A profile of every player to have played for Spurs during the Second World War: (part 1)

A profile of every player to have played for Spurs during the Second World War: (part 1)

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(Pictured above is war time guest Bobby Browne).

This year marks exactly 75 years since the Second World War came to an end, a period of great tumult and tragedy during the 20th century for the whole of the world. For England the country went through an awful lot however, surprisingly for some football did go on despite what was happening all around. With the LWL (London War League) and the FLS (Football League South) just some of the competitions going on throughout the war years in the absence of the Football League which was suspended. The club took part in such competitions despite the fact that many of their players had been posted all over the British isles, and in some cases across the planet. Like all the other first division clubs at the time, Spurs resorted to fielding a large number of guest players who ranged from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Some were big players and household names, others weren’t as such and therefore it was difficult to source much information about them and their footballing careers. As it is the 75th anniversary of the ending of the Second World War I thought that I’d mark this anniversary by writing a profile of every player to have represented Spurs throughout the war from when it started in 1939. Some profiles are considerably shorter than others due to the lack of information on some players and the vast amount of guest players who played for us. 

This certain lack of information even goes as far to not knowing certain players first names. As there were a great number of players who played and guested for Spurs during this period, I thought that it would be best if I did this project/piece in several parts to make it easier for people to read. I simply would not have been able to write these articles without purchasing Bob Goodwin’s excellent and extremely informative book the Spurs Alphabet which I would highly recommend to all Spurs fans. The book provides invaluable information about players who played for Spurs during the war and it also provides important statistics and information. Such as the amount of appearances that players made for the club and where players were born. The Spurs Alphabet was an important source which helped me to write the following piece. Various historical online documents also proved very helpful in writing this series of articles. While I have tried my utmost to make these pieces as accurate and informative as possible, if anyone does spot any historical errors I do apologise and would appreciate being informed.

George Burchell: A fullback or central defender by trade, who only made one appearance for Spurs during the war. This came for George Burchell in an FLS game away at Watford in December 1939. Burchell was with Romford when he signed for Spurs as an amateur in the August of 1935. He did however, continue to play for the ‘ Boro ’ and when the war came he guested for Reading, Darlington and Middlesbrough before finishing his career off with Walthamstow Avenue who he played for after the war was over. Burchell also represented Essex and the Athenian league, and in addition to this he won 16 amateur caps for England between 1935-36 and 1946-47. Remarkably the fullback who was the captain of England Amateurs for a number of years, was one of the smallest central defenders ever to play international amateur football, but this didn’t stop him from being effective on the pitch. A tough tackling defender, Burchell also kept very good positioning on the field of play. In one of the games in which George Burchell captained England Amateurs against Wales, over 12,000 people were in attendance to watch them play at Dulwich Hamlet’s Champion Hill ground.  

Doug Hunt: Born in the Hampshire village of Shipton Bellinger in 1914, centre forward Douglas Arthur Hunt started his footballing career with Winchester City  in the Hampshire league. He took over the number nine shirt from future Arsenal legend Ted Drake who had transferred to Southampton. However, after being scouted by Spurs, Doug Hunt joined the Lilywhites in 1934, playing with Spurs’ nursery side Northfleet United to begin with before eventually making his senior debut for Tottenham in a first division game against Grimsby Town on Christmas Day of that year (Spurs lost 3-0). During the three seasons that Hunt was on the books of Spurs he always found himself behind the prolific George Hunt and also Johnny Morrison in the pecking order. However, Hunt was unlucky in a respect, as he was a very clinical finisher at reserve team level for Spurs. In total the centre forward made 19 competitive appearances for Tottenham scoring six goals during his time in north London. After transferring to second division Barnsley for a fee of £1700 in March 1938, Hunt scored 15 goals in 29 appearances for the Yorkshire club before transferring to Sheffield Wednesday after one season at Barnsley, in 1938. At Sheffield Wednesday Hunt was a consistent performer and goal scorer, and in one such league game against Norwich City he scored a remarkable total of six goals. However, the war came (Hunt scored 30 goals in 42 competitive appearances for Sheffield Wednesday) and the striker left the ‘ Owls ’ to guest for a number of clubs in the south of England, of which included Aldershot, Fulham, Brentford where he won the London War Cup in 1942 and Spurs who he returned to, to make five appearances for (he netted seven goals from those five appearances). After the war ended Hunt finished his playing career with Leyton Orient before moving into management. He took charge of Gloucester City and Tonbridge, taking the latter to the Southern League Cup finals in both 1955 and 1957.

Hunt would later move on to Yeovil Town aa a trainer/coach and he would spend more than 25 years at the Somerset based club until retiring in 1986 (he was given a testimonial by the club ten years earlier). Doug Hunt passed away three years later at the age of 75.

Sid Ottewell: Born in Horsley, Derbyshire in 1919 Sydney Ottewell captained the Derbyshire Schools Football team during his youth, before beginning his senior footballing career with Holbrook Colliery Welfare. The inside forward later joined Chesterfield in 1936 and made his competitive senior debut for the then second division outfit in a league game against Blackburn Rovers, aged 17 in 1937.  Ottewell’s career like many other English footballers was disrupted by the start of the Second World War, and during the war he served as a Physical Training Instructor in the Royal Air Force. Sid also guested for a number of clubs during that period, of which included Birmingham City, Blackpool, Fulham and Spurs. The inside forward who stood at five foot, seven inches tall, played his one and only game for Spurs in an FLS game against London rivals Chelsea in the May of 1940 (he operated as an outside left). After the war Sid had a good career in the game and he played for Birmingham City, Luton Town, Nottingham Forest, Mansfield Town, Scunthorpe United, Whitstable Town and Spalding United (player mangaer). After he finished playing Ottewell turned his hand to management, taking charge and doing well at Bourne Town and Lockheed Lemington (his long time in charge there made Ottewell the longest serving Lemington manager of the modern era). At Lockheed Lemington the former footballer won the Midland League tittle in the 1965-65 season. In later life Sid resided in Newthorpe and at one stage he was believed to be Nottingham Forest’s oldest surviving former player. He passed away at the age of 92 in 2012.

Vic Woodley: Next on the list of footballers to have played for Spurs during the Second World War is a Chelsea legend. Victor Robert Woodley was a highly talented goalkeeper who made over 250 senior competitive appearances for the ‘ blues ’ during a 13 year spell. Woodley, who was born in Cippenham, Berkshire in 1911, played for a couple of clubs including Cippenham before joining Windsor and Eton in 1930, in the the old Spartan League. However, it was playing for the Athenian League against Berks and Bucks that Woodley was scouted by Chelsea in 1931 (he was also scouted by Aldershot but he turned them down) and he joined the west London club in the same year. A goalkeeper who anticipated situations and read the game really well, Woodley made his competitive debut for Chelsea the following year. A member of the famous ‘ Blues ’ side of the 1930’s, Woodley helped to keep Chelsea in the first division and in the process he kept Scotland’s number one goalkeeper John Jackson out of the team. Woodley also won 19 caps in total for his country, England and he was a part of the side that toured Germany in 1938. The goalkeeper remained at Chelsea throughout the Second World War however, he did guest for a number of clubs during this period. Those clubs were Brentford, Brighton and Hove Albion and Spurs. During his very brief time at Spurs Woodley played a single game for the Lilywhites, that came in an FLS game against Fulham in the April of 1940. Vic, who played in Chelsea’s historical friendly match against Soviet side Dynamo Moscow after the war had ended, was released by Chelsea shortly after that game. Woodley briefly linked up with Bath City before going back to the first division to play for Derby County. While there Woodley made 30 appearances for the ‘ Rams ‘ in all competitions and he was a member of the side that won the 1946 FA Cup. After finally retiring from playing professionally he rejoined Bath City who he served as player/manager until 1949. The former Chelsea legend passed away in Bradford on Avon in 1978.

W.Arnold: A player who made only a sole appearance for Spurs during the war, W.Arnold (I was unable to source his first name) was a player who operated as a winger. Interestingly however, Spurs were due to play Leicester City in an FLS game in May of 1941, but they had only turned up to the East Midlands with ten men. Leicester kindly agreed to lend one of their junior players (W.Arnold) to Spurs for the game. This was to be the only time that Arnold turned out for the Lilywhites. It is unknown who Arnold played for after leaving Leicester.

Ken Burditt: Yet another player who Leicester City agreed to let Spurs have for the FLS game at Filbert Street in May of 1941 due to having a lack of players to play the game (this was to be Burditt’s only appearance for Spurs). Ibstock born Frederick Charles Kendall Burditt was on Colchester United’s books when he turned up at Filbert Street ready to guest for the ‘ Foxes ’ against Spurs (Burditt was back in the Midlands during the war to work as a coal miner after being posted there during the war). An inside forward by trade who started his footballing career with Ibstock Penistone Rovers before going on to play for a couple of other clubs before going on to sign for Norwich City in October of 1930. Burditt spent six years at the ‘ Canaries ’ making 173 competitive appearances, before moving to London club Millwall in 1936. During his first season at the ‘ Lions ‘ the inside forward scored a fine total of 25 goals and he also played a part in Millwall making the semi-finals of the FA Cup. After leaving Millwall Ken Burditt would play for Notts County and Colchester United, before returning to Norwich City to guest during the Second World War, as well as guesting for Leicester City and Spurs. After the Second World War had finished, Burditt’s time working down the pits had taken its toll on his body and meant that he was unable to continue to play football in the Football League. He did however, play for Ibstock Colliery, Pegsons and Penistone Rovers as player-manager even when he was in his 50’s. It was at Penistone that he ended his footballing career. Ken Burditt passed away in his home town of Ibstock, Leicestershire in 1977 at the age of 70.

Doug Flack: Douglas W Flack was born in Staines in October of 1920 and attended Spring Grove Grammar School where he started his footballing journey. Recommended to west London side Fulham by teacher and former Fulham player Bernard Joy, Flack who operated as a goalkeeper joined the ‘ Cottagers ’ as a ground-staff player in 1935 to start an almost 20 year association with the club. However, Flack only really had one season where he was the number one goalkeeper for Fulham, that came in the 1948/49 season. He guested for a number of clubs during the Second World War of which included Brentford, Portsmouth, Reading and Spurs who he made five appearances for in the autumn of 1940. Doug Flack remained at Fulham after the war ended, staying there until 1953 before he went to join Walsall. After leaving the Midlands based club Flack then retired and took charge of Corinthian Casuals as a coach, and he took them to the FA Amateur Cup Final during his first season in charge. He would later manager London side Tooting and Mitcham before retiring from the game in 1970.

Les Henley: Lambeth born inside forward Leslie Donald Henley started his footballing career with non-league side Nunhead in 1938. Henley would later play for Margate before joining Arsenal as an amateur in 1939, and he made his one and an only competitive senior appearance for them in an FA Cup game in 1946 (he also played 97 times for them during the war). During the war Henley guested for Brentford, Brighton And Hove Albion, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Northampton Town, Queens Park Rangers, Reading, West Ham United and Spurs. For Spurs he made just two appearances, one of those incidentally (Henley’s debut) came in an FLS game against Arsenal in the October of 1940 however, it was brought to an abrupt end at the interval due to the air raid sirens sending out a warning. In his second appearance for Spurs against Aldershot, he scored one of Tottenham’s goals. In 1946 Henley joined Reading and he would go on to make close to 200 competitive senior appearances for the ‘ Royals ’. Then in 1953 he took the trip across the Irish Sea to manage Bohemians before returning to England in 1955 to manage Wimbledon who he took charge of for almost 16 years. Henley made Wimbledon flourish and they became one of the top amateur sides in the country during this period (they won four Isthmian league titles and an FA Amateur Cup as they progressed into the professional game). Les Henley passed away in May of 1996.

 

Taffy O’Callaghan: A Tottenham Hotspur legend who dazzled as an inside forward for the Lilywhites after joining Spurs during the mid 1920’s. Eugene O’Callaghan was born in Ebbw Vale, Wales to Irish parents in October of 1906. Taffy O’Callaghan began his footballing journey with Victoria United (Ebbw Vale’s junior side) before progressing up to Ebbw Vale’s reserve side. He divided his time playing football as well as working in the pits. O’Callaghan was scouted by Spurs and initially invited to join the ground-staff in 1925 however, he was soon farmed out to nursery clubs Barnet and Norhtfleet United who he did very well at. A bright spark during a dark time for Spurs during the late 1920’s as well as in the early 1930’s, the inside forward made his competitive senior debut in a Football League game against Everton in January of 1927. O’Callaghan was adept with both feet, had a good shot at his disposal, and he was also capable of dribbling with the ball at speed. The young footballer adapted well to life at Spurs and it didn’t take him long to make his mark on the club. An accurate passer of the ball who also had a creative side to his game, O’Callaghan also scored a lot of goals for Spurs (121 in 313 appearances). A player who was described by journalists at the time as an artist, he enjoyed many fine years at Spurs and the Welshman was a key member of manger Peter McWilliam’s Spurs side which was known as the ‘ Greyhounds ’ in the early 1930’s.  O’Callaghan, who won 12 caps for his country Wales during his footballing career, would leave Spurs as a firm fans favourite in March of 1935 to join then Second Division side Leicester City much to Tottenham fans surprise. While at Leicester O’Callaghan quickly became an important player and helped them to win the Second Division title in his second season at the club. After leaving the ‘ Foxes ’ Taffy signed for Fulham who he played for until the start of the war. 

During the war years O’Callaghan played for a number of clubs (he also served as a policeman and as an ambulance driver) including his old club Spurs who he returned to, to make a good number of appearances for in the LWL and FLS. The inside forward continued to play for Fulham in the first season after the end of the war however, he retired from playing in 1946. He went on to take up the position of assistant trainer at Fulham, right up until his untimely death in October 1956. Taffy O’Callaghan was a true Spurs legend.

Tom Paton: Thomas Gracie Paton was a footballer who lived a very interesting life. Born in Saltcoats, Ayrshire in the February of 1918, Scotsman Tom Paton started his career off with local side Ardeer Recreation in 1936, before then moving to Wolverhampton Wanderers the following year. Spells at Portsmouth, Swansea Town and Bournemouth and Boscombe followed, and Paton guested for a number of clubs during the Second World War of which included Leeds United, Manchester City and Spurs. During the war Tom Paton was in the British Army, serving first in the Hampshire Regiment and then later as an RAF officer in Bomber Command. During his time in the RAF, Paton was held as a prisoner of war for three years after the plane he was traveling in was shot down and captured near Heidelberg, Germany. All this happened shortly after the forward made his four guest appearances for Spurs during the early years of the war (he failed to score in any of the four games). Paton returned back to Bournemouth after the war had ended and he was a part of the side that won the Third Division South Cup. He would later sign for Watford in 1948 and he would interestingly play predominantly at right half for the ‘ Hornets ’ during his almost five seasons there. Paton finished off his playing career with Folkestone Town in Kent, before going on to scout for Sheffield Wednesday. Tom Paton died in Folkestone at the age of 72 in December 1991.

Wilf Saunders: A goalkeeper by trade who was on West Bromwich Albion’s books when he guested three times for Spurs in 1940, after being recommended to the Lilywhites by his RAF friend and Spur Viv Buckingham. Saunders who was from Grimsbury in Oxfordshire, started his career with Banbury Spencer before moving to West Brom (he would go on to make two senior competitive appearances for them) in 1938. He guested for Luton Town, Clapton Orient, Northampton Town, Watford and Spurs during the war before ending up back at his old club Banbury Spencer, before passing away in 1981 (I’m afraid that I wasn’t able to find much else out about Wilf Saunders during my research). 

Reg Edwards: Born in the market town of Newton-Le-Willows, Cheshire in July of 1919, Reginald Charles Edwards was a winger (he did however, fill in at other positions on occasions) who started his footballing career with Earlestown White Star. Edwards would later move to Scottish side Alloa Athletic who he was on the books of right up until the start of the war. During the war years Edwards guested for a number of clubs south of the border, of which included QPR, Luton Town, Watford and Spurs. Reg Edwards guested for Spurs on eight occasions from the years 1941 to 1944 (he scored two goals) he had made his debut for the Lilywhites in the LWL against Brentford in April 1942. These appearances for Spurs came when the winger was plying his trade as a railway electrician, while serving in the RAF. After the war had ended Edwards signed permanently for Luton Town, before going on to end his career with Accrington Stanley who he moved on to the following year. Reg passed away in his home town of Newton-Le-Willows in March of 2002.

Jack Finch: East Londoner (West Ham born) John A Finch was a former Gainsborough Road School pupil (born in 1910) who went on to play for St Margarets, Walthamstow Avenue (he had two spells with Walthamstow) and Lowestoft Town as well as going on trial with Aston Villa, before signing amateur forms with Fulham in October 1930. Starting a 16 year association with the ‘ Cottagers ’ which saw him make 295 competitive appearances, scoring over 50 goals, Finch was a winger who was adept at playing on either flank and who undoubtedly had an eye for goal. The Londoner who was a creative force in the Fulham side of the 1930’s, was a member of the sides which won the Third Division South championship during the 1931-32 season and that reached the FA cup semi-finals during the 1935-36 season. Finch guested for Brentford, Crystal Palace and Spurs during the Second World War as well as being player-manager of Sittingbourne from 1943-46. Jack Finch made one appearance for Spurs and that ironically came in a London War League fixture against Fulham in May of 1942. After the war had ended Finch had a brief stint with Colchester United who he made three competitive appearances for, before going in to the coaching side of the game. First of all the former Fulham man was the manager of Nigeria, who he took charge of in 1949 for the team which toured England. Finch met the players at Liverpool docks after they arrived on the RMSS Apapa.  During their time in England, Finch’s side who often played barefoot, played in total nine games against sides ranging from Dulwich Hamlet to South Liverpool. Nigeria won three of their nine games. During the following year and after his experiences coaching Nigeria, Jack Finch took the trip to Iceland to manage Valur who he was in charge of for two years. After finishing with the game of football he would work as a freelance reporter in east London before working as a driver in the Lowestoft area of Norfolk. In later years Finch settled down in Worthing on the south coast, the place where he passed away in November of 1993.

Alf Fitzgerald: Born in Conisborough, Yorkshire in January 1911, half-back Alfred Malcolm Fitzgerald started his career off with Denaby United. Fitzgerald later went on trial with Reading before signing professional forms with them in August of 1934, he then joined Queens Park Rangers in 1936, a club who he would play for until the war. Fitzgerald guested for a number of clubs during the war, these included Chelsea, Aldershot, Chelsea, Watford, West Ham United and Spurs. Alf Fitzgerald made his one and only appearance for the Lilywhites in a LWL fixture against Fulham in May of 1942, Spurs won 7-1. After the war had ended Fitzgerald joined Aldershot who he enjoyed two seasons with before later moving to Tonbridge in 1948. Alf Fitzgerald passed away in Brighton, Sussex in 1981.

Tom Kiernan: Thomas Kiernan was born in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, Scotland in October 1918. Kiernan started his footballing career with Viewpark Celtic in 1935 before then moving to Clydebank Juniors, and then Albion Rovers who he was on the books of when the Second World War began. The Scotsman was an inside forward by trade who was posted to London during the war as he was serving with the Royal Engineers. Tom Kiernan guested for Chelsea, Fulham, Aldershot, Brentford, Southampton and Spurs. For Spurs, he, made just two appearances, both of which came in the London War Cup in games against Charlton in the April of 1942. After the war was over Kiernan signed for one of Scotland’s biggest clubs in Glasgow Celtic. Putting in some impressive performances for the ‘ Hoops ’ during his time there, he was a regular during the 1945-46 and 1946-47 seasons, and his adeptness with both feet made him a very useful player (he also played as a centre forward for Celtic during his time there). Playing a total of 64 competitive senior games for Celtic during his time there, scoring 19 goals, Kiernan was sold to Stoke City in September 1947 (in the same year he played for the Scottish league against the Football League) leaving the supporters of Celtic dismayed, as they had been very fond of Kiernan during his time with them. After joining Stoke City he would later play for Luton Town, Gillingham, St Mirren, Barry Town (he had two spells with the Welsh club), Albion Rovers and Alloa Athletic. After retiring from playing Tom Kiernan took up a coaching position with Albion Rovers. He passed away in his home town of Coatbridge in June of 1991.

Wilf Mannion: Middlesbrough legend Wilfred John Mannion was one of the greats of English football from the period ranging from the 1940’s right through to the 1950’s. Mannion was rightly inducted in to the English Football Hall of Fame in 2000, which was a testament to his footballing career in this country. Born in South Bank, Middlesbrough to Irish parents in May of 1918, Mannion who was one of ten children, used to play football on the waste ground in South Bank as a lad before he joined local side South Bank St Peters. He played for them until he signed amateur forms with Middlesbrough in 1936 (he made his league debut for them in 1937). Standing out during his early days for Middlesbrough, the tough but ultimately very quick and skilful inside forward settled in well, and he scored a good number of goals for his team. However, the Second World War arrived and the then promising young footballers career was put on a temporary hold. Mannion served for the British Army in France where it had even been reported that he had been killed however, he had been evacuated from Dunkirk at the time of this report. He also served in Italy during his time on the continent and was part of the British force which invade Sicily in 1943 (Mannion made his four appearances for Spurs before this period. He also guested for Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic). However, after the war had ended Wilf Mannion won his first full international cap with England scoring a hat-trick in a 7-2 victory over Northern Ireland. He continued to enjoy many more very fine years with Middlesbrough and he won a lot more England caps (he won 26 in total and played at the 1950 World Cup) but after initially retiring from the game in 1954 after making 351 senior league appearances for Middlesbrough, Mannion ended up returning to the game when he signed for Hull City in the same year. Mannion would later play for Poole Town, Cambridge United where he would have played agains Spurs’ A team, King’s Lynn, Haverhill Rovers and Earlestown where he served as player-manager.

Wilf Mannion was granted a testimonial match by Middlesbrough in 1983. He passed away in Redcar, Cleveland in April 2000.

McFarlane: During my research writing this piece McFarlane was one of those players who I was able to find very little about, other than what was included in the Spurs Alphabet. An outside right by trade who used to be a fullback when he played for Edinburgh side St Bernards, McFarlane was brought to Spurs by Viv Buckingham and played his one and only game for them in a London War Cup game against Watford in the April of 1942. 

David Noble: David Simpson Noble was born in Queensferry, West Lothian, Scotland and he first started out at Blackhall Athletic. He would later play for Edinburgh side St Bernards before moving to North Lanarkshire based club Clyde in the September of 1936. During the Second World War and when Noble was on Clyde’s books he guested for Spurs during the 1941-42 season (presumably as he was posted to southern England) the outside left played six times for the Lilywhites, scoring three goals.

Tommy Pearson: A quality outside left during his time at Newcastle United and Aberdeen during the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s. Edinburgh born Thomas Usher Pearson (born in May 1913) started his footballing career with local side Murrayfield Athletic, before going on trial with Hearts in 1933 however, he didn’t end up signing for the Edinburgh club and instead Pearson joined Newcastle United in March of the same year for a sum of £35. While at Newcastle the highly skilful winger endeared himself to the Newcastle faithful with his entertaining and effective style of play right up until the beginning of the war. When the war did arrive Tommy Pearson ended up guesting for a number of clubs such as Blackburn Rovers, Birmingham City, Blackpool, Bolton Wanderers, Heart of Midlothian, Stoke City, Liverpool, Walsall and of course Tottenham Hotspur. Pearson made just two appearances for Spurs, with both of them coming in the London War League (he made his debut against Reading on January of 1942). During the war Tommy Pearson interestingly filled in for England, and he would later play twice for Scotland, making him the only player in the history of the game to play for both countries. In the February of 1948 Pearson left Newcastle United to go back up north and sign for Aberdeen for £4000. Once again he won the affection of the supporters this time through his ‘ double shuffle ’ something which he developed during the war years. Pearson ended up retiring from playing in 1953 and initially worked as a journalist for the Scottish Daily Mail, and he wrote for them up until he was appointed as a youth football coach at Aberdeen at the end of the decade. He was later to be appointed the manager of the football club but had to deal with losing a number of key players at Pittodrie to retirement. He resigned after close to six years in his post, in February 1965. However, Pearson ended up returning to another former club in later years in Newcastle United to serve as a scout for the club. He also opened a jewellery shop in Edinburgh. Pearson passed away in his home city of Edinburgh at the age of 85 in March of 1999.

Charlie Revell: Born in Belvedere, county Kent in June of 1919, Charles H Revell was scouted by Tottenham playing for his first club Callenders Athletic. The half back joined Spurs as an amateur in January of 1937 and was farmed out to Spurs’ nursery club Northfleet United who he interestingly played for as a forward. Revell signed professional forms with Spurs during the following year but ended moving across to south London to join Charlton Athletic in 1939 after not making a single senior appearance for Spurs. The man from county Kent served the ‘ Daggers ‘ with distinction, helping them to win the Football League South Cup in 1944 as well as playing in virtually every position except goalkeeper during his 12 year spell there. During the war Revell very impressively notched up 82 goals in just over 100 matches for Charlton. However, during the war years he also managed to guest for Blackpool, Bury, Birmingham City, Chelsea, Fulham, Wrexham and Spurs. For his old club Spurs Charlie Revell played once and scored once in a London War League fixture against Charlton Athletic. Upon leaving Charlton permanently in 1951 he joined Derby County before joining Eynesbury Rovers as player-manager the following year, but this was to be where Revell’s playing career would end. He later managed Edgware Town, Canterbury City and Erith and Belvedere before serving both Crystal Palace and Charlton as a coach and as a scout. In later years Revell settled back in Kent where he was a football teacher at Bexleyheath school. He passed away in Sidcup at the age of 80 in December 1999.

Joe Sibley: Southend born (born in October 1919) Albert Sibley started out at his local club Southend United and he rose up through the ranks at the ‘ Shrimpers ’ to make 226 appearances for them, scoring 44 goals. Like many other players the outside rights career was disrupted by the war, and the then young Joe Sibley guested for Arsenal, Aldershot, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Millwall, Queens Park Rangers and Spurs. For Spurs, Sibley made three appearances in the LWL, scoring one goal during the 1941/42 season (Joe Sibley made his Spurs debut against Reading in January of 1942). During the war years Sibley also served in the RAF at Ruislip. However, after the war was over he continued to play for Southend before making the move to Newcastle United in February 1947. Whilst at Newcastle Sibley played with some great players such as the Robledo brothers and Tommy Walker, and he (Sibley) played a part in helping the ‘ Toon ’ to win the old Second Division during the 1947/48 season (Joe Sibley made his debut for Newcastle United in February of 1947 v Southampton). Joe Sibley spent three years at Newcastle (many of which were disrupted by injury) and the winger ended up returning to Southend United in the summer of 1950, and he would go on to spend six years there until retiring at the end of the 1955/56 season. Joe Sibley passed away in Southchurch, Essex in February 2008.

Cyril Williams: Bon in Bristol, England in November 1921, Cyril Edward Williams started his footballing career with his hometown club Bristol City after being signed by manager Bob Hewison in 1939. An outside left/inside forward who was a good dribbler of the ball, Williams had hardly signed for Bristol City when the war had broken out. During the war years he guested for Swindon Town, Reading and Spurs. For the Lilywhites the young lad from Bristol made three appearances for Spurs in the London War League, making his debut against Portsmouth in November of 1941. After the war had ended Williams ended up making 78 appearances in total for the ‘ Robins ’ scoring 27 goals, before transferring to West Bromwich Albion in June of 1948, much to the disappointment of the Bristol City supporters. In his first season at the Midlands based club he helped them to finish as runners up in the old Second Division and they were subsequently promoted to the first division for the start of the following season. Then in August 1951 Williams rejoined Bristol City for a sum of £4,500. He was a part of the side which won the Thid Division South in 1954-55 and he once again became a key player for the team as they moved in to the second division. After a successful second spell with Bristol City, Cyril Williams first joined Chippenham Town as manager in 1958 before later taking charge of Gloucester City. After retiring from football Cyril Williams ran the Greylands Hotel which was situated in Western-Super-Mare. He managed the hotel until his untimely and tragic death in a car crash in January of 1980.

Pat Beasley: Pat Beasley was a player who featured more frequently than most war time guests for Spurs during the war (like Taffy O’Callaghan). Beasley was from Stourbridge, Worcestershire (born in July of 1912) and he started off playing for local sides Cookesley and Stourbridge in Kidderminster. Beasley who operated both as a forward and as a half back, joined Arsenal in the May of 1931, starting a successful five year spell at the ‘ Gunners ’ which saw him win two First Division Championships with them in 1933-34 and 1934-35, playing with the likes of the legendary Cliff Bastin and a future Spurs manager in Joe Hulme. Sold to Huddersfield Town for £750 in 1936, Beasley enjoyed a good solid three seasons with the ‘ Terriers ‘, making over 100 appearances for them and he also helped them to reach the 1937/38 FA Cup Final which they finished runners up in after losing to Preston North End. Beasley won an international cap for England in a game against Scotland the following year (he scored in this game and became the 653rd player to play for England). The County Worcestershire man guested for a number of clubs during the war of which included Spurs who he made 98 appearances for scoring 31 goals, Arsenal, Brentford, Charlton Athletic, Reading, Derby County, Fulham and York City. After the war had ended Pat Beasley spent five years with Fulham before joining Bristol City in 1950 first as a player and then two years later he became player-manager where he took the ‘ Robins ’ up to the Second Division in 1955.  He would later manage Birmingham City where had a good spell, before becoming a scout for Fulham and later managing Dover. Beasley resided in County Somerset in later years, and he passed away in Taunton at the age of 72 in March of 1986.

Charlie Briggs: Welshman Charles Edward Briggs was born in Newton, South Wales in 1910, and he joined Spurs 20 years later as an amateur. Briggs was a goalkeeper by trade and the Lilywhites farmed him out to Hayward Sports, but Spurs never ended up signing him as a professional. Spells at the likes of Guildford City, Fulham, Crystal Palace and Halifax Town followed. It was on Halifax Town’s books that Briggs returned to Spurs as one of the clubs that he guested for during the war, he made three for them over a two year spell. After the war was over he would later play for the likes of Clyde, Rochdale and Chesterfield. Briggs passed away in Broxburn, Scotland at the age of 81 in January of 1993.

Bobby Browne: Derry man Robert James ‘ Bobby ’ Browne was born in February 1912. The Northern Irishman who played for his country six times (he made his debut against England in Belfast in 1935) was a half back by trade, and a talented one too. One of ten children (his youngest brother Leonard was killed when the HMS Firedrake was sunk) he started off playing for junior clubs Maleven and Cooney Rovers however, Browne began his senior career with hometown club Derry City in the early 1930’s. He played for the ‘ Candystripes ’ until 1935 winning both the City Cup and the North-Western Cup, when English side Leeds United were impressed by Browne who was playing in the game between the Irish League team and the English League, and came calling. He joined Leeds for a fee of £1500 and despite his small frame he settled in well to life at the Yorkshire based club. Before, during and after the war Browne made in total 121 appearances for Leeds. During the war he joined the police force in England, he later resigned and would become an Army PT instructor in Colchester, Essex. In the midst of all this he also guested for a number of clubs including Derry City when he was posted back to Ulster, Aldershot, Luton Town, Swansea Town, Colchester United, Watford and Spurs. For Spurs, Browne made three appearances in total, making his debut against Queens Park Rangers in the FLS in the September of 1942. After the war had ended Bobby Browne played for York City, before becoming player-manager of Thorne Colliery and then coach and caretaker manager of his old club Halifax Town in 1954. Browne passed away in 1994 when he was in early 80’s.

To be continued…

My interview with former Spurs player Josh Cooper:

My interview with former Spurs player Josh Cooper:

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Talented midfielder Josh Cooper joined Spurs as a youth player back in 1996, he would go on to spend a number of years at the Lilywhites, working his way up the ranks before leaving the club after not being offered a YTS in the mid 2000’s. Cooper would later go onto have a good career in non league football, playing for the likes of Wealdstone United, Wingate and Finchley and Chesham United. I recently caught up with Josh to look back on his time at Spurs.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Josh: I can remember going to watch Spurs play against Aston Villa when I was about four or five and that was in 1993.

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

Josh: I got scouted from Enfield Town when I was eight years old which was in 1996 and I can remember going to training (I can’t remember any of the games) which was in the ball court at the old White Hart Lane stadium. 

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

Josh: It was good and it kept me grounded at school and stuff, so yeah it did me good. 

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

Josh: David Ginola. He was a class football player.

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

Josh: I used to play in midfield and I was more of a creative player however, I wasn’t a dribbler I was more of a one, two touch pass and move type of player. I would try and create opportunities for others to score.

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

Josh: One thing I look back on now, I’ve got a baby boy as well now so I think differently. You’ve got to stand out from the rest, so I.E: be more aggressive in the way you play and be heard, because if you are heard I think that you have got more of a chance. I was quite quiet and I didn’t like to show off as such but if your good at it then you should show it. As I got older around the age of 13 or 14 I sort of played in my self, but when I was younger I used to go past people like they weren’t there, but as I got older I used to play a bit differently. So I wished that I had played without fear.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Josh: My dad was always good with me and he actually played at Tottenham as well when he was a kid and he got a bit further than me to be fair. 

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

Josh: Not my age at the time because I used to worry about myself more than anything.

 

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

Josh: So I got released when I was 16 going on 17, so when they did the youth team scholarships was when I got released. After that I went on trial with Port Vale for a few weeks, along with Wycombe and Northampton. They all said the same thing to me and that was that I was technically great and a fantastic player, but not what they were looking for in height and size. I then went into non league, and I signed for Wealdstone in the Ryman Premier League at the time, I then went to Chesham, then I was at Wingate and Finchley and Cheshunt, so I did the non league circle really. I am actually going training tomorrow after three years out from playing, and I’m going to sign for Cockfosters in the Essex Senior League.

What has been the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Josh: To be fair it has to be when I was at Wingate and we won the treble one season. We got promoted and won two cups, so that was a good season, and I played over 50 odd games that season (I think that it was 58). 

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

Josh: A year above me at Spurs was a player called Charlie Lee and he went onto play for Spurs’ first team before going to Stevenage. When we (the youth team) used to go abroad to Belgium and play on tours, they would always allow one extra older player to come with us so Charlie Lee played with us then. I liked him and I thought that he was a good player.

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

Josh: The tour of Belgium was one and then when I was out there the teams who we were playing played a completely different style of football. You were playing against players who had a better touch and pass than you, and they’d get in your face and boot you. We went to Belgium when I was under 15’s and I was told that I was one of our best players out there, which I did know myself so that was a good memory. However, generally being at Spurs was an honour to have been there for a long time, but looking back on it now I didn’t use that to my benefit enough and I should have been more confident in what I was doing and why I was there for a reason. 

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

Josh: There were a few who I played against in non league who were workhorses but I couldn’t tell you specific names as I can’t remember there names.

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

Josh: John Kyriacou and Luke Prosser who is now at Colchester United. It used to be me, Luke and John Kyriacou and our parents used to take it in turns each week to training. When me and Luke Prosser got released at the same time (John Kyriacou signed for the youth team at Spurs) we went to Port Vale on trial together and then Luke got signed for Port Vale but then he’s about six foot six.

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

Josh: My advice would be that it’s an honour to be at the club in the first place so you should remember that, and not everyone gets to play for Spurs so you should take advantage and play with no fear. I used to play within myself as I got older.

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?

Josh: Yes, I support them and I’ve got a season ticket there now and go and watch them every week. When I was younger I used to hear the fans sing the songs about the players and think that it could have been me, but obviously it never was.

My interview with former Spurs player Len Worley:

My interview with former Spurs player Len Worley:

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Regarded by supporters of Wycombe Wanderers as a legend of the club, winger Len Worley’s nickname during his playing days was “ the Stanley Matthews of amateur football ” for a reason. A fine dribbler and crosser of the ball, Worley was primarily a winger, whose tricky feet made life difficult for opposing defenders. The Chalfont St Peter born player first played for his local village side, before beginning his career as an amateur as a sixteen year old with Wycombe Wanderers back in 1954. Worley spent most of his career (he made 512 competitive appearances in total for the ‘ Chairboys ’) at Wycombe Wanderers over a 15 year spell. Helping Wycombe to get to the FA Amateur Cup final at Wembley, the former right winger who represented England at youth and amateur level then joined first division side Charlton Athletic as an amateur back in 1956. Worley made one competitive appearance for Charlton before returning to Wycombe. Len then joined Tottenham Hotspur as an amateur later on in the 1950’s, he spent a year there making one competitive appearance for the first team. That came in a league game against Sheffield Wednesday in October 1959. Worley filled in for Terry Medwin who was away on international duty with Wales. That same month Worley was offered a professional contract by Spurs however, he declined this offer and returned to playing amateur football with Wycombe who he spent another ten years at. Upon leaving Wycombe in 1969, Worley continued to play amateur football. He played for the likes of Chesham United, Wealdstone, Slough Town and Hayes. After retiring from playing Len went into the property business and he also owned a sports shop. Recently I had the great pleasure of catching up with Len Worley to discuss his time at the Lilywhites.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Len: I suppose the most significant thing that happened was I was playing for Chalfont St Peter youth club (under 18’s) and at the end of the season Wycombe Wanderers came to play the Chalfont St Peter senior team in a friendly. And the Chalfont St Peter’s senior side found themselves short of one player, so they rang the youth club and said have you got anybody that can sort of step in and play against Wycombe Wanderers in a friendly? And so they got in touch with me and I went on and played and the manager of Wycombe said to me how would you like to play for Wycombe next season? And I thought yeah fantastic! I was only 16 at the time and so the following season when I’d just turned 17 I went to Wycombe and after three or four reserve team games I got into the first team, and then at the end of that particular season I was off with the England youth team to play in the European youth championships. So it was all pure luck, being in the right place at the right time but it made a huge difference to my career and it sort of got me going if you were.

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

Len: Well there were a number of professional clubs that wanted to sign me and I had had a season at Charlton Athletic and they were keen to sign me as a full time professional but I didn’t really want to move to the east end of London. So I went back to Wycombe and then Tottenham came in and were very keen, and so I thought oh yeah Tottenham are a big club, so I’ll go and see how things pan out. I played a season mainly in the reserve team as I was understudy to Terry Medwin, and at the end of the season Bill Nicholson the manager said “ look Len we can’t keep paying you ten pounds a week under the counter. I want you to sign full time pro. ” And so I said I’m not sure because the main reasons that I had doubts were one because I was playing for the Great Britain Olympic team and hoping to get to to the Olympics, and I was also playing for the England amateur side. I was also studying to be a surveyor and Wycombe were keen to have me back, and in those days maximum wage was 20 quid a week, so obviously going back to Wycombe I was being paid, and equally I was being paid to be a surveyor. And of course there were was also the chance of playing in the Olympics. So that was the reason why I decided to move away from Tottenham but obviously if I had the same decision to make today then they wouldn’t be offering me 20 pounds a week, they’d be offering me something like 20 thousand pounds a week which is totally different. So very briefly that was how it all planned out. However, there was another factor and that was that Wycombe were a so called top amateur side and we were playing in front of big crowds of up to 14,000 and we’d got to the amateur cup final and played in front of 95,000. And I was also playing for the England amateur side, so it was quite a wrench to give all of that up for the gamble and the chance of playing for Tottenham. So in those days that was my decision but today I would probably make a different decision however, today I’m 83 and not 23.

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

Len: On the whole it is difficult to describe really to be honest with you because was playing in a professional club as an amateur I didn’t really sort of get to know the players very well, because I wasn’t training with them. I was just basically playing with them on a Saturday and so the only guy that I got to know well was Cliff Jones, because we were in the same national service unit together in St John’s Wood, London. So Cliff and I were there together so I got to know him for about 18 months and he was actually a Tottenham player at the time as well as playing for our unit at the same time. So he was probably one of the best players that I actually played with or against actually.

Could you talk me through your competitive debut for Spurs against Sheffield Wednesday on the 17th October 1959 and how it came about?

Len: It was simply that Terry Medwin was on international duty and Bill Nicholson called me up to take his place. I travelled up by train with the team and played the match, and then traveled back again and that was it. 1959 is an awful long time ago so it was not a really significant memory for me because I played a lot of reserve team games with people like Johnny Brooks and Terry Dyson and people like that, so obviously that was more memorable than just the one first team game.

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

Len: Well the obvious one was Stanley Matthews as he was my idol and I based my game on him, and I was funnily enough recognised as the amateur Stanley Matthews. Because I used to like to take the ball up to the fullback and dribble past him and take people on and be a little bit of a showman really, and just to have my name associated with him was an honour in itself to be honest. Not only was he somebody that I looked up to but I did actually meet him on two or three occasions as well which was great. He was a great player and a star of the time in the 1940’s and 1950’s.

What was it like to represent your country at youth and amateur level?

Len: Clearly whenever you represent your country it’s special and I think to be suddenly playing for Wycombe Wanderers first team and also going to play for the England youth team in Italy in the European championships was really special. Particularly when they get in touch with you and tell you that you’ve been selected and you go up to London and get fitted out with your blazer and your trousers, and your instructions are given to you about where you meet, the plane you are going on and where you are staying in Italy, and who you are playing against is really quite special. We didn’t do very well mind you but it was just an honour to be participating really. A similar sort of thing happened with the England amateur side when we were going to play in the European championships which again happened to be in Italy, and again the same sort of thing happened. So it was just a proud moment and I’ve relished it ever since, I mean at the end of the day there are not too many people who are lucky enough to represent their country, particularly at football. I’m also still lucky enough to be able to run around a tennis court and to be able to walk up the golf course.

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

Len: Always I played as a number seven from the age of about ten until I finished playing at about 41, I never changed. I played number seven right the way through my career.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Len: No one particularly influenced me at Spurs but as I say Cliff Jones was someone who I got to know better than anybody simply because we were in the army together and I looked up to him as a player. However, because I didn’t train on a daily basis with them I really didn’t get to know anyone in particular. I did sort of speak to people like Danny Blanchflower and Dave Mackay but I didn’t get to know them well because they were just your teammate who you wouldn’t come across very frequently. So as I say I spent 15 years at Wycombe and played over 500 games for them and then various other clubs such as Slough and Wealdstone and Hayes and Chesham, and as I say I finished when I was 41 and so I had a good innings really. The only reason I stopped really was because when you get to that age you tend to lose your pace and your playing against players who just want to get you, and also as I was running a business I couldn’t afford to get inured, and so it was about right that I gave up and concentrated on my tennis than on football, and I was lucky enough to play for my County which is nice. So I’ve been lucky. 

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

Len: No not at all as I didn’t get to know them well enough and so it was only Cliff Jones that I did know well.

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

Len: Well as I said earlier I was prompted to leave because I had the opportunity to play in the Olympics, I was playing for the England amateur side and I was studying at the time and I wanted to complete my studies, and I was about to get married. Also Wycombe were keen to have me back and so they were the main reasons and also I felt much more comfortable playing for a team like Wycombe than I did for a team like Tottenham for some reason, because I was a different type of individual and character. However, as I say today would be a different answer to that question, but in those days 20 quid a week was quite good but it wasn’t that good. I mean I was going back to Wycombe and getting paid ten pound a week to play for them plus furthering my career. After leaving Wycombe I went to Slough and then Hayes, Wealdstone and Chesham. 

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Len: I suppose it would be getting my first amateur England international cap and probably playing at Wembley which is something totally different to any other experience that you get. To suddenly be playing in front of 95,000 people on a pitch that’s absolutely perfect is brilliant but unfortunately we lost the match to Bishop Auckland who were a top amateur side. Also the amateur game when I played was quite high profile as I’ve just said and can you believe 95,000 people watching an amateur cup final. When I played for my first international cap we played at Peterborough and yet there were ten thousand people there watching an amateur international match. You know things were totally different then to what they are now, I mean everything now is focused on the Premier League which is the thing and nothing else gets too much of a look in. Whereas in my day the amateur game got headlines, and the professional game was professional which was fair enough but the amateur game as I say was highly thought of.

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

Len: Probably Cliff Jones funnily enough and I shared a pitch with him on a number of occasions both in the army and in the practice matches at Tottenham. So yeah he was definitely the best player who I shared a pitch with.

What was it like to don on the famous Lilywhite shirt of Tottenham Hotspur and how did it feel to play for them at one of the highest points in their history?

Len: I guess that it was an honour at the time but as I said earlier because I didn’t really feel to be part of the team as a whole and the club as a whole, it didn’t have quite the same significance. If I had been training regularly with the players and meeting them on a day to day basis then I think that it would have been totally different, but because I was the sort of guy that just came into play as and when it wasn’t quite the same and it didn’t have the same meaning.

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

Len: I can’t even pinpoint a special time or match, I just remember playing with people like Johnny Brooks who could have been a really top class player but he didn’t quite make it. I can also remember playing with Terry Dyson and Bill Brown and one and two other players, but there was nothing that was very significant. My memories at Wycombe were far more significant because they somehow mean much more to me for some reason It was local boy came good type thing.

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

Len: That’s a difficult one but there was a guy who played for Chelsea who was a left back whose name I can’t remember, but he would sort of take the legs of you if he had the chance.

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

Len: There’s nothing that is really very interesting, the only interesting bit was the fact that Bill Nicholson felt that he couldn’t afford to pay me ten pounds a week under the counter. It’s amazing really a club like Tottenham saying something like that. They said to me you either turn professional or not, and I decided not to.

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

Len: No not all but in a way I was sort of an outsider as you could probably imagine just turning up on Saturdays to play for whatever Spurs team I was due to play for. I came and went and that was it really, and I guess that Bill Nicholson always had hope in the back of his mind that I would probably turn full time professional for Spurs. But when it came to the crunch I declined for the reasons that I’ve outlined to you.

Do you ever have any regrets about turning down the professional contract that you were offered by Spurs just a short time before they did the double?

Len: Yes I suppose on reflection I in a way I regret it because I was never quite sure whether I’d achieve my potential and I guess if I’d turned full time pro then I would have then had full time training and full time coaching. And then perhaps it would have allowed me to achieve my full potential, which I never quite know whether I did or whether I didn’t. So I guess that’s the only question mark that I’ve got.

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?

Len: Obviously I always look to see how they get on and how their results are and I obviously watch them on television etc, etc. However, again I haven’t quite got that affinity with a club like Tottenham that I have with a club like Wycombe because there is a huge difference playing one game for Tottenham’s first team and 500 odd games for Wycombe Wanderers first team. 

My interview with former Spurs player Dennis Bond:

My interview with former Spurs player Dennis Bond:

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

What are your earliest footballing memories?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My interview with former Spurs player Graham Thomson:

My interview with former Spurs player Graham Thomson:

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

What are your earliest footballing memories?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

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

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

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

 

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

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

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My interview with former Spurs player Andy Reid:

My interview with former Spurs player Andy Reid:

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

What are your earliest footballing memories?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What was it like playing under Spurs manager Martin Jol?

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

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My interview with former Spurs player Peter Corder:

My interview with former Spurs player Peter Corder:

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

What are your earliest footballing memories?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remembering legendary Spurs fullback Mel Hopkins:

Remembering legendary Spurs fullback Mel Hopkins:

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

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

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

My interview with former Spurs player John Clancy:

My interview with former Spurs player John Clancy:

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

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

What are your earliest footballing memories?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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