Remembering former Spurs A team player Alan Reed:

(Many thanks must go to Alan’s son Nigel and also Ronnie Hanley, for all of their help in writing this piece.)

Alan Reed was at Spurs on part-time forms from 1956 until 1962. From Ilford, Reed attended Ilford County High, along with future West Ham manager John Lyall. Alan actually supported West Ham as a youngster. However, after being scouted by Spurs, the former London Schools footballer who played with another Spurs Legend, Terry Venables, and was actually managed by Terry’s father, joined them on part-time forms in 1956, following in the footsteps of his older brother John, who was with Spurs as a schoolboy footballer during the 1950s. Alan Reed was described to me a couple of years ago by his former Spurs A team teammate David Sunshine, as being a brilliant wing-half, and somebody who he thought was unlucky not to make it into the first team at Spurs. Reed was a talented midfield player, who was as competitive as he was skillful. He loved to make challenges (Bill Nicholson once asked him why he was always making challenges, to which he responded “I just want to break the opposition play down”) and he was also a talented athlete, who always did well at cross country running as a youngster. Alan used to cycle nine miles there and back from his family’s home in Ilford, to Spurs’ old Cheshunt training ground, to train for Spurs on occasions during midweek, as he was only on amateur forms with the club. 

He held many fond memories of his time there, where Alan looked up to Dave Mackay the Scottish international and tough, yet brilliant midfielder, perhaps somewhat of an inspiration. He remembered fondly a time he was in the physio room and one of the players rushed in, exasperated, suggesting that Mackay was slide tacking in the five-aside, which would have been accepted as normal, except for they were training in the club car park! Then his grace as a technical artist when in the gym at Cheshunt which was a famous wall with specific shapes or lines and the coach described a complex sequence of skills that needed to be handled as the ball returned from the wall, by thigh, or chest, etc and then the ball kicked back at a specific target, only for Mackay to step forward, go through the highly skilled sequence to perfection and trapping the ball at the end, asking “is that what you mean”?! Only Glenn Hoddle and Paul Gascoigne have managed the same sequence in perfect order, to demonstrate the brilliance of the man. Finally, his sheer nerve and grace as an entertainer, where he could flick a shilling up, catch it on his foot, flick it up onto his head, slide it onto his other foot before flicking it up, catching it in his side pocket and walking out of the pub frequented by the players after training. 

Another memorable moment for Alan, in the 1960 pre-season training, was ensuring he kept pace with the seasoned international legend, Danny Blanchflower, for the entire cross country. Intrigued who this young lad was, Danny approached him in the canteen over lunch where Alan was seated with some fellow teammates, and where Danny gave praise to Alan for the run, asking him if he was new to the club, with which, Alan responded, “no, I’ve been here four years, Danny”, and met with high amusement from the other players, which typified Alan’s self-deprecating sense of humour.

Reed would have worked his way up the various ranks at Spurs and into the Spurs A team. He would have started off playing matches for the Spurs Juniors, where on one occasion in a Southern Juniors Floodlit Cup Semi-final tie against Chelsea, Alan played against the great Jimmy Greaves. However, Alan would have also made a good number of appearances for the Spurs Youth team, in the South-East Counties League, before progressing up into the Spurs A team, which was Spurs’ third team. In the Spurs A team, Alan Reed would have played against the likes of March Town and Biggleswade Town in the Eastern Counties League. They had tough first team players, but sides that Alan would have definitely enjoyed playing against. The double winning season of 1960/61 would have been a definite highlight of Alan’s time at Spurs, especially attending the FA Cup winning banquet at The Savoy Hotel. However, he was also a key member of the Spurs A team that won the Eastern Counties League during that season. Alan made 23 appearances for the Spurs A team during that league winning season, scoring two goals.

In 1962, Alan was informed his contract with Spurs was to be terminated at the end of the season, and he arranged to meet Bill Nicholson in his office. After discussing the situation, and even considering the possibility of staying with Tottenham full-time, Alan agreed it was time to move forward, therefore Bill suggested Watford wanted him, although this was too far to travel, and then suggested Romford FC where Bill Nicholson’s old teammate, Harry Clarke was manager. Alan always had the greatest respect for Bill Nicholson, typified by what was described by Harry Clarke that Bill had written a very positive letter in reference to Alan’s introduction. In 1962 the tough midfield player, who had also been doing a welding job when not playing/training with Spurs, signed for Romford.

Alan had a very successful time at Romford, after leaving Spurs. He was part of a a very good Romford side, and at 21 he was an important member of the Romford side that won the Southern League. Also in that Romford side was legendary former Spurs goalkeeper Ted Ditchburn. While playing for Romford, he once got to play against John Charles. After leaving Romford the year after they had won the Southern League, Alan’s wife wanted to go to Australia (Alan’s daughter Vanessa has since followed in her parents footsteps by moving to Australia) because she had family connections in the country. While in Australia Alan continued to play football, and he signed for Slavia Melbourne SC, who he remembered as the best quality team that he had played for in his career, and they played some quality football too. Alan played in the same side at Slavia Melbourne SC as former Czechoslovakia international goalkeeper Viliam Schrojf. Alan had the attitude that no one was better than him, as he came from a tough background, but he was just a very competitive footballer. After returning to England with his wife, Alan signed for Billericay Town in the early 1970s, where he would win the Essex Senior League on two occasions with Billericay.

At Billericay Alan became good friends with former Chelsea player Ronnie Hanley, and the pair of them would leave Billericay at the same time in the mid 1970s, to join Basildon United. Alan would become the player-manager of Basildon, with Ronnie as his coach. In his second season with Basildon, Alan helped Basildon win the Essex Senior League for the first time in their history. Later on and after spending some happy years with Basildon, Alan would resign from his role at the club, with Ronnie taking over as manager of the side. Alan continued to play football in his spare time, until the age of 47 such was his love of the game. He would later settle in the Dunstable area, with his family. Alan’s son Nigel, played youth football for Luton Town and Northampton Town, and Alan would go and watch many of his son’s matches, his daughter followed in the family’s footsteps and emigrated to Australia in 1997. Sadly Alan Reed passed away in 2015, but he always looked after his wife Daphne, who had become ill with Alzheimer’s, right up until he passed away. Like so many of the former Spurs youth and A team players who were at the club during the 1950s and 60s, Alan must have been very proud to have been at Spurs during that wonderful time in their history. He remained a lifelong fan of Spurs in later years, and would attend a number of matches at White Hart Lane.

Where are they now? The Spurs Under 18 side who played in the first ever game at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium:

Back in the March of 2019 a Spurs Under 18 side became the first ever Spurs side to walk out at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, as they played a Premier League South match against Southampton. That was over three years ago that that match was played, on a nice spring day in north London. For many of those Spurs players who played in that game that day, it would have been at that point in their footballing careers, their best ever footballing experience. Played in front of over 28,000 spectators, Spurs won the match 3-1. Spurs’ goals were scored by J’Neil Bennett, Harvey White and Dilan Markanday. A number of regular starters from the excellent Spurs Under 18 side that Spurs had that season, were unavailable for that game. John McDermott and Ryan Mason’s side were missing Paris Maghoma, Luis Binks and Troy Parrott, to name just some of the players who were either away on international duty or injured for that match. It was a fairly routine win for Spurs against Southampton (they were unbeaten in the league that season, going into the Southampton game) and they really deserved to win the game, on what was a historic day in the history of Spurs. That Spurs Under 18 side were outstanding, and it was great to see them play the first ever match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. 

The squad for the match against Southampton:

Joshua Oluwayemi: The goalkeeper who started the match against Southampton, was the first choice goalkeeper for the Spurs Under 18 side during the 2018/19 season, and he hardly missed a match. Oluwayemi was excellent throughout the 2018/19 season, and he also saved a really good number of penalty kicks during the season. The goalkeeper who has since gone on to become a regular for the Spurs Under 18 side, be called-up to represent the senior Nigeria national team, and also play some matches on loan for non-League side Maidenhead United, continues to do well at Spurs, over three years after that Southampton match. The now 21 year old has made 18 competitive appearances for the Spurs Under 18 side this season. He also made the bench for the Spurs first team in pre-season, in a friendly match with Colchester United. He is a goalkeeper who I am sure will go on to have a very good career in the game.

Jubril Okedina: Starting the Premier League South match with Southampton at right-back, the versatile centre-half would often start matches at right-back during the 2018/19 season, for the Spurs Under 18 side. Okedina had a good game for the Spurs Under 18 side at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium against Southampton, and he really made that right-back spot his own in the side for the second half of the 2018/19 season. A great reader of the game who has good ability on the ball, Jubril would later become an important player for the Spurs Under 23 side, in the following seasons, doing well at both centre-half and right-back. He would also become the captain of the Spurs Under 23 side for the first half of the 2020/21 season, before joining then League Two side Cambridge United for the remainder of that season. After helping Cambridge United win promotion to League One, Okedina signed for them on a permanent basis last summer, and overall he has made over 50 appearances for them, and has become an important player for the side.

Malachi Fagan-Walcott: Centre-half Malachi Fagan-Walcott started the first ever match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, alongside Brooklyn Lyons-Foster in central-defence. Fagan-Walcott started the match on the right side of central-defence, and I remember the then first year scholar having a solid game against Southampton. The now 20 year old, would often represent the Spurs Under 23 side as well as the Spurs Under 18 side during the following season, a season in which he also made his first team debut as a substitute, in a UEFA Champions League game against RB Leipzig. Apart from spending a short time on loan with Scottish side Dundee FC (he had to return to Spurs early on in the loan because of injury), Fagan-Walcott has been a regular starter for the Spurs Under 23 side in the last couple of seasons. He has made 13 competitive appearances for the Spurs Under 23 side so far this season, and it will be interesting to see whether he goes out on another loan move during the 2022/23 season. 

Brooklyn Lyons-Foster: Still at Spurs, and doing really well in his new defensive-midfield role for the Spurs Under 23 side, up until going off injured in a Premier League 2 match with Blackburn Rovers in January of this year. The now 21 year old player who started the first ever game at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on the left side of central-defence, is a player with excellent ability on the ball, but someone who also reads the game really well. Lyons-Foster was a second year scholar during that Southampton game, and the versatile player who only recently signed a new contract with Spurs, has been a mainstay of the Spurs Under 23 side during the 2019/20, 2020/21 and also much of this season. Lyons-Foster has made 17 appearances for the Spurs Under 23 side this season, and he is a player who I think has real potential.

Dennis Cirkin: A highly skilful left-back who really likes to get forward with the ball and take players on for skill down the left flank. Dennis Cirkin was another member of the Spurs Under 18 side of 2018/19, who was in outstanding form throughout that season. Cirkin was a mainstay of the side in 2018/19, and he was so influential from his left-back role, as he showed in that Southampton game at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Dennis would later move up to the Spurs Under 23 side, and he even featured for the Spurs first team in the pre-season of 2020, but he would leave Spurs to join League One side Sunderland last summer. During his time at Sunderland so far, Dennis Cirkin has so far made 38 competitive first team appearances for them, and the now 20 year old seems to have made real strides this season.

Oliver Skipp: The match against Southampton in the March of 2019, was actually Oliver Skipp’s only appearance for the Spurs Under 18 side during the 2018/19 season, as although he was still only a second year scholar, Skipp was mostly training with the first team during the 2018/19 season. A player who doesn’t need much introducing, Oliver is a hardworking, highly skilled and tenacious midfielder. The footballer who only yesterday signed a new long term contract with Spurs, has unfortunately been out injured for a while now. However, the 21 year old who has so far made 51 competitive first team appearances for Spurs, was always excellent at Academy level for the club, as he showed in that Southampton game, in his defensive-midfield role. The player who only last season helped Norwich City (on loan) to win the Championship, is a player who I really believe is capable of becoming a Spurs legend.

Harvey White: A midfielder and set-piece specialist, with the ability to make a decisive pass. Harvey White started the Southampton match just ahead of Oliver Skipp in central-midfield. Harvey scored a first half penalty kick in that match, and throughout the 2018/19 season, the midfielder from County Kent provided a great number of assists from midfield, and he also scored a good number of goals as well. The now 20 year old who during the second half of this season has often been on the bench for the Spurs first team, has so far made two competitive first team appearances for the Spurs first team. A regular for the Spurs Under 23 side over the last couple of seasons, Harvey White also spent the second half of last season (2020/21) on loan with League One side Portsmouth. 

Dilan Markanday: His skilful runs, excellent close ball control and ability to ride challenges, made Barnet born winger Dilan Markanday one of the most influential players in the Premier League South during the 2018/19 season. The player who I actually named man of the match in the game against Southampton in my match report, started that match on the right flank, as a winger. Markanday later went on to become a regular starter for the Spurs Under 23 side in the seasons that followed 2018/19, and the very skilful player was in exceptional form for the Spurs Under 23 side during the first half of this season, scoring 12 goals and providing eight assists, as well as making his first team debut for the Spurs first team. However, Markanday left Spurs to join Blackburn Rovers in the January of this year, but very unfortunately picked up a long term injury in his debut for the Championship club, in a league game with Hull City. Markanday is an excellent player with real potential, and I am sure that he will return stronger than ever from his injury.

Armando Shashoua: The inspirational captain (he was the first ever captain to lead a Spurs team out at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium) of the Spurs Under 18 side during the 2018/19 season, midfielder Armando Shashoua provided a great number of assists from his usual CAM role, as well as scoring a good number of goals. The younger brother of former Spurs player Samuel Shashoua, Armando’s all-round ability and excellent work off the ball, made him such an important player for the Spurs Under 18 side in 2018/19. Armando led by example throughout that season, and he was a player who I’d never seen have a bad game for Spurs at any levels. He would later play for the Spurs Under 23 side during the first half of the following 2019/20 season, before joining Spanish third tier side Atlético Baleares for the second half of that season. Armando left Spurs to join Atlético Baleares on a permanent transfer for the start of the 2020/21 season, and although he is currently out injured, Armando has established himself as a very important player for Atlético, since joining them, as they look to win promotion to the second tier of Spanish football.

J’Neil Bennett: The first ever scorer of goal at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, unpredictable and skilful winger J’Neil Bennett opened the scoring with a fine goal, and he had a good game against Southampton on that day. Bennett started the match out on the left wing and he was often a starter for the Spurs Under 18 side during that 2018/19 season, as well as playing some matches for the Spurs Under 23 side during the same season. The 20 year old, who at the time of the 2018/19 season was a first year scholar, made a number of appearances for the Spurs Under 18 side during the following season, and has since gone on to become a regular for the Spurs Under 23 side. Bennett joined League One side Crewe Alexandra for the first half of the 2021/22 season, but since returned to Spurs because of injury. The player who made his competitive first team debut for Spurs earlier on in the season, has so far scored two goals for the Spurs Under 23 side this season.

Rayan Clarke: Although Rayan Clarke was a winger during his time at Spurs, he actually led the line for the Spurs Under 18 side in that game against Southampton, in the absence of a centre-forward. Clarke was having a good season for the Spurs Under 18 side during the 2018/19 season. The skilful and direct winger who would score a good number of goals for the side in 2018/19, had been at Spurs for a long time up until being released at the end of the following 2019/20 season, when he was with the Spurs Under 23 side. Clarke since went on trial with Sunderland, where he scored a goal for their Under 23 side from one Premier League 2 appearance during the 2020/21 season. However, since leaving Spurs in the summer of 2020, Rayan has unfortunately been without a club.

Kacper Kurylowicz: The substitute goalkeeper for the Southampton match, Kacper Kurylowicz was a first year scholar with the club during the 2018/19 season. The talented and brave goalkeeper only made a couple of appearances for the Spurs Under 18 side during his first season with the club, but he would make a good number of appearances for the Spurs Under 18 side during the following 2020/21 season. Currently on loan from Spurs with non-League side Potters Bar Town, the 20 year old is also with the Spurs Under 23 side.

Maxwell Statham: A solid, brave and reliable all-round defender, Maxwell Statham came on in the 79th minute of the Premier League South match with Southampton. The son of former Spurs player Brian Statham, Maxwell became an important member of the Spurs Under 18 side that came so close to winning the 2018/19 Premier League South. Maxwell was with the Spurs Under 23 side for the following 2019/20 season, before being released by the club at the end of that season. He has since represented Watford at Under 23 level, Hornchurch and now National League South side Welling United, where he is a very important player, and one who has done really well for them during this season, as they look to avoid relegation from that league.

Chay Cooper: A very clever winger with an eye for goal, former Spurs player Chay Cooper came on as a 71st minute substitute at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, in the game against Southampton. Cooper would establish himself as an important member of the Spurs Under 18 side during the following 2019/20 season, when he scored a number of goals and provided a good amount of assists. Following his release from Spurs at the end of the 2020/21 season, Chay signed for League Two side Colchester United, and he has been a mainstay of their Under 23 side this season, impressively scoring ten goals for them, as well as making four competitive appearances for the Colchester first team.

Elliot Thorpe: A skilful and direct midfield player, Wales Under 21 international Elliot Thorpe is a player who I’m a big fan of. He plays the game with a smile on his face, but he is a determined midfield player who loves to go on surging forward runs with the ball from deep. Thorpe was an unused substitute for John McDermott and Ryan Mason’s side in the game against Southampton. Elliot would make a good number of appearances for the Spurs Under 23 side over the next two seasons (he even scored a brace in an Under 23 game at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium), before signing for Luton Town earlier on this season. The 21 year old has so far made one competitive appearance for the Championship side (in the FA Cup), and he even provided an assist in that game.

Maurizio Pochettino: A hardworking and direct winger, Maurizio Pochettino made a good amount of appearances for the Spurs Under 18 side during his two seasons as a scholar at the club. The son of former Spurs head coach Mauricio Pochettino, Maurizio came on as a 79th minute substitute to replace J’Neil Bennett in the game against Southampton. After spending a season and a half with the Spurs Under 23 side, Pochettino signed for Watford in the January of 2021. He has since made one competitive appearance for their first team, and this season he has scored three goals for Watford’s Under 23 side.

Looking back on former Spurs youth team player and regular Del Deanus’ time at Spurs (a commemorative piece):

As a footballer the late Del Deanus was a tenacious, talented and old school English centre-half, and a footballer whose talents had been recognised by his country England, at schoolboy international level. Del was born in north west London in 1973, and was brought up in Neasden, in St Raphael’s Estate, and he started his football career by playing football for local side Larkspur Rovers. The former Middlesex Schools footballer was scouted by Spurs in the 1980s, and would join the club after signing Associated Schoolboy forms in 1988. He was part of a very talented Spurs youth team age group, after joining the club on a full-time basis. However, in-between that time the centre-half was called-up to represent his country, England, at international Schoolboy level, winning one cap for them, in a match in Craigavon, Northern Ireland, against the Northern Ireland Schoolboy side. Del played with some very good players in that England side, and when he did join Spurs full-time, he would also share a pitch with some great teammates during his Spurs days. Players such as Jeff Minton, Nicky Barmby, Kevin Watson, Darren Caskey, Paul Mahorn, Chris Day, Steve Slade, Stuart Nethercott and Danny Hill.

The tough but equally talented central-defender who was often a regular for the senior Spurs South-East Counties League Division 1 side during his first season as a YTS, the defender who was also a real character as his old teammates remember, must have really enjoyed that season with the club. Also, for example during the 1990/91 season, Del was a regular for the senior Spurs South-East Counties League Division 1 side when they won the league, and he often started matches for Keith Waldon’s side. He would actually start 21 consecutive matches during that season, for that Spurs side. Del also scored a goal for the senior Spurs youth team in a 5-1 home win over Watford, during the 1990/91 season. The defender would also make some appearances for the Spurs reserve side in the Combination League during his time at the club, but would leave Spurs after being released by the club at the end of the following 1991/92 season (Del did have some injury problems during his time at the club). He would later play for Fulham, where he played for their reserve side, later Enfield and then Greensboro Dynamos, in America.

After returning to England Del had some trials with some English clubs, before playing non-League football for the likes of Windsor & Eton, Egham Town and Southall. After having to retire from the game at the age of only 26, Del Deanus went into coaching and management. He was with Southall and also Northwood (Del coached future Watford and United States international Jay DeMerit at both clubs) as a football coach, before then going into management. He would go onto become joint-manager with Steve Newing, at a number of non-League sides, such as Enfield (where both were named the Ryman Division One League North manager of the month, at one point), Edgware Town and Leyton. During Del’s time in management, he also worked outside of football as well, during that time. Very sadly Del Deanus was diagnosed in 2008 with Motor Neurone Disease. However, this didn’t stop the former Spurs man from writing an autobiography, called Memories Never Die. There was also a game that was played for charity, at Del’s old side Edgware Town, at their White Lion Ground. Among the players playing in the match that day, were former Spurs players Darren Caskey and Les Ferdinand, as well as former Arsenal player Paul Merson.

Del was at Spurs at a time in the clubs history when they won the FA Cup in 1991, and although he didn’t get the opportunity to represent the Spurs first team, he would achieve more than many people in football could only dream of. Very sadly Del passed away in 2012, at the age of just 38. Below are some memories of Del, from people who were at the club during Del’s time at Spurs. It is clear from those words, just how popular he was during his Spurs days. 

Some words/memories of Del from old Spurs teammates and people associated with the club:

Former Spurs player Chris Landon: Del was a great lad. He was very funny and a real old school English centre-half who wanted to head the ball and tackle. He loved his dog racing and I’m sure that his dad owned a couple. He was kit man to the Fulham youth team then and he constantly gave the lads losing tips! When Del lost got annoyed in training or in a game, no one was safe! He would go through and tackle anyone, even the big first team stars. He was a lovely lad though, with a heart as big as his personality. Everyone loved Del. 

Former Spurs youth team manager Keith Waldon:  I was shocked to hear of the untimely death of one of our former players in 2012, Del Deanus. Del was a whole hearted player with incredible focus and a strong will to win. He was a leader and an inspiration to all those around him. My condolences continue to go to his family and close friends. He is fondly remembered. Keith Waldon.

Former Spurs player David Culverhouse: My overriding memories of Del was like all the lads have touched on, and that was his great sense of humour! He loved the banter and took it as well as giving it out. I was lucky enough for most of our youth team days to be Del’s centre-back partner. I have to admit I was a bit in awe of Del when we first met. He looked and was built like a full grown man with full stubble to boot, while I was this skinny Rodney Trotter like teenager! We went on to have both a great friendship and playing partnership. He was such a talented player and when angry you wouldn’t want to be on the end of one of his tackles! Loved by many and missed by all. x

Former Spurs player Neil Young: Del Deanus (Del Boy) was a great lad, who was always laughing, joking and just one of the boys. On the park he was a tough tackling centre-half. Loved a tackle and a header, but hated any kind of fitness work, haha!! He hated pre-season.

Looking back at the senior Spurs youth team that won the 1984/85 South-East Counties Senior League Cup:

During the 1984/85 season, Spurs’ very talented senior youth side won over two legs against a very good Arsenal youth side, to win the 1984/85 South-East Counties Senior League Cup, for the first time in their history. Under the tutelage of head-coach Keith Blunt, Spurs’ senior South-East Counties League Cup winning side won against the likes of QPR, Southend United, Portsmouth and a very talented Arsenal side, to lift the trophy. Spurs had a very talented side of their own however, and with players such as David Howells, John Moncur, Danny Maddix and Vinny Samways all members of the squad, their talents as a team were recognised at that level during the mid 1980s. Spurs would win the South-East Counties Senior Division One during the following season, but during 1984/85, Spurs played some great football at senior youth team level, and they thoroughly deserved to win the South-East Counties Senior League Cup. Their first round game at home against Queen’s Park Rangers, finished 3-0 to Keith Blunt’s side, with John Moncur and David Howells scoring, as well as there being an own goal scored by one of the QPR players.

In the second round tie with Southend United, the score finished 1-1, with Gary Poole getting Spurs’ goal in that game. This meant that there had to be a replay, with Southend playing the match at home. Spurs were able to win the replay 2-0, thanks to goals from Danny Maddix and Shaun Close. Into the semi-finals of the competition Spurs went, but they wouldn’t play the semi-final match until the end of March 1985 (the previous game against Southend was played during December 1984). In the semi-final Spurs met Portsmouth, who they were able to win 2-0 against (Shaun Close and David Howells got the goals), with the game being played in front of fans at White Hart Lane. In the final of the competition Spurs would face Arsenal, over two legs. For the first leg, which was played at Arsenal’s old Highbury ground, the game would finish 3-2 to Spurs, with a brace from Shaun Close and a goal from David Howells enough to beat an Arsenal side which included Paul Merson, David Rocastle and Niall Quinn. 

In the second leg of the final (it was played at White Hart Lane) Spurs made a couple of changes to the team that had won the first leg at Highbury. The Arsenal side for this game included Tony Adams, who started in defence. Spurs were able to impress once again, as they won the match against a very talented Arsenal side which included players who would go and have great careers in the game, 2-1. Steve Grenfell and Brendan Conroy got Spurs’ goals in the second leg of the final. A great day was had for the Spurs lads who played in the two legs of the final, and who were part of the squad. It was a great achievement for the Spurs players and coaching staff that helped them to win the South-East Counties Senior League Cup. This piece is a commemorative piece about that cup winning side, with pieces written on every player that played for the Spurs senior youth team in the South-East Counties League Cup during the 1984/85 season.

(Special thanks must go to former Spurs players Allan Cockram and Peter Corder, for their help in writing this piece).

The players:

Peter Corder: A tall goalkeeper who had previously been with West Ham United, Peter Corder was the only goalkeeper to play for the Spurs senior youth team in the South-East Counties Senior League Cup winning side of 1984/85, and would play all six games in the competition. The Loughton born former professional footballer was a very competent goalkeeper, whose very good communication skills would have been very important during the six South-East Counties Senior League Cup games that Spurs played during that season. Corder was a mainstay of the South-East Counties Senior League team during the 1984/85 season, after joining Spurs an apprentice during the previous season. The goalkeeper would go on to play a good number of reserve team games for Spurs during his time at the club, before leaving them in late 1985, after going out on loan to Peterborough United for a time. Corder later played for the likes of Nuneaton Borough, Boston United (on a loan) and then Holbeach United and Raunds. He later went on to become a physiotherapist, and he would even become Peterborough United’s first team physio for a time. Back in the May of 1984 Corder would make his one and only first team appearance for Spurs (as a substitute) in a testimonial game with West Ham United.

Peter Corder still works as a physiotherapist to this day, and not so long ago I had the great pleasure of interviewing him (he is a really nice person) about his time at Spurs. He also still supports Spurs and his goalkeeping hero during his playing days was the legendary Ray Clemence.

Andy Edmonds: An FA Trophy winner with Enfield, later on in his footballing career, Andy Edmonds would make three appearances for Spurs in the 1984/85 South-East Counties Senior League Cup winning season. The player who started the first leg of the final with Arsenal, was a full-back who could also play at centre-half during his Spurs days. An enthusiastic defender who always gave 100% out on the pitch, the player who made 18 league appearances for the senior Spurs youth teams during the 1984/85 season, actually left the club at the end of that season. He would later play for the likes of Colchester United and Enfield, before later becoming a player-coach for non-League side Ware.

Mark Stimson: A player who would go on to have a good career in football after leaving Spurs in 1989, full-back Mark Stimson was previously with Queen’s Park Rangers as a youth player, before joining Spurs in the summer of 1984. The Plaistow born former footballer was a left-back during his Spurs days, and he was a footballer who had a cultured left foot. Stimson was a full-back who was full of energy, and got up and down the line really well. He started both legs of the final, and made a total of six South-East Counties Senior League Cup, playing in all of the games running up to the final. An important player for the Spurs senior youth team during that cup winning season, Mark Stimson made 23 league appearances at senior youth level for Spurs, during the same season. He would go on to make two competitive appearances for the Spurs first team, plus some additional ones in friendlies, after working his way up the youth and reserve team ranks at the club.

Mark Stimson would later enjoy a fine career in the game, after leaving Spurs. He played for the likes of Newcastle United, Portsmouth and Southend United, before starting a successful coaching career. Stimson has so far been with Spurs as an Academy coach, managed the likes of Stevenage, Gillingham and Barnet, and is now in charge of non-League side Hornchurch. Last season he led them to the FA Trophy final, which they won. That was a really big achievement for everyone involved in the club.

Tim O’Shea: Originally a centre-half during his Spurs youth team days, Londoner Tim O’Shea could also play in midfield, a role in which he would often fill in at during his career in the game. Previously with Arsenal, before signing for Spurs on the Youth Training Scheme in late 1983. As a youth team player with Spurs, the one time Republic of Ireland youth team international was a centre-half in the mould of the great Gary Mabbutt. In the sense that he was a real leader on the pitch, and also a very good defender at youth team level, forming a very good defensive partnership with John Polston. O’Shea was a real all-rounder and he would often captain Spurs at youth team level. Yet another member of this cup winning side who would go on to play for the Spurs first team, Tim O’Shea made three competitive first team appearances for the club (he made his debut as a substitute in a league game against Sheffield Wednesday, in 1987). He would leave Spurs to go on loan to Newport County in 1986, before then joining Leyton Orient on a permanent transfer in 1988.

O’Shea would later play for the likes of Gillingham, Yeovil and Welling United, later on in his career, before going into coaching. The former Spurs player made five cup appearances for Spurs’ senior youth team in 1984/85, plus 18 senior appearances in the league. He was undoubtedly an important member of Keith Blunt’s side during the 1984/85 season.

John Polston: A future first team player for Spurs, Spurs supporter John Polston (older brother of former Spurs player Andy Polston) was a centre-half who played in and started all six of Spurs’ South-East Counties Senior League Cup matches in 1984/85. The defender from Walthamstow formed a very good defensive partnership with Tim O’Shea for Spurs at youth team level. Polston joined Spurs as an apprentice for the start of that season, and he was a very brave defender who actually adapted really well to playing at centre-half, having previously been a centre-forward. A talented athlete during his youth, John Polston would later become a regular for the Spurs reserve side, before going on to make 24 competitive first team appearances (he scored one goal) for Spurs. He left to join Norwich City in the summer of 1990, and would stay there until 1998, when he joined Reading. He later went into coaching. 

Gary Poole: East Londoner Gary Poole, was yet another member of the Spurs senior youth team of 1984/85, who would go on and have a very respectable career in professional football. A right-back by trade, Gary Poole joined Spurs on the Youth Training Scheme for the start of the 1984/85 season, having previously been with Arsenal. A steady and reliable defender, Gary Poole could also play in midfield. He made five appearances (including one as a substitute) during the South-East Counties Senior League Cup winning season of 1984/85, scoring one goal. He was named on the bench for Spurs in the second leg of the final with Arsenal. He was yet another player from the cup winning side who went on to play reserve team football for the club. He would leave Spurs in 1987, to join Cambridge United, and would enjoy a fine career. Later playing for the likes of Barnet, Birmingham City and Charlton Athletic.

Eddie Martin: A part-time youth footballer who was at Spurs during the 1980s, full-back Eddie Martin made just one appearance (as a substitute) for Spurs’ Senior youth team in the South-East Counties Senior League Cup, during 1984/85. A tough left-back who used to like to make challenges, Eddie Martin made an additional 14 senior South-East Counties League appearances for Spurs during the same season. After leaving Spurs during the 1980s, unfortunately I was unable to find out where Eddie Martin went, and whether or not he continued his career in the game.

Ryan: Ryan (surname) made a single appearance (he also made six senior league appearances during the same season) from the bench in the South-East Counties Senior League Cup, of 1984/85. Unfortunately no one that I spoke to who played for Spurs around that time, could remember what his first name was. It is quite possible that he was a triallist with the club.

Brendan Conroy: A good all-round footballer who always had a good work rate, Islington born former footballer Brendan Conroy made three appearances in the South-East Counties Senior League Cup winning side, of that season. Conroy would actually score an important goal (he started the match in midfield) in the second leg of the final with Arsenal, at White Hart Lane. Often playing in midfield for Spurs, but also capable of playing in defence, Brendan used to train with local club Arsenal and also Charlton Athletic, prior to joining Spurs as an apprentice during the 1983/84 season. Once called-up to attend a Northern Ireland Youth training session (he was eligible to play for Northern Ireland at international level), Conroy would play for Spurs as high up as reserve team level, during his time at the club. The midfielder also made 20 senior South-East Counties League appearances during the 1984/85 season, scoring two goals. After leaving Spurs during the 1980s, former Spurs player Allan Cockram mentioned to me that Brendan possibly went to QPR for a time, but I was unable to confirm that he did.

Carl Hoddle: The younger brother of Spurs legend Glenn Hoddle, Carl Hoddle was in many ways similar to his brother, in regards to his style of play. Carl was very good at shielding the ball, making very good long passes and was also a very skilful player, who read the game really well. The midfielder had a good first touch and was physical as well during his days as a Spurs youth team player. Carl made five South-East Counties Senior League Cup appearances during the cup winning season, and he was an important member of that side. The Harlow born former footballer was a regular for Spurs in the senior South-East Counties League, and also made a good number of appearances for the Spurs reserve side, during his time with the club. Carl Hoddle left Spurs in 1986, and would later play for the likes of Barnet, Leyton Orient and Enfield, in what was a good career (he later went into coaching). He started the first leg of the South-East Counties Senior League Cup final with Arsenal in 1985. Very sadly Carl passed away in March of 2008, at the age of just 40.

Vinny Samways: Talented midfielder Vinny Samways was an intelligent midfield player, who was very technical with the ball, and would keep it moving well in midfield. The Bethnal Green born former professional footballer who joined Spurs as an apprentice during the 1984/85 season, would make two South-East Counties Senior League Cup appearances during that season, plus an additional ten appearances in the South-East Counties Senior League. Samways was described to me by Allan Cockram recently, as being a bit like a very technical Dutch midfielder during his days at Spurs as a youth team player, and later on in his Spurs career. The Londoner was definitely a very skilful player, who would later go onto enjoy one of the most successful careers at Spurs of those who played in the cup winning team of the mid 1980s. The former England youth international worked his way into the Spurs first team, and would make over 200 competitive appearances for Spurs at that level, and was also part of the Spurs side that won the FA Cup in 1991. Samways had a really good career as a professional footballer, and would later on play for the likes of Everton, Las Palmas and Sevilla.

John Moncur: The son of Spurs’ former youth development officer John Moncur Senior, John Moncur Junior was another very skilful midfield player, who was also very creative at youth and reserve team level. The Mile End born former footballer and England Youth international made four South-East Counties Senior League Cup appearances, scoring one goal in the first round cup tie with Queen’s Park Rangers. John Moncur did very well at youth and reserve team level for Spurs, and was yet another member of this side who would play for the Spurs first team. He joined the club during the 1982/83 season and would later go onto make 24 competitive first team appearances for Spurs, scoring one goal. He went out on a number of loans during his time at the club, before leaving on a permanent transfer to join Swindon Town in 1992. The midfielder would later join West Ham United, a club that he would later play for for a long time, before retiring from the game in 2003. He is still really well remembered by the West Ham supporters.

Steve Grenfell: A local lad from nearby Enfield, Steve Grenfell was a talented athlete  who was good at cross-country, and who was also a talented box to box midfielder with a great left foot. He was one of the Spurs youth team players who would play in all six of the South-East Counties Senior League Cup games in 1984/85, scoring an important goal in the second leg of the final against Arsenal. Described to me by former Spurs player Allan Cockram as being like a Bryan Robson type midfielder, the former London Schools footballer and Spurs supporter joined Spurs as an apprentice in 1983, and he was another member of this talented Spurs senior youth team, who would go onto play reserve team football for Spurs. He would actually make one non-competitive first team appearance for Spurs in 1985, in a testimonial with Maidstone United. Steve Grenfell would later join Colchester United on loan, before joining them on a permanent basis in late 1986. He would spend a couple of seasons with Colchester, before later playing for Bromley, Dagenham United, Aylesbury and finally Purfleet. The former footballer would then go into coaching, and would actually return to Spurs for a while to coach for them at youth team level. 

Danny Maddix: Initially a forward who would then go onto successfully become a centre-half later on in his career, Danny Maddix was also a very talented athlete who joined Spurs at Associated Schoolboy level. Maddix made two South-East Counties Senior League Cup appearances in 1984/85, scoring one goal in the second round replay with Southend United. He often played out wide as a winger but could also play as a centre-forward, where he was good at making good runs in behind the defence, and was also a good finisher in front of goal. Danny Maddix was a very agile and also skilful forward at Spurs, and the Kent born former Spurs player also scored eight goals from 19 senior South-East Counties League appearances in the 1984/85 season. Danny Maddix also played for Spurs at reserve team level during his time at the club in the 1980s. He left Spurs in 1987 (Danny went on loan to Southend United for a while in 1986) and would join QPR. Going onto make well over 250 senior competitive first team appearances for the west London club, Maddix had a very good time with QPR, often playing in central-defence. At one point he was one of the fastest players in the Football League.

Danny Maddix would later play for Sheffield Wednesday, Barnet and Grays Athletic. He would also win one international cap for Jamaica, during his football career. Maddix would later become the caretaker manager of Barnet for a time, after finishing his playing career.

Trevor Wilkinson: Trevor Wilkinson is from the Seven Sisters Road area of north London, close to the Spurs ground. A forward during his Spurs days, Wilkinson made four South-East Counties Senior League Cup appearances during the 1984/85 season. He also made 11 South-East Counties Senior League appearances during the same season, scoring one goal. Trevor was very good at holding up the ball, and was also an excellent header of a ball, and was also very good inside the penalty area from corner-kicks. Wilkinson left Spurs at the end of that 1984/85 season, and would later enjoy a successful career in the non-League, playing for the likes of St Albans City, when former Spurs player Allan Cockram was the manager, Enfield Town and Harlow Town. 

David Howells: Originally a centre-forward, Guildford born former footballer David Howells scored an impressive total of 21 goals from 28 competitive appearances for the senior Spurs youth team during 1984/85. A Spurs supporter, David Howells joined the club for the start of the 1984/85 season, and during his first season with the club he scored a very impressive total of 31 goals from 38 appearances for the senior Spurs youth team. Howells played in all six South-East Counties Senior League Cup matches throughout that season, scoring three goals, including one in the first leg of the final. The former England Youth international was a talented finisher who was very impressive at youth team level for the club, and although as time went on he would become a midfielder, where he showed his quality on the ball and ability to pass it well. Howells would make over 250 competitive first team appearances for the Spurs first team, since making his debut for them in 1986, in a league game with Sheffield Wednesday (he scored a goal in that game). He scored a total of 27 competitive first team goals for Spurs, and was along with Vinny Samways an FA Cup winner with the club in 1991.

After enjoying a very successful career with the club that he supported, Howells left them in the summer of 1998, when he joined Southampton. He would later play non-League football for the likes of Hartley Wintney and Havant & Waterlooville. Howells would later go in to coaching after retiring from playing and has since regularly played for the Spurs Legends team. He is still involved in football to this day.

Shaun Close: During the 1984/85 season Shaun Close scored a remarkable total of 27 goals for the senior Spurs youth team, from 25 competitive appearances in the senior South East Counties League and Cup (he scored five of those goals that season in a league game against Fulham). Born in Islington, but brought up in Waltham Abbey, the centre-forward joined Spurs in 1983, and he was one of the best finishers at youth level for Spurs during the 1980s. Close played in all six South-East Counties Senior League Cup matches in the 1984/85 season. And the forward scored four goals from those six matches including two in the first leg of the final with Arsenal, at Highbury. Shaun Close had a real eye for goal as a centre-forward, and unsurprisingly he was also a very good finisher. Shaun Close was a very important player for the senior Spurs youth team in 1984/85, particularly in the South-East Counties Senior League Cup. He was yet another member of this talented team who would go onto play for the club at first team level, scoring two goals from 12 competitive first team appearances. After leaving Spurs in 1988, after a loan move to Bournemouth (he signed for them on a permanent basis in 1988), Close would later play for the likes of Swindon Town and Barnet. The former Spurs player now lives in Australia.

My interview with former Spurs Youth Team manager Keith Waldon:

Keith Waldon was at Spurs as a coach and later youth team manager, from 1984 to 1994. A Londoner by birth, Waldon used to play youth football for Chelsea, reserve team football for Millwall, and later amateur football, via a time playing football in South Africa. Keith managed a very successful youth team at Spurs, with them winning the South East Counties League on numerous occasions, the FA Youth Cup during the 1989/90 season, and also other youth team honours. I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of speaking to Keith about his very successful time at Spurs.

What is your earliest footballing memory?

Keith: I’ve got to tell you that I was born on cup final day, near the Arsenal ground, when Arsenal won the FA Cup in 1950, April 29th. My earliest memories are I guess playing for school teams. I was born in London in 1950, but there wasn’t much football going on there in those days, but I moved out to Surrey as a youngster, where I just joined local teams. The thing is you never know quite how good you are, but I was just playing football when Chelsea wanted me to join them as a 15-year-old. And a bit like we did when I was a manager at Spurs, they had two South East Counties League teams, one in each division. At 15 I was playing for the Under 18 team for Chelsea, which was a bit of jump really. I still didn’t think that I was any good, but I must have been ok, as I was playing two years above my age group. From a professional point of view that’s where it all started. Prior to that when I was playing football for local team’s I was playing four games a weekend, Saturday and Sunday mornings and afternoons as well, as well as during midweek as well.

Did you play the game at any level?

Keith: As I say I was at Chelsea as a schoolboy, and then Millwall signed me from Chelsea. I think that I got Millwall into trouble, as I didn’t realise that once you had signed schoolboy forms that that held you for the next season as well. I didn’t know that, and I don’t think that anyone else around knew that, apart from the clubs themselves, so when Millwall came knocking and said would you like to play for us, they didn’t even want me to have a trial with them. I guess that they’d seen me play already, but I just said yeah, and then they were offering me apprentice professional forms. I’d ended the season where I’d played for Chelsea, but Chelsea hadn’t contacted me, and so I just assumed that I was let go and had been released. So, when Millwall came in for me I just signed, but apparently Millwall were in trouble because they’d signed an already registered player. That didn’t go down too well with the manager at Millwall at the time, but I signed associated apprentice professional forms, where I had two years before signing as a pro. I didn’t play a first team game for them at all as I was only in the reserves. I then moved out to South Africa, as a South African club had come out to see me, and they said that they’d like to sign me, and I said ok, thinking it would be the start of the season. But their season didn’t start until the February of the next year, and so this was kind of May time.

I thought that I might be getting released from Millwall but then the South African club approached me and then approached Millwall and said that they’d like to sign Keith Waldon, and so they said yes, ok. But what I didn’t want to do was go all that time without playing, so I played for Chelmsford City, who were in the old Southern League. I only played six months with them before going off to South Africa. The team in South Africa was called Berea Park, it doesn’t exist now, but two or three years prior to me going over there they had started their own professional football league, at the same time as America had started their Soccer League. I received an offer to play for Dallas. I was torn, Dallas or Berea Park? Berea Park were offering me more money, which sounded fantastic, so I went for the money and went to Pretoria, South Africa, that was where my career really kind of ended, because I suffered a badly broken leg. Both bones were shattered in my lower leg. That was in the second season and so I came back to England. My leg wasn’t healing properly, and I didn’t kick a ball again for four or five years but when I started to play again, I felt that my leg was ok, even though they’d told me that I’d never play again. Then, one or two non-League teams became interested in me, but back in the day, if you had been a professional then you couldn’t join the amateur ranks, unless you got a permit.

I had to apply for a permit to play and give a reason as to why I was now wanting to play amateur football when I’d already played professional football. The answer for me was simple, they let me play and I played for Croydon very briefly and then Dulwich Hamlet even more briefly, before then signing for Sutton United. I played many seasons at Sutton United, and maybe something like 250 games for them. When I was a young professional at Millwall I took all my coaching badges, and as I recall I think I was one of the youngest “Full Badge” coaches ever at that time. There was somebody younger than me who had got this highest of qualifications at 21. I got it at 22, I think. 

Having got the highest of qualifications that one could get, but having broken my leg, I needed to earn some money. So, I became a schoolteacher, I had gone to university to qualify as a teacher and then I started teaching physical education, but, because of my coaching qualifications, I was also working on behalf of the Football Association, running their Coach Education courses. There was some local stuff to begin with, but then I got called up to staff courses at a place called Lilleshall, which was the home of English football at that time. I was asked to deliver the courses up there which were of a much grander significance. 

The courses at Lilleshall got bigger and bigger until in the end I was doing international courses, coaching foreign managers and coaches when they took their UEFA coaching badges, and other aspiring coaches to do their refresher courses. At the end of each season, managers and coaches would go to Lilleshall to take this refresher course. I can remember coaching some of the top coaches and players of the day. I guess that that sparked the interest in me, and the guy who took me to Spurs (I went from teaching to Tottenham Hotspur) was David Pleat, who took me there as assistant to a great friend of mine called Keith Blunt. Keith played football with me for a very brief time at Sutton United before becoming manager of them, whilst I was still playing there. Keith therefore managed me while I was at Sutton United, and he knew that I’d got my coaching qualifications as well. So, I think that Keith put the word in for me and had said to Spurs, that I was the guy that he wanted to work with. So, it was 1984 I think when I first went to Spurs. That was initially a part-time thing, before it gradually morphed into a full-time one, and in all I was there for ten years. I’ve got to tell you that it was probably the happiest years of my coaching career, and probably also the happiest of my years in football. 

That meant there was Keith Blunt and me with the youth team, Doug Livermore, who was the reserve team manager, but a succession of managers came and went such as David Pleat, Peter Shreeves, Terry Venables and Ossie Ardiles. For most of that time I was the youth team manager as Keith Blunt left about a season after I had arrived to go off to Gillingham as assistant manager to Keith Burkinshaw. So, I took over the running of the youth team and it was a very successful period of time for Spurs’ youth team in every respect really. 

Because of the successes of that time for the Youth Team, some observers thought that I was just about winning games, but it wasn’t like that. I was just about improving individual players, and the fact that we had good players meant that if you coached them properly then they’d end up winning more games than they’d lose. I think that we won the South East Counties League nine years out of ten, we also won the FA Youth Cup in 1990. We also won other competitions like the League Cup and the Southern Junior Floodlit Cup. We also had great success in winning trophies abroad in the many international tournaments in which Spurs Youth Team took part. We’d win often, but I used to tell the players from the day I first arrived that my job was to make them all better players. The youth team players came in at 16 and left me at 18, so I would tell them “I’ve got to take you to being an international footballer in two years”.

It was all about trying to improve the players that we recruited. John Moncur was the scout at the time, and he and his team brought in some very good players. But my job really was to make them even better players.

Did you have any footballing heroes or inspirations? And if so, who were they?

Keith: Several players really. Ron Flowers of Wolves was one of them. Wolverhampton Wanderers were one of the top teams in the 1950s. I used to watch the Arsenal games at Highbury, near where I lived, when one day Wolves came down. And I watched Wolves play and they were brilliant, Ron Flowers in midfield was different class, a serene type of player, and so I watched him. There were other players like Ferenc Puskás and Alfredo Di Stéfano. We’d only recently got a television and so we’d see snippets of those two players when they were playing for Real Madrid, and they were phenomenal players. Throughout my career I’ve always admired great players, and I mean Glenn Hoddle for me was one of the best ever, and I think that he’s the best passer of a ball with either foot that I’ve ever seen in football to this day. Glenn would practice doing things that I could only dream of; he was a fantastic player. He couldn’t dribble like some other players, and he wasn’t known for defending. I think that that was his downfall really. But he was so good going forward and I just couldn’t understand why he only played 50 times for England, he should have played 150 times for England. So yes, I had lots of heroes growing up but not one that I thought that’s the one. I just admired good players.

Could you talk me through your career at Spurs?

Keith: I started as youth team coach and Keith Blunt was the youth team manager. But we had two teams and so I took the second of those teams during that first season while Keith Blunt took the first of those teams, in the South East Counties League. I would even take some of the teams on Sunday morning, so I was heavily involved right from the start. I can’t remember exactly when it was, but it was probably about the start of the second season that I was there, and Keith Blunt left to go to Gillingham, and I took over the running of the youth team. I needed an assistant because we had two teams. I’d met Patsy Holland, who was youth team coach at Leyton Orient, and he joined me at Spurs. Pat and I got on really well, and still do funnily enough (I’m still in touch with Pat). I’ve got to tell you that Patsy was a fantastic partner, and his knowledge of football was great. We’d just sit and talk until it got dark in the evening, with a big old-fashioned pot of tea, and we’d have the magnetic board out and we just talked football nonstop. We planned how we were going to produce good players for the first team. 

In my early tenure, I remember often being criticised, by several people funnily enough, that I was tiring the youth team: working them too hard and too long. I was training them too much they said, as we did three sessions a day some days. We’d train longer than the first team in the morning for about two hours, and then we’d clear everything away as the first team players would disappear. Then the youth team would go out again in the afternoon to train for another couple of hours, and then in the evenings I’d often take them back to the ball court that we had at White Hart Lane. It was the best training environment for youth players, ever! If ever I went back to a football club as a manager, then the one thing I would insist upon is having a ball court that was just like that one. It was just fantastic. It was indoor Astroturf with a huge high ceiling and although it had glass in the roof to let the light in, there was some wiring in there to stop the balls smashing the glass. It was well lit, and you had four big high walls which were painted white, but on the white, were painted goalposts and targets to play at. For me it was all about technique and so every afternoon we’d go back to the ground and each player would have a ball each, and they’d go and stand near a blue circle, or red square, and I’d say, chip it with your left foot and the first to get to 25 in the target – shout out, then with your right foot, then left foot, then curl it, drive it – left foot, right foot etc.  . everybody would do ball work for nearly four hours.

When Patsy Holland first arrived at Spurs, he said to me that I think you’re doing too much ball work. But by the time he left he said that he could see why I did it, as it was amazing seeing the players at 16 and then two years later after two hours of ball work every afternoon for two years. He said to me that their technique work was just superb. 

When I was criticised for training them too hard, my answer was that I’ve got two years to take the players from being a schoolboy footballer to an international footballer. I’m not going to do that by giving them time off work, and I don’t care that they’re going to be tired for the game on Saturday as the game on Saturday is immaterial. I’ve just got to get as much football into them as I can in two whole years, that’s all I’ve got. So that was my reasoning for doing what I did. I didn’t have the players running up and down hills or lifting too many weights, it was all with the ball. Everything was about manipulating the ball and understanding what you’re trying to do when you’re on the field of play. So, the morning sessions were all about tactics and how to defend as a group of players. We’d spend hours working at defending as individuals, then in small numbers, then as a back four or five. 

Attacking in football to me was a lot more about what the players brought to it. We had some phenomenal players who could do things and who saw things that I could never see, because I wasn’t as good as them. I used to say that I can’t coach what you do, so whatever you want to do try it. If you’ve tried it 20 times and it’s not come off once then maybe we need to think it again, but if you try it and you perfect it, and it works for you then let’s keep it going. So in an attacking sense in their heads, they could do what they like with the ball, but defending’s much more about team cohesion and all understanding what we’re trying to do as a defensive team. So that I coached very heavily. I remember talking to George Graham once when we were doing one of these refresher courses at Lilleshall, and he and I were roommates. He asked me how I coached the youth team and how do I keep winning the South East Counties League with them? I said that every single day I do back four/five/three defending. George said that’s what I do at Arsenal. They had some great defenders; Tony Adams, Bould, Keown, Dixon, Winterburn and David Seaman in goal. He said that every single day he took the back four and told them what to do if this happens, then if that happens then you do this, and so on. And I said that’s exactly what I do. 

George Graham asked me what about going forward? And I said to him that it was more about what they can bring to the party, and of course he brought Ian Wright to Arsenal. So, he didn’t have to coach him much as he knows what he’s doing, so I just let him do his stuff. Graham and I had very similar philosophies about how to play the game, he won the double with Arsenal, so it can’t be too bad.

What was it like to be Spurs’ youth team manager?

Keith: First of all, obviously it’s a great honour to be asked to do that at a big club like Spurs. But it wasn’t daunting for me, and I didn’t think oh! and panic, I just thought that it was a great job, and it just came like second nature to me really. I was privileged to have the people around me that I did, like John Moncur and Bill Nicholson, and Doug Livermore was a great guy. He was very calming, and he knew the game, having played at a very high level, so he was great to have around. And also, Ray Clemence was on the coaching staff as well, but we all got on together so well during that era, regardless of who the manager was, so all of that side of it was fantastic. 

Could you talk me through your memories of the 1989/90 FA Youth Cup winning campaign? And what it felt like to lead such a talented group of players to winning such a prestigious trophy?

Keith: There’s always an element of luck about everything, and I remember that one of the goals in the semi-final at Manchester City, (from Scott Houghton) deflected off somebody and looped over the goalkeeper and into the goal to win 2-1, which sent us through to the final. So, we had a bit of luck, but we got into the final which was two legged, and we drew away and then won at home. We had some very, very good defenders at that time, and that was without Sol Campbell, but we had five of the England youth team playing for us at that time. Three of them were defenders and so I knew that defensively we would be ok; it was just a question of whether we could open up the opposition enough to score the goals. I wasn’t best pleased with our performances in the final, but I guess that the occasion might have got to the players a little bit. But I didn’t think that we played anywhere near our best performances in the FA Youth Cup final. Some of our best performances were in the Southern Junior Floodlit Cup or the league that we played in in those days. Although the FA Youth Cup final wasn’t one of our best performances the result was very good. For me performances really mattered, and I wanted the team to play and impress people. I thought that the win was more for the players than it was for me, and so I didn’t show my disappointment at the performance.  

During your time at Spurs as a coach and being in charge of the youth team, Spurs had a very talented group of players at the club. What was it like to coach them?

Keith: That was the joy for me, the whole joy. Mostly I was with the youth team, but often I’d have to take the reserves or the first team and so Terry Venables for instance for a whole season would ask me to take the defenders and he’d take the forwards. So I thought that Terry Venables might have thought that I was quite good at coaching, and so he would ask me to take the team sometimes, like the defenders or the forwards. I was therefore coaching the first team in the morning and Patsy Holland would take the whole of the youth team squad on his own, and then in the afternoon I’d coach the youth team again. But with whatever team I was with (including the youth team) all of them had phenomenal skill level. And like I said to you Terry Venables used to say to me to not take the first youth team over because the first team couldn’t get the ball off them. That is an accolade to the players for the abilities that they had, and I can only take reflected glory that I was in charge of them at that time. Whether they’d have achieved that or more without me, I don’t know. Maybe they’d have gone on and achieved better things.

What was your time at Spurs like on the whole?

Keith: It was excellent, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. They are a big club and at that time we still had Bill Nicholson at the club, and I’d sit and chat with him and we got on really well. We’d sit in his office near to where I was in the afternoons, and I can remember the sun coming in through the window, and we’d just sit and chat football, it was brilliant. And it was the same with Patsy Holland, as we’d sit and talk football until it was getting dark at night. Doug Livermore and Ray Clemence were great characters, and Clem was such an inspiration in lots of ways, and he was always lively. He is sorely missed. So, the whole period for me there was fantastic. I was always a bit in awe of the people around me like Glenn Hoddle and Chris Waddle, and all of these kinds of people. And, on the management side as well, because they were all big-name people like Terry Venables, but I never felt uncomfortable about chatting with them about football. Even though they were big name people, but I was pretty solid in my own views on how I should coach players, and I think that just flowed really. Like I said Glenn Hoddle was the best passer of a ball I’ve ever seen, but to coach those sorts of players was fantastic.

I remember also that when Terry Venables became the manager at Spurs, he wanted me to bring the youth team over to training every Friday morning, as to do an 11-a-side with the first team, to try things out.

We used to have two youth teams in those days and one day Terry Venables said to me “next week to bring the second youth team”, as the first team couldn’t get the ball off us! So, from then on, we had to take the second of the two teams over and I would go with them. Then one day something funny happened when one of my players got injured and so Terry Venables asked me to go in at left-back. I went in at left-back and I was up against Chris Waddle, and well, he just turned me inside out! I was 40-something years of age and in a nice way I was a laughingstock, and the players thought it hysterical. After that, Terry said to bring ten of the second youth team and me! So, I’d have to play at left-back. 

What was it like to work with former Spurs coach Keith Blunt?

Keith: Keith Blunt was a great coach and a very strict disciplinarian who was quite straight about how he went about things. I think that it was his organisation that allowed me to flourish more when he went. Had “Blunty” not organised things so well, I don’t know if I could have put together such organisation. And the team that I inherited when Keith left made my start easier. I had it easy really and just couldn’t go wrong, as he set it up so that I could coach. 

Were there any people who you looked up to during your time at the club?

Keith: Of course. You can imagine that I was a bit part player, mostly in non-League and now I’m talking to people who have played 50, 60, 70 times for England. I looked up to most of the players and the coaching staff as well, so I was enlightened by them and that enthused me really, because I was talking to top, top players. So, it was rather an uplift than anything else, and you could ask them anything and they’d answer honestly, so again I was very lucky, as I had some fabulous people around me.

Are there any memories from your time at Spurs which really stand out to you?

Keith: I think that would probably be in the delight that I had from some of the performances from the youth team in games. I watched them do things which I didn’t coach them to do, but they had a skill level above my grade and could do things that I couldn’t imagine, never mind perform! What I could do was try and tie it all together, so as a coach, if so and so could do this; or so and so could that; then how could we make the best use of that. Everything that I did was to try and get the best out of the youth team players by whatever it was I coached, and I can remember on several occasions actually saying to players I can’t coach what you can do. They were far better players than my coaching knowledge, and so that used to make me smile. I remember when we played Gillingham once, and we were 5-0 up at half-time and I said “You’ve proven that you can score five goals in that half. If you drop your level a little bit, then you won’t score five again, so I want you to keep all of this going and we need to at least score another five goals in this half otherwise I’ll be a bit upset”. We beat Gillingham 10-0, and our lads were magnificent. Even the Gillingham manager came to me afterwards and said I’ve never seen a team play like that in the South East Counties League. So that kind of thing really impressed me, as it was all down to them really. 

Were there any players who you coached at the club, who you were surprised never played for the first team?

Keith: There were so many good players! Some lovely lads too. Some players didn’t make as many appearances for the first team as I thought they might, while others went away and did very well. We had a player called Lee Hodges, who for me could have been a very, very good player. But I think that he would get nervous in amongst that calibre of player and then maybe wouldn’t have shown his real true class, but he was such a nice lad. One of those who disappointed me with how far he went in the game was Jeffrey Minton. Jeffrey had phenomenal ability with his feet, was quick off the mark and had wonderful skill. But he didn’t go as far as I hoped he would, and I think that he’d tell you that he wasn’t the most disciplined person, but he was a wonderful player. 

I could eulogise about so many of them. It was that era where the players were just fantastic, and they just really impressed me and could play fantastic football. Nicky Barmby, Steve Robinson, Ian Walker to name but a few (Apologies to those I have not mentioned). But some of them never went on to make fantastic careers. According to John Fennelly, the press officer, in my ten years at Spurs, 44 players from the youth ranks made their debut at Spurs! A phenomenal number. Some went on to have great careers. I can remember working with Sol Campbell and I wasn’t sure what position he was going to play in. And that thing that I’m going to take him from schoolboy to international level came true with him, because I just worked and worked with him. At so many lunch times we’d go out with a bag of footballs, and we’d work on his left foot and on his headers, and so I worked very, very hard on making him a fantastic footballer. But I used to tell him that if he didn’t make it as a footballer that he’d be a good 400 metre runner, as he was also a very good athlete, but he wanted to be a footballer.

I also played Sol in midfield and up front, and in all different types of positions. So that he could get his feet better and his understanding of what was around him better, but then finally it was that he was going to be a centre-half, and of course his career was a very good one. 

 What would your advice be to the Spurs youth team players of today as they look to make it in the game?

Keith: The advice is very simple, and you’ve got to make use of every single moment of every single day when you’re in the youth set-up. Like I say, you’ve got two years to go from a schoolboy to an international footballer, and you cannot waste one single second of that. You need to focus, especially with the ball as you don’t get fatigued if you’re just playing with the ball. If you improve your skills and understanding of the game and you’ve got a very good chance.

 After all these years how do you look back on your time with Spurs, and are they a club who you still hold close to your heart?

Keith: Yeah, I watched their game against Liverpool the other day and I still watch all of their games. But I’m detached from the club now because I don’t know the people who are there now, so for me it’s not about the clubs it’s about the people I know. So, everybody says are you a Spurs supporter? Well actually, I was an Arsenal supporter, but then I went to Chelsea and so I kind of supported them, and then I went to Millwall and so I kind of supported them. And then I’m at Spurs and so I support them a bit, but I still do watch the Spurs games and I hope that they win a trophy again soon. I also hope that they’ll produce that skilful footballer again, like Man City do. Bill Nicholson would tell you about push and run, and all he’d ever say was pass and move, and don’t stop doing that and you’ll become effective. And if you watch Man City that’s all they do – pass and move. And they’ve always got options and players to receive the ball, whereas if you watch most teams someone’s got to take about three touches of the ball before someone makes an angle so they can pass to them. But what Man City do is the kind of thing that I’d like for young players to get their head around, as if you haven’t got the ball at your feet then you should be getting into a position to receive the ball. And if you can do that and also manipulate the ball properly then you’re going to become a player.

My interview with former Spurs player Peter Hopkins:

(Peter is pictured third from the left of the back row)

Goalkeeper Peter Hopkins was at Spurs as a youth team player during the late 1950s. From the Rhondda Valley, in Wales, Peter Hopkins was still at school in Wales, when he was with Spurs. He would travel down from Wales to London, in order to train with the first and second team, and also play some matches with the youth team in the South East Counties League. Peter Hopkins would later join Swansea, for whom he played some reserve team games until suffering a career ending injury not long after he had signed for them. I recently had the great pleasure of speaking with Peter about his time at Spurs.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Peter: When I was about five or six, I used to play football with all of the other lads. I lived in a Welsh mining valley where we had a lot of terraced streets, and were literally a ten minute walk from some space at the bottom of the mountain. And so four or five of us used to go over there with a football for just a kick around.  That was the main thing that we did pretty much every holiday and every day after school, as long as it was light. And that was my only sporting interest at that young age.  

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

Peter: Well firstly there’s two odd things. When I was about seven years of age, the father of one of my uncles knew that I was a Spurs fan (I can’t remember why I became a Spurs fan). One day he came to our house and said that he had a present for me and he gave me an old football with lots of autographs on it.  It dated from about 1910 or 1911 and was the ball used and then autographed afterwards by the players, from a game involving Spurs and Porth, when Spurs came to Wales for some reason. Of course back then we were pretty poor and I had never owned a football, so instead of keeping it which would have been a remarkable souvenir, we all played football with it, until it was destroyed.

I later ended up playing local football, and I mostly played in teams where I was the youngest player. And when we formed a team in the village that I played for, I was only 13 but playing Under 18’s football. I played with my local team until it were disbanded after the older lads got past 18.  We just  no longer had enough players. I immediately signed for Ystrad Boys Club that had a history with Spurs, but I don’t know where that started. Although I do know that Mel Hopkins was the first post war player to join Spurs from Ystrad Boys Club. Although Mel has the same surname as me and comes from the next village we are not related. So when my original side disbanded, our coach, Les Vantus, told me that Dai Bevan, who was the coach and organiser of Ystrad Boys Club  wanted me to play for them. So I joined Ystrad Boys Club l After a few months Dai Bevan when I was still only 15 said that I was probably good enough to be introduced to Spurs to see how it would go.

So that’s where the connection came from. I was invited up to Spurs and my father came with me. Spurs had already seen me play after sending a scout called Andy McDonald down to Wales. He saw me play a couple of times and I happened to have enjoyed two decent games. So I went up to Spurs to meet the manager, Billy Nicholson, and stay the night. The next morning I went with some of the famous first-team players with the squad for a training session at Cheshunt and my father and I were brilliantly received, and while I was left to speak with Mr Nicholson my father was taken by the chairman around the ground and to the trophy room. However, I actually signed when I was about 16, and I think that I signed a standard Football League contract, which I guess was the same for all of the young players. I was asked about my background and my future education and whether I’d like to come and live in the Tottenham area and play for them at youth level. But I considered that my whole time at Spurs was on the basis that I would continue to live down in Wales, but Ystrad Boys Club would make sure that I wasn’t approached by any other League clubs. I would continue to travel to Spurs when it suited me and them.

 I played in South Eastern Counties games from time to time and on other occasions would train with the first-team squad.   It was hard to believe I was on the same pitch as some of the great names – Danny Blanchflower, Terry Medwin, Cliff Jones and Bobby Smith some of the top international players. Sitting on the team coach next to current Welsh International and hero, Terry Medwin, was a great thrill. When I signed, for me to be in the same room as Bill Nicholson, who was one of my Spurs heroes, was just great. I used to collect autographs of footballers, and once I saw a second team game of Spurs against Cardiff City when I was about 14. Bill Nicholson captained the Spurs side as before managing the first team, he ran the second team as a sort of player/manager.

So Bill Nicholson was the captain of the second team, and for the Cardiff City game he brought along a lot of the younger players there. However, I also remember that that great entertainer, Tommy Harmer was in the side. I remember walking all the way from Cardiff station to the ground at Ninian Park. In those days the team would walk about a mile and a half, carrying their kit!  I walked with the team to the ground, chatting all the way mainly to Bill Nicholson.  I clearly remember  that he asked me what Cardiff was like as a City and for housing as Cardiff had approached him to play for them and manage them! I still have the autographed match programme!

But my experience at Spurs was a very happy and thrilling one. It was really beyond belief for me that I had actually signed for Spurs. I remember Bill Nicholson saying that Spurs had been very impressed with me and that I’d had two outstanding games. He also thought that from everything that he had heard I had a good chance of making it. 

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

Peter: Actually the only team that I supported was Spurs. I can actually go back to the 1950s team. Ted Ditchburn was a hero of mine as was Ron Burgess who was both Welsh and played for Spurs. I also had heroes here in Wales, like centre-forward Trevor Ford and left-winger Cliff Jones who I would watch playing for the Welsh International side. However, when I was about 14, Danny Blanchflower was my absolute hero, and for me to have ended up playing with him when I was about 16 was just like a dream.

Who were your greatest influences in football?

Peter: They weren’t goalkeepers as in those days most of my heroes were outfield players. Pretty much all of my heroes/influences were connected with Spurs, unless they were Welsh international players who played for other clubs. But my big goalkeeping hero when I was younger was Jack Kelsey, who was the Welsh goalkeeper who also played for Arsenal. I still have a big opinion of him as a goalkeeper, and although he was unspectacular, I modelled myself a bit on how he played. He commanded the goal area, was very good in the air and he positioned himself very well. After I finished with Spurs and had joined Swansea, I had the thrill of playing my first game for the second team against Arsenal, at Highbury. Amazingly Jack Kelsey, who was the current Welsh goalkeeper, was in the second team. He was only in the second team because he had broken a finger and Wales were playing a couple of weeks later and the Welsh FA had asked Arsenal if they would play Jack Kelsey to improve his fitness.

I dared to go into the dressing room before the game to have a chat with him and he wished me all the best. He’d heard a bit about me, and then after the game he told me that I’d had a fantastic game and that I had every chance of making top level football. That was nice of him to do so, and it meant a lot, as he was my goalkeeping hero. Later on Bill Brown and Pat Jennings came into the equation, and I think that Pat Jennings is the greatest goalkeeper that I ever saw. He could make spectacular saves, but he was safe and also organised as well. So I think that he was the complete goalkeeper.

Could you describe to me what type of goalkeeper you were, and what your style of play as a goalkeeper was during your time at Spurs?

Peter: From the time I was about eight I was always a goalkeeper, and I didn’t think much about it.  It was just the way that it ended up. I read every football annual, which was all that I got as a present at any Christmas time. I studied goalkeeping and as  a youngster I read everything avidly that you could read about goalkeeping. So when I started playing I was very aware of angles, and I was very good in the air and I commanded the box. Only about six or seven times that I played football did I ever have a ball headed past me. I used to work out that if someone was crossing a ball in the air, the area between my goal-line and three yards to the penalty spot was my area. I would set out to catch anything in that area. If someone was hitting a long ball into the penalty box then I would be very quick off my line to either catch it or gather the ball. Of course a lot of this has now gone out of the game, because with a much lighter ball goalkeepers tend not to go out to catch the ball, unless it’s right on the goal-line. In my day a couple of yards from me to the penalty spot, was my area.

I would say that I was a very organised goalkeeper, who commanded the area, and also simply told centre-halves and full-backs where they should be, so they could get out of my way to give me a clear view. I wasn’t a particularly spectacular goalkeeper but my view then has not changed really, and that’s if you see a goalkeeper make a lot of brilliant saves in a game then it’s probably because he’s standing in the wrong place to start off with. 

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

Peter: Well Danny Blanchflower was the biggest influence on me, and also on the whole of the Tottenham team. He was the man that everyone respected and he was the complete wing-half. He was very good defensively and he was an outstanding footballer who never wasted a ball and was always looking to make an incisive pass. But he was absolutely outstanding, and was the complete footballer.  That seemed  apparent to me from quite a young age, as I’d watched Danny Blanchflower quite a bit. Whenever he came up to Cardiff I saw him play, and he was the biggest influence on me.

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

Peter: Absolutely wonderful. It was very limited and it was a strange set-up, but I was quite a mature player at 16 and I was quite comfortable playing with older players. From what I was told, the hope of Tottenham was that I would go up and join them when I was 16. They talked about accommodation and how they could do it, but I was quite academic at school and I wanted to be fully educated. They did explore the possibility of me going to a local school, but that wasn’t feasible. So a letter was written by Andy Donaldson, the Spurs scout, on Spurs paper to Dai Bevan, saying that we like this footballer Peter Hopkins, but as he can’t join us yet we’d like you to give him some games when you can, and make sure that he doesn’t join any other club. So the arrangement was that I would stay with Ystrad Boys Club, and go to Spurs to play games whenever I could.

However, whenever I trained at Spurs, I always trained with the first and second team, and no one else. Whenever I went up to Spurs, I always had someone allocated to look after me as I was so young. One was Eddie Clayton. I remember one day that he took me to Clapton Dogs.  Little did anyone there realise that I knew more about dog racing than any of them. And if Bill Nicholson had found out that I had been to Clapton Dogs I am sure that he wouldn’t have been very happy.

The other person who looked after me was Terry Dyson. However, my time at Spurs was brilliant because I hero worshiped everybody, and to be on speaking terms with them was just great. Whenever I got on the coach to go to Cheshunt with the team, I always sat next to Terry Medwin, as he was also from Wales. I didn’t see much of Cliff Jones, apart from when I was training as he appeared not to travel on the team coach. The other player who I was very friendly with, and who I had a very high opinion of as a footballer, was John Ryden. He was a superb defender who I think would have been in the first team for most other first division sides. But he struggled, because Harry Clarke was at the club for most of his career. But I had a wonderful time at Spurs, and everyone was so kind to me.

A funny story which I remember, involved that brilliant England and Spurs centre-forward Bobby Smith, who happened to be a terrible gambler, which I didn’t know of course. One day we were on the coach when Bobby Smith asked me to come back to sit near him.  He said that I was a good goalkeeper and that I’d have a bright future with Spurs as it was such a good club. He said that he’d left his money in his bag and could I lend him two pounds. Back in those days people used to only earn seven quid a week, and footballers only 20. So two quid was quite a lot of money.  But I happily said ‘Yes’ and he said don’t forget to remind me to give it back to you. Then when I finished the training session I didn’t see him.  I think it was Terry Medwin who saw me in conversation with Bobby and cautioned me not to lend him any money. I told him that I gave him two quid. Terry said that you’ll never get it back. But anyway he said that next time you’re up here, remind me to get the money off him. So when I saw him about six weeks later, he said we’ll go and get that money off Bobby Smith. So he explained to Bobby why I needed the money back, and so Bobby gave Terry the money to give to me. And that was just about the only time that Bobby Smith had repaid anybody at the club, according to Terry.

But I hero worshipped all of these players, and it’s just a happy coincidence that Spurs were my boyhood dream team. I’ve got programmes from years ago, with autographs from all the Spurs team of the fifties on Cardiff City programmes. But for me to go to Spurs and have this playing association with so many star players when I was only 16 was terrific and just unbelievable.

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

Peter: Well it was an odd situation. My whole dream was to play football and to sign for Spurs. I had a French teacher at school who was keen to employ me (he left the school before my final year) and work for him to do a potentially top job. So I’d been a well-paid guide in Paris looking after hundreds and hundreds of people during the Easter holidays. Footballers were only earning twice as much as the average wage at that time. So I had wanted to study at the London School of Economics to further my educational qualifications to get a good job. But in the meantime I had met my first proper girlfriend, who became my first wife. And then all of a sudden the £20 wage and the chance of a job here in Wales with my ex-teacher was appealing.  The prospect of a £20 maximum wage put me off. So I thought I’m better off working in Wales and playing part-time football. Had my prospective employer refused time-off to train and play part-time football – I guess I would have been tempted to take my chances and become a Spurs player. But he agreed to be flexible on time-off.  So I signed terms for Swansea – and my Spurs dream was over.

The Swansea manager at the time asked me if I wanted to sign full-time forms, but I said no as if I’d wanted to do that then I would have stayed at Spurs. So I said that I wasn’t prepared to play as a full-time professional but would play part-time. I duly signed and the manager asked me what money I wanted and how the training arrangements would work. I asked him what he was offering, and he said that he couldn’t pay me £20 a week as that was what full-time professionals earned. They were very keen to sign me as their goalkeeper was just coming to the end of his career, and they needed a second team goalkeeper. So the manager said that he’d pay me £10 a game, but make sure that I had two games a week! So when I went to Swansea I got £20 a week, the same as the professionals, I trained two mornings a week and had a well-paid travel job.   

Do you ever have any regrets for not staying longer than you did with Spurs?

Peter: I do actually. I was heavily influenced by the French teacher, who was keen and genuinely believed that there was no worthwhile career in football, because of the poor money. He thought that I was a bright guy and that I would do well. In the event, I eventually ran my own company, which became about the fifth biggest tour operator in Britain. So he had a significant influence on me when I was still thinking about the £20 maximum plus a new girlfriend in Wales at the time.

If anybody had told me that I would be offered a contract to become a professional footballer with Spurs and that I would turn it down, then I would never have believed it! It was something that I had dreamed of since I was about ten. So I do regret that I missed that opportunity, but of course two months into joining Swansea I snapped my cruciate ligament and never ever played again. So I didn’t play football beyond the age of barely 18. However, the other view is that if I had signed for Spurs the Swansea accident may never have happened.

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Peter: I think actually that one of the greatest moments was being selected to play that game for Spurs against Trowbridge, out of the blue along with players like Danny Blanchflower and Terry Medwin. I had no idea until I arrived in the Royal Hotel in Bath that I would play in this star-studded team. I thought I was playing for the youth team. So, to suddenly be with all of those great players was breathtaking.  Only a few years before, I had been queuing up for their autographs!  So to be playing that Trowbridge match was just amazing. It was hard to realise that here I was in the same team as my boyhood hero, Danny Blanchflower who in 1958 was approaching his peak. In the same team was Terry Medwin, Ron Henry and George Robb. George was a great left winger who would have had lots of caps, were it not for the fact that his career coincided with that of Tom Finney. 

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

Peter: That would have to be Danny Blanchflower and Jack Kelsey. These were the players who I saw in great home internationals as a youngster. Then, suddenly,  I’d become a 16 year old and I was on the same pitch as them. Quite amazing.  

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

Peter: My best memory was the first game that I played, which was against Bexleyheath and Welling. I didn’t know anybody in the Tottenham youth team of course as it was my first game, but going down to the ground on the bus I made friends with my now long-time close friend, Tony Berry, without knowing who he was at the time. My father and Tony’s father met up before the game. I was a complete bag of nerves before the game as it was a big game for me. And it was raining and the pitch was treacherous. I was always conscious of the fact that I never wore gloves and ought to have some with me.  In those days there would be no such thing as specialist goalkeeping gloves, as they didn’t exist. So my father told me that my mother had a pair of gloves that I could try on. Even though they were a bit small I took them in desperation. I’d never ever worn goalkeeper gloves in my life, but when I got to the ground as it was raining I thought that it might look unprofessional if I didn’t wear them.

When the Spurs team ran out onto the pitch everyone whistled and booed, and gave us a hard time. So I put the gloves on during the game. The gloves were green with a sort of white pattern on them. As soon as I put them on, someone behind the goal shouted “He’s got his mothers gloves on!”.  So in the end I put the gloves back by the post, and never wore them again.  But I was lucky, as I just had a very good game, which seemed to impress everybody at the time. Tony Berry always says that we should have lost 6-0, even though we won the game 2-0. Bexleyheath were a much better side than us during that game.  I managed to make some good decisions and stopped everything.  I couldn’t have had a better debut. So that game created a good impression about me to everybody that mattered at Spurs.  Dai Bevan back at Ystrad Boys Club received a glowing report asking him to “keep Hopkins sweet”.

Then as a new Swansea Town player, right at the start of the season, I went back to Spurs, to play against them at White Hart Lane in my second game for the combination team.

In that game against Spurs I played against a number of my ex-colleagues with whom I had trained or played. Notably Eddie Clayton and John Ryden were on the team-sheet alongside former youth team players, Frank Saul and Brian Fittock.  The famous Tony Marchi captained the team which also included Norman Lee, a former Ystrad Boys Club player and now an established professional at Spurs who was about 3 years my senior.  I was made to feel very welcome. Before the game I went in to say hello to some of the Spurs players. Eddie Clayton and the coach asked me why ever did I leave Spurs. So it was really heart-warming to discover a feeling that I had been welcome to have stayed with Spurs!  However, in that Spurs game we went 1-0 up, and although we ended up losing 2-1, I made a lot of good saves in that game and was highly praised in the match report in the Swansea Evening News.   

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

Peter: In that game against Trowbridge Town, there was a striker, Vic Lambden who had been a real star and local hero for Bristol Rovers when they’d been in the second division.  He was their regular top scorer over a ten-year period. He’d gone to Trowbridge Town, and from the time that he got on the pitch he spotted me – a nervous, 18-year old!   He decided to annoy me, kept shoulder charging me and dancing around in front of me when I had the ball. It got to me. He scored two of the four goals in that game, and two went straight through my wobbly legs!  I’d never had a worse game!  Finally, Lambden came running into me and knocked me over.  John Ryden quietly confronted him to warn him not to that again. He didn’t!   Lambden was a seasoned pro and quite a hard nut. But for that matter, no-one was tougher then John Ryden.

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

Peter: Oddly enough it was Eddie Clayton, although he’ll probably  never remember me. I was not a full-time pro  training everyday at the club like the other Ystrad Boys Club players like Mel Hopkins, Philip Stephens and Norman Lee. So, because I was in full-time education and not permanently at Spurs,  I didn’t have that same sort of regular relationship with the other players. But the one player who had the most responsibility for me was Terry Dyson. I got to know most of these players as I got to spend quite a few days training with them at those times I trained at Cheshunt. I also chatted with Terry Medwin at times, and I knew some of the younger players like Brian Fittock and Frank Saul as I played some games with them in the youth team.

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

Peter: Well the new ball changed everything and it’s a new game now.  In my day players would hit the ball into the penalty box from everywhere. Back then you had to be very good in the air and you had to command the box. It was the keepers’ job.  Very rarely do you now see goalkeepers do that not helped by the fact that the new ball goes about ten yards further than the old ball. 

As a goalkeeper you need to learn your craft, listen and be well coached. Of course now you fill in as an 11th player, whereas is in my day the one simple job that I had was to stop goals.  Good distribution was just taking accurate goal kicks and for the most part just punting the ball as high and as far as you could. Fitness these days is obviously at a premium for a goalkeeper.  Some of the saves that goalkeepers make nowadays would not have happened in my era. The one thing that I would say to goalkeepers is to learn to cut the angles, particularly covering the near post where you should never be beaten. You still see too many goals scored now against top goalkeepers, where they carelessly leave a gap at the near post.  

In my day I completely commanded the penalty area in the air, and I very rarely had a ball headed past me. A high ball in my patch was wine!  Nowadays goalkeepers very rarely come off their line because of the new ball. Despite this, most should do better as it is becoming a lost art. Another similar piece of advice is that when there is a ball in the air a goalkeeper must work out the highest point of the trajectory of the ball. This gives a keeper the advantage over the would-be goalscorer. An opponent heading the ball can’t get to a keepers’ highest point as one leap is head height whereas the goalkeeper has the advantage of his up stretched arms.  Goalkeeping in the air now is a lost art compared to my day but inevitable because of the lightness of the ball and the amount of swerve and movement. Goalkeepers should be very prepared to listen to the coaches. Listen carefully to your coaches and watch the best goalkeepers in the game. That way you will pick up tips and good habits.

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

Peter: Oh absolutely – the only club. I had the advantage of supporting them for no particular reason living down here in Wales as a youngster. I think that I was probably attracted by the name Tottenham Hotspur. However, I followed them and I kept a scrapbook with cuttings from the daily papers on Spurs. I knew all the players and loved reading about their ups and downs. Obviously then came the unbelievable coincidence of going to Ystrad Boys Club – the top ‘junior’ team in the area. This was not prompted by the Spurs connection but when I got to know about the Ystrad/Spurs relationship I was really excited. I remember Dai Bevan saying to me that it was a good job that I played well during one game as Spurs were watching me. I just couldn’t believe it.  It was such a thrill.

From those early days I’ve never stopped following them, and my son Will and grandson Lewis are big supporters. I look back on everything to do with Spurs as just being wonderful. Up until the pandemic I’d watch them live at least a couple of times every year. So it’s just been a brilliant association all of the way through. 

Looking back at Spurs youth team graduate Jimmy Pearce’s Spurs career:

Jimmy Pearce was born in Tottenham (in 1947), supported Tottenham Hotspur as a youngster, and got the chance to join the club and work his way up into the first team, from the youth and reserve team levels. In fact Pearce was up until late 2020, when goalkeeper Alfie Whiteman came on for Spurs as a late substitute in a UEFA Europa league game against Ludogorets Razgrad, the last player who was born in Tottenham to play for the Spurs first team in a competitive match. Pearce, a tricky and highly skilled winger, who was direct and had a great body swerve, was much liked by the Spurs supporters during his playing days, and is still remembered well and thought of highly by those fans who used to watch him play. Joining Spurs in 1963 as an apprentice, despite interest from other London clubs, Jimmy had previously played for Tottenham Schools and also England Schools, but had followed his local team Spurs, since the 1950s. The former Rowland Hill School pupil progressed up from the Spurs youth team that played in the South East Counties League, and then into the A team, where he played in the Metropolitan League along with the likes of John Pratt and later Ray Evans.

A regular for the talented Spurs reserve side for quite a while, Jimmy Pearce once instead of going for goal from a penalty kick in a Spurs A game with Metropolitan Police, actually laid the ball off to Stephen Pitt. Unfortunately the move didn’t work, with Pitt having his resulting effort saved by the goalkeeper, although the good news was that Spurs were 10-0 up by that stage of the match. Making his non-competitive Spurs first team debut against Anorthosis (in 1968) during an end of season tour of Greece and Cyprus. Pearce made his competitive first team debut for Spurs less than three months later in a North London Derby against Arsenal, at White Hart Lane. He made the very most of his chance in the first team (Martin Chivers was injured at the time), and he had got a lot stronger and physical from his days as an apprentice with the club (he signed professional forms with Spurs in 1965). Over the next six or so years, during the remainder of his time with the club, he made an additional 192 senior competitive appearances for Spurs during that time. 

The player who scored a fine total of 35 competitive goals for the club, mainly from out wide, got to play on the same pitch as two of his Spurs heroes Dave Mackay and Jimmy Greaves. Pearce would be introduced off the bench in a League Cup semi-final second leg tie against Bristol City, where he would make the difference and score the decisive goal which would help Spurs get to the final of the competition for the first time in their history. Although he didn’t start the final against Aston Villa that year, Jimmy Pearce did collect a winners medal, as he also would for the following years UEFA Cup triumph. However, he would start the 1973 Football League Cup final at Wembley, against Norwich City, which Spurs won. A very clever player and winger, the Londoner had fine balance and great skill on the ball. However, he was a direct and traditional winger who fitted in well to the Spurs team of that time, even though he was not always a regular starter. Pearce could hit a ball really well and scored some really good goals at youth, A team, reserve and first team level for the club.

In many ways Jimmy Pearce the footballer oozed class on the pitch, with the ball at his feet. I recently asked a Spurs youth team player and apprentice from the mid 1960s (Martin O’Donnell) about Jimmy Pearce, and he was basically saying that Jimmy was a wonderful player and guy, but he always thought that he was better as an inside-forward rather than as a winger. Although the only way that he would have got into the Spurs first team during that time in the clubs history, was to be a winger, but he was a very versatile player, as he showed throughout his career. Jimmy Pearce is still really well thought of by the Spurs fans, who watched him play during the late 1960s and 1970s. He was like them an avid Spurs supporter, but one of fairly few youth team graduates of the time to make over 100 first team appearances, because of the fact that the Spurs side at that time had so many outstanding players in it. Very sadly Jimmy suffered from a rare bone condition called Chondromalacia of the higher patella, which meant that he had to retire from playing for the club that he loved so much, at the age of only 26, in 1974. Similarly old Spurs teammates Roger Morgan and Peter Collins also had to retire early on in their careers, at similar times.

Jimmy did play non-League football for Walthamstow Avenue for a short time, but he didn’t play for them for long. A proper Tottenham Hotspur player with skill, confidence on the ball and a real desire to make a difference in games. I had the great pleasure and privilege of interviewing Jimmy Pearce back in 2020, and it was obvious that he is a great guy, and his great love for the club is still so clear now, after all these years. It is also particularly fitting that boyhood Spurs fan Jimmy Pearce set-up one of his Spurs idols Jimmy Greaves, for the final ever goal that he scored for the club, during the 1969/70 season.

Looking back at the Spurs Junior side that won the 1965/66 South-East Counties League Division II:

Just before the great summer for English football of 1966, a young Spurs Under 17 side won the South-East Counties League Division II in dramatic fashion. Winning the nine team and sixteen game league on goal difference, having been tied on points with second place Crystal Palace. The talented Spurs side of that season, who were coached by Jimmy Joyce, won 11 of their 16 league matches, recorded two draws and also only lost three of their matches. Spurs recorded 24 points, along with Crystal Palace, but Spurs’ total of 60 goals scored along with their 22 conceded, was what won them the league title for that season. The Spurs Under 17 side actually also won the South-East Counties Junior Cup that same season. However, going back to the league season, Spurs started the season by recording a 2-2 draw away to Millwall, in the autumn of 1965. But during the course of the season they recorded some memorable results, such as beating Chelsea 4-0 away, thanks partly to a hat-trick from Martin O’Donnell. Spurs also beat Bexley United 11-0, and Watford 9-0. The Tottenham side contained a future first team player in Ray Evans, an FA Cup finalist (with Fulham) in John Cutbush, and also a former England Schoolboys international in Paul Shoemark. Very similar to articles which I wrote on the Spurs A team which won the Eastern Counties League in 1960/61, and also the Spurs reserve side that won the Football Combination League in 1961/1962. I will be focusing on the members of the Spurs Under 17 side, write about some of their statistics and also look at where they went after leaving Spurs, where possible.

Special thanks must go to Martin O’Donnell, who was a member of the Spurs Under 17 side during the league winning season of 1965/66, for all of his help in writing this commemorative piece.

The players:

Ray Bunkell: Making 13 appearances for the Spurs Under 17 side in the league during the 1965/66 season, Ray Bunkell was a talented midfield player, who was an energetic and skilful player. From nearby Edmonton, Ray played for Edmonton Schools and England Schools, along with Ray Evans (for Edmonton), and he joined Spurs during the mid 1960s, before signing professional forms with the club at a later date. Bunkell made more appearances than anybody else in the side during the league winning season of 1965/66, and he also scored six goals for the Spurs side, from the league games that he played. In an 11-0 league win over Bexley United, Ray scored a brace, during that season. He would later progress up through the Spurs A side and up to the reserve side later on during the 1960s. He was released by Spurs at the age of 21/22, and would later play for Swindon Town and then Colchester United, as he enjoyed a good career in the lower leagues. Ray Bunkell sadly passed away at the age of 50, in Wales, in 2000.

Derek Blackmore: Londoner Derek Blackmore was a full-back, who was on amateur forms with Spurs during the 1965/66 season. A tall and good full-back, Derek Blackmore made the second most league appearances of anyone in the side during that season (12), and he was an important player in the Spurs Under 17 team during the 1965/66 season. Unfortunately it is unknown where Derek went after leaving Spurs. 

Martin O’Donnell: A versatile but skilful player, left-half Martin O’Donnell, of west London, was a quick and composed player, who also had an eye for goal. Compared with former Rangers player Jim Baxter, by former Spurs Chief-Scout Dickie Walker, Martin O’Donnell scored four goals from 11 league appearances during the 1965/66 season. He scored a hat-trick, in a 4-0 win away to Chelsea, for Spurs’ Under 17 side during that 1965/66 season. Unfortunately Martin broke his thigh during the mid 1960s, and before that bad injury Bill Nicholson and Eddie Baily had wanted him to sign professional forms with the club. Martin did return to play some games for Spurs at youth level, later on in the 1960s, but he ended up playing non-League football later on in his football career, and would even play for Hayes with a future football manager, in Dave Bassett. Martin also played for Walthamstow Avenue, and would later enjoy a successful career in business. Martin is a great guy, who was very unlucky not to go further during his time at Spurs.

Ray Evans: Ray Evans would arguably go on to enjoy the most successful footballing career of anyone who played in the Spurs Under 17 side, during 1965/66. The former Edmonton Schools and England Under 18’s player made ten league appearances during the league winning season, scoring four goals, as he played in more of an inside-forward position, during that stage of his career. September born Evans, was one of the oldest members of the Spurs Under 17 side, and he would progress up through the various youth ranks and the reserves to go on and play over 130 first team league games for Spurs, mostly as a full-back. Ray was a talented, solid and well liked player, who could also strike a ball really well. After leaving Spurs in 1974, Ray Evans signed for Millwall. He would later play for a number of other clubs, including Fulham, Stoke City and Seattle Sounders. Playing the latter stages of his football career in America, Ray still lives there to this day.

Trevor Howard: Goalkeeper Trevor Howard of Enfield, signed for Spurs on amateur forms during the mid 1960s. Howard was a strong and brave goalkeeper, who was unlucky to have Stuart Skeet and Roy Brown in front of him at Spurs, at youth and reserve team level. Comfortable at diving at players feet, Trevor was a solid and really good goalkeeper who also used the ball well. He made ten league appearances for the Spurs Junior side during the 1965/66 season. Unfortunately it is unknown where he went after leaving Spurs.

John Clancy: Inside-forward and Spurs apprentice John Clancy was a late arrival at Spurs as an apprentice, however, he soon showed his quality at the club. Born in Perivale, but brought up in Stevenage, the former Hertfordshire Schools player was a quick and enthusiastic player, who could also score a really good number of goals. Clancy scored four goals from nine league appearances for the Spurs Junior side of 1965/66. He would later join Bradford Park Avenue, after leaving Spurs, before going on to play for Yeovil Town, where he is widely considered to be a club legend by Yeovil fans.

Andy Chuter: Forward Andy Chuter scored one goal from nine league appearances for the Spurs Junior side of 1965/66. However, unfortunately very little more is known about him, and it is unknown where he went after leaving Spurs.

Ian Coulston: The son of the head groundsman of Spurs’ old Cheshunt training ground – Donald Coulston. Ian Coulston was on amateur forms with Spurs during the 1965/66 season, and he was a winger, who was a quick and direct player. He also had a good eye for goal. Ian Coulston made nine league appearances during 1965/66, scoring an impressive total of eight goals. It is unknown where Ian went after leaving Spurs.

Paul Shoemark: Paul Shoemark came to Spurs with a big reputation, having been a very highly rated England Schoolboy international, who had scored an impressive number of goals for his country. The Wellingborough born centre-forward was a talented and clever player, who could certainly score goals at Junior level for Spurs. Shoemark scored five goals from nine league appearances for the Spurs Junior side during 1965/66 season, and he scored a brace in the penultimate league game of that season, against Charlton Athletic, which Spurs won 5-1. Paul later played for the Spurs A team and reserves, before departing the club some years after the league winning season of 1965/66. He later played non-League football for Hatfield Town, for about three years. And then would later play for Kings Lynn and also Downham Market. I had the great pleasure of interviewing Paul, who is a really nice man, last year.

Andy Bish: On amateur forms to begin with at Spurs, but later signing professional forms with the club, left-back Andy Bish was at Spurs for five years as a youth, A team and reserve team player. The East London born former footballer made eight league appearances for the Spurs Under 17 side, during 1965/66. Andy Bish left Spurs at the end of the 1968/69 season, and would later train to become a teacher, and move to Gloucestershire. He did however, continue his playing career with Forest Green Rovers, who he spent ten years with, as he helped them to progress up the leagues at non-League level.

John Gilroy: Capable of playing on the right or left flank as a winger, John Gilroy of Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire, joined Spurs as schoolboy youth player just before the mid 1960s. He was a very direct winger, who would always look to take defenders on. However, Gilroy was a fast player with good skill on the ball, and a real eye for goal. During the 1965/66 season, John Gilroy scored six goals from eight appearances for the Spurs Under 17 side in the South-East Counties League Division II, and he scored a hat-trick in a home league win over Bexley United. After leaving Spurs at the end of the 1969/70 season, after playing for their A team and reserves on occasions, Gilroy played for Hatfield Town, before later playing amateur football. He is now retired and enjoys playing golf in his spare time.

John Cutbush: John Cutbush would never play for Spurs’ first team, despite becoming a regular for their reserve side for a number of seasons. However, unlike many, he would experience playing in an FA Cup final (for Fulham in 1975), after leaving Spurs. John Cutbush grew up in Kent, and played football for Kent and Maidstone schoolboys. The right-back who would end up signing professional forms with Spurs during the 1960s, was a good full-back who would make seven league appearances for the Spurs Under 17 side in 1965/66, scoring four goals. Later on during the 1960s and 1970s, he made a lot of appearances for the Spurs A side and reserves. However, he left the club in 1972 and enjoyed a good time with Fulham, before later playing for Sheffield United and then American indoor football side Wichita Wings. 

Colin Chambers: A tall centre-half and former Surrey Schools footballer, who left Spurs only about three or four months after joining them. Colin Chambers played for the Spurs youth side on occasions during his time at the club, and during that 1965/66 season he made six league appearances for the Spurs Under 17 side. It is unknown where Colin went after leaving Spurs.

Paul Hobbs: A former Essex Schools footballer, skilful left footed winger Paul Hobbs was on amateur forms with Spurs during the mid 1960s. He made six league appearance for the Spurs Under 17 side during the league winning season of 1965/66. It is unknown where Paul went after leaving Spurs.

Dave Morrish: A strong full-back who also played for the Spurs youth team in the FA Youth Cup. Dave Morrish was on amateur forms with Spurs during the mid 1960s, and he had been with the club since he was a schoolboy footballer. He made six league appearance for the Spurs Junior side during the 1965/66 season. Unfortunately it is unknown where Dave Morrish went after leaving Spurs.

Alan Hesling: West Londoner Alan Hesling played mainly for the Spurs side in the South-East Counties League, during his time with the club. Although the player who had also had trials with QPR as a youngster, was on amateur forms with Spurs, but did play the odd game for the Spurs A side. The full-back made five appearances for the Spurs Under 17 side in the league during 1965/66, and he would later join Ipswich Town, after leaving Spurs. Alan Hesling played for Ipswich’s youth team and reserve side during his three seasons in County Suffolk. It is unknown if he continued his playing career after leaving Ipswich.

J Lowe: A goalkeeper who was a triallist at Spurs. J Lowe (first name unknown) made five league appearances for the Spurs Under 17 side of 1965/66. 

G Quicke: The son of well known photographer Norman Quicke, G Quicke (first name unknown) was a midfielder who was only with Spurs during the 1965/66 season. Quicke made five league appearances for the Spurs Under 17 side during the 1965/66 season. However, it is not known if he continued his playing career after leaving the club.

John Conway: Formerly of the Friern Barnet Youth Club, centre-forward John Conway won the Middlesex County Junior Cup, and would later go onto sign as an apprentice professional with Spurs. Conway, whose nickname was Russ, scored lots of goals for the Spurs youth team during his time with the club. John Conway scored an impressive total of six league goals from three appearances for the Spurs Under 17 side, during the 1965/66 season. Again, as with quite a few of the Spurs Under 17 side squad members from the 1965/66 season, it is unknown if John Conway continued his playing career with Spurs, after leaving the club.

Alan Dunn: Like John Conway, Alan Dunn was a good centre-forward who scored a number of goals at youth level for Spurs, during the mid 1960s. However, there were a lot of forward options at the club at all levels at that time in Spurs’ history. The Londoner scored two league goals from just three league appearances for the Spurs Under 17 side in 1965/66. Again, it is unknown if he continued his playing career after leaving Spurs.

Adrian McElligott: A centre-forward from Slough, who was on amateur forms with Spurs during the 1960s, Adrian McElligott was a big, fast and strong player who made three league appearances for the Spurs Under 17 side of 1965/66, and he knew how to score goals. He was friends with former QPR player Ian Gillard, who was with Spurs as a schoolboy footballer during the 1960s. After finishing his playing career, Adrian McElligott became a scout for Fulham, a role which he would do for a number of years. Very sadly Adrian passed away in 2013.

Chris Roberts: From Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, Chris Roberts was still a schoolboy footballer with Spurs during the 1965/66 season. He scored four league goals from just three league appearances for the Spurs Under 17 side during that season. Very sadly Chris Roberts passed away very young. 

A Bedford: A Bedford was a triallist who made just two league appearances for the Spurs Under 17 side, scoring one goal.

A Mathers: A Mathers was a triallist who made just two league appearances for the Spurs Under 17 side, during the 1965/66 season.

Don Turner: From Watford, Don Turner scored one goal from two league appearances for the Spurs Junior side of 1965/66.

Micky Wimborn: A local lad from Edmonton, Micky Wimborn played for Edmonton Schools prior to joining Spurs as an amateur. He left Spurs after one year, but would make two appearances for the Spurs Under 17 side during 1965/66.

G Bennett: A triallist with Spurs during 1965/66. G Bennett made just one league appearance for the Spurs Under 17 side.

C Byers: A triallist with Spurs during 1965/66. C Byers made just one league appearance for the Spurs Under 17 side.

W Byrne: A triallist with Spurs during 1965/66. W Byrne made just one league appearance for the Spurs Under 17 side, scoring one goal.

J Cain: A triallist with Spurs during 1965/66. J Cain made just one league appearance for the Spurs Under 17 side.

A Cooper: A triallist with Spurs during 1965/66. A Cooper made just one league appearance for the Spurs Under 17 side.

M Kemp: A triallist with Spurs during 1965/66. M Kemp made just one league appearance for the Spurs Under 17 side.

R Smith: A triallist with Spurs during 1965/66. R Smith made just one league appearance for the Spurs Under 17 side.

A Sully: A triallist with Spurs during 1965/66. A Sully made just one league appearance for the Spurs Under 17 side.

If any of the Spurs players from this team are reading this, it would be great to hear from you.

An appreciation piece on Spurs great and one of the clubs finest ever youth graduates and defenders – Ledley King: (with words from some former teammates and Spurs players who looked up to him):

Ledley Brenton King has to be without doubt the greatest centre-half to ever come through the Tottenham Hotspur youth system. Born in the East End of London in the October of 1980, King attended the Blessed John Roche RC School and had played for the well known youth club Senrab (Ledley also represented London Schools), prior to joining Spurs as a schoolboy footballer during the 1990’s. King played in the same age group as Peter Crouch as a youth player at Spurs, and Ledley’s great potential was very clear from early on. Also playing and impressing for England at youth level, right up until Under 21 level, King established himself as a key player for the Spurs youth team after signing trainee forms in the summer of 1997, and would go on to help a talented Spurs youth team win the prestigious Milk Cup tournament in Northern Ireland, in the late 1990s. Ledley’s rise through the youth and reserve ranks at Spurs resulted in him making his competitive debut for the club in a Premier League game against Liverpool, as a substitute at Anfield in 1999. During his time on the pitch in that game Ledley played at left-back. An outstanding reader of the game and a real footballing centre-half, Ledley was gradually introduced to the first team more and more as time went on, even playing as a defensive midfielder on occasions for them.

Although injuries seriously disrupted his career as it went on, Ledley would go on to become a real fan favourite. With his tremendous dedication to the game, quality in and out of possession and leadership skills, Ledley played a big part in helping Spurs to get better and better during the 21st century. Since establishing himself in the first team Ledley King produced many magnificent defensive displays at centre-half. Many moments will standout to Individual supporters from King’s more than 300 competitive appearances for Spurs at first team level. Such as that outstanding challenge on Arjen Robben at White Hart Lane in a league game against Chelsea in the 2000s, the many outstanding displays at centre-half over the years, and also captaining Spurs to winning the Football League Cup in 2008, at Wembley. He didn’t need to foul players as he was just such a quality defender, which is why he picked up so few cards during his career. However, sadly he had no other choice but to retire at the end of the 2011/12 season, because of injuries. In addition to his many Spurs appearances over the years, Ledley was also capped by his country, England on 21 occasions (he scored two goals for England during that time). Of course he would have won many more caps for England and made a lot more appearances for Spurs over the years, were it not for his unfortunate injuries. But it is remarkable that he went on to achieve such great things in the game despite his injury problems.

Ledley was awarded a testimonial at White Hart Lane in-front of the Spurs fans at the end of the 2011/22 season. He then took up ambassadorial duties with the club, before serving them as a first team coach during part of the 2020/21 season under then head-coach José Mourinho. King has since returned to his ambassadorial duties at the club, something which he does so very well at. A quality centre-half and also a gentleman of the game, Ledley King is a true Spurs legend, and someone who I feel very privileged to have watched play for Spurs over the years. 

Words on Ledley from Spurs youth team teammates and ex-Spurs players:

Glenn Poole: Ledley quite simply had EVERYTHING as a player and a centre half and with those qualities that he had he could easily play in the modern day game. He could pass, bring the ball out from defence, he had pace, was strong and could use both feet. So much so he used to do all his tricks with his so called weaker left foot. If it wasn’t for the much publicised injuries it would have been Ledley and one other as the centre back pairing for England for many years. With all those playing attributes most importantly he is a fantastic bloke.

David Lee: Ledley was a Rolls Royce from the first time I saw him train I could see he was special, and talking about him over the years with teammates and coaches they all felt the same, he had everything, apart from maybe he didn’t want to head the ball! Haha, I played a few games as a sweeper behind him in the Milk Cup run when we went on to win it. He was outstanding, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone get the better of him. He was so quick, strong, fantastic close control under pressure and occasionally went on a mazy dribble from defence! Not that Bobby Arber was happy about that! He was relatively quiet on the pitch but that was when he was young. He was a pleasure to play with.

Ciarán Toner: Ledley always stood out as a player who could make it to the top. He was quick, strong, could read the game and had real technical quality with both feet. He was a real asset to the team and we always knew that when he played it would be a difficult day for any opposition striker. Unfortunately he suffered with injury even in his younger years and I have no doubt he would have played much more for his country if he wasn’t so unfortunately affected with it. It was great to see how successful he would become though and well deserved for such a great talent.

Paul O’Donoghue: Ledley was a name I heard often when I first joined in the Youth Team. He was apparently just after an incredible U20 World Cup/European Championship and all the young players just knew this guy was the next best thing. Did you hear what Ledley did in training, the players said. Did you see what he done against…. Such and such. The youth coaches as well would use Ledley as an example to watch and refer to it in training. When I got older and playing with the reserves and training here and there with the first team he was a complete defender and so calm in pressurised situations. Making the difficult look easy. A peerless defender who always had time for young players and took an interest in our development. On top of that a thoroughly good person.

Danny Foster: I was in the youth / reserves at the time and was lucky enough to train with the first team / Ledley. Ledley was pure class on and off the pitch. As a CB I looked up to him with tremendous respect, for a defender he was a very good size, naturally quick, strong and powerful. He defended first, won headers, tackles, stayed on his feet. He’s defending was to the highest level. His timing, contact and positioning were excellent making him almost impossible to beat at times. In addition to his defensive side his composure and collectiveness in possession were probably one the best ever as a CB. Both footed, 1st touch, range of pass, playing out from back, driving with the ball, he had it all.  A great trait was that he always made time to talk to us young players and show support. A gentleman on and off the pitch and a true legend of club.

Andy Reid: From the moment I walked into the football club I could tell that Ledley was the one that everyone really, really looked up to. There were always different types of characters in the changing rooms, but the real leader in that dressing room was Ledley. I think that everybody knows his footballing ability and how good he was on the pitch, but what sets him apart from so many people is his qualities off the pitch. And he was always so approachable and so helpful, and he was somebody who I admired greatly, and everyone else in the changing room did as well. It doesn’t surprise me now that he is doing so well in his ambassadorial role for the club. He is somebody who is a legend at Spurs, and rightly so. For me he has all the characteristics to be a leader of the club moving forward, which I think is important as he is Spurs through and through, and you could always tell how special the relationship between him and the fans was. And also how special they held him in their hearts. It was an honour and a privilege to play with Ledley, share a changing room with him and go out on a football pitch with him. Even though it was only for a brief period of time, it was a privilege. He is a really, really special guy and  somebody who I hold in the highest regard.

My interview with former Spurs player Darren Gosnell:

Darren Gosnell was a talented defender who was at Spurs as a youth player during the 1990s. A local to Tottenham, having grown up not far away from the old stadium, Darren Gosnell would later play for other clubs after leaving Spurs, and the first one who he joined after leaving the club was Wycombe Wanderers. I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of interviewing Darren in person, about his time at Spurs.

 What are your earliest footballing memories?

Darren: That would be kicking a ball out in the garden with my dad.

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

Darren: I was brought to the club by a scout called Dickie Moss, when I was playing at Enfield Playing Fields. I wanted to come off as well, but then I saw him after looking over my shoulder. And that was it. At first after joining the club I was shocked and I couldn’t sleep after the first week of training, and what shocked me was the amount of quality that was there at training, and that was quite difficult. To be honest I didn’t want to go back to Spurs, as I thought that I was out of my depth. 

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

Darren: Growing up I used to watch a lot of the Spurs 1981/82 team on London Weekend TV. So I watched a lot of Glenn Hoddle and Steve Perryman, and also Graham Roberts. Graham Roberts was someone who I looked up to, and obviously everyone wanted to be Glenn Hoddle, and that was when I was a schoolboy. 

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Darren: I actually knew David Howells when I was a youth team player, because he stayed in digs at my aunt and uncles house. So David was the main one.

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

Darren: I was a defender. I wasn’t very quick but I read the game well, although I actually started as a central midfielder, and I remember in my first game which was against Arsenal, we lost 4-0. They said to me that I wasn’t a central midfielder, and that I had to go back to be a defender. It was Len Cheesewright who said that to me.

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

Darren: Gary Mabbutt. What a great pro he was, and his attitude was fantastic. I always used to look at him during training and also in matches. He’s an absolute legend!

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

Darren: I think that it was an eye opening experience, and a very good learning experience as well. I know that I could have done better personally, but I never. Breaking my nose had a big effect on me, but it was a really good learning curve to play with these really top players. It also sets you up for life, because the jobs that you have to do like cleaning the changing rooms and the stands, and the kit all stands you in good stead.

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

Darren: I was just invited into the office one day and they said to me that they weren’t going to renew my apprenticeship, and they never did, and so I was released. After leaving I went to Wycombe, where I played under Steve Walford, and then after leaving there I went to play for Enfield Town, Haringey Borough and various other non-League clubs. Then I stopped playing at roughly the age of 23.

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Darren: I think that it would be the day that I was called into the office at Spurs to be offered my YTS/apprenticeship, that would be the greatest moment.

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

Darren: Quinton Fortune, without a doubt, as he was just unbelievable. I remember that we were playing a game against Charlton, and we were losing 4-0 at half-time, but then he scored four goals to get us level, and that was at Mill Hill, and I’ll always remember that game. That game was also the only time that I was the captain at the club, because Peter Suddaby used to give it around to a different player each week, and I was fortunate enough to get it that day. 

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

Darren: I’ll always remember the banter in the boot room, especially when the lights went out, but it was quite scary as well as funny as well. It used to be between the first year apprentices and also the second year apprentices. I remember that we played Arsenal away, and we drew 1-1. That was one of my proudest and also best games as well.

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

Darren: John Hartson. I was keeping a clean sheet against him at Mill Hill, but within half an hour I had been taken off as he had scored a hat-trick.

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

Darren: That would be Dean Calcutt and Neale Fenn.

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

Darren: My advice would be to enjoy every moment of your playing career, and also to enjoy the experience. You should enjoy being at a big club like Tottenham, as it doesn’t really last too long. 

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?

Darren: I have loads of great and fond memories, and I loved every minute of it from being a schoolboy, right up until YTS. I think that the most important thing for me is to see some of my heroes and then to see them around the club when you’re there yourself. That makes you feel that extra bit special, and to actually be involved in the 1991 FA Cup final, and to actually watch that team play as a schoolboy was absolutely fantastic, and one of the best experiences that I’ve ever had. 

Are there any other memories from your time at Spurs which really come to mind?

Darren: I’ll always remember the day that Terry Venables got sacked and that was the day that our contracts came through, and I’ll always remember sitting in the Bill Nicholson suite when Ossie Ardiles and Steve Perryman walked in, and everyone there went “ oh no! ”As they didn’t want them. Everyone was very close to Terry Venables, and I was in particular quite close. But I remember seeing the great pros that we had at Spurs at the time such as Gordon Durie and Nayim, and so it was a really good time to be around at Spurs. When you make it as an apprentice then you possibly think that you’re going to make it, and that is the big difference. I also remember that Bill Nicholson used to watch all of of our youth games, which was a great privilege.