale United, and that was played at Derby’s Baseball Ground. Unfortunately we got beat and that was the dream of playing at Wembley gone, and as you can imagine you’re in the semi-final of the FAAmateur Cup and it would have been lovely, but there you go. After Hendon I went to a club called Wembley, and a Scottish amateur international called George Taylor was building the side there. So I went there and it was quite good there, and then from there I went to Maidenhead and while there although I played for them on Saturday’s, I used to play on Sunday’s in Islington for a local team called Carlton United who I don’t think exist anymore. It was a very experienced side and we had Peter McGillicuddy playing for us as well.

At Carlton we got through to the All Sunday Cup final which took us all around the UK and we went to Liverpool, and then in the final we up to Durham, and we won the final there which was quite good. After Maidenhead I went to Tooting & Mitcham who were managed by Roy Dwight who used to play for Nottingham Forest, and he was the only player that scored in the FA Cup final and then got carried off with a broken leg, and he was also the uncle of Elton John. So I went to Tooting and stayed there for a couple of years and then I went to Croydon and as I say we had quite a good side at Croydon in the league, and then after that I went to Horsham and then I finished my career at Dorking and that’s when I joined the police, so I couldn’t sort of carry on anymore after that which was a shame. I then spent 33 years with Sussex police, so I’ve been all around the place as you can imagine. 

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

Brian: Only Alan Hesling really, I don’t think that anyone used to live around my way, there was only one bloke who used to get the bus back with me and that was Alan Hesling. I think that he used to get on the 259 with me and he’d go his own way to south London and I’d go back to Islington. Also Ron Ashley was another good lad, and he represented Tottenham and London as well, after John Pratt turned professional.

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

Brian: Obviously the times of the 60’s are totally different to now with the fitness regimes that you’ve got today, and your eating and everything. So I’d say that you’ve just got to stick at your 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?

Brian: Oh yes without a doubt although I’m an Arsenal supporter because I was born and bred in Islington, but they still mean a lot to me. I support two teams in a funny sort of way, but I’ll always think of Tottenham without a doubt.

My interview with former Spurs player John Pratt:

Hackney born midfielder and Spurs legend John Arthur Pratt in fact started his footballing career off with west London club Brentford, whose youth team he used to play for. An exceptionally hard-working, versatile and intelligent midfield player, Pratt joined Tottenham Hotspur as an amateur, after having been spotted playing by Spurs legend and double winner Terry Medwin at Clark’s College in Enfield, where Medwin was a coach at the time, and where Pratt was a pupil. The tenacious John Pratt signed professional forms with the club in the November of 1965, and he would play for the juniors and the youth team in the South East Counties League, before progressing onto the reserve side. Excellent at breaking up play in the middle of the park, the defensive minded midfielder also had an eye for goal as well as being able to strike a ball sweetly, and he scored a very respectable total of 64 goals from 462 first team appearances for Spurs, although not all of which were in competitive games. After having risen through the various ranks at the club, John was eventually given his first team debut for Spurs by the great Bill Nicholson, it came in an end of season tour of Cyprus in a friendly against a Cyprus International XI (John made his competitive debut for Spurs against Arsenal the following year), with Spurs winning three-nil thanks to a brace from Jimmy Robertson and a goal from Alan Gilzean. Pratt would go on to establish himself in the Tottenham first team in a spell at the club as a player that would last almost 15 years, and he won the 1972 UEFA Cup, the 1973 Football League Cup (he played a big part in the run up to the final of that seasons competition), and he also played in both legs of the 1974 UEFA Cup final, when we finished as runners up to Dutch side Feyernoord. After enjoying on the whole a very successful time at Spurs albeit with the team enjoying mixed fortunes in that long period of time, Pratt left Spurs to join American side Portland Timbers in the May of 1980. He would later return to Spurs to coach both the youth and reserve team, before becoming assistant first team manager to Peter Shreeves for a period.

After having left Spurs permanently, Pratt would later manage Chesham United, coach Stevenage Borough and become assistant manager of Worthing, to name just some of his post playing career roles. I felt extremely privileged to have recently got the chance to interview John about his hugely memorable and eventful time at Tottenham Hotspur.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

John: It was going to the Crown and Manor Boys Club in Hoxton where I was born, and going over to Hackney Marshes. I was in the under 11’s when I first went to Crown and Manor and they were called the minors, and when I was ten and a half they had a really good team, and they got to the London Federation of Boys Clubs finals. And the manager of the team was a guy called Dougie Workman, and he was one of those people that was far ahead of his time, he was a Chelsea supporter but in years later I let him get away with that. He was a forward thinking man and I got picked to play in the semi-finals, and all of the 14 year olds said no, no, no we aren’t going to have that, we want Jimmy Mason who was one of their mates, and they wanted him to play. But Dougie said well no, if you don’t want to play with him then I’ll get ten other boys that want to play with him. So they went out and I was sitting there but I was ten and a half so I didn’t know what was going on. Eventually they all came back in and said yeah alright we’ll play, and so we played on Hackney Marshes against a good team called Alexander who were from Stoke Newington. I was playing on the wing in them days and I was having a really good first half and then in the second half they had a Hackney and London fullback playing, and they changed him over to mark me and so instead of going down the right hand side of the pitch we predominantly went down the left hand side of the pitch. So obviously I wasn’t getting a kick of the ball and it was freezing cold, and I just got colder and colder and colder, and at Crown and Manor we had the British lightweight boxing champion called Arthur Howard. I remember him picking me up and carrying me from pitch 167 all the way back to the dressing room, I was so frozen! 

We ended up winning that game and I’ll always remember that welcome to the world, tactically it was the right thing for us to do but I didn’t get a kick of the ball in the second half as one the player was a very good fullback, and two we changed our tactics. That was my first realisation about playing football at any level, but my dad was a good footballer and he basically sort of showed me all of the techniques when I was around that age group. Then afterwards I had the good fortune that at the school that I went Terry Medwin from the double side at Tottenham was our coach at school. So I had another good mentor to follow, but basically most of it was off the cuff and you just played and you enjoyed yourself, perhaps a little bit more than the boys do now as there is too much pressure on young players now I think. 

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

John: Well I played for Brentford when I was 14/15 in the youth team there, and I think that we had played Tottenham and I had had a couple of good games. However, because of the association with Terry Medwin when I was 16 Terry said that Tottenham wanted you to go and have a trial, and this was in 1964. I said well I’m doing alright at Brentford and I was only 15 and I’d had half a dozen reserve team games, but he said to me where are you going to go if you don’t make it at Brentford. And I didn’t have a clue as I was just a kid from Hoxton who didn’t know about all of the things in football, and he said to me well put it this way John if you don’t make it at Tottenham then there are 91 other teams that you can go to. And I thought wow what a good answer that is, I’ll have some of that, and so unfortunately for Tottenham it was the day that John White was being buried when I went for my trial. So one John went and one John came, and the 45,000 people who were there at Tottenham were hoping that the other one hadn’t gone, but that was the day that I had the trial. My dad used to say to me when I played for London and others, that all of the people around you ask them their names and say if you pass the ball to me and make me look good then I will pass the ball to you and make you look good. So when I went and had my trial up at Cheshunt I said to the winger and I said to the fullback that my name is John Pratt, and I said exactly that. So I probably got a little bit more of the ball than I may of done, because to be fair you know that people are trying to make themselves noticed and they are going to want to dwell on the ball and have it more than perhaps they should do. So after that I played for a year, and Bill Nicholson was big on education and he said to me that I want you to stay at school and so I said alright then I’ll stay at school.

So I stayed at school for a year as an amateur in the youth team and the first year that I was there the under 17’s were formed in the South-East Counties League, and I think that Bill Nicholson fancied winning that. I used to play in that sort of as a centre half or as a left back, and Tony Want who played in the first team and went to Birmingham also played in it, and he seemed as if he really wanted to win the under 17 league by putting some of us who were playing in the FA Youth Cup team in cup games. We did go on and win the league, but we were playing West Ham in the FA Youth Cup in I think the fifth round, and we’d drawn about three or four times. We were playing up at Upton Park and the only other amateur playing on that day was Trevor Brooking and myself, and I’d played centre half and after the game people were saying how did I play centre half. However, like Gary Mabbutt  I had a good technique to jump and head the ball, and I was a pretty decent header of the ball. So after the game Ron Greenwood came up to me and said that I understand that you’re an amateur, and I said yeah and then he said are Tottenham going to sign you. I said well I don’t know, and he said well if they don’t want to sign you then we’ll sign you and so I said well I’ll ask Bill Nicholson if he wants to sign me, so afterwards I went to see Bill and I knocked on his door and got an appointment with him because I actually worked for a month before I turned professional, in the import and export business in the city. And unfortunately it was a bittersweet situation because I signed on the 19th November 1965 when I turned pro and it was on a Friday, and I’d worked and then I met my dad at Liverpool Street station. We went on the train to White Hart Lane and then went across the road to Bill and this was after half past five, and on the Saturday I was supposed to play for England Amateurs.

That was the only time in my life that I was good enough to play for England, and I used to play for a Sunday morning team called Samuel Lithgow which was another boys club in the London Federation of Boys Clubs. We had nine England amateur internationals in our team and me, and needless to say we won most of our games, and so I was due to play as I had got picked to play. In the Evening Standard and the News of the World on a Friday night it was John Pratt from Hoxton signs professional terms with Tottenham Hotspur. I arrived at London airport with my dad on the Saturday and they said no you can’t play because your a professional, but as I know now I wouldn’t have been a professional until the Monday. Because it was after half past five so I wouldn’t have been registered with the FA until Monday morning, but nevertheless one of the biggest days of your life when you found out that you were going to become a professional footballer happened on a Wednesday. We were playing in the Metropolitan League at Charlton and I had arrived from work as I’d had another afternoon off work, and the firm Gillespie Brothers were brilliant and they were really good to me, I spent more time playing football then I did doing any business on the import and export business. Anyway I’ve arrived at the game and Eddie Baily’s got his clip board and he’s thrown it on the floor and he’s said Pratt we’ve only got to sign you professional and he said what’s the game coming to. However, Eddie Baily loved me and he was one of the reasons why I did get into the Spurs first team and played in the early 70’s with him and Bill. So that was how I became a professional footballer and somebody has said what’s the game coming we’ve got to sign you professional, and so that’s how I signed for Tottenham.

I think that I had went to Tottenham three times prior to signing for them, and that was the Benfica game, the Glasgow Rangers game and the game against Aston Villa in the FA Cup sixth round. My mates at school were all Tottenham supporters but I had only been there (White Hart Lane) three times before I had actually joined them,  but I’m a Tottenham supporter now as I’m a fair bit older obviously and having done all of the things that I’ve done at the club they are my team. At the time I suppose if I had supported anyone it was Leyton Orient, because my dad played for Leyton Orient before the war as an amateur, and when he came back from the war they offered him £6 a week, but he was getting £7 a week working as a plumber at Truman’s. So it was a no brainer that he stayed at Truman’s, but he was a pretty good footballer and I was lucky enough to inherit his natural ability, I think.

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

John: I think inspiration wise it would sort of have been the Manchester United 1958 team that died in Munich. My mates were Arsenal fans and I remember that I went to Arsenal on the Saturday when they played Manchester United who beat them five-four, but the only thing that I can remember about the game was one of the goals that they scored. Duncan Edwards played but I can’t remember seeing him play although I obviously saw him visually, and I suppose that in 58/59 Bobby Charlton was the player that everyone wanted to aspire to be. Where I lived after the FA Cup final on the Saturday you used to go out, and you used to have to have a fight to be Bobby Charlton before you actually played the game, because everybody wanted to be Bobby Charlton. The irony is that ten years later I was playing against him, which was obviously an experience to say the least. Then when I was at Tottenham I suppose that Dave Mackay was a massive sort of influence by watching him play and the way that he conducted himself, and he was a born winner and I have always enjoyed winning. To be fair I didn’t watch that much football as I was always playing, and on a Saturday morning and afternoon, and Sunday morning I was always playing football. There’s loads and loads of people that I admire and since playing against them you become more and more aware of players ability and one thing and another, and having played in as many positions as I did. I think that I’m the only person to have played for Tottenham that’s played in every position apart from goalkeeper, for obvious reasons as I’m five foot seven. If I looked at people like Ron Henry who was my captain in the reserves, and when I was doing my coaching badges Ron was very influential there and also in the A team he was brilliant.

Also there was Terry Medwin and people like Jimmy Greaves, so there were loads of them really in and around Tottenham. Later on I had the great fortune to become very friendly with Bobby Moore, so there was lots of people to admire but there was loads of people that weren’t actually professional footballers that told you a lot of great things about life. Johnny Wallis who was the kit man used to train all us young lads, and apprentices and young professionals up until you were 20 and teach us all of the fundamental things about discipline and hard work etc, and technique and quality, and they were all of the things that Tottenham are known for. So the people were my dad, Terry Medwin, Johnny Wallis, Eddie Baily and Bill Nicholson. But the three managers that I played under Bill, Terry for the year that he was there and Keith Burkinshaw were people who I learned a lot from, and they all helped me to become a better player.

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

John: I played every position to the point where I can remember we were training at Cheshunt and Cyril Knowles got injured (he had pulled a muscle or something) and Alan Mullery said to Bill what are we going to do about the left back, and he said that it’s not a problem, John Pratt will go and play left back. I just happened to look up and I saw the face of the reserve team left back at the time, and his face just hit the floor and he thought I must be a good player, because we’ve got a midfield player which I predominantly was, going to play left back. Because I played in the youth team at left back and centre half, as well as centre forward for few games and I took a right hiding there because I was alright at dishing it out. In midfield if you get kicked you know how to give a hard tackle back but I was having a really hard time, and it was about three games that I played and I went to see Bill, and I was taking a bit of a chance. I had only been on the first team squad a little while, and I said about being a centre forward I don’t mind taking it as long as I can give it a little bit back as I don’t have a clue, and he said it’s ok John Pratt Jimmy’s fit and he’ll be playing. As I walked out the door he went by the way I’m going to move you back to midfield, so I thought thank goodness for that, and so because of the education that I had had in the youth team of playing every position if I wasn’t a Jack of all trades, master of none then I wouldn’t have played as many games as I did. I also wouldn’t have been substituted as many times as I was, because with the  one substitute at the time you had to cover a number of bases and apart from the goalkeeper I covered most of them. So I was fortunate enough that I was reasonably good at most of those positions that it gave me that opportunity to play as many games.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

John: Just by watching them and looking at them the managers and Johnny Wallis, and basically listening and watching the way people conducted themselves and technically how they adapted themselves, and the approach that they gave it was just phenomenal. You learn different things from different people, I learnt awareness of the people around me from Jimmy Greaves, and my competitiveness sort of got me accepted into the first team squad. I went into a tackle with Dave Mackay and you could have heard a pin drop thinking that Dave was going to have a go at me, and instead he just slapped me on the back. So I was sort of accepted into the first team pool as they say.

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

John: Well basically you learn from different people, so with Greavsie people used to say that Greavsie weren’t a brave player and things like that, but when you knock a ball on to someone and you shout man on you see an opponent try and close them down and tackle them. Someone knocked the ball to Greavsie once and I shouted man on, and he knocked it back to me and then I played the ball, and I looked around and the look that he gave me was like what are you talking about man on! He’s miles away. So the next time the situation has happened the balls gone up to Greavsie and this player was onto him and Jimmy dropped his shoulder one way and went with the ball the other way, and I went keep your mouth shut when it comes to Jimmy Greaves you know, because he knows what he’s doing. People like Cliff Jones for example, he was only five foot seven but he was a good header of the ball and when I played wide on the left or wide on the right I would always make sure that I wasn’t staying wide on the right when he was on the left or vice versa. I’d make sure that I was getting inside the box, so that was one of the things that I learned from Cliff. Also Alan Gilzean, when I was playing centre half in the reserves I would be marking him at Cheshunt and his elbow would come out and hit me in the face and he’d tread on me, but it was just natural and he did it. I said look Gil you’ve just elbowed me, but it was such second nature and part of his game to feel the centre half etc and if you like give him a little bit of a whack, that  I said Gil I’ll have to give you a little kick soon (not that I would have done!) but I learnt those little things from him. You know if you’ve got any intelligence at all and there’s football intelligence and intelligence, but if you’ve got any football intelligence then you pick up things by looking at different people doing different things. 

The day that you think that you know it all is not a good day, because you are learning all of the time and I found that out when I was coaching. A lad would do something and I’d say could you do that again, and then I’d get the whole group in and I’d say now he’s under pressure because he’s got 20 lads watching him. He’d perform the technique which he’d done, and if someone sees one of the other lads doing it then they think that there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to do it. So you’re learning all of the time and seeing different people doing different things, and I mean years ago Johan Cruyff did that turn and it’s forever been known as the Johan Cruyff turn. It’s peoples awareness of like forwards against defenders to touch them to feel you, before then pulling away. John Duncan was someone who scored goals of all different types like from the back of his head or anywhere, and he used to stand still in the box and where you had all the movement in the box he just used to stand still. He used to say well John well everyone else is moving and the great majority of the time the ball would find him, and he was quite prolific at putting it away. So different people you learn different things from.

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

John: Well I suppose with the youth team it would be from the under 17’s because the South-East Counties was the under 18’s, and then they brought in an under 17 team and to be fair you know in that league you could be playing someone who was 19. If there birthday fell the right way then you could be playing against a 19 year old as a 15 year old, which I did. I actually forgot to mention that when I was I think 13 I went down to Portsmouth in Easter time when they used to invite a lot of players down, and we stayed in a hostel which Dougie Reeves the centre forward at Portsmouth years before had run and looked after. And Jimmy Dickinson the famous Portsmouth player was I think the director of football there or in the hierarchy, so we played against Chelsea on the Royal Marine pitch down in Portsmouth. We lost like nine-one but I got the one and it was quite a long distance shot and so shooting from long range was something that I became a little bit well known for. My thesis on that is if you don’t buy a raffle ticket then you’re not going to win the raffle, and that’s something that I don’t see us doing at the moment. If you keep having shots on goal then the goalkeeper is going to say to his defenders to close him down and stop him trying to have attempts. Then when you close him down then that’s when you do your little push and runs, instead of trying to do the push and runs all of the time and making it a five a side game you’ve got to make people think, and also think that they’ve got to close him down. So you learn from different people. Ossie Ardiles used to use the weight of people running at him to beat them, so as they are closing him down the ball would come to him and as they’d close him down he would knock it past them and run past them. Ossie was a very intelligent player and an intelligent man, but you learn all of those things as I said before you are never too old to learn. 

Keith Burkinshaw once called me in one day on a Friday when I was in my 30’s and he said John Pratt I’m thinking of leaving you out tomorrow. And I said I’m glad you’re only thinking about it (I laughed but he didn’t) but he explained the reason why, and I could understand the reason why because he said I’m not saying that sometimes you don’t see a situation, but you can’t get your body in the right position to make the pass. He said what you’ve got to do is give other people credit that they see the same thing that you do, and your playing in a high class team that they should see what you’ve seen. So instead of trying to disappear, hold it up and knock it back for someone else to play the through ball, and the thesis we had at Tottenham was that for every sideways and backward pass there should always be a forward pass. That is pretty alien to the game in general at the moment, and I love me football but I personally think that it’s becoming very Italian 1970’s, where everyone keeps the ball and and they drop off. We was always taught at Tottenham like basketball to always create two on one situations, so if you’ve got the ball and you run at an opponent, then drag him into an area where he doesn’t want to be. And then you make a forward pass and you don’t have to follow the pass sometimes, particularly if you’re a defender but if I played right back my first look was the winger or wide player. And my second look was the midfield, while my third look was the second centre forward as we always used to play with two centre forwards, and he’d come short. If that wasn’t on then my last get out ball was a clip into the other centre forward to run into, and I don’t like all this arm waiving when people don’t have the ball trying to get people into positions. It’s the man off the ball that makes the play not the man with the ball. 

If you’ve got the ball and I run, and say I’m in the inside of the forward position and I want to go into the left hand side of the position and you knock the ball, then wait hold on that’s not where I want it, I want it here. Roberto Soldado’s movement was fantastic at Tottenham and he obviously didn’t get too many plaudits for what he did, but he would go one way and then go back in the aisle. Our fullbacks at the time were looking down at the ball which you shouldn’t do because you should know where the ball is, as that’s one of the first things that you learn as a footballer. So his movement was wasted, but it’s the man off the ball that makes the play and that was ingrained in us all of the time. Some memories from playing in the reserves with Spurs, was one when I was playing in Swansea and we had a Welsh fullback called John Collins who played a couple of times in the first team when he was young. So we’re playing Swansea away and they were constantly kicking us and we had a lad Roy Woolcott and he was a semi-professional player, and Roy was so hard and he was six foot three. This centre half was kicking him and he went whack, and he chinned the geezer! The referee didn’t see it and there was a commotion going on and he said he’ll be alright, but the crowd was shouting go home you cockney so and so’s and all that. But John Collins is going but I’m Welsh, but in the end he said whatever! The other one was when we had just signed Dennis Bond and we were playing at Fulham and Bondy came and he had this lovely new suit on and he looked a million dollars. We came in at half-time and big Roger Hoy who went to play for Crystal Palace, and in the end he had a go at Ron Henry about something. Well Ron flew at him and all of the teas went over Dennis, and we all turned around and said welcome to the club Den! But that showed the passion.

I think that at this moment in time that everyone should be captains and there was three of us later on at Tottenham, Terry Naylor myself as well and Steve Perryman who would always be shouting and encouraging, and if you had to shake your fist at someone then you shook your first at someone. But now if something happens then everyone accepts it but everyone knows what should be done and alright you’ve done that mistake, but show me what you’re all about. Like all things in life as you go on, you know the ones that you can have a go at and you know the ones that you can’t have a go at. Whereas as a manager there’s some players you look at and say sorry, and there’s others that you put your arm round and you say that they are a million dollars and get your head up. So we’re all different people and consequently you can’t treat everybody the same, but you should have 11 captains out on the team, not just one. I’ll always remember that Bill Nicholson used to say that playing football is like driving a car, you should be driving everyone else’s car so you know what they are doing. So I said Bill is that why I keep on smashing my car up! The other memory from the reserves was when Tottenham were playing Liverpool away and it was the time that they got beat seven-nil, and me and Terry Naylor were playing in the reserves and I was playing centre half. We were playing Chelsea and they had a load of young lads playing and so I’m marking the centre forward, and at the old ground at Tottenham they used to have the alphabets up. They used to put the half-times up when we were playing, and in the corner every 15 minutes they would put the first team score up, and so after 15 minutes we’re three-nil down at Liverpool. So me and Terry Naylor are laughing hysterically and the centre forward went what are you laughing at? And so I said that the first team were losing three-nil. And he said don’t you want them to win? Well put it this way I said if they were three-nil then I’d be marking you again next week!

We were only on half a bonus anyway if you didn’t get in the team, so it wasn’t a lot to lose to get back in the team. I was brought back in for the next game.

Do you remember much about your first team debut for Spurs in a friendly against a Cyprus XI in the May of 1968?

John: Well that was eventful because it was Cliff Jones’ last tour, and the pitches were like concrete with sand thrown over them. However, that was a good tour as we had Greavsie, Terry Venables, Dave Mackay, Gilly and Cliffy Jones, so there were some characters there on that trip, and it was great to be introduced into the first team on that tour. Me and Tony Want were only told a week before that we would be going on the tour, and so we had to go and buy some trousers and all this, that and the other down in Barnett’s down in Bruce Grove. The man there knew us and because our thighs were quite big we used to have our trousers taken in and those were days, as nowadays they have them taken out. It was a good trip though and it was a nice way to get brought into the first team squad. 

If possible could you share some of your memories of your time as a player at Spurs during the 1972 UEFA Cup winning campaign, the 1973 Football League Cup winning campaign and the 1974 UEFA Cup campaign, when we finished as runners up?

John: Well that was a terrific sort of three/four years really and of course I also played a few games in the 1971 League Cup campaign and got a medal for it, but there was only one substitute allowed back in them days anyway, so that was good. Then in 1972 I remember that I broke my nose before the second leg of the UEFA Cup semi-final against AC Milan, and now they talk about people playing too many games. However, back then we’d played on the Saturday and then on the bank holiday Monday against Ipswich, and then we were playing AC Milan in the semi-final replay on the Wednesday, and I broke my nose after eight minutes against Ipswich. Colin Viljoen who eventually went to Chelsea did an overhead kick on the halfway line, and I’d gone up to head the ball and all my nose was on the other side of my face. So I had to have all of that pushed back the following morning up at the hospital at Bruce Grove, with the possibility that I could be playing on the Wednesday. That’s when Alan Mullery got called back from Fulham, and Steve Perryman scored two goals against AC Milan, and then we went out to the most electrifying atmosphere that I’ve ever played in, even more than Wembley, which was the San Siro stadium when we played AC Milan. I hadn’t headed a ball all week and I played in the reserves and Ian Hutchinson was the centre forward, and he was all arms and legs. Bill Nicholson said to me that he wanted me to play centre half but that he didn’t want me to head the ball, and I thought that I’m playing centre half but you don’t want me to head the ball, ok that sounds feasible to me. So I got the 90 minutes under my belt and then Bill just like Keith always told you the team either the night before, or an hour before the game. And the night before we’ve gone to Milan he’s said you’re going to be playing and I’m going to leave Alan Gilzean out, and I want you to mark Gianni Rivera, the AC Milan captain and captain of Italy. 

About that I thought ok then, because at that period of time over those four years if you like that was my job and I had marked the creative player of the other team, and I suppose with the ability that all of these players had if I could put them out of the game then they weren’t going to miss me as much as the other team were going to miss their player. That was a compliment from Bill for my ability and you name them I marked them and we had good results, but so I did think wow they’re leaving Alan Gilzean out but for me that was some compliment. So that was that one and I got the winners medal for that one and the runners up one for the other one. I suppose that the disappointing thing was that Feyernoord game because we had done so well but the referee didn’t have a great game that day, and Chris McGrath scored a goal which should have stood, and Martin Peters missed like three headers which you would have given him on any other day. Then they scored just before half-time and of course the crowd were fighting (that’s not the reason why we lost) but the fact that we conceded two goals in the last last five or ten minutes at White Hart Lane was the reason why we lost over the two legs. That was what cost us the game really and so that one was a bittersweet one, they had called Bill out just as he was going to give the team talk, and when he came back he threw his coat on the floor and said they’re tearing the place to pieces. So it wasn’t so eerie for me, but my wife and my mum and dad, and her mum and dad were there, as I had sort of flown them over to watch the game. It’s the only time that I would possibly say that I’ve been embarrassed to have been an Englishman. Having said that the Feyernoord supporters were no angels and they fought the good fight so to speak but it was eerie, and even the following day (we didn’t come back until the Monday) you sort of kept your head down.

 You also didn’t want to speak because if you spoke with an English accent or in my case a London accent you felt that you were intruding on their territory so to speak, but it was better to have played in the finals than to never have played. I suppose the only regret really is that I had the good fortune in those early 70’s to play with so many good players and that we never won the league. Me as a workman like player if you like and as a team man winning the league would have been fantastic to have been the best over 42 games, yeah it would have just been the icing on the cake. Like most flamboyant teams if you like which we were, you have to win the right way and you have to win entertainingly and you have to do the right things. At this moment in time Tottenham are winning by dropping off and defending, whereas back in the day dare I say it Spurs supporters expected you to play in a certain way and to win a certain way. Alan Mullery has got a great saying and he says sometimes you have to win ugly, and that’s a fantastic line to go by and I mention that all of the time. Put it this way I’d rather win ugly sometimes than play all the best football in the world and lose every week. It’s like when you’re coaching which I went into, and when I was youth team manager they (Spurs) had not taken any apprentices for ages and ages, and the saving grace for me was that the government brought in the YTS scheme, and for every apprentice that we had we could sign two YTS players that the government played for. So we had people like John Moncur and Vinny Samways and Shaun Close who was another one that played in the first team, so there was like four or five of them which played in the first team, including Richard Cooke. And they were all 16 year olds and we were suffering some bad defeats, we got beaten nine-nil at Ipswich and centre forward Jason Dozzell who played for England a couple of times, got five!

Neil Ruddock played for Millwall and he was a centre half and he got three goals against us, and at that moment in time we just didn’t have that turn over where the experienced players in the youth team could help the younger ones. You need a certain amount of success to make people believe what you’re telling them is the right thing, it’s about enjoying it but the end result is about winning. Back to my memories of the 1973 League Cup winning campaign obviously the final when Bill Nicholson said to me that he wanted me to mark Graham Paddon. He said that he would give me the signal when to release myself, as I loved getting forward. I’ll always remember Terry Neill saying to me John I want you to get forward and score me some goals, because I know you’re going to run back so get yourself forward. The season that he was there I scored 13 goals, I was eighth leading goal scorer in the First Division, but that League Cup final was great, especially playing at the old Wembley which was iconic. Ever since I was about seven I sat there on cup final days and watched the FA Cup being played at Wembley and all of the things used to start at nine o’clock in the morning and went on until long after the game had finished on the television. So I as I say Bill said to me to mark Graham Paddon, and about 20 minutes in Bill shouted go on, and I marched on and when I came back I went to make a slide tackle and my left knee hit the ground while the rest of my body was going the other way, and I tore my abductor muscle. I had to come off after 25 minutes and the saving grace was that Coatesy came on and he scored, and having won it it would have been lovely to have run around the pitch but I was on crutches. 

Me and and Ralph were joined at the hip and he was a lovely man, and I remember that he went to the 1970 World Cup with England. I used to say to Coatesy what would have happened to your career if I hadn’t have been injured, having already gone to Mexico for the World Cup, but he was a lovely man. And it was better to be on the winning side than not, and he scored the winning goal which was fantastic, but that was a bittersweet memory, but it was better to be on the pitch for 25 minutes than not at all. People now are derisory of the League Cup and I go to these people that say that it’s a Mickey Mouse cup, well how many times have you won it and played in it? Have you played at Wembley in front of 100,000 people? So  I’ve been involved in all those four cup runs, the two League Cup campaigns and the two UEFA Cup campaign but we didn’t the league and we didn’t win the FA Cup. We got to the sixth round a couple of times, and I was only a pro for two years in 1967 when we won it, but it was a really good party at the Savoy afterwards which I thoroughly enjoyed. But winning the FA Cup and the league were the two things that I wish I’d had the opportunity to have had the chance of winning, but I’m not going to give the other four medals back. 

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories or ones which stand out from your time in the Tottenham first team?

John: Well I suppose those campaigns which we did ever so well in and there was sort of a camaraderie, and we had a good team with Jennings and Kinnear, Knowles, England, Mullery, Philip Beal, Martin Peters, Chivers and Gilzean. Going back a bit further you had the good fortune of playing with Dave and Jimmy Greaves and Cliffy Jones on tour so they were fantastic memories. From a boy from Hoxton to have played as many games that I did was great, and there weren’t too many other people to have played more games than I have. So from someone that wasn’t supposed to be particularly adequate I didn’t do too badly.

Are there any memories from your time as assistant manager of the Spurs first team that standout?

John: Well I remember that we won at Liverpool for the first time in I think 73 years, but when people say that, me having a Leyton Orient background, Liverpool came up in 1960 with Leyton Orient. So I said I’m not being funny or anything but how can we beat Liverpool if they’re in the Second Division? And they were in that division for loads of years, but we had grounds like Anfield where we played particularly well at, and we had as many draws as we had defeats there to be fair, but then we didn’t win. So as assistant manager when we went there and Garth Crooks scored the goal that was great, also the European journey that we went on was good and we got Real Madrid but decisions didn’t go our way on that day. Mark Falco scored a fantastic goal and that was disallowed and then Steve Perryman got sent off straight away after that, but yeah it was a learning curve for me. Shreevesy was a fantastic coach, and I mean the Bill Nicholson and Eddie Baily partnership was what Keith Burkinshaw and Peter Shreeves were. They were both good for each other and as I say you always learn all of the time, and once again having been part of that as assistant manager I felt that we should have been given a little bit more time. We’d bought Chris Waddle, we’d bought Clive Allen and Paul Allen and they had their various reasons for needing time to settle in the team or settle at the club, but we weren’t given it, but having said that I’m back now doing match day hospitality for the club when we’re allowed to go there. So yeah it’s been a massive part of my life from when I signed in 1965, and I’m still there now in 2020 so I think that I should be super proud of myself. I’ve never been a boastful person but sometimes my mates go Pratty how many people do this and how many people do that, that you realise what you’ve done. I’ve had many a supporter come up to me and said that you weren’t a good player, and I go well everyone’s entitled to an opinion but the three people that mattered were the three managers Bill Nicholson, Terry Neill and Keith Burkinshaw, and they thought that I did a job for the team.

As I say now that the priority is that it’s a team game and it’s all about helping each other and getting the best out of each other. I suppose that one of the pluses that I’ve had for the club, was that when I was doing my coaching badges I helped shape Glenn Hoddle. It’s funny because I coached him when he was young and then playing with him when he made his debut and he scored at Stoke, and I’ll always remember Brian Moore interviewing him after the game and he said what made you shoot? And Hod went well John Pratt said shoot and if John says shoot then you shoot. And you know that’s lovely and we’re still mates till this day, and I think that’s the one thing that I would take away from all of my experience with Tottenham is, from all the eras from Cliffy Jones who is now 85 from the 60’s side to Glenn Hoddle and Steve Perryman and Ossie Ardiles and Paul Miller and Pat Jennings is that we are all mates. We all care about each other, and I’m lucky enough that from the era I played in that we all became firm friends that will do anything for each other. And if that’s the legacy I’ll take away from me then that will do me, because people are the most important thing.

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

John: Well it was 1980 when my contract was up and in my 16 years at the club I’d only ever been on a one year rolling contract. So I went in to see Keith and it was the only time that Tottenham have ever offered me a two year contract and I said to them am I going to be in the team? And Keith Burkinshaw who is sometimes a little bit too honest went well you’re my perfect substitute, and I took that as a compliment, I didn’t take it as a negative. I said well Keith I want to be in the team but I’ve had this offer from America to go and play out there for Portland Timbers, and I said that if I’m not going to be in your starting team, but then he said I’ll have to bring you back after three games like I normally do. And I said just imagine those three games have gone and start me it’s that easy, but I said that I needed a free transfer and he endeavoured to eventually get me one, and there was a little bit of haggling over that at the time, because the club wanted a quarter of a million for me, and I hadn’t cost them anything. I said well look I’ll retire as I’ve had a better career than I thought I’d ever have so forget it, and then all of a sudden I got a phone call from Keith saying that I had a three transfer. So I went and played at Portland Timbers for three years and it was just like being injured because during the campaigns when Spurs won cups, Stevie Perryman, Ossie and Paul Miller kept me in touch with everyone and the ball that they played at Highbury with against Wolves in the semi-final, they all signed that and sent it out to me. They also all signed an Ossie’s going to Wembley record and so it was like being injured and I couldn’t play but I was still involved, so that was great. Unfortunately the recession of 82/83 put an end to my time in America and I lost all of my money, but they were great years that the family had. My wife became Marie Pratt instead of the wife of John Pratt the footballer or the footballers wife, and the whole family had a great time there.

If somebody said to me you’re going to lose all of your money but you’ll have three of the best years of your life, I’d take that all day long. 18 months before that Keith had phoned me up and offered me the youth team managers job, and then when I came back from America (we had deportation orders and one thing and another) I said to Keith can I train down at the ground? I wanted to continue playing and that’s the reason why I didn’t take the youth team managers job anyway, and then Harry Redknapp asked me to go to Bournemouth with him as like a player-coach and then Keith said do you want to be the youth team manager? And we just sort of changed house and so I took the youth team managers job, then obviously I became the reserve team manager and the assistant manager and the sack which is now an inevitability in football, but Tottenham will forever be a part of my life and the people involved with it.

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

John: There’s a few so I couldn’t put one, people ask me who was the greatest player that I played with at Tottenham and years ago I used to say Dave Mackay straight away. Garry Brooke once asked me whose the greatest player in their position that you’ve ever played with? And I said that it’s Pat Jennings, but then no one ever says the goalkeeper, although going back to the greatest moment of my footballing career it was signing pro, playing at Wembley, making my debut against Arsenal which was my local team when we lost one-nil. The following year I scored my first league goal against Arsenal and I nearly got my mates in big trouble because they were in the Clock End and they said well we jumped up when you scored and then we spent the next 20 minutes trying to explain to the people around us who were angry that you were our mate, and that we lived in the same block of flats as each other. Then obviously the League Cup final and the UEFA Cup finals, and above all of them is having the good fortune of having played with as many talented players as I did play with. When you’re lucky enough to have had as many of those things as I had then it’s very difficult to name one, it’s like the lads who played in the FA Cup final and then the UEFA Cup final which was the best? Maybe the first or maybe the last, they’re all great at the time and in there own context they were always the best times.

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

John: Well that’s what I was saying with Pat Jennings, but I always say Dave Mackay because Dave was all things to all people but that would be detrimental to Mike England the best centre back, Cyril Knowles the best left back. And also Jimmy Greaves who was the best goalscorer that I’ve ever seen, then there was Alan Mullery and Martin Peters and Alan Gilzean, where do you stop. Having played with Glenn Hoddle, Steve Perryman and Ossie Ardiles it’s very difficult to stop, because in there own way they were all very good players, and some of them great players. By the way George Best is the greatest player that I’ve ever played against, by far.

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

John: Well the only time that I’ve ever went into a tackle where I’m still shaking now was with Romeo Benetti of AC Milan, and he was built like a house. It was in the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup in Milan and I was shaking for about ten minutes after it, he had legs that were bigger than Mark Hughes’ and Alan Mullery’s and Graham Roberts’ all put together. He was a colossal and there’s a difference between being hard and being dirty, and there were nasty players such as Johnny Giles who is arguably one of the best player to play in England, and he could leave his foot in there, but there was one or two that I played with that could do that as well and be equally as nasty. I always like to think that I went for the ball fairly and sometimes people are going to be quicker than you and they’ll get to the ball first, but I can’t say that I ever deliberately tried to hurt somebody because that shouldn’t be in the game. It’s like all this pulling and punching and one thing and another, there’s no need to pull each other. 

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

John: It wasn’t all sweetness and light obviously, they bought Martin Peters and I got left out, they bought Roger Morgan and I got left out, they bought Ralph Coates and I got left out, so obviously those times weren’t particularly good times, but I like to think that I was a good professional and that’s why I got back into the team. I also think that I proved that we were a better team with me than they were without me, and I think that the statistics do prove that actually.

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

John: When I first joined Spurs Tony Want the left back who went to Birmingham was the best man at my wedding and we’re still mates. Also big Pat and all those that I’ve mentioned we’re all mates, and even the people that I didn’t play with but I coached I still like to think that I’m a friend of Gary Mabbutt’s and Graham Roberts and Micky Hazard and Steve Archibald and Clive Allen and Paul Allen, so there are numerous people, but probably the closest one at Tottenham was Tony Want. I’ve also known Pat since 1964 and all of the people still about like Alan Mullery, Cliffy Jones and Mike England and big Martin Chivers. The phone go’s and it’s how are you, and once you meet again it’s like yesterday that you were altogether.

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

John: Have an open mind, look, listen and adapt yourself. There’s no substitute for hard work no matter what walk of life you’re in, Gary Player used to say that the harder I practice the better I become. Apply yourself and become the best player that you can be, and work to get as fit as you can. When I hear now about the wonder boys that play too many games, only the successful teams play too many games. Nowadays everyone’s bigger, my son is bigger than me and it won’t be long before my grandson is bigger than me. But back in 1967 Jimmy Robertson could do 40 yards in 4.4 seconds, in 2007 Thierry Henry was reported to be able to do 40 yards in 4.4 seconds, but who was the quickest? It’s the same.

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: Well obviously I’m a shareholder and ex player and ex coach and ex legend in inverted commas. Tottenham was good for me and I would like to think that I was good for Tottenham in my own way, which was at times making other players fulfil all of their ability. A reporter once said in an article that he once done that I used to watch caveat and champagne, Mackay and Blanchflower, now I’m watching bread and bread, Perryman and Pratt, but Perryman and Pratt played over 1500 games for Tottenham Hotspur between them. As good as those two other players were they didn’t play as many games as we did. Always be yourself, that’s what I would say to the young players of today.

My interview with former Spurs player Steve Castle:

A schoolboy with Spurs for a period during the early 1980’s, Ilford born Spurs supporting midfielder Stephen Charles Castle would go on to enjoy a very fine career in the professional game. A central midfielder with an eye for goal, Castle joined Leyton Orient in 1982 after not being offered associated schoolboy forms with Spurs, it was to be the first of three very successful spells with Leyton Orient. Castle would later play for the likes of Plymouth Argyle, Birmingham City, Gillingham and Peterborough, but since retiring from playing Steve Castle has since gone into football management. The manager of Royston Town since 2013, he has achieved great things at the club from Hertfordshire, and they play some great football as well. Playing with the likes of Des Walker, Martin Hayes, Gary Cooper and Perry Suckling at youth level at Spurs, all of those players weren’t offered associated schoolboy forms by the club, but still went on to have great careers in the game. I recently had the great pleasure of catching up with Steve to look back on his time at Spurs as a schoolboy youth player.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Steve: Going back quite a way it was as a young kid when I was playing for quite a successful team in Romford called Romford Royals, and I was playing with a player called Tony Cottee and several other lads who made it or get apprenticeships such as David Ridley, Ian Beal and and Carl Cowley. So we had a very successful football team which kept together for three or four years, and I don’t think that we ever got beat so that was quite a task in itself, and from there I went to a team called Redbridge United which was obviously where I lived. That was a reasonably successful team as well with players that had gone on to become pros so that would probably be my earliest memory, when you could go to most pro clubs if asked but really only if you signed associated schoolboy forms then you had a choice of whichever club you wanted to train for. 

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

Steve: Well obviously Tottenham is my team as well so that was obviously a real bonus, but I was at Arsenal and I did play a couple of games for the county. I got an invitation from a scout called Johnny Simmonds and he used to play amateur football with my dad, he said that he saw something in me, and I was very excited about it and we were as a family as well. I went down to Spurs and I think I had a couple of training sessions before my first game which was against Leyton Orient and I scored two goals, and Robbie Stepney was really impressed and he said that we would like to offer you associated schoolboy forms. 

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

Steve: Bryan Robson when I was very young, and then Glenn Hoddle as well as Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa and Graham Roberts to a degree, but in general the Tottenham team of the late 70’s and early 80’s were my idols.

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

Steve: I played in a midfield role at Tottenham probably on the left hand side and occasionally centrally, then obviously as a pro I ended up playing central midfield all of the time but I could also play on the left as I was very predominantly left footed. So I was a midfielder and a left back as a push, but generally I was a midfield player.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Steve: Well Robbie Stepney, Ronnie Henry and obviously the older lads who were there at the time such as Gary Brooke, Terry Gibson who were a little bit older but were obviously playing youth team football at that time as well as Pat Corbett who I knew when he came to Leyton Orient. They were generally the lads along with Allan Cockram who were a couple of years older and who I always looked up to playing Saturday football, which was the first taste really of professional albeit in the Southeast Counties League. So they would be the group of lads who I would look up to. 

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

Steve: Yes, so at the time David Kerslake was above an awful lot of people especially in midfield, so obviously he would be one that would be there. Also Des Walker who although not a centre half did look an excellent footballer and I was very surprised when he didn’t get the invitation, but obviously he had other avenues and has made it into international football, but probably out of our little age group they would have been the ones.

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

Steve: Well it wasn’t as successful as the rest of my career has been as I think that I’ve excelled at most of the clubs that I’ve been at, but I was a young kid who was probably overawed by an awful lot of things and I wouldn’t be the first person to be like that. However, as I said to you earlier on Tottenham was my boyhood club and it was a dream that I’d put the shirt on and played a few games but if I’m really truthful I don’t think that I done myself justice, as I really was intimidated by the whole atmosphere, and I probably didn’t have my best of times playing wise, and consequentially and unfortunately I didn’t get what I wanted which was an apprenticeship at Tottenham. 

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

Steve: Well as I say I initially got offered associated schoolboy forms and probably stayed for a year just after that but didn’t really do as well as I would have liked to, as I sort of mentioned. I was one of quite a big group that weren’t taken on that actually went and sort of done quite well after being released from Tottenham, and after I got released I played in a county game. Leyton Orient saw me playing in that county game and my dad was quite well connected to knowing people in that regard, and someone came up to him and said what’s going on at Tottenham, and he said I don’t think that he’ll be getting anything. It was a lad called Jimmy Hallybone that said that if he doesn’t then we’ll have a look at him down at Leyton Orient, and I played two or three competitive games under Ralph Coates at Leyton Orient at youth level and they sort of decided to take me on, on a two year apprenticeship. So I did my two years at Leyton Orient and I had another two years as I say as an apprentice before having another nine years as a pro. From there I moved on to Plymouth and there I had three years and had a successful period down there, I then went to Birmingham City for two years in the Championship and then went to Peterborough via Gillingham on loan. I then went back to Leyton Orient for the last few years of my playing career.

Being released from Spurs must have been incredibly disappointing and difficult. How did you find that at the time?

Steve: Obviously I was probably devastated at the time but I can’t remember as being as disappointed as other people would, as I pretty much knew that I wasn’t up to the standard at the time. Half of me was probably a bit relieved that I didn’t have to keep on to get to the high standards that were needed, and for my development probably Leyton Orient was perfect as I had that time to mature and get bigger as I wasn’t the biggest of people. The boy that I was at probably 15/16 was the man that I was at 18, so those formative years of development were really important and they sort of put me in good stead for a professional career. However, it was very very disappointing as Tottenham is one of the best clubs in London if not the country and it still has such an established set up, so it was still disappointing but I had the advantage of bouncing back quite quickly. 

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Steve: I’m very lucky as I’ve got a few. I scored a six minute hat-trick for Plymouth up at Stockport, I scored four goals as a youngster playing for Leyton Orient against Rochdale. I scored three goals against West Brom at West Brom which was probably my highlight I would say, but yeah I’ve been lucky enough and I’ve had a few promotions and I’ve played at Wembley. So there’s a few that I could add, I couldn’t add one specific thing.

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

Steve: Well I shared a pitch with Glenn Hoddle albeit in a charity game which is obviously quite a testament in that, passing to him and passing back to me, and he looked fitter than me but that’s beside the point. I’ve played with quite a few good footballers with Steve Bruce being one and Gary Ablett and Mark Ward who were very good footballers for Birmingham when I was there. So I’d probably put Steve Bruce as a regular lad that I played football with on a regular occasion.

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories of your time in the various Tottenham youth teams?

Steve: There weren’t many but unfortunately that’s the case, but for me my first competitive game that I played for Tottenham against Leyton Orient which we won seven-two and I scored two as well as the offer of the signing was a real highlight. After that we got invited with all of the parents of the under 18’s youth team to go and watch Tottenham play against Manchester United at Old Trafford, so that was another highlight. Obviously getting to know a few of the other lads that got invited, which was my first sort of time talking to lads like Martin Hayes, Perry Suckling and Des Walker which was really good. Obviously I didn’t realise that they were going to be as successful as they eventually were, but they were sort of the two highlights that I could name along with playing on what was the reserve team pitch at Cheshunt which was another highlight as it had a stand which was fantastic. Under 18 games and reserve games, as well as practice games were played there, so Cheshunt was an impressive place as well. 

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

Steve: Probably Jimmy Case the old Liverpool player who after playing for Liverpool used to play for Brighton, and I played against him on several occasions and he was a very strong player, who you could tell had been a top top player in his day. For playing against quality it was probably playing against Steven Gerrard, but yeah I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve played against a few including Glenn so it’s sort of been an experience.

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

Steve: No not really, because as a kid you sort of just go in and mix with everybody and as I told you before it was a time that I wasn’t particularly excelling so I sort of kept myself to myself, and I wasn’t a confident or overly confident person. As a 14/15 year old lad you probably just keep yourself to yourself a little bit.

Now as a manager yourself, what would your advice be to the young Spurs players of today as they look to break into the first team?

Steve: Just express yourself and enjoy it, I had that sort of disappointment of probably not doing that and it getting that little bit too much for me. Don’t worry about not getting taken on or don’t worry about getting released or whatever like that because there’s always pathways, and just prove yourself in the nicest possible way by working hard and really trying to make the most of every chance that you 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?

Steve: I’m still a Tottenham supporter and I have no regrets and no resentment, and in an actual fact looking at it now I wasn’t good enough at the time but it will always be a fantastic grounding even though it didn’t work out for me. Little did I know it just gave me the resilience to be what I was over these last 20 years. 

My interview with former Spurs player Greg Howell:

Joining Spurs as a schoolboy in the 1980’s at the age of 11, Swindon born boyhood Spurs fan Greg Howell spent ten years at the Lilywhites, leaving the club as a professional at the age of 21. A part of the last Spurs side to win the FA Youth Cup in 1990, Howell unfortunately suffered a really bad knee injury as a second year professional, which effectively put an end to his time at the club. A spell playing in New Zealand with Wellington United followed, before Howell returned to England to forge a career in the non-League. Playing for the likes of Enfield (player-manager), St. Albans (during two spells) and Aylesbury United, the talented midfielder who had a tremendous passing range, is the son of Ron Howell who played for Spurs as a schoolboy in the 1960’s. I recently had the great pleasure of catching up with Greg to look back on the ten highly interesting and eventful years that he spent with Spurs.

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

Greg: Obviously my dad (Ron Howell). So Barry Fry used to be brilliant and he used to let me go in the dugout when my dad was player-coach at Barnet, and one of my earliest memories was when they played Arsenal in a pre-season friendly, and I think that Terry Neill brought the whole first team down. My dad’s got photos of me in the dugout and I think there was Brian Talbot, Viv Anderson and them type of players playing. So obviously with my dad’s background all I wanted to do was play football ever since I could walk, as my mum would say. I really had some fond memories, such as when my dad got to the FA Cup fourth round with Enfield and I think they played Barnsley, and they were going to hold it at Southbury Road, but they couldn’t because the attendance was going to be too high. So they swapped it to White Hart Lane, and this was the time when the new west stand was just being built, so there were only three sides up, and I remember my dad telling my uncles to just turn up at ten past seven and you’d be able to just pay on the door. They turned up and there was a queue and they couldn’t get in, and I think that they said afterwards that there was 4,000 fans that couldn’t get in, and that it was a capacity crowd of about 33,000. That was for a local non-League side although they were very very good at the time, but yeah I remember being there on my mum’s knee watching the game, and although they got beat three – nil in the replay, although they should have won it at Oakwell, my dad got man of the match that day, he was outstanding.

I think that Mick McCarthy and Steve McGavin were playing, so they had a good side at the time but that was sort of at the end of my dad’s career as he went into the non-League. From then I played for my school team, and what was really big back then which is something that I talk to my son about, because now it’s all academies, academies, academies and they take them at six years of age. However, back then it was your district and your county, and I represented Enfield and I say this to my son all the time, and I loved playing for my district. I then got picked for my county Middlesex before then getting picked for the whole of London, but I think it was when I was playing for Middlesex I’ll always remember who scouted me, and he was one of the best up until ten-15 years ago, and he was a guy called Dickie Moss. So Dickie scouted me, and all it was at that time was a Monday night at the ball court where we used to go up to and train, and it wasn’t Astro at the time, it was cement. That sorted you out and it did used to get a bit tasty in there, but yeah on a Monday night we used to train there and I used to go up and get my expenses which I think was a couple of quid. That used to be up on the fourth floor and Dickie used to be up there, and you used to have a cup of tea and a biscuit, and I’ll always remember it as they were great times. Then obviously playing for school, and I think back then as a schoolboy we played at Middleton House which is a the back of where the new Spurs training ground is, and the pitches were lovely there as well. 

I then carried on as a schoolboy all the way up from 11 to 15 and I can remember playing for my secondary school team at the time which was Salisbury, and we managed to get to the final of the Middlesex Cup where we beat a team called Latymer. They were always the school that everyone wanted to go to, and we beat them in the final 4-1 and I remember that Mount Salisbury had never won the trophy before. There was a guy who had been to the school whose name I can’t remember,   and he had done really well for himself and was living in America, and he heard about this Middlesex Cup against Latymer. And so he flew all of the team over to Atlanta, and I was the only one who couldn’t go because obviously I’d been offered YTS at Tottenham, and my mum wasn’t very happy about that at the time because Spurs said that I couldn’t go. So I missed out on a great trip there but these things happen, and you’re never going to turn down a two year YTS at your boyhood club who I lived around the corner from, and could see the floodlights from my bedroom. So it was always an ambition of mine and when I got the two year YTS it was the best feeling in the world when I left school. As I will tell you later on in the interview if it wasn’t for my injuries I do think that I would have played, and fingers crossed would have made a lot of appearances for the club, but I think that I did the cartilage in my right knee in the first year of my YTS, so they obviously weren’t fond memories. However, you were treated so well, and I remember John Sheridan and Dave Butler (John was brilliant) got me back fighting fit after my first one, when I basically had a clear out of the cartilage on my right knee.

When I came back from that injury it took me a while to get back into it again, but when I did I featured in a lot of the games. So I was a first year YTS and obviously second year YTS was like Ian Walker, Neil Smith and Warren Hackett, and as it’s all sort of coming back to me now, previous to that when I was a schoolboy still at school, I think I was 15 when I was on the bench against Arsenal, so that was my first ever memory. I’ll always remember getting dropped off on a Saturday morning with my mum after I’d had my breakfast, and I didn’t know anyone there because obviously it was all sort of YTS boys at the time. However, looking back I think there was Dave McDonald and Billy Manuel and them sort of boys along with Ian Gilzean who I got on really well with in the end. So that was my first memory in the end, and they made quite a big thing about that in the programme saying that I was one of the first boys to ever feature as a schoolboy in the youth team, and it was against Arsenal, so that was a really brilliant memory. So going back to when I started my first year YTS, the memories I have of that, and after my knee injury was fantastic because we went on to win everything, and I think that it’s got to be up there as the most successful youth team there ever was. I think we won everything, like the Southern Junior Floodlit Cup, the Southeast Counties League and obviously the FA Youth Cup. However, what I remember fondly the most was the days when we used to play against Arsenal. We talk about it now because I still go and watch a lot of the academy and under 23 games at Tottenham, and I speak to people there still and I say this is too nice. We wanted a fight in the car park afterwards, and I remember us going to a couple of nightclubs, and we used to have our bar and Arsenal used to have their one. They were great times and I think that they all sort of talk about them now, the likes of Ray Parlour, Andy Cole and Mark Flatts, and they had a great team as well but they could never beat us for some reason.

I remember when they beat us one – nil at White Hart Lane in the first leg of the Southern Junior Floodlit Cup, and it went back to Highbury and they made such a big thing of it, and there was a massive crowd. I played in that game as well and we beat them two – nil and we were parading the trophy around Highbury, which didn’t go down too well. That year was fantastic but obviously the highlight for me and I still talk about it now, was playing at Old Trafford in the semi-final of the FA Youth Cup against obviously Ryan Giggs, Robbie Savage and Mark Bosnich who was in goal, but it was a shame that it wasn’t the Beckham/Neville era. I think that I was a sub for that game but I came on for the last half hour and did really well, and after that game I got picked for the England under 17 squad, just off the back of that really. And then we obviously got Middlesbrough in the final, but going back to the quarter-final that was the day that I probably had one of my best games in a Tottenham shirt against Man City at Maine Road, which was the old stadium. I’m pretty sure that my mum and dad were telling me at the time that Man City were the favourites, and they had Gary Flitcroft and Mark Hughes, and they had a really good side. I think that they were the favourites and we beat them two – one or one – nil, but I probably had my best game in a Tottenham shirt, that year anyway. Although I didn’t score that night I did used to score quite a few goals as I was a goalscoring midfielder, but then it was obviously Man United in the semis (we really wanted them in the final!), and then we played Middlesbrough in the final. I think that we beat drew at Ayresome Park and I played the whole of the first leg, and I was always looking to the final, but Keith Warden and Pat Holland pulled me to one side and said that they’d spoken to Terry Venables and said that they had to play players who were getting released from the club. That was a shame really because of what we’d done and what we’d won, but I don’t think that they could have taken on so many professionals.

So on that day they told me that I was going to be a sub but they did tell me that I was going to be coming on, and I think that I came on for the last half hour of the final along with Stuart Nethercott I think it was. So that was one of the highlights of my career, and then when I was a second year YTS obviously we were the older ones then, but obviously I’d struck up a really good relationship with Ian Walker. I remember that he was staying up at digs in Alexandra Palace and he didn’t like it, and because me and him had sort of hit it off he ended up coming and living with us and my mum, and so we became really really good friends. However, going back to when I was signing YTS Jamie Redknapp was at Spurs as well, and me and Jamie were really similar players and Harry had played with my dad when he was at Millwall and Harry was at West Ham. And he told my dad and my mum that he wanted a meeting with us, and we went and saw him and had a bit of a dinner, and he said that he wanted to take me to Bournemouth. However, obviously because I was living with my mum and was a Tottenham boy, but my dad thought that it would be a good decision to go down to Bournemouth with Harry as he did sort of promise that if I didn’t get injured then I would be in the first team with Jamie at 17/18. However, my mum said no he’s not going anywhere! Which in hindsight if I’d have go down to Bournemouth and not been with my mum, it was quite a decision, but I wasn’t too fussed really. I just said to my mum what do you think, but she said no I don’t want you going, and so I said fair enough. Going back to my second year that went quite well although it didn’t go as well as planned but we did have a really good side as well. We did have the first year YTS’s coming through at the time and they had a really good group of boys coming through, with players like Darren Caskey, Andy Turner, Jeffrey Minton and Kevin Watson who all sort of made first team appearances. 

So that was another good group of boys coming through and I think that we got beat by Birmingham that year in the FA Youth Cup, I think that it was in the fourth round, and I missed a penalty that night and it just didn’t go for us. That year I had a few injuries but I still played well that year, and then you sort of come round to the end of the season where are you going to get a professional contract, which is all that you ever dreamed of doing and wanted. I remember that there was a few clubs sort of coming in for me, and I remember the day when we were all at White Hart Lane in the box holders lounge and we were all getting called up to see Keith Warden and Patsy Holland, one by one. It was a tough day that was when you’re seeing boys coming down who weren’t getting offered contracts, and I remember me going up and they said that Terry really thinks a lot of you and he’s got high hopes for you, and so they offered me a two year professional contract. So that was obviously one of the best days in my whole life, and then for some of the boys it was probably the worst day in their whole life. I remember that there was various agents getting into contact with me and my mum, and I didn’t really know what it’s all about to be honest. I remember Eric Hall getting in touch and saying that he wanted to see me and my mum and my dad and everything else, and we went and met him but we didn’t need anyone at that time. So my dad said when we go up to sign my contract he’ll come with me to see Terry, and I remember the day we went up there to the ground with my dad. And it was obviously a really really proud day for my family, and I remember my dad saying to me let me do the talking and I’ll ask for this and I’ll ask for that, and I’ll ask for a bit of appearance money. I was like ok dad I’ll leave it all to you, and I remember Terry sitting there and he shook my dad’s hand and he obviously remembered my dad from playing against him from when he was at QPR, and they’d had some battles together, so they were having a laugh. 

The contract was all there in front of me and he sort of said to my dad, Ron I’ve got really high hopes for him and this was the best compliment I ever received from anyone and I still talk about it now, he said to my dad that he’s the best passer of a ball at the club since Glenn Hoddle. So you can imagine that was a great compliment, and so we sat there and Terry said this is what we’re going to offer him and before I could sort of say anything my dad said that will do. So there was no negotiations, no appearance money, and so I looked at my dad and thought really! But he said that will do and where do you sign, but obviously the money was great after YTS when you were on £27.50 a week I think, when you used to get your boots and bits and pieces. So going from that to a really good contract was brilliant, and I think that my dad said I could have got a bit more money out of it but then again I didn’t want to sort of rock the boat at 18 and start asking for this and that. However, I also remember him saying as well that I was at the bottom of the ladder, and when you think that YTS is the bottom of the ladder and you’ve crept up that ladder by getting that professional contract, no you’re at the bottom now and you’ve really got to work, and this is where all the hard work starts son. After I signed that contract obviously Ray Clemence was my reserve team manager and what a great man he was, and I’ve got some fond memories of Ray. So he was my reserve team manager and I think we played Norwich at Carrow Road as a first year pro, and we won one – nil. I played against Ian Crook who played for Norwich that night, and other than the Man City Quarter-final that was one of my best games for Tottenham. I can remember on the coach on the way back Ray called me down to the front and said listen I think that you’re going to be in the squad (I think that we were playing Wimbledon in the FA Cup) the following weekend. And he said just listen and keep doing what you’re doing and take the day off tomorrow.

I can remember going into the ball court when I should have had the day off and recovered, and I went in to do a few extras, and I went in the gym and I was messing about in the ball court. I can remember going up for a header playing about with a few of the young lads, and when I went up I got knocked in the air and as I came down the knee my left leg buckled underneath me really badly. It was one of them where my shin and my foot went one way, and my thigh and my body went the other. And I just knew straight away that it was something serious, and I went down into the home dressing room and they called the doc and everything else, and they thought that it might settle down, and I wasn’t allowed to do anything until the swelling went down. This was two or three months and I remember Ray coming in and saying to me is it that bad, and can you strap it up and will it be alright and this and that. And I said I don’t think I can as I can hardly walk, and I know for a fact that it was Nick Barmby who came through and sort of took my place, and I can remember him scoring the diving header against Wimbledon on ITV. Then obviously once I done that and once we knew the extent of the injury I had my operation done in the Princess Margaret by John Browett who done Gazza’s, and then that was it for 14 months. I think that a month later was when Gazza done his knee in the FA Cup final, and then once he done his we struck up a really good relationship because we were both sort of in rehab together. And for me that was really it, I never thought that I could really come back from it and I was told as well by the surgeon, and my mum and dad were told as well that I might not ever play again, it was that serious. However, I managed to still come back and I did sort of get a bit of money from the PFA, and I can remember Terry left the club (these 14 months out took me to the end of my two year contract) and I was sort of left in limbo really. I was on the verge of being involved with the Spurs team by playing that well against Norwich at Carrow Road, to all of a sudden like going in to do some extra training thinking that it was good, but it ended up being the worst thing that I’ve ever done.

I later went out to New Zealand to play for a team called Wellington United and so I went out there, and then I came back and I think that Harry Redknapp was at West Ham and he said to me to come in and do some training. So I done some training there just with the youth team to get my fitness, and that youth team was an unreal one which had Lampard, Carrick and Rio Ferdinand, and so I was training with them for a little while. But I remember at the time that he was overloaded with midfield players and I would have had to have paid the money back with the PFA to sort of semi-retire from the professional game, but then that’s when I went into the non-League scene. That’s when I sort of played for various clubs in the non-League.

Could you talk me through your memories of that famous 1989/90 FA Youth Cup winning campaign?

Greg: So obviously the Man City quarter-final at Maine Road was probably my best game, and we weren’t favourites as Man City were favourites but we ended up beating them one – nil. I had probably one of my best games in a Spurs shirt that night, and then we played Man United over two legs in the semi-final and again I don’t think we were favourites for that, because they obviously had Ryan Giggs, Robbie Savage and Mark Bosnich playing. Obviously we got through that one and then played Middlesbrough in the final, which was at the old ground at Ayresome Park and it was a shame really because I think that the following year Sky Sports came in and that was when it was televised. Obviously ours wasn’t as we were the year before, but I think that there was about seven or eight thousand at White Hart Lane that day when we beat Middlesbrough in the second leg in the final. Obviously there was Ian Walker, Ian Hendon and Scott Houghton and Warren Hackett and David Tuttle, and we won it off the back of our defence and having Ian in goal, that’s how we won that, the league and the Southern Junior Floodlit Cup finals. I remember that Ian Walker and Andy Cole had been at Lilleshall, as had a few of the Arsenal and Spurs boys but I hadn’t fancied going there that much. So every time that he played against them it was brilliant and the games were so heated, and you know what the Spurs v Arsenal games are like now, but when you watch it now I don’t see any of that passion or the tackles. The way I look at football now is that there’s not the personalities, I think that there’s so much money involved now in the game that they are athletes and everything is structured. Back in our day and I always said that Terry Venables was the best coach although I didn’t really work under him, because everyone sort of looked up to him when we sort of trained and used to play against the first team and the reserves, and also the times when I used to train with the first team squad. He was a fantastic coach (the best!) and he used to let you let your hair down but at the right times, and if you look back at some of the players we had there such as Paul Stewart, Pat Van Den Hauwe, Andy Gray, Steve Sedgley, Gazza and John Moncur, we had some great characters.

Everyday going into training was a joy really as it was enjoyable, and it didn’t feel like work it just felt as if you were going in with your mates to play football. The atmosphere was fantastic at the time, especially under Terry Venables.

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

Greg: Well obviously my first hero was Glen Hoddle and I did try to base my game around him because I was obviously a good passer of the ball as well, and I scored goals from midfield. So he was definitely one of my first heroes and he was the king of White Hart Lane as they used to call him, and I’ll always remember his last game which was against Oxford, when he went went round the goalkeeper and put the ball into the empty net which was fantastic. So Glen was my first one, and then after that when Paul Gascoigne joined the club I looked up to him and he was brilliant. He was brilliant for the young lads and he was the first one on the training pitch playing rondos like the piggy in the middle, and he was always the last player off the training pitch. I used to love standing out there practicing my free-kicks with him and we used to be out there for hours with Ian Walker and Erik Thorsvedt, and they used to have to drag us off the training ground at Mill Hill because he just loved playing football. I’ve got some fond memories of Paul from when I was in rehab with him, and when he eventually went to Lazio he invited me out there and I went and spent the weekend with him in this villa in Rome. I went to one of the games and I met his manager at the time Dino Zoff, and I also went into the changing rooms before the game, so it was just fantastic. However, that was just the guy he was and I remember when my mum was really ill at one point and he would ring her up and talk to her on the phone and have a laugh and a joke with her, and he was always buying her chocolates. He was just great and he just used to treat all of the young lads well, and I do say now that he would have been one of the best players in the world if not the best if he hadn’t have injured his knee the second time. They were fantastic times, just the best really.

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

Greg: I was a central midfield player but we used to play a diamond, so I used to play to the right of the backside of the diamond. I always had an eye for goal and I used to take the free-kicks and the penalties, and I remember when Harry Redknapp wanted to take me to Bournemouth, me and Jamie were very similar players, good passers of the ball and had a good eye for goal. Jamie had a great career whereas mine after my injury I didn’t sort of get back to the heights of what I would have done. So yeah I was an attacking midfield player who was good at set pieces, good at scoring goals and also a really good passer of the ball.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Greg: I’d have probably have said Terry Venables as he always liked me, and I can remember Keith Warden saying to me he really liked me. Whether that was because Terry was a midfield player and a really good passer of the ball or whether he saw some of what I done in his game i don’t know. However, he used to take me to one side and have chats with me and tell me what I’m doing right and what I’m doing wrong, but he was always encouraging and always trying to give you confidence. That is what I say to my son now to enjoy his football and be confident, and play how you want to play and don’t let anyone tell you what to do and how to play. All these players now they seem to be able to play in all of the same positions and this is why this Jack Grealish is a breath of fresh air and he’s the nearest player that I’ve seen to Gazza. I’m not saying that he’s as good as Gazza but he’s the nearest thing to him, but I still keep in contact and play golf with Harry Kane and I’m in business with David Bentley who I’ve got a flooring company with called GFS Bentley & Howell Flooring which is based in Bishop’s Stortford. So I still keep in contact with ex players, players now and obviously a few of the coaches down at Spurs such as Stuart Lewis whose doing really well, and he was at Tottenham as a youngster as well and he’s a good family friend of mine. I’m just sort of looking at my son and I do see a lot of myself in my son but I’m not putting any pressure on him, I just want him to enjoy his football and we’ll see where it goes. 

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

Greg: Gazza. He’d always say to me when we used to be in rehab and when we used to be swimming at the Swallow Hotel where we used to spend a lot of time, he used to say that he’d talk me through games and get me through games, if I had got to that level. He was brilliant for me and I always used to watch him play in training, and another one who thought a lot of me and I used to clean his boots and that was Nayim. He was a technically gifted player who had so much skill it was just frightening, and so yeah I used to look up to Nayim, Gazza and obviously Terry who was great for the ball playing midfield players. I always say now that I was a typical Tottenham player who was good on the ball and on the eye, and looked to pass and score goals, but when it gets down to the nitty gritty can they do it.

How difficult was it for a young Spurs player like yourself to break into the first team during the 1990’s?

Greg: To be honest with you Terry was brilliant and he used to give all of the youngsters a chance and he would have looked to have given me my chance and I’m 100% sure of that, because Ray Clemence liked me and he was sort of pushing me through before I done my knee. However, the boys that came through the year after me such as the likes of Sol Campbell, Darren Caskey and Andy Turner were all given their chance, along with Paul Mahorn. So it was a great club back then for giving players a chance, it really was.

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

Greg: I wouldn’t change it for the world, like still even now I get people saying to me do you have any regrets or do you beat yourself up, but I say listen if it was meant to be then it was meant to be. If I was meant to have gone on to play 200 or 300 games for Tottenham then I wouldn’t have gone in the next day to have gone Into training to do some extras. I would have had the day off and it might have been different, so I always say that things happen for a reason and now I’ve got a wonderful wife and a wonderful family, and I live in a wonderful area. I’ve also got a successful business and I look at some other players such as David Bentley who I’m in business with and who I’m a really really good friend with, and when I talk to them it’s all a bit of a blur to them for some reason. They always say that they were like race horses and to honest with you I wouldn’t say that they enjoyed it, and I know that David used to always say to me that it was a nine to five job, and that he had to go to work. So I think that it’s much harder now than what it was back then, and as I say we did used to have some fun back then and like I say now they are athletes whereas now you can’t drink and you can’t eat the wrong foods. I think David used to tell me that they were weighed every day and had a urine test everyday. If you were half a pound over or half a pound under then they would want to know why, and people say to me that it’s the best job in the world and it is and the moneys great but it affects some players. It’s really not easy now.

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

Greg: Like I said when my contract ran out and I think Terry left the club as well at the same time, I did say would there be any chance of another year but Terry said no, and I’ll see if I can take you to where I go. I was sort of waiting around and I didn’t really know what to do, but like I say from 11 to 20 everything was done for me like dentists and doctors, and I could ring up the club if I needed anything as everything was done for me. Then when I left it was like right what do I do here, and this is where even now lads have there problems, and I’ve been talking to and educating a few of the boys that left Tottenham a few years back just to have a chat with them really, and to just tell them that it’s not the end of the world. What you’ve done so far is great and now they do have to do there education and there A Levels, and so if it doesn’t work out as a footballer then you can go out and get another job in London and play non-League football and be on a really really good wage. And then also have a chance of getting back into the Football League’s, although obviously when I left I was like what do I do know and a few people such as Terry tried to get me sorted out, and like I say Ted Buxton (the chief scout at the time) rang me and said do you want to go to New Zealand. Of course they speak English there and I said yeah, and I remember Ian Walker driving me down and my family to the airport, and I was like right, and then I can remember being on the flight and thinking what have I done! However, once I got there and I settled in and they’d gave me a flat and a car with good wages, plus I was coaching in some of the schools so in the end I really enjoyed my time out there, I absolutely loved it. Like I say when I was out there Tony Potts who I was in the same youth team with me, they were looking for a centre forward, and so I asked him if he wanted to come out there and he did, and I’m pretty sure that he enjoyed his time out there as well.

When I came back from New Zealand I’d obviously spoken to Harry Redknapp through my dad and I went to West Ham and trained there, and Harry was obviously great like that for getting my fitness. So he was great to let me train there but I didn’t sign as they had too many midfield players plus I would have had to give the PFA my money back, so then I think I went to Enfield and that didn’t work out for me. I was offered a contract but the manager at the time didn’t put the contract in the top drawer and he didn’t file it with the FA, so then I started to find out all of the tricks and the trades of the non-League game. I then went to St. Albans under a guy called Allan Cockram who was a fantastic manager, and he used to be at Tottenham too. I think that I had four years at St. Albans and I got to the second round of the FA Cup where we played Bristol City after I’d scored the winner against Wisbech in the first round. However, we got beaten I think 7-3 by them, so that was one of the highlights of my non-League career, and then I had a little spell with Enfield bringing the young lads through when we were playing at Boreham Wood when the Southbury Road fiasco was going on. I really enjoyed that and since then I’ve just enjoyed playing and now coaching my sons team – Potters Bar United EGA under 15’s. So I’m involved with that and I’m really really enjoying that, and we’re playing at the stadium, and that’s a really good league as EGA is just under academy football. I’m also sort of involved with an agency called YMU with Rob Segal whose sort of really good friends with Daniel Levy, and I do a bit of scouting for them and watch players. So yeah I’m still involved in the game in quite a big way really, obviously through my son and my business with David and going to watch the youth team at Spurs and the under 23s, which I enjoy doing. 

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Greg: I’d probably say winning the FA Youth Cup and obviously signing my professional contract, and Terry Venables telling me that I was the best passer of a ball since Glenn Hoddle. As compliments go they don’t come much bigger than that, and like I say it weren’t meant to be and I’m a big believer in that and also to be positive, and it just wasn’t meant to be. I haven’t got any regrets and like I say I’ve got a lovely family, a wonderful wife and I’ve done alright for myself.

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

Greg: I’ve still got photos of it and I remember playing in the game when Lazio were there to make sure that Gazza was fit enough to travel and sign. That was a game at Mill Hill and it was such a great game with floods of water. Sol Campbell played in that game as well. I was up against Gazza and me and him had such a battle, so I would say that Gazza was the best player by far that I’ve ever played with. 

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

Greg: Obviously for the youth teams it was the games against Arsenal, also all of the cup finals along with the FA Youth Cup which was by far the most prestigious don’t get me wrong. But the final against Highbury when we were one-nil down after the first leg and then we beat them two – one in their own backyard at Highbury is something I’ll always remember, and the marble foyers and the changing rooms and everything else. I remember in the warmup thinking that they’d already won it, and yet we were the ones who beat them two – nil and were singing we are the champions and jogging round Highbury with the trophy at the end. So beating Arsenal was one of the highlights as well, and then reserve wise it was beating Oxford United five – one at White Hart Lane and in that game I was exceptional and I sort of ran the show. And Terry came up to my mum and said that you must be really proud of him, so that was one of the best reserve games that I ever had. Also a few of the tours that we had were good and I scored a few goals in Germany but I can’t really remember whereabouts we were. I do remember that in one of them we played Paris Saint-Germain in the final and beat them, but we just got that confidence that we were going to win as we had such a great back four and a great goalkeeper in Ian. If ever we got beat it was like what are they doing they aren’t supposed to beat us.

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

Greg: I only played against him once but probably Vinnie Jones in a reserve game. I remember me and John Moncur playing against them and he was playing and I was looking at John Moncur like I’m not going near him. He hit me in one tackle and I’ll always remember that. Training wise at Tottenham the toughest one was definitely Neil Ruddock.

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

Greg: Just Ian Walker really, and when I signed YTS we sort of struck it off really well and had a really good relationship. Obviously he wasn’t happy in his digs he was staying in, and my mum said that there was a room free in mine in Tottenham, and the club sorted it out with my mum and paid my mum for food and this, that and the other. So he came and stayed with me and obviously we struck up a really good relationship, and we’re still in touch now. So Ian is the only one that I’ve really kept in touch with, although Tony Potts is somebody who I also stayed in touch with as he came out to New Zealand with me to Wellington United. Also I still see Ollie Morah now and again and he coached my sons teams as well, but in terms of talking to it would be just Ian and Ollie. 

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

Greg: Just stay focused, it’s so professional now and you’ve just got to stay focused and work hard at your game, so there’s nothing more I can say really now because like I say they’re athletes and they’ve got to eat the right food and they’re not allowed to drink. It’s very very different from the days back in the early 1990’s when I was playing. Enjoy yourself and express yourself. Will we see another Paul Gascoigne that’s the thing. One day I would love to see my son put that white shirt on, and he’s got half a chance but as long as he enjoys it that is the main thing.

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?

Greg: It was the best time of my life and I still go and watch them now and I went loads to watch them last year. I still go and watch the academy side and the under 23 side and I’m still involved in a little bit now with recruiting young players, and like I say from when I got scouted by Dickie Moss when I was 11 and going to do my first session on a Monday night in the ball court to now going to watch them at 47 is a privilege and it always will be. It was the best time of my life and I’ve actually won something there and people still say to me now that Spurs still haven’t won that FA Youth Cup since 1990 and to be honest with you that’s quite devastating really, because that’s over 30 years ago and we still haven’t won it since.