My interview with former Spurs player Peter Shearing:

Uxbridge born goalkeeper Peter Shearing would go on to have a successful playing career in the game, but his first professional club as a youth player was Tottenham Hotspur. Joining the club during the 1955/56 season not long before Jimmy Anderson took over as manager from the legendary Arthur Rowe. A commanding and vocal goalkeeper, Shearing played for Spurs’ youth team of which notably included Freddie Sharpe, but he also played for the A team in the Eastern Counties League on occasions, and also the reserves on the odd occasion. However, with such great goalkeepers ahead of him it would have been extremely difficult for Peter to have broken in to the Spurs first team. A spell playing for Hendon in the early 1960’s followed a move to West Ham United where Peter played for their first team on occasions, and it was to be the start of a long career in the game, and the former goalkeeper would later play for the likes of Exeter City and Gillingham in the Football League. I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of speaking with Peter about his time at Spurs during the 1950’s.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Peter: That would be playing with the Cubs football team when I suppose I was about seven or eight, and then soon after that I started playing for the school team. And I played for the school team which was the under 11’s when I was about nine, but I was a defender then and I played wing-half for the first year and centre-half for the next two years for the junior school. 

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

Peter: Well I played for the London under 16’s against Glasgow and obviously Spurs had some scouts there because I was invited to a trial, along with two or three other lads who had played. So I had a trial at Tottenham and after the trial one of the coaches or one of the people who ran the youth team came up to me, and they said that Arthur Rowe who was the manager at the time was interested in me joining the club they said that I was number one at the top of his list. Well obviously as I was a goalkeeper you would be the first one on the list, but anyway I sort of signed for Spurs as a schoolboy. When I actually left school I joined a firm of architects and Spurs then asked me to join the ground-staff, and so I left the firm of architects and owner of the firm told me that it was going to be a big mistake, but I went anyway. So I went on to what was called the ground-staff as you weren’t apprentices as such, and so I worked in the first team dressing room and I used to clean up and put the kit away and then run the baths for the player’s after training. Then we as a group would be allowed to train in the afternoons and in those days it was without much supervision, and we would just copy what we saw the main pros do. Occasionally a coach load of us would go out to the Cheshunt training ground and we would join in the training, but that was very, very rare and so it was nothing like today with the Academy’s and that sort of thing where you have an individual coach for the first team.

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

Peter: Without television our heroes were from paper headlines and as I developed in the goalkeeping I was interested in Sam Bartram who was goalkeeper at Charlton Athletic, and he might have played one or two games for England as well. Of course Stanley Matthews was a big name in those days but it was all through the newspapers really because we didn’t get the opportunity to see players like people do now. 

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

Peter: I was very vociferous with the people in front of me right from the start, and I would try and pull defenders about and make sure that they were picking up and that sort of thing. My long goal kicks were very powerful but I sort of worked on angles really, more than anything else and so for me it was about cutting down angles and that sort of thing. I did have my chance to get to a higher level but I just lacked a little bit of something and who knows what that was.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Peter: Ted Ditchburn who was the goalkeeper was the player who I would look up to as an inspiration but I didn’t have a lot of contact with him, although in one game I played at Tottenham itself but I’m not sure if it was a youth team or a reserve match. Anyway I had came out and punched a ball and then the next day Ted came to me and said oh I hear that you have punched a ball? And so I said oh yeah I did, and then he said well if you do that again I’ll sort of kick you kind of thing, and that was as far as the coaching went! 

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

Peter: For me it was all about goalkeeping and as you understand it is such a specialised position compared to everybody else. We didn’t see many players like you do now so really it was just the goalkeeping staff at the club, the ones that were ahead of me. Johnny Hollowbread and a man called Frank Smith were third and fourth ahead of me and also Ron Reynolds was there then, so they along with Ted Ditchburn were the four goalkeepers in front of me.

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

Peter: At one stage I was five days too old to play for the youth team and they had a first team, an A team and a reserve team of full professionals and so that laid me fifth in line. Someone who was connected to the youth team asked me if I would be interested in going to Hendon (I suppose it would be a loan spell now) as they had injury problems and this was right at the start of the season and so I said yes I was interested. So that was how I sort of left the club but then of course national service came soon after that and so I was out of the club for two years and I was then playing amateur football while I was in the army. Part of my army career sent me to Cyprus and so Hendon obviously got another goalkeeper but when I came back I joined Kingstonian, and then the next season Hendon invited me back and we won the FA Amateur Cup that year and went to Wembley to play in the final which was the 1959/60 season. And during that season we played against West Ham in a cup that isn’t run now but the senior clubs in London used to put a reserve team out against senior amateur clubs in a cup competition. We were drawn against West Ham and in that game I must have played reasonably well because the goalkeeper at the time came up to me after the game and said was I interested in turning pro, but I said that I wasn’t really as I said I was too old, as I was 21 at the time. Anyway after that they followed me all of that season as they used to have a representative at basically every game that I played at, but I said that I wouldn’t leave Hendon until we went out of the Amateur Cup. So we went all through the cup and won it and so then at the end of the season I joined West Ham and although I had already been at a professional club in Tottenham I hadn’t trained with the professionals, and so it was quite a culture shock to start training with the professionals.

Within a few weeks at West Ham I had gotten into the first team and I had a few games in the first team with players like Bobby Moore and Kenny Brown, and so I played six matches and then I got dropped. During that season West Ham changed manager and Ron Greenwood came in and at the end of the season he released all of the goalkeepers except one and so I was on my way somewhere else. From West Ham I went to Portsmouth where I got into the first team after a season there and I played a number of games although I was in and out of the side, but I had two or three years there without playing too many games in the first team. So after about the second or third season they released and I then went on to Exeter, and I played there for a couple of years before being transferred to Plymouth and was there a couple of years before then being transferred back to Exeter. However, I had broken my arm after returning to Exeter towards the end of the season and so I didn’t play for quite a long time, and they then got another goalkeeper in and so I did a loan spell at Bristol Rovers and then at the end of that season I was released. I then went from there to Gillingham as a friend from my days at Plymouth asked me if I would like to join him as the number two, but I didn’t go there to play as I had sort of retired. So I used to take the training and help with the injuries and all that sort of thing, but then the goalkeeper got injured and the manager at the time had told me to stay fit just in case we have a problem and so I ended up playing about 40 games in the next two seasons. During that period we won promotion but then the manager moved on to Charlton and he had asked me to go with him and so I went with him for a couple of years, but then we parted company and I came out of pro football in 1973.

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

Peter: I found that they didn’t have a lot of interest in the younger players and we used to clean the dressing rooms and put the kit up in dryers and then help put it out for training. So we didn’t have a lot of help as youngsters I didn’t think but I wasn’t there very long and then of course national service came in but when I came out of national I went back to Spurs as they were duty-bound to take me on for six months, as any employer had to take you on. Spurs offered me a professional contract but because of the number of goalkeepers that they had I said no and so I carried on at Hendon.

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Peter: Winning the FA Amateur Cup was pretty good but as a professional my home league debut for West Ham against Manchester United when we beat them 2-1 was a pretty good moment. I played with Bobby Moore and when you look back he was such a big name and so to say that I played with him is quite something. 

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

Peter: Funnily enough when I was in the youth team at Tottenham we obviously used to play Chelsea and Jimmy Greaves played for them, and both our paths crossed on quite a few occasions. I suppose you would say that Jimmy was one of the great players, but at Tottenham because I didn’t play with the real stars you were in awe of them really when you used to see them training and that sort of thing, and so then you had Danny Blanchflower and also Len Duquemin was the centre-forward, but not playing in the first team and only playing in the odd reserve game you didn’t see them play that often really, because you would be away playing matches when you were playing at home. 

What was your then Spurs manager Jimmy Anderson like?

Peter: Managers in those days were quite distant and the only time that you would really see Jimmy Anderson was in his office as he didn’t come on the training ground at all as Bill Nicholson was in charge of the training. Even the manager at West Ham you would very rarely see out coaching players as they would come to watch the training, and so managers in those days were almost aloof really and when I think back now I think what was their job? I suppose that they picked the team and just said to the coach get on it, and so the idea of a manager really changed over the years while I was in football.

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

Peter: To me it was just a thrill to be in the youth team and I would play regularly as well as playing a few games in the A team and one game in the reserve team. I just loved playing and that was the thing and it was just great to be at a big club, and to think that they were interested in you was enough.

What was it like to play for Spurs in the Eastern Counties League?

Peter: Those were quite long trips really for me in those days as you would go out to Biggleswade or wherever. When I look back quite a few people from that team broke through into the first team and it was a surprise when they did because you didn’t see the first team that much and you just thought that they were great, and so you didn’t realise that the people lower down would break into that level, so it was quite interesting really.

 Who was toughest player that you ever came up against?

Peter: I suppose the biggest dressing-down that I got was after having played in the 2-1 win for West Ham against Manchester United as we went to United a couple of weeks later and lost about 6-1 I think, so that was a bit of a comedown really. Manchester United had Bobby Charlton playing and Johnny Giles before he went to Leeds, and so they just overwhelmed us up there but mind you they did have a bit of luck as well but that’s just how it goes.

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

Peter: Freddie Sharpe was one and a man called John Titt and also Norman Lee, so they were all on the ground-staff with me and so we were together all of the time and we would play table tennis and snooker as well as training together. But on another level we were not really close because we just used to go in and do the job and just go home. At senior level Ted Ditchburn was always very pleasant to me being a fellow goalkeeper, and when you were around the dressing rooms everybody would be pleasant enough but you were just a lad in the boot room sort of thing.

What were former Spurs goalkeepers Ted Ditchburn, Ron Reynolds, Johnny Hollowbread and Frank Smith like as goalkeepers?

Peter: Ted Ditchburn was coming to the end of his career when I was at Spurs and the strange thing about him was that he wasn’t a very good kicker of the ball but other than that he had great reflexes. Johnny Hollowbread also had great reflexes and Frank Smith was quite a big man but because you didn’t play in the same team as them you wouldn’t see them other than at the occasional trip to the training ground, because you were playing at the same time as the other players (the A team, the reserves and the first team), so you didn’t really see those players perform that much. Also in regards to Ron Reynolds you had Ted Ditchburn who was in and out of the England team it was rumoured that Ron Reynolds would more or less take his place when when he retired, but Ron went down to Southampton and then Johnny Hollowbread followed him. However, Ron was recognised as a very good goalkeeper.

What was it like to play against Spurs for Exeter City at White Hart Lane in the League Cup?

Peter: Well it was great for us and I always loved playing under floodlights and in that particular game funnily enough we took the lead very early on, and then just before half-time Jimmy Greaves broke through and as I came out to sort of go at his feet my long studs in my boots got caught in the ground. It was a very wet night and so I sort of stumbled and Jimmy slipped the ball under the net and equalised, and then in the second half we were just outplayed, but up until half-time we were in the game. So going to Tottenham with Exeter was just fantastic. 

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

Peter: Work hard, listen to all of the advice that you get and just work hard at your game and not to be sidetracked by outsiders as you’ve just got to concentrate on your football. 

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

Peter: I was flattered to be asked to join Spurs and I enjoyed my time at Spurs and there is no doubt about that. I loved the atmosphere of being at a football club and mixing with all of the international players and I used to work in the dressing room so I used to see them all when they would come in in the mornings and get ready to go out training, and then also seeing them when they came in. So my time at Spurs was great and I loved it. 

My interview with former Spurs player Malcolm Beddows:

A schoolboy with Spurs during the 1980s and 1990’s, skilful and prolific striker Malcolm Beddows would play for Spurs for five years, before unfortunately being released by the club at the age of 15. The former player from Surrey would later have a trial with Chelsea but an injury picked up during his time there stopped them from signing him. However, he did go on to play for Woking for a while, while studying at the same time, but that was to be the last team that Malcolm played for and he retired at the age of 21. Now living and working in Australia, I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of catching up with Malcolm as he looked back on his time at Spurs.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Malcolm: I think that would be playing football for the first time as a six year old in my local recreation park in Leatherhead. I was kicking the ball around with my brother and he was teaching how to strike the ball properly. A man by the name of John Brown approached me and asked if I have ever thought about playing football before, and I was like no. John Brown was the manager who ran a local team called Fetcham Park United, and he asked do you want to play for us? That was both exciting and daunting as I’d hadn’t played football with other kids before and I guess I didn’t know if I was any good or not.. So, I went along to a training night, and loved it. I literally got the bug after one training session. 

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

Malcolm: Playing for my local team Fetcham Park United, who I would have been playing for around three or four years ( alongside Chris Landon – Spurs youth player). I didn’t know at this point that Ted Powell ( head spurs scout) had come down to watch me play for three games and he had obviously contacted the club. I remember him coming up to me after the third game that he watched me in, and I remember how calm hand soft he spoke. He then said that he’d been watching me and he’d been really impressed with my game, positioning, pace, goals and attitude, and he’d like me to come down and have a trial at Tottenham Hotspur. So as a ten year old this was a dream, as a young aspiring football player, and you’re seeing all of these football players on television and then a top Spurs Coach comes down and says do you want to play for Spurs, I couldn’t believe it. Ted Powell then spoke to my mum on the phone and made arrangements, and we went the following Monday from Surrey to London for that first training session at Tottenham. It was great as my school would allow me to leave early.. I remember the smell of the sports centre in Anerley for the first time, the sound of trainers screeching on the floor, and players shouting commands at each-other, the head coaches and the atmosphere being intimidating. This was the moment to prove to yourself, you mum and the coach you deserve to be here amongst all this other great players. That first training session was intimidating but when you walked over the white line and the balls at your feet, your natural ability kicks in, and it then just becomes enjoyable, and you have that sense of freedom and thirst to want to score goals. 

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

Malcolm: I was a small skinny kids, but, I was fast and skilful, so I would model myself on players like Gianfranco Zola, Maradona, Zico. But, growing up and watching and hearing the names like Diego Maradona, Zico, Batista, Josimar, John Barnes, Michel Platini, Socratese were all names and heroes to me during the 1986 World Cup, but Zola, John Barnes were players who I admired. It was players who had skill and who had the ball at their feet and could do things that you didn’t think were possible. I loved players who entertained and could also change a game with a moment of magic. So I would say Maradona, Pelé, Zola and John Barnes.

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

Malcolm: I was a striker who was fast and was one of the quickest players on the pitch, but I was also skilful, and so I used to model myself on skilful players who weren’t scared to take on defenders. I couldn’t beat a defender for pace, then I could beat them with skills. I also had a good eye for goal and I knew where the goal was. So, as soon as I got the ball my first instinct was, where’s the goal… I used to score a lot of goals so I was a fast and skilful striker with a good eye for goal. 

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Malcolm: I think for me players like Ossie Ardiles, Glenn Hoddle, Chris Waddle who I thought was amazing but, when Paul Gascoigne came along, he blew me away with his skill, balance and contribution to games. I loved watching players play with freedom. So my greatest influences at Spurs was Paul Gascoigne.

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

Malcolm: It would have to be Paul Gascoigne, watching someone play with enjoyment inspired me. My game was about self-expression, freedom and enjoyment too, so I think watching someone like him allowed me to believe what was possible on the pitch. 

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

Malcolm: I wasn’t a big player and my body wasn’t growing at the rate the club wanted it to grow at, and because I was playing so much sport from a young age my knees were getting really bad. At the age of 15 I was having cartilage problems and my knee was locking, and I can remember playing for Spurs in a game and running for a ball and my knee was locking. I can remember Ted Powell taking me to the teams physio, and we were sitting down in consultation and they were saying that I had torn cartilages in my knees already and I’ll need an operation. I didn’t understand it at the time, but, moments like that sit in your brain and play on your mind. My legs were quite skinny and my knees weak and so the deterioration in my knees was causing me problems. An operation was inevitable. I was having problems with my knees, and my attitude was changing towards football, My discipline had gone and I started missing training sessions (White Hart Lane was so far away from where I lived, and my mum didn’t drive). I also felt I was missing out on my teenage years, things that my friends were doing, they were getting into skateboarding and other types of sports. I didn’t have that disciplinarian in my life to give me guidance, and guide me through some of early life decisions. I wasn’t really able to play other sports like skateboarding, because you’ve got to look after your legs, and at that age you really need support and someone to tell you what the bigger picture is. You need the father figure, the role model, someone who can advise you, but, my father wasn’t involved in my soccer that much as we live apart from each other and passed away when I was 15. So I went through a massive change in myself through losing my father, getting injured, operation and going through my GCSE’s at school. This was a really tough period for me.

The club released me because my discipline had dropped, I was missing training I wasn’t growing at the pace they wanted. Bring released was a massive shock to me and a huge dent in my ego. I had never experienced real rejection at that age, as this was hard to handle and I remember thinking I’ve got to tell everyone. I remember the phone call from Spurs and slumping down on my sofa in tears at the thought of letting my family down.

I spoke to my sports teacher Mr Hill, at Therfield  School a few day’s after and he gave me a lot of support and advice. Two or three weeks later we got a phone call from Chelsea and they had said they had heard that you had left Tottenham and would you like to come down and trial.  After three weeks at Chelsea I got injured again and I remember pulling my groin and thinking maybe my body isn’t up to playing football at this level, I was 15 and continuously getting injured. I stopped playing and concentrated on Art at School and went into sixth form to get my grades so I could go to college. I studied Aerospace engineering, and whilst studying, I played for Woking FC part-time. Woking played in the Capital League on a Wednesday night (I had a few games upfront with Clive Walker), and games on Saturday. It was a really good standard, and a league you see a lot of ex-school boys play in who didn’t quite make the Professional grade. 

Having to leave Spurs must have been incredibly difficult for you. How did you find that?

Malcolm: It was a very difficult moment in my life, so much was going on personally, academically and sporting. I had never felt disappointment like it before, and didn’t really have the support network to handle it. I guess I bottled it up and took up skateboarding – I started expressing myself more creatively at 15 and followed my passion in life! It was hard for a 15 year old to handle all those emotions that come with rejection, trauma and peer pressure. It was really tough and it was a dent in your ego, but getting that call from Chelsea helped bring some of that self confidence back.. 

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

Malcolm: It was absolutely life changing, you can’t imagine what happens to a young person mind who’s from a little country village like Leatherhead to get the chance to play for Spurs, one of the biggest teams in Europe. It opened up other opportunities for me, with clubs, travel, friendships, growth and experiences. The club were amazing and were very supportive of me, and Ted Powell was one of the most amazing influences in my life, he gave me the opportunity to change my life. Ted taught me almost everything I know about football today and how to be a better player, how to use my size, my speed and my skills to my advantage. The youth systems are an amazing opportunity for any kid to be a part of something huge, and the professionalism of a club like Spurs is exceptional. Dream come true!

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Malcolm: At the age of 13 I went to America to play in the Dallas Cup (it’s like a youth world cup), you play against other clubs from all over the world. I won a Sports Award and this paid for my trip. I travelled and played in the US with my team at the time, who were Rangeligh. We had won the West Surrey Boys league at the time, and were chosen to represent England. This is a trip which changed my life for many reason. The style of football from other countries was really evident. Especially playing against a team from Mexico. We were able to watch a Brazilian team play, who i believe may have gone on to win the Tournament. I met my hero Pelé at the tournaments opening ceremony and I got a chance to shake his hand, this was a moment I’d never forget.  

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

Malcolm: I would say that there are two players and the first one is Paul Gascoigne. He came down and coached us one time at Spurs. He didn’t stop smiling when he played, his touch and skills was phenomenal  – it was a joy to watch. Clive Walker, he helped me as a striker when playing at Woking. How to find space, when to make your runs and how to bring other players into the game. 

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

Malcolm: Because we had the two centres at Spurs which were south and north of the river they were always trying to get us together to play against each other. So we used to travel to Cheshunt which was great because we used to get to watch the first team train and also see the first team facilities, and also get to see the first team players. We then got to play against the north side of the river and it was actually a good benchmark to kind of see where we were at as a team, and also where we were as individuals. So it was always a joy to travel up to Cheshunt with Ted and the other lads in the bus, and then also meet and watch the pros train. That was always enjoyable and as was going up to White Hart Lane and training on the Astroturf pitch which was also an absolute joy, but also getting the chance to walk out on to the pitch at White Hart Lane and having that dream of one day playing there was awe inspiring for me. Another great memory was of going to watch the first team play at White Hart Lane, and a memory of mine is going to watch Tottenham play Liverpool, and they gave me two free tickets to go and watch the game. That was the first time that I went to White Hart Lane and understanding the club that I was playing for and as a 12 year old with the potential to play for that team. So walking up those stairs and seeing White Hart Lane packed with 40,000 odd people and then watching that team and thinking wow I wear that kit when I train on a Monday night, that was incredible.

Who was toughest player that you ever came up against?

Malcolm: That’s a hard one because I finished playing quite early, but there was a player whose name I can’t remember, and when I was playing for Woking we played against Wycombe Wanderers. He used to play left back for Blackburn Rovers and I just couldn’t get past him, and for all of the pace and skill that I had he was too strong. It was my one stumbling block in my career where I just couldn’t get past a player for speed, skill and strength as he read me like a book. I think I asked the coach If I could switch sides and play on the left – haha!!

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

Malcolm: Chris Landon, Danny Bolt and Danny Smith were players who I was close with and they were my core friends. Chris was a great mate and I still speak with him on Facebook which is amazing. Me and Chris also played Sunday football together, so, we literally grew up together. 

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

Malcolm: My advice would be to try and prepare yourself mentally, to really listen to the people around you and build a good support network. Stop thinking as an individual and think as a team player, and although you may possess individual skills, you are only going to make it if you understand what it is to be a team player. You need to be mentally strong but you also have to enjoy what you do and don’t be restricted by club culture, respect it, and try and fit your game around it. It’s a job, you have to make management happy, work hard and enjoy it. It’s easy to get lost in the EGO, but, if you can control that, you’ll go a long way. Never stop growing and listening, and take as much advice as you can from the people who has been in the game or coached. Listening to people was my worst trait, as I thought I knew it all. Understand the position and opportunity you have in life and snatch it with both hands. Also understand that a football career is short and that injuries can stop your career tomorrow, so just enjoy every single moment that you have on that football pitch, but, also look beyond football. What other interests do you have in life – nurture them too.. Good Luck!! 

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?

Malcolm: My time at Spurs changed my life in so many ways, some indescribable, it changed my relationship and it gave my mum something to be proud of. I look back on my time there as an incredible experience, a dream come true, and although I’m not a Tottenham fan I still watch them and want them to do well. Even just hearing the name Tottenham Hotspur means so much to me emotionally that they will be in my heart. I coached my son’s U10 team here in Sydney, and I often think; how would Ted have taken this session..

My interview with former Spurs player John Cook:

(John is pictured above. He is pictured last on the left of the front row.) 

John Cook played primarily at left of midfield and centre-midfield during his time at Spurs as a youth player in the early 1970’s. An energetic midfield player, John Cook had the chance to sign for local club West Ham United as a youngster, but instead chose to join Bill Nicholson’s Spurs. After leaving Spurs John went on to play for the likes of Grays Athletic, Tilbury and Walton & Hersham before going on to have a successful business career. I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of catching up with John as he looked back on his time at Spurs which is almost 50 years ago.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

John: I used to live in Dagenham and my earliest memories were just playing football every minute of the day. I used to live opposite a park and I played for a team called Rippleway Newham and they were a fabulous team with six different levels of age groups, and so I used to play for them. So from my youth I was playing for Barking Boys a year earlier and then I played for London Boys at 15, and playing for London Boys I can remember playing at Upton Park. We were playing Liverpool Boys at Upton Park and interestingly all of my family were West Ham supporters, and so it was great to play at Upton Park. I can remember after the game which was a floodlit game, that we came off the pitch and went up to this sort of reception area where they had teas and coffees, and I can remember Ron Greenwood coming up to myself and my dad. He said to us that he knew that I was thinking of going to Spurs but we’d like you to sign for West Ham if you’d like to, but I declined and the rest is history. 

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

John: The scout there at Spurs was called Dickie Walker and he would say all the right things to my dad, and I was an only child. He used to come and watch all the games that I played for my district teams which was Essex Boys and London Boys and so he used to always be there. He used to take my father to watch games and a chauffeur car would come and collect him from Dagenham and take him to a game. Interestingly I wasn’t looking to travel that far but Gary Anderson was in my district team along with me, and so we both decided to go to Spurs and travel together. We used to get on the train from Barking to South Tottenham and then the bus from there to White Hart Lane, so it was quite a long journey for us. Training at Spurs was great with Tony Want and John Pratt, and I went on to sign apprentice professional with Spurs in 1972 which was exciting beyond belief as I always wanted to be a professional footballer. Although Pat Welton didn’t warm to me at Spurs and there is no two ways about that, and whatever I did in training was not good enough, even though I got great encouragement off of the players, who would tell me that I was a good player and that I could succeed. So my time at Spurs was an interesting 16 months and we had a very good side and I did enjoy my time there, but obviously the time came when my contract ended and Bill Nicholson decided that he wasn’t going to sign me for the next year. So that was devastating at the time.

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

Jonn: He was only at Spurs for a little while but Graeme Souness was an incredible player and to me he epitomised the true footballer. His grit, determination and skill were brilliant, and in training it was just wonderful to watch him do some of the skills that he did, as well as his passing and his tackling. Graeme was to me the all round footballer and it was a shame that he left the club and went to Middlesbrough and the rest is history. Also, Alan Gilzean even though he played as a centre-forward had skill that was unbelievable and I can remember watching him one morning at Cheshunt, and he had ten footballs on the 18 yard line and he chipped every single one onto the crossbar. In today’s world he would be a brilliant player even though he wasn’t fast, but because his knowledge and his talent was just sublime. That’s how the Spurs team played back then and actually the training drill for the Spurs first team was quite straightforward and very direct and I can remember watching it so many times. It was Jennings out to Phil Beal or Cyril Knowles, and they would roll it out generally and get it to Martin Chivers who would generally chest it down to a midfield player like John Pratt or Steve Perryman, and then they’d be off. It was a routine that they used to practice and practice, and practice and so that was always interesting. So Gilly and Souness were my heroes at Spurs and in any team.

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

John: I either played at left of midfield or centre midfield, and so I was quite industrious and I felt that I was always good at going from defence to attack. So my strongest position was left of midfield and cutting in and having 25 yards out efforts on goal with my right foot, and so left of midfield was my favourite position. I continued to play that position after leaving Spurs, and I’m only five foot, seven, so I wasn’t a tall player but it was always my position and so I could kick with both feet and I was a pretty good tackler, and I also had a strong engine.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

John: I think that John Pratt was just great and he had so much time for us and so he was just great, but also playing with some of our own players was great. I used to love watching John Margerrison and he was a strong player, also Danny Clapton and Chris McGrath were other players who were good to watch. So it was good to watch them because playing with your peers did influence you in the way that you played, and Danny Clapton and Chris McGrath were a year older than me and so that one year made a lot of difference. So playing with those guys was really inspirational and enjoyable, and I learnt a lot from them. Also, Steve Perryman is in the top three of my influences at Spurs because I played in his position and he was the ultimate professional.

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

John: As I say Souness was a classic and I’d watch him regularly in training when I could, and I’d sit on the sidelines after we’d finished training along with the others and watch the reserves. At Cheshunt you had the first team pitch and then you had the pitch where the reserves would play, and the interesting thing at that era was that you had the reserves winning the Football Combination by something like 15 or 20 points, and the reserve team at that time was absolutely unbelievable. They won everything and in fact I can recall a funny situation where there would be a match between the reserves and the first team and this happened on a number of occasions, and the reserves might have been three or four up and Eddie Baily would stop the game and do a penalty shootout just to see who was going to win. So the reserves were just brilliant and Souness was my hero at Spurs. 

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

John: So when the day approached when I knew that I wasn’t going to be signed to a full professional then I recall that Southend were looking for youth players from the London clubs, and so I was offered the opportunity to go to Southend but I didn’t go. Once I left Spurs I ended up having a trial with Leyton Orient and I spent about two or three weeks training with them to see if they were going to sign me as a pro, and they only wanted a couple of players but they were looking for a midfield player. Unbeknown to me at the time the guy who was trialling at the same time as me to sign pro ended up getting that position was in fact Glenn Roeder, who went on to be a great footballer and a good manager. So I didn’t make it at Leyton Orient because of Glenn Roeder taking the position from me, and then from there I decided that I was going to have six months out of football because I was somewhat despondent. So at 17 I packed my bags and flew to Corfu in Greece and I ended driving speedboats on Dassia beach hotel, and so as a 17 year old you can imagine that I had great fun. And funnily enough Graeme Souness turned up at my hotel where I was working and we had a bit of fun, and so that was quite nice. But when I got back home from Corfu I had a run of many clubs in the amateur world to be fair, and so at 18 I joined my first club which was Grays Athletic who I spent a season at. I then went to Tilbury who I also spent a season at before going to a club who I had my best period at which was Walton & Hersham in Surrey, and I played with a guy called Brendan Bassett who was an England amateur international, and so anyway I spent two seasons there, and I really enjoyed that period of time. Then my last amateur club in top rank was Dagenham & Redbridge who I played for, and at 26/27 I decided that that was my lot at that level and so I ended up playing top class Sunday football, where I ended up playing with Peter Taylor over in Essex. 

Peter Taylor was a great player and you talk about players who had skill but Peter’s left foot was the best that I’ve ever seen, and so I played with him for a season and I loved it, but really that was it in terms of my football prowess.

Having to leave Spurs must have been incredibly difficult for you. How did you find that?

John: On reflection it was probably one of the worst things that’s ever happened to me in terms of rejection, and rejection is what it is. You know that you have got the skill, you know that you are as good as some of those players and you believe in yourself but then it’s just taken away from you, and for a couple of weeks your life feels like it’s on hold, and it’s like what are you going to do now. It’s an awful feeling and I feel so sorry for youngsters coming through the ranks now because I went through that, and it was an awful time.

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

John: I mentioned earlier about playing for London Boys at Upton Park and my family being West Ham supporters through and through. If I’m brutally honest in hindsight which is a wonderful thing, then I should have shaken Ron Greenwood’s hand and signed for West Ham, but I didn’t. So my time at Spurs was a great learning curve and a great opportunity to grow John Cook as a person, but it was disappointing and maybe I could have done better. I watched Mark Wright the other night on television and he’s not a lot different to me as he’s an Essex lad who has come through the ranks but he also had that sadness, but did I apply myself 100%? Maybe not, and maybe I could have done better. In my Barking team there were three of us who turned apprentice pros, and they were me, Gary Anderson and a guy called Richie Powling who was the centre-half with Tony Adams at Arsenal for four seasons, and so he did the best out of all of us. I can remember playing for Barking Boys against Huyton Boys in the English Schools semi-final under floodlights, and there were 11,000 people there watching that game at Anfield. I can remember when I was just about to come out on the pitch and I got a telegram from Bill Nicholson wishing me well, and so when you get that adulation as a youngster then you think that it’s going to transpire in to your adult life, but unfortunately life isn’t like that. I’m never going to reflect back on if only I’d done this or if only I’d done that, yes I have regrets on certain things but it made me the man that I am today. 

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

John: I suppose it was when I played at Anfield with Barking, and it was 0-0 with about 20 minutes to go and there was 11,000 people there including our families. We had a free-kick from about 26 yards out from the Kop end and I was the free-kick specialist, and I just put it in to the top right hand corner, and to score that goal at Anfield was just the most amazing thing, and so that was the most memorable day of my life. 

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

John: Truthfully the best player that I have ever played against was Brian Flynn who was a Welsh player and future Wales manager, and I played against him and we were marking each other and he made my life a misery that day. He was unbelievable and so he was the best player that I’ve ever played against on a pitch.

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

John: I think that obviously every Saturday morning playing at Cheshunt was always a great feeling but I can’t look back and say that game was special, because every game that I played at Cheshunt or away was always special, and it was great to put that white shirt on, as well as those blue shorts and white socks. That was just wonderful to put on, but I’ve got no particular game but it was just euphoric every time that I put the Spurs shirt on and that is the honest truth. Also going back after the game and having to watch the first team play which we always had to do as apprentices and pros if they were at home, that was always a memorable thing. So a Saturday for me playing football in the South East Counties League at Cheshunt and then coming to watch the first team play in the afternoon was the perfect day.

 Who was toughest player that you ever came up against?

John: I think that the hardest guy that I played against was a little guy at Spurs called Phil Holder and he was one of the hardest players that I’ve ever played against. But in training it had to be Graeme Souness, but in match games he was the hardest player that I’ve ever played with and against.

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

John: At the time me and Bobby Scarth were always close and I was also good friends with John Margerrison, and also Roger Gibbins who was a good player who did well. When you look at our youth team and you think about who made it you had Roger Gibbins, John Margerrison Keith Osgood who was a good player and defender. So to be fair we were a really strong group and we were all a pretty tight knit family.

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

John: I think that you’ve got to be very grounded and realise that there’s thousands of footballers that want to be a professional footballer, and so my thoughts are keep your feet on the ground and work 100% because the only people that make it are the people who don’t come off the training ground when the whistle blows. So stay on there and do extra things, and so you only have to look back on players like Ronaldo, Messi and Beckham and even Glenn Hoddle, and all of these players have stayed on the training ground longer than they need to or have got there earlier. So it’s all about determination and it’s all about focus, so just push yourself because it’s only a small window to get to being an apprentice and then a pro. Once you’re a pro then you’ve just got to keep working hard, and so my advice is to just keep working hard and being determined and put 110% effort in, because today 100% is not enough.

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

John: They are the only club that I watch and they are the only team that I watch on television, and I’ve still got a great soft spot for Spurs more than any other club because I spent a lot of time there from being a 14 year old training there as a schoolboy to becoming a professional. So I’ve got a lot of love for Spurs and I wish them all the very best, and they are close to my heart. 

My interview with former Spurs player Dean Harding:

Dean Harding was a highly skilful winger who could operate on either flank (he did predominantly play at right-midfield), and while he is of slight build he was just such an intelligent player who had great ability on the ball (Dean was in the same age group as Ledley King and Peter Crouch at Spurs). The Enfield born former player who outside of Spurs was coached by former Spurs player Andy Rollock who he speaks so highly of, was unfortunately not offered YTS by Spurs and after eight years with Tottenham Dean left the club at the age of 16 in the late 1990’s. However, he went on to have spells with Barnet and Southend United before playing for the likes of Hemel Hempstead and Arlesey Town in the non-League. I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of catching up with Dean, as he looked back on his eventful time at Spurs.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Dean: That would probably be playing for Enfield Rangers where so many of the lads were at Spurs and Enfield Rangers was the team back in the day, and we won everything there. I can remember playing against Peter Crouch (he was about two foot taller than everybody else) at Craven Cottage in the Middlesex County Cup final but we lost to West Middlesex Colts and Crouch scored against us and scored two, and obviously then years later I went to play with him for Spurs. So my earliest memories would be growing up with Enfield Rangers and then also joining Spurs and growing up there, and because I wasn’t the biggest lad in the world Spurs really tried to strengthen me up. Also, Des Bulpin (coach) who came from QPR used to encourage me to eat loads to help me to strengthen up.

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

Dean: Well I’m a big Arsenal fan so that was a bit weird, but it was good to join and when I first joined Spurs it was amazing and I think that eight of our team from Enfield Rangers were at Spurs, and in the end I think that I was the last one left. One of my first memories was playing over at Mill Hill which was the first training ground, and then one year I can remember that only two of us got a two year contract and that was me and Ledley King, but then no one else got one as everyone only got a one year contract, so it was going really well. One of my earliest memories was training on a Tuesday and Thursday in the gym at White Hart Lane and the training was from seven until nine. I used to have to go straight from school at Bishops Stopford’s School and go straight to Green street and get the 279 bus straight to the main stadium. I would then walk into the main entrance and past Rudolph’s and past the security guard, and then I’d go in to train. I used to train with Robbie Stepney and so when I got there they used to say Deano, Robbie says to go upstairs, and so I’d go up to the coaches office and go in. And my dad used to say to me you’re there like half an hour early and what do you when you’re waiting for Robbie? And I said that I used to just have a cup of tea with this old guy as he makes me a cup of tea and then we talk about football, and so my dad would ask what’s his name and I’d say I don’t know as it’s just got consultant on his door, and he’s really old but he knows lots about football. This went on for about 18 months reckons my dad and then one day when we were over at the training ground I was standing with my dad and watching the lads play, as I was injured. And then this old man was walking across the training ground and so I said to my dad that that was the guy that I speak to, and so he said don’t be silly Dean as that’s Bill Nicholson!

When I signed my contract at the Bill Nicholson suite I asked my dad is that who it’s named after, and my dad said yes Dean that’s who it’s named after, but as a young lad then I just didn’t know. Another story was one time I had come down from training and it was just after the World Cup and there was a guy standing there and I was just going to the canteen to have a cheese sandwich, and then this guy said to me that you’re a very good player, and very quick and move the ball well. I was like thanks, and so I said to my dad who’s that? And he said I don’t know and I’m not sure who he is, and I was like me neither. Colin Reid who was my coach at the time came up to me and said do you know who that is? And so I said no, and then he said that’s Ilie Dumitrescu and he’s just waiting to sign his contract here, and earlier he had watched some of the lads play, and so that was a nice thing. Growing up at Spurs you used to see so many great things that it was unbelievable.

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

Dean: Growing up I suppose Dennis Bergkamp, Tony Adams, Paul Gascoigne who was a nice guy at Spurs and Teddy Sheringham was also a nice guy, were people that I liked. And also Anders Limpar was one of my favourite players of all time and he was unbelievable, but if I wasn’t at Spurs playing then I was over at Highbury watching Arsenal play, which was a bit strange. Teddy Sheringham was one of the nicest people that I’ve ever met and one of the best that I’ve ever seen, and his finishing was just another level. 

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

Dean: We used to play 4-4-2 most of the time and Spurs used to play me at right- midfield, although I could also play on the left as well. I suppose that I was a quick and skilful attacking player who worked hard, and also had an eye for goal.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Dean: I looked up to a player called Simon Spencer and actually Steve Perryman said to my dad that he is the best player that he had ever seen in his life, and that he had never seen anything like it in football. But he had the worst attitude you’ll ever see in your life, and he was a first team player in the first team training and he’d walk off the first team training pitch at Chigwell and stand next to my dad and just watch me play. When he got released by Spurs because they couldn’t put up with him he actually went to Crewe and my dad actually took him up there. So he went and played a game for them in pre-season against Liverpool, and so he went up there and played that game which was on live television. He nutmegged Steve McManaman and then McManaman came back at him, but then he nutmegged him again and passed it all the way out to the left-back. After the game Crewe said that they wanted to offer him a contract, but he said nah I’m going to do painting and decorating now as I prefer doing that, but he was the best player that I’ve ever seen! Another influence on me at Spurs was probably James Bunn who was a striker, and he was a great player, and then obviously I looked up to Ledley as well because he was just unbelievable.

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

Dean: There was a player called Wayne Vaughan and he was a year above me and like me he wasn’t big, but he had so much tenacity and he just used to work so hard. So I always used to look at him and I always wanted to be more like him.

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

Dean: Well in the end I got released by Spurs and I then went to Barnet, because Tommy Cunningham who was a coach at Spurs left them about two months before I was released. So he rang me and said come to Barnet, and so I went there for a bit but it didn’t work out and so then I went to Southend which was luckily where my auntie lived, so that worked out. So I lived there for a while and Southend offered me a contract but the money just didn’t even add up to be honest, and I don’t think that the money that they offered me would have even paid for the petrol for my car. Looking back I probably should have seen the bigger picture, but it just wasn’t for me to be honest, and then obviously I didn’t sign for Southend so I then went to Ware which was a local team to me. I played for Ware in the first team and really enjoyed it actually, and then I got signed by Hemel Hempstead who were absolutely flying and I just couldn’t get off the bench and in to the team as they were unbelievable. So after about four months there I’d had enough and so I signed for Arlesey in Bedfordshire, and so I went and played there for four or five years with the likes of Dave Kitson and Craig Mackail-Smith. So we had some really good players there.

Having to leave Spurs must have been incredibly difficult for you. How did you find that?

Dean: To be honest it broke my heart and I didn’t really want to play football that much afterwards for a while, as I was really upset as bearing in mind I had grown up there. One of my footballing memories which I’ll always remember that was quite sad was that I played for Bishops Stopford’s School, and we got to the cup final against Enfield Grammar who would always win everything, but we won 3-0 in the final. I scored a goal in the final and then afterwards Mr Williams who was the PE teacher took everyone out for a McDonald’s to celebrate, and I can remember all of the lads going on the bus but I was waiting to go to Spurs to train, so those kind of things stay in your memory. So as a youngster that was heartbreaking, but that’s what you had to sacrifice to try and make it I suppose and play football.

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

Dean: I absolutely loved every minute of it, from game days to training in the week and also half-terms at the training ground. And in pre-seasons we would go around the stadium pitch at White Hart Lane and do laps around the pitch, and I remember when they had the sprinklers on and they were like a full on hose! I can also remember running up and down the steps in the stadium and also being around the first team players as well which was nice. So it was brilliant and I wouldn’t change it for the world. 

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Dean: I would probably say when I went to Arlesey and we won the Ryman Division three, and I know that wasn’t at Spurs but it was probably my greatest achievement, and the team there was unbelievable. So that season was the best season of my life. Then at Spurs I suppose that probably getting the two year contract was brilliant and was a great moment for me.

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

Dean: I would say Ledley King or Dave Kitson who was also a really good player, and also Peter Crouch who when he was younger was actually not that good in the air. He was so slight and he wasn’t big in the end, and I can remember once that as a joke our coach at Spurs Colin Reid asked us to both go up against the wall, and one of the players had used a pen to draw around our knees, and in the end my legs were wider than his! But technically Peter was a brilliant player.

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

Dean: When I was at school I did work experience and I got to go in and do two weeks with the YTS lads at Spurs, as I has said to Robbie Stepney could I do my work experience at Spurs. When I turned up there I was expecting him to ask me to work in the ticket office or something, but he said get your kit as you are training with the YTS lads, and I was only 14/15 at the time. So I went and did my two weeks of work experience there and I also went to Cambridge United away with them in the FA Youth Cup which was nice. Also, the story about Bill Nicholson is obviously a really good one and it was great when I realised who he was, and then I also remember that once I had to go to the stadium from the training ground, which was where I met my dad, as before meeting him I had to talk to someone about a diet or something. Back then you used to be able to go across the road to Hotspur Café to sign for your food, and so that was where I met my dad. Then afterwards we were coming back and just walking past Rudolph’s, and back then I had hair like Gareth Gates, and as we were doing a left into the main entrance Teddy Sheringham was pulling out and he said Deano, and I looked at him and said alright. Then he pretended to do his hair and my dad was just standing there watching, but to me Teddy Sheringham was just like a normal guy. Another memory was of my dad taking me to Chigwell to watch the under 18’s play, as I wasn’t playing at the time. Then at half-time I went up to get a coffee and as I was walking back down Chris Hughton who was the coach at the time said to me did I have my kit, and I was like nah. As there were two players who had gotten injured in the warmup he had asked me to go up to the changing rooms, and so I had to see Roy Reyland and he sorted me out a kit, and so I went on the bench for the game against Arsenal in the South East Counties League, which was nice for me. I also got to wear Ruel Fox’s boots  as they were the only ones that would fit me.

I can remember when I was about 13 that Joe Cole came down to train with us but Spurs weren’t trialling him as he could choose wherever he wanted to go. He was unbelievable and was one of the best players that I’ve ever seen as he was so skilful, and I can remember that some of the other lads didn’t like him and so they gave him a bit of a hard time on the pitch, which wasn’t on, but he was just unbelievable. Another memory which stands out from my time at Spurs was seeing a player get carried off in a wheelbarrow at Mill Hill, which was incredible. Also, I can remember up at the Astroturf pitch at White Hart Lane that they were working on Paul Gascoigne’s heading, and somebody had tied a Mars bar from the roof onto a piece of string for him to try and get up to. 

 Who was toughest player that you ever came up against?

Dean: That would have to be Ashley Cole when I was at Arsenal, but I actually played for Arsenal twice when I was on Spurs’ books. I played for Spurs against Millwall but this was not too long after I had joined the club, and this game was at Mill Hill. Later that night an Arsenal scout had called my Sunday manager called Alan and said that he wanted Dean to play for us tomorrow against Cambridge United. So I remember my dad going out to the hallway to get the phone and he then came in and asked me if I wanted to play for Arsenal tomorrow against Cambridge United, and I was like yeah. They were playing at London Colney and so I went up there the next day and the difference between the Arsenal and Spurs setup then was unbelievable. You had all your kit set out and a towel with it and so in them days it was just so different at Arsenal, but anyway I played at left-midfield at that time and I think that Ashley Cole played at full-back. So then I played again for Arsenal in another game which I shouldn’t have done, and this was against a team called Pegasus and there was a player playing for them called James Harper who would go on to play for Reading. The next day my dad had Spurs on the phone and I think that it even ended up at the FA as Tottenham had reported Arsenal to the FA and so my dad had quite a few phone calls to deal with. But for me that was quite a good experience to play for Arsenal.

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

Dean: Me and Glenn Poole got on really well and he went on to play for Brentford, and I also got on well with James Bunn who was older than me. I also got on quite well with Ledley King and I remember once at the end of training that I managed to get past him really well and scored, and then Colin Reid said right we’ll finish there and that will do, and so that’s my claim to fame! I’m also in Ledley’s book and he says in the book that he doesn’t even think that Lionel Messi would have made it at Spurs back in the day, because they wanted strong players. He mentions in the book that Spurs had this player called Dean who was really slight but he was literally like Iniesta or Xavi. So that was nice.

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

Dean: My advice is be able to look back and say that you gave it your all and that I couldn’t have done anymore. Cherish every minute of playing because it’s over before you know it, and also to play with a smile on your face.

 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?

Dean: Not really because I’m a big Arsenal fan! But there is always a big part of me that appreciates my time there and the stuff I learnt, and also the education that I got. So there is a part of me that will always like Spurs.

My interview with former Spurs player Luke Young:

Luke Paul Young was a good and versatile defender who came through the various youth ranks and the reserves at Spurs during the 1990’s, before going on to play football at a vey high level throughout the entirety of his footballing career. The younger brother of Neil Young who also played for Spurs as a youth player, Luke signed for Spurs as a trainee in the summer of 1995 (he had signed as a schoolboy two years earlier, but had already been at Spurs for a while before that.) and would later sign professional forms with the club two years later. A good and technical defender, Young was also dominant in the air and he was an intelligent defender, plus he could also play anywhere across the back four, as well as being able to play a defensive midfield role. From Harlow in Essex, Spurs fan Luke Young would make his competitive debut for Spurs’ first team  in a Premier League game against West Ham United in the November of 1998, and he would go on to play over 60 more games for them during his time in north London. Young left Spurs to join Charlton Athletic in 2001, and he would go on to have a really good career in the game, playing also for Middlesbrough, Aston Villa and Queens Park Rangers, the player who was a former England youth international would also play for his country at the highest level on seven occasions. Luke now works as a consultant at interEuropean football agency and his Instagram account is @lyoung_intereuropean. I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of catching up with Luke, as he talked about his time at Spurs during the 1990’s and early 2000’s.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Luke: My earliest memories of football would be going to watch my older brother play for the local Sunday team called Spartak, and I always remember it because they had a similar kit to Barcelona. I would have been about six or seven years old, and I always had a football at the end of my foot then, and I was watching my brother play every weekend before I was sort of old enough to play myself. Professional wise I liked watching football as a young kid, and the first sort of memories that I’ve got of that are the 1986 World Cup and that was a great World Cup, and I remember trying to be like the Brazilian midfield player Sócrates, and also Maradona was obviously unbelievable in that World Cup. Even though I was already hooked on football that kind of cemented it I think.

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

Luke: I joined Spurs as a ten year old and we used to train once a week on a Monday night in what I can only describe as basically a car park, so like a match day car park, which I don’t think would be allowed nowadays, but I used to really enjoy those sessions and learning my trade once a week. I actually went into West Ham before about a month before I went to Spurs but I never really enjoyed it, so I was absolutely delighted as a Spurs fan when Tottenham asked me to come in. I always remember playing as a ten year old and putting the kit on for one of my first ever games for Tottenham, and putting that Tottenham kit on as a ten year old was brilliant, and we played against Brentford I’ll always remember, so they were good times.

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

Luke: Growing up I was always Gary Lineker in the garden, even before he joined Spurs due to his England exploits. Later on when I got a bit more knowledgable about Tottenham Paul Gascoigne came on the scene, and what a terrific player he was and you’d pay your money just to go and watch him, and I managed to do that a couple of times at White Hart Lane. Also from that Spurs side I liked Chris Waddle and I thought that he was excellent for us, but moving on to when I got in the youth team I remember seeing Gary Mabbutt lying on the treatment table and I think that he was getting both of his ankles strapped. He also had to have insulin injections for his diabetes, and he was at least 35 at the time and what he went through to get on the pitch and as a proper captain of the club he was a real inspiration for me to see someone go through that sort of desire to get himself out on the pitch, and I found that absolutely inspirational, so that was another player that I enjoyed watching.

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

Luke: I guess I was quite a versatile player even in the youth team, and I probably think that I just scraped in getting a schoolboy contract and YTS, and I was never one of those players that everyone thought watch this space, he’s going to be the next so and so. So I had to work at my game and luckily for me I had a real good work ethic in training and I always trained 100% and it gave it my best in every single game that I played in, which I think probably helped me to progress and develop as a player as quickly as I could. I played a lot at left-back or centre-back and at right-back and right wing-back, all in the youth team and in the reserves. I think that what gave me my chance in the first team was that I was playing centre-back in the reserves for about five or six games, and then all of the first team centre-backs got injured. So that gave me my chance and I hadn’t even trained with the first team and I got called over on a Thursday and played that Saturday at West Ham away, next to Sol Campbell. Being in that first team dressing room and putting on my boots and shin pads it just felt so surreal at 19 years of age. So I ended up playing everywhere apart from my real position which was right-back, and that was obviously due to the fantastic form and fantastic player that he was at the club in Stephen Carr, who at the time I think was probably the best right-back in the league. 

Could you talk me through your Spurs debut against West Ham in the November of 1998 and how it came about?

Luke: So I hadn’t even trained with the first team before and all of the centre-backs got injured, and i trained on the Thursday and then on the Saturday morning I tuned up at White Hart Lane obviously in the squad. George Graham turned the clipboard over and my name was there next to Sol Campbell’s, so that was an amazing feeling and there was a lot of nerves and butterflies in the belly. I think that we were 2-1 down in the game and then we got a corner and it came out to the edge of the box, and it fell to me and I chested it and caught a bit of a half volley and Shaka Hislop just got a little finger on it and touched it onto the crossbar. So that would have been an unbelievable debut for me, but unluckily we lost that but I went on to play quite a few games on a run after that where we were undefeated for a while. So I think that my second game was in the quarter-finals of the League Cup against Man United at White Hart Lane which was a special night for me making my home debut in such a big competition against such a big team and managing to beat them, and there was an absolutely unbelievable atmosphere that night. 

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Luke: I was really lucky at Spurs to have some great coaches all of the way through really, and I had some really good youth coaches such as Bobby Arber and Patsy Holland and Des Bulpin. Then into the reserves you had someone like Chris Hughton who has gone on to be a fantastic Premier League manager, so it was a really good grounding at Spurs and I learnt how to become a footballer and how to deal with certain aspects of playing the game. I couldn’t have asked for anything more as my development and education as a footballer at Tottenham was fantastic. 

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

Luke: Obviously being a right-back and being three or four years younger than Stephen Carr, as I said I think that he was the best defender in the league at the time. So I used to watch him and his work rate and the way that he would train and put everything into it, and I used to go up against him in sprints to see how far off pf him I was. So I saw that as the level that you sort of had to try and get to if you’re  going to have a career in the Premier League, and so I always tried to push myself and I watched him carefully. Other than that it was a joy to play and train with David Ginola in training, but obviously completely different positions and different skill sets, but he was unbelievable to train with, and you used to watch him and some of the things of the things that he used to do on the training pitch was different class.

What was it like to be a part of the Spurs side that won the 1999 League Cup. And if possible could you talk me through your memories of that campaign?

Luke: Obviously that was my breakthrough season and as I mentioned the quarter-final was my home debut I believe, and I think that we won 3-1 against Man United and as a 19 year old who was training in the reserves with eight players a week before, to be playing in that game and beating some real big names in that United side was a bit surreal to be honest with you. I played about ten minutes or so in the semi-finals against Wimbledon which was two legged, and in the final I managed to make the bench which was still quite big for me, because I think that we left out a few senior players. At that age I was probably a little bit disappointed that I wasn’t playing but it probably felt like I would settle for a spot on the bench as I had only just settled into the side, but we have not won many trophies since then and I think that only another League Cup has been added. So you only realise how rare that victories going to be until you look sort of 20 years later and it’s still only one of only two cups. 

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

Luke: I was obviously playing in a variety of positions and under George Graham I think that I was playing left wing-back for a period of time, and my form was really good and I’d got myself into the side on a bit of a run. And just before the semi-final of the FA Cup that year George Graham was either sacked or walked, I can’t exactly quite remember. We then brought in Glenn Hoddle and I didn’t feel as though Glenn trusted me as much as George Graham did, and there was a few occasions where he played similar age players to me in a position that I thought that I could play better. I got offered a couple of new contracts off the club that really were a bit derisory really, they were offering me terms because I came through the youth and I’d played sort of 70 or 80 games by then, so they had two or three go’s at it and then I said that I’d like to leave because I had heard of Charlton’s interest. It was a little bit because I didn’t feel valued with the offers of the contract that I was being offered and also the major point really was because I felt at 22 almost that I needed to cement being a right-back, and that meant moving clubs because Stephen Carr was still at Spurs and I wasn’t going to get in in front of him. So I went to Charlton really to learn to play week in week out and every game, and I managed to go there for the first season and I found it tough doing that. It’s a learning curve when you’ve got to go out there Saturday, Tuesday and in cup competitions and you ended up playing 40 odd games on the bounce. So it was something that I probably needed to do to progress my career although it was a sad time to leave Spurs, and also a little bit sad because I felt that the contract offers that I was receiving were sort of way below what I deserved.

I didn’t go to Charlton on a lot of money but it was still about five times more than what Tottenham were offering me to stay, so I had to think about that as well. Following on from that I obviously had a great time at Charlton and it was really tough to stay in the league but we were a hardworking battling squad who knew what we were and what we needed to do. We introduced some good footballers along the way to make the team stay in the league for five seasons on the bounce, before unluckily we sort of went down in the sixth season. Then when we went down I went on to Middlesbrough and I absolutely loved it up there for one season playing under Gareth Southgate, who is a great man and he was a good manager. It was hard for him as he’d only just come out of being the captain of the club to being the manager so it was a difficult job to do as one minute you’re one of the lads and the next minute you’re the manager, but I really liked it up there and enjoyed my time. I would have stayed longer at Middlesbrough but for Aston Villa putting in a good offer that the club couldn’t really refuse, so I ended up going to Aston Villa for three years and again I loved it there. We had expectations and pressure to try and put some pressure on the top four and that didn’t quite happen, although I think that we finished sixth three years in a row, and I finished sixth twice in a row when I was there. They had been sixth the year before and also I think that they came ninth in my last year there, but again it was a fantastic squad that we had there and we had great players like Ashley Young, Downing, Milner and Gareth Barry and Gabriel Agbonlahor and Carew and Richard Dunne, all top top players, but the only thing was that we never had them all at the same time.

I feel like if we had had all of those players in the same season then we could have put a bit more pressure on the top four, but I loved my time there. Then I finished off at Queens Park Rangers where I had hip problems, and I knew that they were coming as I had them for sort of pretty much half of my career but it had got to the stage at QPR where they had become chronic. I had an operation but I couldn’t quite get back to that sort of elite level, so I played out the last couple of years just training with the under 23’s and not really being involved and that was tough. It was part of my career that I didn’t enjoy and it was actually sad but I couldn’t wait until the contract ran out, as I knew that I couldn’t get back to that elite level which I found tough going in every day and knowing that you’re not going to play and not going to be involved. And perhaps to be honest you’re not quite at that level anymore.

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

Luke: I’ve only got good memories of my time at Spurs, I’m a Tottenham supporter so to play for your side that you’ve supported since you were a kid, is actually quite unbelievable really. You don’t take it in at the time when you’re a young player, I’d played in FA Cup semi-finals two years on the bounce and you feel that there going to come around all of the time, but they don’t. You don’t actually appreciate things,  but when I’m looking back now to actually run out there and hear the Tottenham music going off before kick-off with the fans, and playing at White Hart Lane was just a dream come true. Obviously being at Spurs from the age of ten I learnt my trade there, and I’ve only got great things to say about the club.

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Luke: I never actually managed to play in a cup final or start a cup final, or win promotion as generally all of my games were in the Premier League. So the greatest moment of my footballing career would have been representing my country playing for England. As a young kid growing up and playing football I never thought that that would ever be possible to actually be lining up and singing the national anthem, really it was just unbelievable and that would be just the greatest moment of my footballing career. 

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

Luke: The greatest player that I felt like I’ve played with was David Ginola in the 1999 season where he was unbelievable, and I think that he won the PFA player of the year. I remember playing sometimes behind him and I was just watching and felt sorry for the right-back because he was just that unplayable at times, and a true pleasure to be on the pitch with. Also, obviously being in the England squad and playing a couple of games and looking at that team sheet with Gerrard and Lampard and Owen and Rooney and Beckham, and to say that I played a few games with these guys is a real pleasure.

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

Luke: I still say now that the youth team days were the best days of your life really, and it was so much fun being in it together with the other lads. We managed to win a couple of cup competitions when I was at Spurs, I think that we won the FA Floodlit Cup which is what it was called at the time, and we beat Norwich at White Hart Lane, and that was obviously a special moment. In the league I think that we always managed to come second or third and I don’t think that we ever won the league. It was a tough league with the Arsenal’s and the Chelsea’s of this world in there, but yet again I loved my time in the youth team and I was lucky enough to win a couple of cup competitions. I think that I was also voted the youth team player of the year which was obviously a lovely accolade to get as well, so yeah I have really fond memories of my time in the youth team.

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

Luke: My favourite memory of my time in the Tottenham first team would obviously be winning a trophy and being involved in that quarter-final against Man United, which was huge for me on my home debut. I think just playing for the club that you’ve supported all your life was massive, so that’s a huge thing that I look back on with pride now. I was actually disappointed that I never scored for Spurs so that would be one of my regrets but I think winning a cup competition would be one of the memories that stands out the most.

Who was toughest player that you ever came up against?

Luke: I would say that was probably Thierry Henry, although not directly up against me for the majority of the game, but for the last ten to 15 minutes of the match and generally in play as well. He would drift out to the left which meant that I would generally be picking him up for a while and at the time he was a great athlete compared to everybody else, and he would knock the ball ten to 15 yards past you and then put the afterburners on and there was no catching him. So I found him to sort of be one of the standout players of the Premier League era.

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

Luke: In the youth team days we had such a great group of lads and I was close to all of those guys, and I look back so fondly on my memories there. Moving on to sort of the reserves and the pro ranks I was close with Mark Gower who was a centre-midfield player who went on to play in the Premier League with Swansea and he’s a great lad. Also I was close with Stephen Clemence and we had a good few years where we would celebrate after games and go out together, as we didn’t live that far away from each other. I holidayed together with both of those guys as well and I still speak to them to this day, so yeah I was close to those two.

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

Luke: It’s really difficult as every player has got their own route that they take to get into the first team and I think that it’s all about just giving it absolutely everything you’ve got everyday in training, and looking at the players in your position. And also looking at the better players in the world of football and studying their game and trying to take bits and pieces away from you. You’ve got to try and be like a sponge but I think that first and foremost that you’ve got to be dedicated and everything’s got to be dedicated to football nowadays, because your contemporaries are trying to vie for that same position. If you’re not 100% on it and dedicated then somebody else will be and they’ll take your place. So I think that you’ve got to eat, sleep and breathe football really nowadays to get into the first team and manage to stay there.

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?

Luke: Like I said I’ve only got massively fond memories of my time at Tottenham the club that I supported as a boy, the club that I watched from the stands and watched on telly and listened to on the radio. Then to actually be standing in that tunnel with glory glory Tottenham Hotspur’s playing and you’re walking out and the hairs stand up on the back of your neck as a 19 year old was something that I’ll never forget. Obviously I’m absolutely delighted that I managed to pull on the famous white shirt of Spurs, a club that I still follow closely now, and a club that my son follows with me. As we speak now he’s running around in his Son shirt, so we’re still a household of Tottenham fans.

My interview with former Spurs player Paddy Stack:

(Paddy Stack is pictured on the extreme left of the top row.)

Paddy Stack predominantly played as a centre-half during his playing days for Spurs at youth level, during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. From nearby Walthamstow just like his old Spurs teammate David Sunshine, Stack often captained the Spurs youth team during his time at the club, and he also played for them in the South East Counties League, as well as playing for the Spurs reserve side on one occasion. After leaving Spurs the defender would play non-League football, playing for the likes of Woodford Town and Walthamstow Avenue. I recently had the great pleasure of interviewing Paddy to talk about his time at Spurs.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Paddy: My earliest football memories are when I was about ten in the junior school, and our headmistress in a Catholic school (they had nuns at the school) called sister Peters decided to form a football team, which we hadn’t had before. She taught us how to play football and so that’s how I got started, and so that’s my earliest memory.

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

Paddy: I think that I was recommended by my district schools coach, but when I hadn’t heard anything (he had said that he had said something to Spurs) I wrote to Spurs. And so I explained who I was and what I had done and what have you, and they invited me for a trial and there was at least 100 people like me there for this trial, and most of them stayed on for five to ten minutes or whatever, but I stayed there for the whole match. I was then taken on as a ground-staff apprentice professional which is what they called it then, but the odd thing about it was that I was 15 in the November, but they wouldn’t let me leave school until Easter. I never did understand that, and so the last three months of my schooling was an absolute total waste of time, because I wasn’t interested. When I eventually left in the Easter of course the season was virtually over, so when I got to Tottenham all of the other youth players had already gone on to a tour. So there was about two or three of us there at Spurs and that was all there was, so they stuck me in the ticket office throughout the summer, so I was handing out season tickets and doing paper work, as well as doing a bit of training now and again, and running up and down the steps. However, there was hardly anybody there and it was a strange atmosphere really, but if they’d have let me go on my birthday in the November or Christmas then I’d have been involved in all of that, but I wasn’t. From there we went on to pre-season training and I was pretty fit, and slim and agile and a good sportsman, but at the end of the first day of pre-season training I couldn’t get get out of bed, as everything hurt, so I really couldn’t move, but it was interesting.

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

Paddy: As a youngster the one that I liked most was Stanley Matthews, because he was a special dribbler and people didn’t dribble much in those days, as it was long balls from one end to the other from defence. So I was really keen on people like Stanley Matthews, but I didn’t get a chance to watch much football because we didn’t get a telly until I was about 11, but obviously Spurs was my first team because I lived in Walthamstow and they were the nearest. I’d been over to Spurs several times to watch them, and one day it was thick fog outside of my window and I thought well it must be clear at Tottenham, because I hadn’t heard anything. So I walked three miles across the marshes to Tottenham and by the time I’d got within 100 yards of the stadium you couldn’t see anything in front of you, literally there was smog everywhere. And so there was two or three of us all holding on to each other as total strangers, just to hold on to each other to keep safe, instead of going in the road or what have you. Of course when we got there the game was called off, but I was really keen in them days for watching Tottenham.

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

Paddy: Well I was centre-half and I mean I’d always been a centre-half but of course when I’d got to Tottenham I’d stopped growing by then for some reason. I was about five foot ten when I was about 11 or 12, and I was still five foot ten when I got to Tottenham at 15, so I wasn’t tall enough at that position. They did try me in a couple of other positions but I just couldn’t do it, and I wasn’t good enough at the other positions as I was just a basic defender. I could tackle well, I could run fast and I could anticipate things quite well but when they tried to get me to be a proper footballer and be clever no, I couldn’t do that. 

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Paddy: Well there were no influences really, because we didn’t have any coaching whatsoever, we did have training and gym work but there was nobody ever that told us how to do things. I played for the reserves once as they must have been missing a lot of players, so they stuck me in the reserves just for the one game and it was so totally different from us playing in boys football, because every time that the ball came to you you had somebody telling you what to do. One player or another would be pointing and talking to you, whereas before that I never had any of that and I didn’t know what to do, and so you just used your own initiative. So there were no big influences at Tottenham really, I wasn’t a loner as such but I was independent and so I made all my own decisions. My parents were never interested in football although my dad played for All-Ireland at hurling my mother told me, and nobody really talked about it, so I would have expected him to take a lot more interest in me than he did, but neither were interested really. When I went and played for the schools team and then the district team and county team and London, there was nobody ever that influenced me as how to play. Nobody told you what to do or how to improve yourself, so anyway that I could improve myself I did by heading. Because I knew that I was short for a centre-half so I used to tie a football in a net and hang it up on a high hook of some sort, and then try and reach it with my head. I spent hours jumping up and down to head the ball, but I don’t think that I was aggressive enough, as I was far too nice. If I barged somebody over then I’d spend five minutes picking them up again rather than getting on with the game.

So I don’t think I really wanted to become a professional footballer really, and so of course when we got called in by Bill Nicholson along with Dave Sunshine and Terry Lloyd, he called us three in. And he said that I don’t think you’re going to make it at this club at this time, so he said I’ll give you the opportunity to turn professional and stay on for another year and see how you go. The other two stayed on for the year and I said no I don’t fancy that and so I left, because there was no money in the game at the time and I’d already been told that I could earn more down the road working in a shop or something. So because I made all my own decisions I just sort of walked out really, I later went on to play for Woodford Town and I played there for a couple of years before going to Walthamstow Avenue and they were a good team at the time but I couldn’t really get in the first team there. I eventually ended up playing Sunday football, or Sunday and Saturday as I was playing on Saturday and Sunday every week at one time, but I don’t know if I’d have ever made it as I just was disinclined I think to try hard.

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

Paddy: No not really, because I was always independent and I was always captain for every team I played for, including Tottenham youth. I played for the Rep side in the South East Counties League alongside some other good players and so I didn’t take a lot of notice of other people, so yeah there was nothing there for me to influence myself or base myself on.

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

Paddy: Well as I said I left Spurs because I wanted to and I didn’t think that there was any future for me there but at least I gave it a try. Then when I went to non-League football and played for Woodford and Walthamstow I had a lovely time for quite a few years and thoroughly enjoyed myself, because it was less demanding and I was captain so what I said went. I made some really stupid decisions really, I got a bit blasé about it I think in the end, so I’ve never considered having a problem with leaving.

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

Paddy: It was ok, I mean I was disappointed about getting there late and missing the tour but other than that it was fine and I was playing quite well, and as I say I got into the Rep side. 

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Paddy: I suppose being take on by Spurs after that trial match, and so that’s the one that stands out. I won lots of cups and leagues and all that sort of thing, but I don’t remember them, so nothing was really important. When I was playing Sunday league football I got in the Rep side there of course, and I played against various teams including the showbiz team twice, which was good, and we also played against a jockeys team. When I was playing the showbiz team a helicopter landed on the pitch in the middle of a game as it was some celebrity/actor from a long time ago whose name I can’t remember, and he gave out the trophies afterwards. So little things like that stick in your mind but I can’t think of the greatest thing or anything that was outstanding.

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

Paddy: I shared a pitch with the whole of the Tottenham team obviously, and that was the year before the double so they were pretty good, and I’ve got lots of little stories about them. I suppose top internationals such as Bobby Smith and also Terry Dyson and people like that, and talking of Bobby Smith and Terry Dyson they had a snooker room at White Hart Lane, and during the summer while I was there virtually by myself I used to go in there and play. And when they came back off tour (the first team and everybody else) one day there was Bobby Smith and Terry Dyson playing snooker, and they were always rowing and were very combative, and I was playing on one table by myself and they were playing on another. All around the room they had pictures of past teams and stuff like that, and at one stage Terry Dyson got annoyed so much that he literally threw the cue like a javelin at Bobby Smith, and it missed him and smashed into one of these pictures, so yeah there were things like that that I remember. I played in a pre-season match against Bobby Smith and I was at centre-half and he was at centre-forward, and the first time a high ball came over he easily beat me although he was about the same height he would use his arms and legs, and so he virtually just pushed me out the way. So the second time that happened and a high ball came down the middle I thought I can’t let this happen as Bill Nicholson was standing watching. So I climbed all over the back of Bobby and my knees were in his back and my elbows were on his shoulders, and I headed the ball away and fell over as I did it. He came down and lifted me up and said don’t you ever do that again! And that scared the life out of me as he was the England centre-forward and I was only a 15 year old schoolboy virtually. So it’s things like that which I remember.

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

Paddy: I haven’t got any memories of it really, and I know that we played in various cups and leagues and stuff like that, but I can’t remember it now, as it’s just another team that I played for. 

Who was toughest player that you ever came up against?

Paddy: It’s got to be Bobby Smith, because I wasn’t at Tottenham for very long I didn’t come up against many tough players really, as in other leagues and teams that I played for I was always the toughest. I wasn’t dirty but I was aggressive and I didn’t like getting beaten, and that didn’t matter what team or league I was playing for, so yeah there’s nobody who I could really put down as the toughest.  

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

Paddy: No, I mean obviously I knew Dave Sunshine for a few years because we played everywhere together, and we both played for the schools team, and the Essex team and the district team and the London team, so where I was he was, or the other way round. So yeah I got to know him fairly well but he had no influence on me.

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

Paddy: Well just work hard and be determined, and you’ve got to want it in the first place as I think that I wanted it more for the glory than the football to be quite honest. I don’t know that but it’s just what I’ve realised over the years, but I could have done a lot better I don’t know, because I was independent so I made my own decisions and maybe walking out on Spurs was one of the wrong ones, but I had nobody who influenced me or who was tough with me. 

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?

Paddy: No, not really as it’s all a bygone age now and the whole thing (football) has changed now. There’s different pitches, a different ball and new rules and you can’t get away with anything now. 

Looking back at the talented Spurs under 18 side that won the Under 18 Premier League southern division during the 2013/14 season:

The 2013/14 season saw a very talented Spurs under 18 side win the Premier League under 18 league southern division. Under the tutelage of under 18’s coaches John McDermott and Kieran McKenna, Spurs’ under 18 side were fortunate enough to have a group of very talented and promising players on their books for the start of the 2013/14 season, a very memorable one for the players involved. Spurs started the season with a home game against Middlesbrough at Hotspur Way, which they won 4-0, thanks to a brace from striker Daniel Akindayini and goals from Luke Amos and Nathan Oduwa. Spurs would go on to win their next six league games, as they started the league season in sensational form. They did narrowly lose their first game of the season (2-3) to West Ham United at Hotspur Way, it was to be one of only six league games that they lost that season. With Luke McGee in goal as the main goalkeeper, the likes of Kyle Walker-Peters, Connor Ogilvie and Cameron Carter-Vickers in defence, Luke Amos and Josh Onomah in midfield, the fast and skilful Nathan Oduwa and Anthony Georgiou out on the flanks, and Shayon Harrison up front, Spurs had an excellent squad of players. From 31 league games we scored an incredible total of 82 goals, conceded 48 and won 19 of our matches. Going forward we were unstoppable that season, with the likes of Oduwa, Harrison and Georgiou all chipping in with a good amount of goals, our brand of football was very exciting. We recorded some memorable victories along the way to winning the southern division, we beat a talented Chelsea side (away) 7-2 in the April of 2014, we also beat Arsenal 4-2 and we beat Manchester City 4-1.

What is quite staggering from that squad of Spurs players that season is the amount of them who are still playing football at a high level. Kyle Walker-Peters is doing really well at Southampton at the moment, then there’s Harry Winks who is an England international who has played so many competitive games for Spurs, and there is also Luke Amos, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Kane Vincent-Young, Christian Maghoma, Luke McGee, Connor Ogilvie and Joe Pritchard who are currently playing in the EFL. You also have Anthony Georgiou, Filip Lesniak and Shayon Harrison who are enjoying good careers in Europe. They are just some of the players who have done really well to make a career in the game at a high level, which is of course a very difficult thing to achieve, and something that all of the lads at Spurs who are coming up the ranks at the club hope to achieve, and dream of achieving. It’s also very difficult to win the Under 18 Premier League southern division, and with such consistently talented teams such as Chelsea who have been dominant at this level for many years and also Arsenal, it just goes to show how talented and how good John McDermott and Kieran McKenna’s side were during the 2013/14 season. It was a really strong squad and competition for places in the side was also very strong, but there would have had to have been great team spirit in the side, for Spurs to have been so consistently good throughout the season. Winning the southern division that season meant that Spurs qualified for the play-offs which included the northern division sides that Spurs did also play during the regular season. Unfortunately Spurs were knocked out by Everton in the semi-finals of the play-offs, losing 1-0 at Goodison Park, in front of 1,450 people.

All of the coaches at Spurs during that season but also in the following seasons played a massive part in the careers of the Spurs under 18 side that won the southern division in 2014. And I must mention the late footballer, England international and Spurs development side head coach Ugo Ehiogu, for every player who played in that Spurs side and who also stayed on at the club and who played or was around the development side (under 19’s, 21’s and 23’s) for following seasons, Ugo helped to shape those young Spurs players into the footballers and people that they are today. A key member of that Spurs under 18 side that won the southern division during the 2013/14 season was Anthony Georgiou, who only very recently left Spurs. I asked Anthony to describe what it was like to play in the southern division that season and also be a part of that very talented Spurs side. The Cyprus international said “ as for the team we had so much quality in that team through the whole squad. Training was always at a very high level technically. I think we also had a very physically good team. We played very good football and didn’t change how we wanted to play for any team. On top of all that I think we had a very good group of people with a good atmosphere. ” In the following piece I will be looking back at every player that played for Spurs’ under 18 side in the league during the 2013/14 season, talking about what kind of player they are/were, providing some statistics and also looking at where they went after leaving Spurs (only two players from the side remain at the club – Harry Winks and Cameron Carter-Vickers). I shall be doing more of these types of articles in the very near future.

The team: 

Luke McGee: A very good shot stopper, goalkeeper Luke McGee was an exciting player, and was regarded as a very exciting prospect at Spurs, when on their books as a young goalkeeper. Edgware born and a Spurs fan, McGee signed scholarship terms with Spurs in the summer of 2012, part of a talented age group which included the likes of Harry Winks and Connor Ogilvie. McGee had made five under 18 league appearances during the previous 2012/13 season as a first year scholar. However, during the following 2013/14 campaign the tall, vocal and commanding goalkeeper became our under 18’s main goalkeeper, and he made 17 league appearances, becoming an important member of the team. The goalkeeper who was great at making good reaction saves at youth level at Spurs, would in fact make his senior competitive debut for Spurs in the following pre-season, before going on to play three more first team games (all non-competitive) during his time at the club. He would become the regular goalkeeper for our under 21 side and third choice goalkeeper at Spurs for a period of time at the club when Mauricio Pochettino was the manager of the club. McGee did go out on loans to Harlow Town (a work experience loan) and Peterborough United, with the latter one proving to be very successful. However, he left Spurs shortly after returning from his loan at Peterborough, and he signed for League One side Portsmouth in the summer of 2017. McGee made 55 competitive appearances for Portsmouth in all competitions and got an EFL Trophy winners medal during his time at the club. He spent a period of time on loan at Bradford City, before departing Portsmouth in 2020. The now 25 year old former England youth international is currently playing for League Two side Forest Green Rovers, where he is the clubs first choice goalkeeper.

Harry Voss: Goalkeeper Harry Voss was a first year scholar at Spurs during the 2013/14 season. From Welwyn in Hertfordshire, Voss made his competitive under 18’s debut for Spurs as a schoolboy during the previous 2012/13 season, but in the 2013/14 season he made ten league appearances for the club. Not a goalkeeper who played lots of competitive games during his time at Spurs as an Academy player, Voss would go on to play a fair bit in our good FA Youth Cup cup run during the following season, including in our semi-final second leg tie against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. A good goalkeeper, Voss also made some appearances for our development side and he impressed at the pre-season Tournoi Europeen for them, one pre-season in France. Harry spent a short period of time out on loan at Stevenage Borough as a back up goalkeeper, before leaving Spurs during the 2016/17 season. Voss then went to play for non-League side Bishop’s Stortford, before spending some time at Northwood on loan, and he most recently played for Hertfordshire based club Ware. While at Spurs Voss was part of the sides that won the Premier League Champions Cup and the IMG Cup in America. Voss also played in the under 18 Premier League play-off semi-final game against Everton at Goodison Park, at the end of the 2013/14 season.

Liam Priestley: A second year scholar at the time of the 2013/14 season, Rochford born goalkeeper Liam Priestley did spend some of the 2013/14 season out on loan with Norwich City where he played for their under 18 side, but he did play five games for Spurs in the league during the same season. The goalkeeper who did also play for Spurs’ under 21 side on occasions, ended up leaving the club that he spent seven years at, at the end of his contract in the summer of 2014. After leaving the club Priestley moved to America, where he combined playing for the Missouri State soccer team for four years up until 2018 (he won the goalkeeper of the year award there in 2017), while also studying at the same time, and during his time in Missouri he won the Premier League graduate Academy award. I don’t believe that Liam is still playing competitive football.

Channing Campbell-Young: A versatile player, defensive midfielder and then first year scholar Channing Campbell-Young made 14 league appearances for the Spurs under 18 side during the 2013/14 season, six of which came as a substitute. Campbell-Young (formerly of Interwood FC) in fact played predominantly as a right back for Spurs that season during those 14 league appearances, but that was to be  his only season at Spurs as a full-time player. Born and raised in Hackney in east London, Channing Campbell-Young departed Spurs in the summer of 2014 when he joined Bolton Wanderers. He played for Bolton’s under 18’s and 21 side for a while, primarily playing as a defensive midfielder, before leaving them and going to play in the non-League. Campbell-Young has so far played for Bromley, Billericay Town, Northwood, Marlow, Hendon, London Colney and most recently Staines Town during the 2018/19 season. However, the Londoner doesn’t appear to have played for any other clubs since 2019.

Cameron Carter-Vickers: Now 23 years of age and a full USA international (he was won eight caps so far), but back in the 2013/14 southern division winning season centre-half Cameron Carter-Vickers was playing for Spurs as a schoolboy, primarily for their under 18 side. The Southend born defender was a mainstay in John McDermott and Kieran McKenna’s side during the 2013/14 season, as he went on to play 26 times in the southern division for Spurs, scoring two goals. A talented centre-half with good ability on the ball, the defenders reading of the game and ability to intercept the ball were real strengths of his game at youth level along with being good in the air, and along with Christian Maghoma and Anton Walkes he was an important central defender for the under 18 side. Still on Spurs’ books and currently on loan at Bournemouth who he has made three appearances for so far this season, Carter-Vickers also played at left-back on occasions for the Spurs under 18 side in 2013/14. He rose through the ranks at Spurs well, and was soon playing regularly for the under 21 side as a full-time player at the club, and the former England youth international even made the bench for the first team as a second year scholar back in 2015. Carter-Vickers went out on his first loan in 2017, when he joined Sheffield United, and he has since had loan moves at Ipswich Town, Swansea City, Stoke City, Luton Town and now AFC Bournemouth in the Championship. The player who has so far made four competitive appearances for the Spurs first team, was very very good in the southern division in the 2013/14 and he adapted well to that level of football, and was a consistent performer as well. He has had some good loan moves away from Spurs so far, with the most notable one being at Luton Town last season where he was excellent, and helped them to avoid relegation to League One. Still only 23 years of age, the USA international has a very exciting future in the game to look forward to, in my opinion.

Christian Maghoma: Born in Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1997, but brought up in north London, centre-half Christian Maghoma was another consistent player for Spurs in the southern division in 2013/14, and he got plenty of game time as well. Like Carter-Vickers, Maghoma wasn’t full-time at Spurs during the 2013/14 season as he was still a schoolboy, but he stepped up and played under 18 football with ease during that particular season. Excellent in the air and strong in the challenge, Maghoma’s qualities as a leader in that side were evident early on. His constant encouragement and advice to his teammates would have undoubtedly benefitted them, as would have his organisation of the defence. Now an international for the Democratic Republic of the Congo national team (he made his one appearance for them in 2017) Maghoma played in that important play-off semi-final match against Everton at Goodison Park, which Spurs narrowly lost 1-0 at the end of the 2013/14 season. Making 18 league appearances for our under 18’s (scoring two goals) during the 2013/14 season, Maghoma would go on to make his competitive Spurs under 21 debut for Spurs during the following 2014/15 season. It was to be his first of over 60 competitive appearances for the Spurs development side during his time at the club, and he was a regular player for them for many seasons, also captaining the side on a really good number of occasions too. A former England youth international who was part of the last England side that won the Victory Shield, the tall and commanding central defender would leave Spurs at the end of the 2017/2018, at the end of his contract. He would move to Poland where he played for Polish top flight side Arka Gdynia, who he would play for on 39 occasions, until he left them last year.

The defender who is good on the ball and at bringing it out from the back, is now back in England where he is playing for League One club Gillingham, who he signed for at the start of the 2020/21 season. Maghoma has played 11 times in competitive competitions for Gillingham so far this season. 

Joe Muscatt: A hardworking fullback who could play on either side for our under 18 and 23’s team, during his time at Spurs. The former Interwood FC player was good in the challenge and also very versatile during his time at Spurs, and the player from Whipps Cross would made three appearances for our under 18 side as a schoolboy, during the 2013/14 season. Muscatt was a steady player at under 18 and 23 level for Spurs, and he was also a good crosser of the ball. He played a good number of games for Spurs’ under 18 side during the following 2014/15 season as a first year scholar (he also made his under 21’s debut during the following season), before playing for our under 23’s on occasions during the 2016/17 season. However, Muscatt left Spurs at the end of that season upon the end of his contract, and he joined then Championship side Bolton Wanderers for the start of the 2017/18 season, where he would play for their under 23 side. Muscatt did play for Bolton’s first team in a competitive game on one occasion during the following season, and he was also loaned out to Salford City during the same season (he made four competitive appearances for them). However, come the summer of 2019 Muscatt left Bolton and was without a club, but since the start of this season the now full Malta international has been playing for SC Paderborn II (Paderborn’s second team).

Connor Ogilvie: A physical and hardworking but skilled defender who I was always thought was good going forward as well as at defending, the player from Harlow in Essex was a second year scholar at Spurs during the 2013/14 season. The former England youth international made 20 southern division appearances during the league winning season, also scoring one goal for the team. Connor Ogilvie predominantly played at left-back during that season, although he also did fill in as a left sided centre-half on a good number of occasions. Ogilvie was arguably our best player during the southern division winning season, and he was another real leader in the side, who provided constant encouragement to his teammates. A strong player who was very capable of getting up and down the left flank at youth level for Spurs at a good pace, Ogilvie was probably the leader of the side, as an already experienced second year scholar. A player who could take a fine free-kick for Spurs at Academy level, Ogilvie was as solid and effective at centre-half as he was at left-back, and he was always a player who was and still is now just so efficient in what he does. It didn’t take Connor long before he established himself as a regular and important player in the then Spurs under 21 side, and he also signed professional forms with the club in 2014. Making many an appearance for our under 21 side, Ogilvie also played once for our first team during his time at the club, coming on as a substitute in Ledley King’s testimonial match at White Hart Lane in the May of 2014. Ogilvie went out on his first loan in 2015, joining Stevenage Borough, where he really impressed, making 22 appearances, scoring one goal. 

During the 2016/7 season Connor joined Stevenage on loan again, before stepping up a league during the following season when he joined League One side Gillingham on loan for the 2017/18 season. Another season on loan at Gillingham followed for Ogilvie, who continued to get regular game time for Gillingham, and he eventually joined them on a permanent basis in the summer of 2019. The defender has done really well for himself, and he has become a really important player for the club from Kent. Already having made 148 competitive appearances for Gillingham, scoring seven goals, Ogilvie was a very talented Academy player at Spurs, and it is great to see him doing so well in the game.

Chris Paul: Still a schoolboy during the 2013/14 season, Chris Paul made only two appearances for Spurs’ under 18 side in the southern division, scoring one goal. Paul was primarily a right-back, although he was a versatile player who could also play at centre-half. Born in Edmonton but raise in Barnet, Paul represented Northern Ireland at youth level (he was capped for them as high up as under 21 level), and he would sign scholarship forms with Spurs for the start of the following 2014/15 season. Later going on to play more competitive games for our under 18 side, and also some for our under 21’s as well, Chris Paul played for our under 18 side in the second leg of our FA Youth Cup semi-final tie with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in 2015. He was released by Spurs at the end of the 2015/16 season, and he joined Queens Park Rangers for the start of the 2016/17 season, where he would play for their under 23 side. He left Queens Park Rangers in 2018 after his contract came to an end, and he then joined then National League side Havant & Waterlooville. Paul spent two seasons at Havant & Waterlooville before leaving them last summer. He is now playing for National League South side in Hemel Hempstead who he is doing well at, mainly playing as a defensive midfielder.

Kane Vincent-Young: Camden born right-back Kane Vincent-Young (second year scholar during the 2013/14 season) made 10 appearances for the Spurs under 18 side during the 2013/14 season, primarily playing at right-back, although he did fill in at centre-half and at left-back on occasions. Vincent-Young had good pace and was good going at forward with the ball, and he was also good in defence as well. At the end of the 2013/14 season he left Spurs after his contract had come to an end, after spending seven years with the club. He joined non-League side Banbury United for a short time before Colchester United signed him, and he made 126 competitive appearances for Colchester during his time there, before League One club Ipswich Town signed him in 2019. Kane made nine competitive appearances for Ipswich and scored two goals, before getting injured, and although he didn’t play any more games for them during the 2019/20 season he did return to playing for them this pre-season (he played in their friendly against Spurs). However, the full-back who can play on either flank unfortunately picked up an Achilles injury during that pre-season, and he hasn’t played a competitive game for Ipswich so far this season. Still only 24 and a player with real potential to play in leagues higher up in England, hopefully Vincent-Young can return to playing again in the very near future, as he was doing very well before he got injured.

Kyle Walker-Peters: A highly skilful right-back who was very good and reliable on the ball and very difficult to disposes at Academy level for Spurs, Edmonton born defender Kyle Walker-Peters was another first year scholar during the 2013/14 season who impressed greatly over the course of the season. Walker-Peters made 25 southern division appearances during the season that we finished top of the league (he scored one goal), and the player who loved to take players on from wide positions during that season, also played at left-back and even in central midfield on one occasion. An England youth international who would end up being capped by his country all the way up to under 21 level, Walker-Peters also contributed a lot to the defence, with his well timed and strong challenges, as well as his fine reading of the game. With Walker-Peters on the right flank and Ogilvie on the left we were really potent going forward, but both players also remained defensively disciplined. Such was Kyle’s ability on the ball with his skill and quick feet, he would be used as a winger on occasions in the future at Academy level. A regular and very important player for John McDermott and Kieran McKenna’s side, Walker-Peters went on to rise up the various Academy ranks at Spurs (he was just as impressive when he used to play for the development side) before going on to make 24 competitive appearances for Spurs’ first team between 2017 and 2019. Kyle would initially join fellow Premier League side Southampton on loan until the end of the 2019/20 season, and he impressed during his time in Southampton. He joined the south coast club on a permanent deal in the summer of 2020, and he is now one of the first names on the Southampton team sheet, so far making 30 competitive first team appearances for them. I personally can see Walker-Peters becoming a full England international in the not so distant future.

Anton Walkes: A versatile and adaptable player, then first year scholar Anton Walkes made 24 appearances during the 2013/14 season, starting 18 of those games and scoring three goals. The Lewisham born player played as a defender (at right back and centre-back) and also in midfield for our under 18’s, but would later play as a centre-forward on occasions for our development side. Good at bringing the ball out from the back, and good in the air and in the challenge, Walkes was a real mainstay in the side that season. A good player technically, Anton is also a commanding defender and in 2013/14 he showed this throughout the season, putting in a number of very fine defensive performances. A future development side captain, Anton Walkes was another player from the southern division winning side who would work his way up the various ranks at Spurs. Walkes would become a regular player for the development side, playing in a great variety of positions, and whereever he played for Spurs at that level he always worked very hard for the team. Walkes featured in pre-season for Spurs’ first team in the 2016/17 season, putting in a notably impressive performance in an International Champions Cup game against Atlético Madrid in central defence. And during that season he would make his one and only senior competitive appearance for Spurs, when he came off the bench to feature in a League Cup third round tie against Gillingham at White Hart Lane in 2016. An impressive loan spell at American MLS side Atlanta United would follow during that 2016/17 season and he returned to Spurs halfway through the following 2017/18 season, where he made a couple of appearances for our under 23 side before joining Portsmouth on loan until the end of that season. 

Walkes joined League One side Portsmouth on a permanent transfer in the July of 2018, and during his two spells there he made 66 competitive first team appearances, scoring three goals and also getting an EFL Trophy medal. The Englishman left Portsmouth in January 2020 when he signed for Atlanta United on a permanent transfer, and the 23 year old has so far made 43 competitive appearances for them.

Luke Amos: A tenacious and intelligent midfield player with great potential, who made 12 appearances in the southern division in 2013/14. Former Ware FC player Luke Amos (former England youth international) played in both defence and in midfield from his 12 competitive league appearances. A defensive minded midfield player who can also contribute well to play in the final third, the Welwyn Garden City born player is really good at breaking up play and keeping the ball moving in the central areas of the pitch. The then first year scholar made more appearances for the under 18 side during the following season, before becoming a regular in the development side during the next couple of seasons. An exceptionally hardworking and versatile player, Luke made over 50 appearances for our development side and he also spent time out on loan with Southend United and Stevenage Borough which helped his development as a player. A player who would feature on a good number of occasions for Spurs’ first team in friendlies, Amos was a part of the Spurs under 21 side that won the Tournoi Europeen in France in 2017, before enjoying an excellent pre-season with the Spurs first team in 2018/19. A tenacious and real team player, Luke Amos made his one and only competitive Spurs first team appearance, when he came off the bench to play against Newcastle United in a Premier League game at the beginning of the 2018/19 season. Unfortunately Luke got injured playing in an under 23 game the following month, which ruled him out for the remainder of that season. However, he returned in time for the beginning of the following 2019/20 season, when he joined Championship side Queens Park Rangers on loan for the whole of that season. After impressing a lot on loan at Queens Park Rangers, Amos signed for them on a permanent basis in the summer of 2020, but really unfortunately Luke suffered a cruciate ligament injury early on in the 2020/21 season, which has ruled him out for the rest of the season.

Charlie Hayford: Watford born central midfielder Charlie Hayford made two appearances as a schoolboy for the under 18’s in the 2013/14 season. Like Amos, Hayford is a midfield player with a great work ethic, and who also has good ability, and who does his job efficiently in the centre of the park. Hayford signed scholarship terms with Spurs for the beginning of 2014/15 season, but sadly he missed quite a bit of that season through injury. Hayford did play more games for the under 18’s during his second year of scholarship, and he also made some appearances for the under 21 side, but he left the club in the summer of 2016 after his contract came to an end. He joined Sheffield Wednesday for the start of the 2016/17 season, playing for their under 23 side, before then moving to South Africa for a period of time to play for Bidvest Wits. However, Charlie returned to England and he has been enjoying a good career in the non-League, playing for Hemel Hempstead, Biggleswade Town, Chesham United, Barton Rovers, Bedford Town, Baldock Town, Hitchin Town and most recently Northwood FC.

Cy Goddard: Chelsea born but raised in Pimlico, midfielder and former Japan youth international Cy Goddard’s technical ability and creativity made him another important player for under 18’s in 2013/14, and from his 19 league appearances he scored two goals for the team. Goddard’s low centre of gravity, hard work, and eye for a forward pass meant that he was an important creative outlet in the side, regardless of whether he was playing as a central midfielder or as a CAM. A skilful and very tidy player who used his skill to good effect, the then first year scholar rose up the Academy ranks at Spurs to play for the development side in competitive games on over 35 occasions, Cy Goddard scored one goal for development side, and it was a sumptuous volley against Leicester City’s under 21 side in the 2015/16 season. Goddard left Spurs at the end of the following 2016/17 season, and he joined Italian side Benevento Calcio in the summer of 2018 (he has so far made two competitive appearances for them). He joined Cypriot First Division side Pafos FC on loan in the September of 2019 and made six competitive appearances for them. Still a Benevento player, Goddard is currently on loan at Indian Super League side Mumbai City, who he has made nine competitive appearances for to date.

Filip Lesniak: Another versatile player in the under 18 side in the 2013/14 season, former Slovakian under 21 international Filip Lesniak was a stalwart of the side, making 24 league appearances during the 2013/14 season. A really reliable and consistent player at under 18 level, the midfielder from Kosice was a second year scholar in 2013/14 and he already had plenty of experience playing competitive under 18 football during the previous season. Primarily a defensive midfielder, but a player who could also fill in in defence as he did on a couple of occasions during the 2013/14 season, Lesniak did a really good job at protecting the back four and also breaking up play, and keeping the ball moving in the central areas of the pitch. Also a regular at under 21/23 level for Spurs (he also spent a period of time on loan at Slovan Liberec), Lesniak made over 50 competitive appearances for Spurs at this level. He would go on to make one competitive appearance for Spurs, coming on as a substitute in a Premier League game against Leicester City in the May of 2017, and Lesniak registered an assist in that game after setting up a Harry Kane goal as Spurs won 6-1. Filip left Spurs at the end of that season and joined Danish side AaB Fodbold, who he made 44 competitive appearances for. Lesniak (24) has since played for Silkeborg IF on loan, and he is currently playing for Polish Ekstraklasa side Wisła Płock, who he has so far made 17 competitive appearances for. 

Will Miller: A former England under 18 international with great balance, skill and vision, attacking midfielder Will Miller scored seven under 18 goals for Spurs from 25 league appearances in 2013/14, also registering a good number of assists. A former actor, the Londoner was a really clever and creative player in McDermott and McKenna’s side, and he played in a variety of positions in 2013/14, playing as a left winger, CAM and central midfielder, and also captaining the under 18 side on occasions as well. The former Leyton Orient youth player was a tricky player with very quick feet, whose footballing brain was very good in my opinion. Now retired from playing the game and currently involved in the music and film industry, Will Miller would rise up the ranks at Spurs to play well over 40 competitive games for our development side, and I always thought that he replicated his under 18 form at both under 21 and 23 level. Of slight build and never the most physical of players, Miller more than made up for it with his skill and intelligence on the pitch, and I always thought that he was quite a quick player who also had a nice weight of pass. He would play for Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs first team on occasions in friendlies although he would never play for them in a competitive game. Miller had a loan spell with Burton Albion during the 2016/17 season before signing for them on a permanent basis during the 2017/18 season. In total Miller made 54 competitive appearances for Burton Albion before retiring from the game in 2019.

Josh Onomah: A direct and skilful midfielder with a good eye for a forward pass, Josh Onomah showed his quality at his new club Fulham throughout last season (2019/20). The former England youth international who was capped up to under 21 level for his country and who also won the 2017 Under 20 World Cup with England, was excellent at youth level for Spurs. With his influential driving forward runs from midfield and good weight of pass, the player from Enfield was soon playing regular under 21 football for Spurs after signing scholarship terms with the club in the summer of 2013. However, in the 2013/14 season Josh Onomah made 17 southern division appearances (he mainly played in central midfield) for Spurs’ under 18’s, scoring one goal. Having already played competitive under 18 football in the previous two seasons before 2013/14, Onomah was another player who provided the side with invaluable experience. Going on to make 32 competitive appearances (scoring one goal) for Spurs’ first team after making his debut for them in an FA Cup third round replay against Burnley at White Hart Lane in January 2015, Onomah had loan spells with Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday before leaving Spurs on a permanent basis to sign for then Championship side Fulham for the 2019/20 season. The dynamic midfielder was instrumental in helping Fulham to get promoted to the Premier League via the Championship play-offs, and Onomah has so far made 45 competitive appearances for Fulham, but an injury before the start of the 2020/21 season meant that he wasn’t registered to play for the first half of this seasons Premier League. However, he is now back and making Premier League match day squads again, and will hopefully get a good run in the team during the remainder of the season.

Josh Onomah is another player from that squad who I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see play for England in the future, as he certainly has the quality to play for them.

Charlie Owens: Islington born former Northern Ireland youth international Charlie Owens was a schoolboy during the 2013/14 season, but he stepped up to play for the under 18’s in the southern division on two occasions. The former Clissold Rangers player who plays as a central midfielder, is a bit like current Spurs under 23 player Jamie Bowden in his style of play, in certain ways. A good passer of the ball, Owens is also a player with a good work ethic and a real tenacious side to his game, and he demonstrated this at both under 18 and development side level during his time at Spurs. Owens signed scholarship terms with Spurs for the start of the 2014/15 season, and he would go on to make a good number of appearances for our under 18’s and development side in the following seasons. The defensive minded midfielder left Spurs at the end of the 2016/17 to join another London club in Queens Park Rangers, where he initially played for their under 23 side, before so far going on to make three competitive first team appearances for them so far. Owens also spent some time on loan at Wycombe Wanderers.

Joe Pritchard: An industrious central midfielder who also has a good creative side to his game, Watford born player Joe Pritchard could also play out on the right at youth level for Spurs, and also as a CAM. Pritchard made 16 southern division appearances for Spurs in 2013/14, scoring two goals, and the then first year scholar   would mainly play in central midfield during that season. Joe Pritchard played again for the under 18’s in the next season (2014/15) and he was making really good progress at the club until he suffered a bad injury in a southern division game against Norwich City at their Colney training centre, which set him back. However, he showed the resilience to come back from that injury to return during the 2015/16 (in a friendly against Brentford) season as a first year professional. Pritchard made over 60 appearances for our development side up until leaving the club at the end of the 2017/18 season (he was very good for our under 23 side that season, and he often captained them). He joined Bolton Wanderers for the start of the 2018/19 season and he made five competitive appearances for the Lancashire club before leaving them at the end of that season. However, the midfielder has since joined League One side Accrington Stanley who he has made 63 competitive appearances for, and has been directly involved in over 20 goals for them, and he is doing really well for them.

Lloyd Ross: Playing in a number of positions from 12 appearances (he scored one goal) for our under 18 side during the 2013/14 season, Harlow born midfield player Lloyd Ross was a first year scholar back in the southern division winning season. However, after some making some more appearances for the under 18 side during the following season, the team player with good ball control left Spurs in the summer of 2015. Ross went to the Franklin Pierce University in America, before returning to England and joining Billericay Town for a period, and he has also played for Walthamstow FC, but since then I don’t think that that the versatile player has played for anybody else.

Zenon Stylianides: A tenacious and hardworking central midfielder who can also fill in at left-back, north Londoner Zenon Stylianides from Edmonton near White Hart Lane, made three appearances for Spurs’ under 18 side in 2013/14. A player who I always liked, as he had skill and was always willing to make that extra run for the team, Stylianides was a schoolboy in 2013/14, and he didn’t sign scholarship forms until the end of that season. The player who is eligible to represent Cyprus at international level, was a regular at under 18 level during the next two seasons, before stepping up to play for the Spurs under 23 side in the 2016/17 season. However, Zenon left Spurs at the end of that season after his contract came to an end, and he ended up joining Queens Park Rangers, where he played for the clubs under 23 side up until leaving them in the summer of 2018. Stylianides then joined Cypriot Second Division side Omonia Aradippou, and he played for them until July 2019, when he returned to England. This season the midfielder had been playing for Isthmian Premier Division side East Thurrock United, up until their season was paused last year. 

Kash Wallace: A trialist from Arsenal, who played just one game for Spurs’ under 18 side during the 2013/14 season. Kash Wallace came on as a late substitute (he replaced Joe Muscatt) against Norwich City in the 2013/14 season, playing the closing stages of the game at left-back. I was unable to find out where the former Arsenal Academy player went after returning to Arsenal, and I am not sure whether he is still playing the game. 

Harry Winks: Always a composed and reliable player for our under 18’s, central midfielder Harry Winks from Hemel Hempstead, made 14 appearances for our under 18 side in 2013/14, scoring four goals. Always a very tidy player who is efficient and effective at his job, the now 24 year old midfielder is the player from the 2013/14 squad who has made the most first team appearances for Spurs. A second year scholar at Spurs in 2013/14, Winks divided his time playing under 18 and under 21 football during the season. A former England youth international turned full international (he has won eight caps for his country so far), Winks primarily played in central midfield for McDermott and McKenna’s side. Winks quickly worked his way up the ranks at Spurs, and by the 2014/15 season he had already made his Spurs first team debut. A player with good pace, who reads the game well and who also is very good at making accurate passes, Winks has made a further 161 competitive first team appearances for Spurs, started in a UEFA Champions League final and also captained the team that he has always supported. He has done exceptionally well to achieve all of that in his relatively short career so far, and he still has a lot to look forward to in the game.

Anthony Georgiou: A left winger with outstanding pace, Cyprus international (he has won seven caps so far) Anthony Georgiou was a key player for Spurs in the southern division during the 2013/14 season. Georgiou chipped in with eight goals from 26 southern division appearances, as well as setting up plenty of goals for his teammates. Born in Lewisham but brought up in Potters Bar not far from Hotspur Way, Georgiou’s direct and strong running down the left flank caused lots of problems for opposition defenders throughout the 2013/14 season (he played both as a winger and a full-back), and his hard work and tracking back to help out the defence proved invaluable over the course of the season. A very unselfish player, the former Watford Academy player was one of the most influential attacking players, and his creativity from out wide (he is a great crosser of the ball) helped to provide a good number of goals for the Spurs forwards. Georgiou stepped up to play for the under 21 side in 2013/14, he made over 50 competitive appearances for our development side during his time at the club, and he would go on to become an important player for them in future seasons. He would play for Spurs’ first team three pre-seasons in a row starting from the summer of 2017, and Anthony would also make one competitive first team appearance for Spurs, coming off the bench in a UEFA Champions League group stage game against APOEL Nicosia in Cyprus. After a long time in north London, the now 23 year old departed Spurs to sign for Cypriot First Division side AEL Limassol earlier this month. He made his debut for them against Ermis last Friday. 

Armani Daly: Winger Armani Daly (able to operate on either flank despite being right footed) made three southern division appearances for Spurs in 2013/14 as a schoolboy. Daly signed scholarship forms with Spurs at the end of the season, and the player who could link the play well and who worked hard from out wide, would spend the next two seasons almost exclusively with our under 18 side, bar the odd appearance for our under 21’s. Daly left Spurs at the end of the 2015/16 season, and after trialling with a number of clubs he stopped playing football.

Nathan Oduwa: Central London born winger Nathan Oduwa (then second year scholar) was an incredibly skilful forward who could produce moments of magic on the pitch for Spurs at Academy level (he spent part of his first year at the club out on loan at West Brom). With pace, outstanding skill and an eye for goal, Oduwa’s ten goals (he scored some important ones over the course of the season) from 24 southern division appearances made him a key player. Able to get past defenders with ease, Oduwa is an extremely unpredictable player who is capable of producing the spectacular, and the former England youth internationals great balance and pace makes him very difficult to defend against. Oduwa would become a development side mainstay in future seasons, and he would also go on to play once for the Spurs first team, coming off the bench to feature for Spurs in Ledley King’s testimonial at White Hart Lane. Nathan would play for Luton Town, Colchester United, Peterborough United and Rangers on loan, before leaving Spurs in 2017 to play for Slovenian side NK Olimpia Ljubljana, before then playing for Danish team Vejle Boldklub. He would later play for Israeli side Hapoel Hadera and Irish side Dundalk, but for now he is currently without a club after his contract with Dundalk ended after the end of their most recent season. 

Emmanuel Sonupe: A fast, skilful, direct and effective winger who made a good impact on the under 18 side in 2013/14, as he helped them to win the southern division, Emmanuel Sonupe scored five goals (three of those came in a 4-0 win over Stoke City) from 22 southern division appearances. A traditional winger like former teammate Anthony Georgiou, who likes to take players on and whip crosses into the box, the then second year scholar who was born in Denmark Hill, south London, played both on the left and right flank during the 2013/14 season for our under 18 side. Sonupe would later become a regular starter for Spurs’ old under 21 side, and he also went out on loan for a period of time with Scottish side St Mirren. Emmanuel left Spurs in the summer of 2016 after his contract came to an end, he then joined EFL club Northampton Town who he made four appearances for, before joining Kidderminster Harriers on loan. Sonupe has since played for Stevenage who he made 51 appearances for and Yeovil Town who he is currently playing for, and he has so far made five appearances for the National League club.

Daniel Akindayini: Our top scorer during the 2013/14 season, centre forward and then second year scholar Daniel Akindayini scored 15 goals (he scored a hat-trick against Wolverhampton Wanderers in a 5-1 win) from 27 southern division appearances. A good finisher who is also good in the air and able to hold the ball up well, Akindayini was promoted to the Spurs under 21 side for the following 2014/15 season. However, the former Spurs striker left the club after the end of that season, and he would join Brighton where he would play for their development side. Since leaving Brighton in the summer of 2016 Akindayini has played for Margate, Norwegian side FK Gjovik-Lyn, Dutch side Hoek, AFC Hornchurch, Great Wakering Rovers, Cheshunt and Haringey Borough, a side that Daniel was playing for up until this seasons Isthmian Premier Division was paused last year.

Shayon Harrison: A skilful forward with an impressive goal scoring record for Spurs at youth level, Hornsey born player and then first year scholar Shayon Harrison was prolific at under 18 and development side level for Spurs, during his time at the club. A centre forward with good movement off the ball, Harrison can also play as a CAM or out wide on the flanks. Harrison scored 12 goals from 22 southern division appearances in 2013/14, and the player who made one competitive appearance for Spurs’ first team in a League Cup fourth round tie against Liverpool in 2016 (he also featured for them in the 2016/17 pre-season), would become a very important player for Spurs’ under 23 side. Shayon went on loans to Yeovil Town, Southend United and Melbourne City FC during his time at Spurs, but he left the club at the end of his contract which came to an end in the summer of 2019. Harrison joined Dutch Keuken Kampioen Divisie side Almere City FC that summer, and he has since made 33 competitive appearances for them, scoring eight goals.

Ryan Loft: Signed from non-League side Ebbsfleet United (he had played for Dartford before that) not too long before that 2013/14 season, tall and physical centre forward Ryan Loft is a player who is good at holding up the ball and and at getting himself in the oppositions penalty area, and causing problems for defenders, as well as playing with his back to goal. Loft is particularly good in the air which is where he scores a good amount of his goals. In the 2013/14 season he was a schoolboy at Spurs, but he still made three southern division appearances, scoring one goal. Loft scored a good number of goals at under 18 level for Spurs after joining the club full-time in the summer of 2014, and he would later go on to play for their under 21 and 23 side. The player from Gravesend went out on loan to Braintree Town, Stevenage and Exeter City before leaving Spurs at the end of the 2017/18 season, after his contract came to an end. Loft joined Leicester City on a two year contract that summer, and he would play for their under 23 side during his time at Leicester.  He went out on loan to Carlisle United before leaving Leicester City at the end of the 2019/20 season. Loft is currently playing for League Two side Scunthorpe United, who he currently has seven goals for from 28 competitive appearances.

My interview with former Spurs player Bobby Scarth:

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

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

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

What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs?

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

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

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

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

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

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

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

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

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

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

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

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My interview with former Spurs player James Yeboah:

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

What are your earliest footballing memories?

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

What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs?

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

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

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

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

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

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

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

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

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

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

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

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you now officially retired from playing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My interview with former Spurs player Gary Hyams:

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

What are your earliest footballing memories?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

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

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

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

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

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

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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