My interview with former Spurs man Ben Embery:

My interview with former Spurs man Ben Embery:

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On Tuesday afternoon I took the trip down to Canvey island to interview our former player Ben Embery. Ben was a talented fullback who joined Spurs alongside his identical twin brother Bill back in 1959. Although Bill would only go onto play for the old Wood Green side as it was known, Ben spent seven years at the lilywhites as he learnt his trade from some of the greatest players on the planet, as the famous double winning side hit the headlines. A budding full back who was a key component in the Tottenham youth side of the early 1960’s. Embery would go onto achieve great things at youth level in a star studded Tottenham team, which included the likes of Phil Beal and Derek Possee. In many ways Ben was only denied game time in the first team due to the huge success which Nicholson’s side, were enjoying at that time in the clubs history. Embery had distinguished internationals to dislodge if he was ever going to break into the first team. He did however, play a couple of times for Nicholson’s side during pre season friendlies including on one such trip to Norway. Mr Embery endured many great memories from his time at Spurs of which he kindly shared with me in the following interview. From missing out on a chance to play for England schoolboys due to being beaten up by teddy boys, to helping Barnet reach Wembley. Ben has also enjoyed a fascinating career in the footballing dug out, taking charge of non league sides and arch rivals Canvey Island and Concord Rangers. It was an absolute privilege to get the opportunity to speak with Ben about his time at Spurs. He is one of the nicest footballers you’ll ever meet, a real gentleman who went onto achieve great things in the game.

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

Ben: My earliest memory would have been probably when I was about 13 and Dickie Walker who was the ex West Ham player was a scout at Spurs. I lived in Dagenham at the time and he came round (he’d obviously seen us play, me and my twin brother). So he came round and asked us if we’d like to go to Spurs, and that’s how it started really. I left school at 15 and went straight on the ground staff at Tottenham, and then at 17 I turned pro, that’s my earliest memory at Spurs. I played for Barking boys as a kid and then London and Essex boys. I was due to have an England trial but I got beaten up! I went out one night (in those days there were teddy boys) and there were about eight of them and I got beat up and couldn’t play. So that was it.

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

Ben: Disappointing really, in someways it was a fantastic grounding for a young footballer because they had the double side, it was just fantastic. Everything about it. But I never quite made the first team, I made the first team a couple of times abroad in friendlies but I never made the first team as such. It was such a great side so it was frustrating, but I enjoyed my time there. Bill Nicholson was a top class coach and taught you the game. It’s like having the best surgeon showing you how to operate, and that’s how it was with him, it was fantastic. Happy days.

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

Ben: As a kid my team was West Bromwich Albion would you believe, purely because I went to school and a kid said to me what football team do you support? And I didn’t really know, but I knew West Brom had won the cup that year (1954) so I said West Bromwich Albion and I’ve always supported them ever since. I’ve played at most grounds and I’ve never played there, I’ve played at Wembley but I’d have rather have played at the Hawthorns. My hero when I was growing up was a guy called Ronnie Allen who was a centre forward (at West Brom).

Who were your greatest influences at the club?

Ben: Obviously Bill Nicholson would be one and a big inspiration to me was Dave Mackay, I thought he was fantastic. He was fantastic to talk to, to be involved with him was just incredible. He was a leader of men and was a great player and a great coach and manager, but he was an inspirational person. The other one who was a great player at the time and died young was John White. He would have been another one, but Dave Mackay was inspirational definitely.

Being a young defender who had converted to being a centre half from fullback, were there any other players at the club or outside who you’d would model your game around or seek inspiration from?

Ben: I don’t think I modelled my game on anybody I was taught the game by Bill Nicholson and that was enough. My inspiration was Dave Mackay as a footballer.

What was Dave like to speak to?

Ben: He was fantastic I remember I was playing for the reserves (I was only a kid) and he’d just come back, he’d broke a leg so he was coming back and playing in the reserves. And it was just fantastic to play with him.

You would have got to train with players such as Mel Hopkins and Danny Blanchflower. What was it like to brush shoulders with such legendary figures in the game?

Ben: Being a young player you looked up to these players and it was a great apprenticeship because they taught you the game. Spurs played in a certain way, Bill Nicholson said ’ simple things done well ’ it was pass and support, pass and support. And it was great to play with those players because they made it easy for you, they really did. They taught you the game when we were young, we got good habits.

How did your time at Spurs prepare you for your subsequent career in the game?

Ben: It was the best education I could have had playing under Bill Nicholson and playing with the players of that calibre at Spurs was a great education for me. It was like going to a university really, because they taught you the game. When I went to Exeter I found it difficult to play in that level because it was so different, it was more kick and rush. Where at Spurs it was pass and support it was a different ball game, your playing with great players as well. Spurs had a way of playing and that was the way you were taught to play, and it was good. It was the right way.

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories of your time at Spurs or ones which particularly standout within your memory?

Ben: I think one of the big things was playing for the youth team abroad because as a kid I’d never been aboard before. We done really well, we went to Holland and won championships out there and they took me with the first team somewhere as well, I think it was Norway. I played out there with the first team and a great memory was going abroad playing for Spurs. Especially being a little boy from Dagenham who’d never got out of Dagenham really.

After departing the lilywhites you went onto play for teams such as Exeter, Barnet and Grays Athletic. Could you talk me through what prompted you to leave the club and your career post Spurs?

Ben: Leaving Spurs was not my choice, leaving Spurs was Bill Nicholson’s choice. I’ll never forget I was getting married funnily enough in the June and I went into see Bill Nicholson, and said look I’m getting married in June, will I be retained for next season? I’ll never forget he said ’ Ben you’ve had a great season in the reserves and it’s alright, you’re being retained ’. So I got married and then about a week later he called me and told I was going to be released which was quite upsetting at the time. Actually he took me with the first team to Norway as well, the bloody cheek when I think about it! Listen by the way you’re going out to Norway with the first team and I went out to Norway and played in this friendly. On the way back on the plane this was, Eddie Baily came up to me and said Ben just to let you know Exeter city have been in for you. I didn’t even know where Exeter was, they could have said it was on the moon I didn’t have a clue. So when I got back I phoned this guy up, a guy called John Bashford who was the manager. He said bring your girlfriend down and stay the weekend and we’ll have a chat. So I thought that’s alright, I went down there and with no intention of signing at all. Anyway he offered me a thousand pounds to sign on, the average house was only £4000 pounds, so it was good money in them days. I was just getting married and I thought what should I do, anyway I ended up signing which was a bad decision really because it was fourth division.

The travelling was unbelievable because there was no motorways in them days we’re travelling from southwest all the way up to Hartlepool and places like that. We used to leave Friday morning at 9 o’clock to play Saturday afternoon (3 o’clock) because of the travelling, it was horrendous. I was there about three years and then I got a teaching job and came back to Barnet and that was fantastic. It was the best time of my football career I played about 350 games but I was there about seven years. It was just a phenomenal time for me, when I was at Spurs I never had the confidence to express myself for some reason, but at Barnet I did. I finally found that confidence. We got to Wembley and played in the trophy although we got beat but it’s nice to have played at Wembley. We didn’t play well on the day, we deserved to get beat. From Barnet I went to Gravesend and Northfleet I was captain for a couple of years, then I became a jobbing footballer. I played for Ilford and different places like Canvey island who I ended up managing, so that’s how I got into management. I had a good non league career I really enjoyed it. It was a good career but Barnet was the highlight.

After retiring from the game you took the step into management, taking charge of non league sides Canvey Island and Concord Rangers, here on Canvey island. How did you find that experience?

Ben: I found it challenging when I took over both sides they had no money for players or anything like that. So it was difficult to get players in and on the island as well, it’s funny it’s a close knit community and it’s difficult to get players on it. But I enjoyed managing the sides but I found it difficult at times obviously, which it is.

At Canvey Island you would have managed former Spurs youth player Paul Foley.

Ben: Yes. A lovely lad, good player and I liked him a lot Paul.

What was the pinnacle of your career?

Ben: The pinnacle of my career was playing at Wembley for Barnet it’s the one place you want to play at. Cricket would be Lords, rugby would be Twickenham and for a footballer it was Wembley and although we got beat it was fantastic. Two years before we got beat in the semifinals against Macclesfield at Stoke city’s ground and got beat in the last minute or so. You’re so near to Wembley and all of a sudden it’s taken away from you. Then two years later we got to a semifinal again, we beat Telford 1-0 away at Northampton towns ground. We got a penalty in the last few minutes and we had a guy called Dickie Plume (ex Millwall) I couldn’t watch the penalty because Wembley was on the end of it. He scored anyway so we got to Wembley.

Didn’t you play against the legendary Stan Bowles?

Ben: Yes I did for Barnet against QPR in the FA cup, he was unbelievable. We drew 0-0 at Loftus Road in the third round of the FA cup, he was fit for the second game and he ran us ragged. They won 3-0 and he was the difference between the two sides. I pulled his hair as well!

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

Ben: Dave Mackay by a distance he had everything, people used to think he was someone who kicked people and that. He was aggressive he really was, but he was also a talented footballer and inspirational. He’d really get you going on the pitch he was the best player, there were some great players around at that time. Danny Blanchflower and Cliff Jones, but for me Dave Mackay was the tops, he really was. I think a lot of people would say that as well, he was the man.

In many ways you were unfortunate during your time at Spurs due to the success that the first team enjoyed during that period, with players such as Peter Baker and Cyril Knowles ahead of you in the first team. What would your advice be to the young fullbacks at Spurs today, as they look to work their way into the first team?

Ben: It’s a different world now because they’ve got agents and things like that but the advice I would give them is to persevere. It is an art form defending, you’ve got to have natural ability and one of those abilities is to head the ball. It’s difficult to say, but tackling is the most important part of it, but you never see slide tackling anymore.

You were part of a very successful Spurs youth team during the early 1960’s. A side which included the likes of Phil Beal, John Sainty and Derek Possee. Like the first team you were one of the most successful youth teams in the country at that period in time. What are your memories of that side?

Ben: Obviously very fond memories as there were a lot good players in them days, it was an education playing with some of those players really. Phil Beal and Derek Possee was another one there was some good players, Johnny Sainty was another one that played for Reading. But Philip Beal would have been the one really.

Are you still in contact with any of your old Spurs team mates?

Ben: No. No I’m not unfortunately, I was close to Roger Smith and Philip Beal but as time goes on you go your different ways.

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My interview with former Spurs goalkeeper Roy Brown:

My interview with former Spurs goalkeeper Roy Brown:

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After joining Tottenham Hotspur in 1960, Sussex born goalkeeper Roy Brown spent eight years at the lilywhites, going onto make one sole appearance for the first team in a league game against Blackpool back in 1966. The talented young goalkeeper also played an important role in the Tottenham youth team of the early 60’s. A side which would go onto rack up plenty of domestic honours in a plethora of youth leagues and tournaments. Brown spent subsequent spells at the likes of Reading, Notts County and Mansfield. But his most successful period would come with the Nottingham based club who he helped to reach the old second division. After retiring from the game Roy went onto work for Reading Borough Council amongst other jobs. Roy kindly agreed to doing an interview with me about his time at the lilywhites, sharing many a fascinating memory with me in the process. Roy is pictured above on the far left of the bench.

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

Roy: I progressed through school football to Brighton Boys, onto Sussex Boys and finally England Schoolboys trials. During this period a number of coaches approached my parents with Dicky Walker being the most persistent. I was invited up to Cheshunt for a trial day and was eventually offered apprenticeship terms. I joined in 1960 just before my 16th birthday and decided to travel up daily from Brighton on trains and buses apart from pre-season when I stayed with a family in Edmonton.

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

Roy: From an early age I had only wanted to play football and to sign for the top team in the country which at the time was, if you don’t mind a cliche “a dream come true”. I really enjoyed being a footballer even if we spent more time cleaning than we did training. John Wallace was in charge of the apprentices and at the time he seemed overly demanding, in retrospect he had 12 youngsters to look after, give them self discipline and not think they had made it. As you progress through the teams from the juniors, to the youth team to the A team and reserves, you appreciated what a difficult job he had and how well he did it.

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

Roy: My football heroes were obviously goalkeepers starting with Frank Swift and then Gordon Banks. As I continued playing Peter Shilton was the best I saw along with David James who I thought was the best technically but unfortunately prone to occasional bad mistakes.

Who were your greatest influences at the club?

Roy: John Wallace as previously mentioned and then Eddie Baily. Most of the first team were really good with the young players, especially Alan Mullery, Dave Mackay and John White. I lost all respect for Bill Nicholson when circumstances brought about my debut for the first team. Friday, Bill Nic came up to me said he had no choice so I would have to play in the first team the following day against Blackpool! No pep talk or support. On the Saturday he said nothing to me before or after the game.

Being a goalkeeper, were there any other players at the club or outside who you’d would model your game around or seek inspiration from?

Roy: Unfortunately back in the day there was no specific coaching for keepers and it was not unusual to go all week without any ball work as most of the training revolved around running and 5-a-side games.  Whilst I was at Notts County Jimmy Sirell’s assistant was Jack Wheeler who had been a great goalkeeper for Huddersfield when they were a top team back in the 50’s.     Although Jack did not coach me he did at least have an understanding of the problems keepers face particularly when they are uninvolved physically for long periods but stay mentally alert and ready to perform when needed.

You trained regularly with a young Pat Jennings as the pair of you competed to break into the first team. What was Pat like as a young goalkeeper?

Roy: When you train with the other players you do not think about their reputations and as a young player growing up with Bill Brown and then Pat Jennings I just worked hard at what ever I had to do. The players trained most of the time with their own team squad and only rarely did the keepers train together. Pat was just a very nice, quiet gentleman of a player who got on with his job without making a big fuss about it. I also recognised that he was a better keeper than me and my only chance of getting in the first team was due to injury to Pat which is not something I would want to happen.

How did your time at Spurs prepare you for your subsequent career in the game?

Roy: After 2 or 3 years behind Pat and enjoying some overseas European trips where a substitute goal keeper was allowed, I wanted the chance to be first choice keeper in a football club somewhere else as it was unlikely to happen at Spurs. I felt I had had 7 years good basic introduction to professional football and was ready to try my luck elsewhere.  I knew it would be difficult to move home, get used to new playing colleagues and training ideas but I wanted the chance and asked for a transfer. I knew on the “grapevine” that a number of clubs had made enquiries, all of which Bill Nic turned down whilst telling me there had been no interest! Eventually he told me during training at Cheshunt that Reading had made an offer and he was surprised that I was prepared to drop down the leagues to get a move.

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories of your time at Spurs or ones which particularly standout within your memory?

Roy: My favourite memories of my time at Spurs are the 6 pre-season trips to Holland for youth international tournaments when we played against Ajax, Feyenord and teams from Germany, Russia and Belgium. I also enjoyed the European Cup trips with all the excitement and pressure that went with it. I remember when I went up for a week’s trial and one great old Spurs player, Len Duquemin who was renowned for power when shooting, used to come along to Cheshunt and help out and join in the training with the juniors.  We were having shooting practice and John Wallace said save this one and we will give you a contract. Up came Len who smashed it straight at me from 18 yards which I managed to keep out even though it knocked me over. I also loved the opportunity to watch and play with some great players including Alan Gilzean,   Cliff Jones and of course the greatest goal scorer I ever saw, Jimmy Greaves.

On the 15th of October 1966 you made your one and only appearance for the Spurs first team in an away defeat to Blackpool. Could you talk me through your memories of what must have been an incredibly memorable day?

Roy: On the day before my debut I went home on the train to Brighton and sitting opposite me was someone reading the evening paper about me playing for the Spurs first team. I remember travelling up to Tottenham the next morning on the train from Brighton and travelling on the tube and bus along with the supporters who had no idea that I would be between the sticks that afternoon. My parents and my wife came up for the game which I have no recollection of how I played in apart from obviously losing the game. I remember the rest of the team being very supportive before and after the match and I remember as I came out of the main gates being mobbed by supporters wanting my autograph. I did get man of the match in the Sunday papers. Still no comment from Bill Nic!!

After departing the lilywhites you went onto play for teams such as Notts County and Reading. Could you talk me through what prompted you to leave the club and your career post Spurs?

Roy: I decided it was time for me to move on when I realised I would never replace Pat and if anything happened to him they would buy in a new keeper.      I was not content to pick up my wages just being a reserve. I went to Reading with Roy Bentley as manager and straight into the first team saving a penalty on my debut! Unfortunately Roy got the sack at the end of the season and was replaced by Jack Mansell who immediately made it clear that none of the existing staff were good enough. I was one of the last to go when he sighed Stevie Death from West Ham and I went off on loan to Southern League Dartford and helped them win the league. Jack Mansell promised to get the team out of the 3rd division, he did but getting relegated to division 4!      During the summer Jimmy Sirrell came in for me and off we went to Notts County. We won the league that year and again got promotion two years later to division 2.  Those 5 years at Notts were my happiest in my 15 years as a professional footballer.

What was the pinnacle of your career?

Roy: The pinnacles of my career were signing for the best team in the country as a 15 year old, making my division 1 debut and getting promotion at Notts where incidentally I (we) kept 13 clean sheets in the last 17 games moving from the relegation position at Christmas to winning promotion and getting the supporters player of the year trophy. I also played in all 4 divisions of the football league, played at all bar 6 of the football grounds in the leagues, never got booked and never got taken off injured even though I had my share of broken bones, concussion and muscle problems.  In those days, pre-substitutes, you played on whenever possible.

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

Roy: Easy question, Jimmy Greaves. Jimmy fancied his self in goal and loved having a go between the sticks.

In many ways you were unfortunate during your time at Spurs due to the presence of both Bill Brown and Pat Jennings. What would your advice be to the young goalkeepers at Spurs as they look to work their way into the first team?

Roy: My advice would be to go to a team with a record of giving young players a chance but bearing in mind that a young keeper has to be patient as they generally don’t mature until their twenties.

You were part of a very successful Spurs youth team during the early 1960’s. A side which included the likes of Phil Beal and Derek Possee. One particular success was winning the old Metropolitan league challenge cup. What can you remember of that campaign and the run up to the final?

Roy: During my years at Spurs from the juniors through to the reserves we won many league titles and cups all of which are a bit of a blur after all these years.

My interview with former Spurs youngster Claude Stepháne Seanla:

My interview with former Spurs youngster Claude Stepháne Seanla:

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Ivorian centre forward Claude Seanla spent four years in the Tottenham youth set up during the mid 2000’s. A Powerful and versatile forward, Seanla went onto feature on multiple occasions for the old reserve side and the younger age groups during his stint at the club. Unfortunately Claude didn’t make the grade at Spurs and he was released by the club back in 2006. Spells at Watford and Barnet followed before the young striker began to make his mark on the non league scene, playing for a plethora of clubs right up until 2017. Making his name as a bit of a journeyman. No longer involved in the game, the 30 year old kindly agreed to doing an interview with me about his time at Spurs. It was an absolute pleasure speaking to him as he shared his footballing memories with me.

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

Claude: Earliest memory was when Nick was the manager of the youth team, I think I was 16. I remember when I went up for a trial, my first day at Spurs we had a little game and I think that game I scored in. He came up to me and he said do you want to play for Spurs, like he was giving me a little hint that he liked me and that he wanted me to sign. So obviously without knowing I said yes, he just laughed. It was Thursday that we trained then on Sunday we played against West Ham at home and even though we lost, obviously the way I played that game gave him that final decision/moment that he needed for me to sign. I think that would have been my first memory and my happiest memory.

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

Claude: It was brilliant when you are young and you’re playing for a club like Spurs you couldn’t be more happier. Playing for Spurs from the age of 16 to 20 was the best thing ever and to be honest I’ve missed it. If I could rewrite the time that I had I probably would have done things differently, and probably still playing for Spurs. It was the best time to play for Spurs.

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

Claude: My inspiration was Ronaldo (the first one) just the way he was and how he used to score goals and dribble. He was so powerful, he was the main number nine. I just wanted to be like him.

Who were your greatest influences at the club?

Claude: My colleagues because I worked with them, we played together and I could see that they were doing well. We’d known each other since such a young age, some of them were friends already outside football. So I would say Jacques Maghoma and Nathan Peprah I was very close to them. They really really influenced me quite a lot, obviously there’s other names like Simon Dawkins and Chris Riley and so on.

Being a centre forward were there any other players at the club or outside who you’d model your game around?

Claude: I remember Pat Holland used to tell me to watch Simon because me and Simon had different styles of play. I was more like a centre forward and he was more like a number ten, where he was coming in getting the ball and giving it back, like one touch. I was more like receiving it, if I could turn I’d turn, if I could just run with it and dribble and score with it, I would do it. He used to tell me as a number nine you need to always make sure when you’re back is facing the other position when you receive it, bring the midfield players in and get yourself in the box. He used to tell me to watch Simon Dawkins he used to do that a lot, his first touch was really really good. I needed to get my game at the level he was at if that makes sense. If Pat Holland had to pick one striker to play he’d have picked him and it’s because he had those attributes, where he could bring everybody in. We were very, very powerful strikers but we had different styles and Pat Holland wanted someone to come in, come short and pass it back. Obviously I was different to that.

What was the toughest thing about being a youth player at Spurs and what were your biggest challenges that you faced?

Claude: When it came to the FA youth cup where he didn’t pick me because as I mentioned in the last question, I needed to improve my game. My biggest challenge was to make sure my game could get to that level where they wanted my game to be at. They knew I had all the attributes a striker could have. I was very strong I could play with both feet, I was good in the air. They just wanted me to have that little bit extra towards my game and I think this is what limited my chances a little bit, to progress to the reserves and so on. I wasn’t really thinking much ahead the first team, I was thinking one thing at a time. At the time they had 16’s, 17’s, 18’s and then the reserves. So my focus was how can I do it next level up and that was the biggest challenge because all my friends, like Jacques Maghoma and Simon Dawkins they were all playing a level above me. Like I was playing catch-up so that was my biggest challenge, but I got there.

How has your time at Spurs prepared you for your subsequent career in the game?

Claude: Mentally and physically it did prepare me because when I left Spurs and I went elsewhere I was fully confident, because I knew I worked on my game. First of all I went to Derby but due to sickness I couldn’t perform on the second game, that’s why I went to Watford. When I went to Watford everything I learned at Spurs helped me to sort of replicate that at Watford. They moved me from striker to left mid, because at Spurs I was playing pretty much everywhere. On the left wing, right wing and as a striker, I think that when Pat Holland was manager he picked me to play on the left because I could dribble across. So that helped me more in the next stage of my career where I could play different positions. When I went to Watford there was a game where I even played left back, everything I learned from my time at Spurs I could remember it and I knew how to play the game. Before I didn’t know how to play the game, I was more as if I was playing Sunday league. But now when I play the game I know how to drop short, receive passes and how to get myself inside the box and to turn if I have space, so it did prepare me.

Could you talk me through some of your memories of your time at Spurs or ones which particularly standout within your memory?

Claude: I’d say when we played in the Youth cup I can’t remember what team we played against. I came off in the last 10-15 minutes where I had about two chances, where I could have easily scored. Instead of side footing the ball it went between my legs. I had two chances like that when I could have changed the game.

After departing the Lilywhites you went onto play for a plethora of lower league sides such as Watford, Barnet and Boreham Wood, could you talk me through your career post Spurs?

Claude: From Spurs I went to Derby, Derby-Watford. I was there for a year plus when Aidy Boothroyd was the manager but I never got on with him. Being the person I am I had a different personality which Aidy Boothroyd didn’t like. I wasn’t noisy, I wasn’t loud I was just me. So whenever I had a bad game I used to think over and over again, and that sort of changed my attitude towards the training ground. At one point Aidy was asking what was wrong with me, he got my dad to come to the training ground asking my dad what’s wrong with your son, because he doesn’t smile. I was more focused on every time I had a bad game or when I do have a bad game, it plays on my mind quite a lot because I’m the sort of player that hates to have a bad game. I had a really good relationship with Aidy at the time when I first started at Watford, but then our relationship just sort of faded out. So from there I went to Barnet I also had a good relationship with Paul Fairclough, but again the relationship was too good. I didn’t know when to be a son to him because he saw me as a young man trying to come through. I was like a friend to him more than a player. From Barnet I went on loan to different places, I can’t remember the name of the clubs I went to. So from there it’s just like from one level to another, I believe that somewhere down the line it’s something to do with luck. It’s not like I didn’t have the talent, I had the talent. I worked on that, but sometimes it’s just having the best luck as well.

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

Claude: To be fair I didn’t really come up against that type of defender, because every opponent I faced I just got the best of them. So I cannot think of any. Any type of opposition, any type of defender I always found a way to make it difficult for them to play against me. I don’t remember when I went home and I thought, wow that defender was tough. I can’t think of one honestly.

What has been the pinnacle of your career thus far?

Claude: I would probably say when I was at Watford when things were good. Before they gave me a pro contract I played against one of the best right backs at Chelsea, a young guy (I forget his name) but they used to rate him quite a lot. That game it was either he get the best of me or I get the best of him, and that game I had the best of him. That game I destroyed him, I went past him a few times and I made it difficult for him to play against me. So I would say that was the best game because that led for me to get a pro contract at Watford.

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

Claude: I think I’m going to say Jacques Maghoma. He was unbelievable, his heart is like an engine, he never stops. I’ve never really seen him play a game where he was tired, he’s just constantly running. He was the best midfield player for his age group, it was nice to share the pitch with him. I always knew that every time I played with him he would give 110%.

What was it like making the step up from the under 18’s to the reserves and how tough was that change for you as a centre forward?

Claude: I don’t think it was tough like I said no matter any opponent, how old, how big, how strong or small they are. I’ve always found a way to outplay them, it’s just a shame that it was never on the reserve side, I was never given a chance to prove myself, because if I can move from U18’s to be on the bench for the reserves continuously at the time. When things were working out for me, I was scoring goals, I was always given the opportunity to be near the reserves. If I was given a chance and the same belief that people like Pat Holland had in me and the same belief I had in myself. If I had that when I was in the reserve side with Clive Allen, at the time I believe I would have done well. So I don’t think that there was any obstacles stopping me, it was just because I was never given a chance. So I can’t say it was a tough transition.

Are you still involved in the game in any capacity and if so do you have any future ambitions?

Claude: I’m not involved in the game anymore I’m 30 now, I’ve got a lot of things outside football that I’ve got to focus on. My job and other things I’m doing on the side which interfered with football. If I want to play semi-pro at this stage of my life I don’t think it would be the right thing to do. Unless tomorrow I do everything I want to do or everything I planned to do, then I’ve got spare time on my hands, so why not? For football it only takes one season where you bang in 30 goals, take another season and things can happen you just click your finger and you do well, and you’re back there again.

Some of your peers included the likes of Jacques Maghoma and Charlie Daniels. Do you still follow the progress of your old Tottenham teammates?

Claude: Yeah I still do, I see Jacques Maghoma on match of the day and Simon Dawkins is doing well as well. Pretty much all my friends that I used to play with at the time when I was in football, I used to follow them quite a lot. But now I’ve got better things to do then to follow them. If I’m sitting in front of a TV and they come across it then I’ll watch them, but to be following them everyday is not something I do anymore.

 

My interview with former Spurs player Barrie Aitchison:

My interview with former Spurs player Barrie Aitchison:

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Barrie Aitchison joined Spurs as a promising inside forward back in 1954, signed and scouted by a certain Arthur Rowe at a schoolboys game at Upton Park. The Essex native would go onto spend ten years at the lilywhites, a time which was spent mostly in the reserves and the old A team. However, Aitchison would go onto play under three Spurs managers, experiencing first hand the remarkable transformation of the club, from the end of Arthur Rowe’s reign to the beginning of Bill Nicholson’s legendary managerial tenure, Barrie also met his wife in nearby Edmonton. Aitchison in his own words feels that he was incredibly unlucky not to have been given an opportunity in the first team during his spell at the club. He would eventually leave Spurs in 1964 to return to Colchester where he would sign for the towns premier club Colchester United. Barrie would go onto appear over 50 times for Colchester before dropping into the non league with Cambridge City in 1966. Barrie was managed by a familiar face, his old Tottenham teammate Tony Marchi. Mr Aitchison still lives in the Colchester area and he kindly agreed to doing an interview with me about his fascinating time at the lilywhites.

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

Barrie: I signed for Arthur Rowe, Arthur Rowe was the manager then this was in 1954. What had happened is that he saw me playing for London and Home county schools. When I was 15 we drew north midland county at Upton Park and he wrote to my father and asked me if I could go up and trial. I went up a couple of times on trial and there was a lot of people from a lot of the youth turning up, but he got in touch with me afterwards and said that he’d like to take me on the ground staff, I was only 16 then. But he could only take me on for 10 weeks because he had a lot of others there and he had his full quota. I went for 10 weeks and then he said in that time if I think you’ll make it I’ll sign you as a professional when you’re 17. Which was about a month after that time, in January he wrote to me and father and said that he wanted to sign me on, so that’s how I came to go there.

What was Arthur like?

Barrie: Smashing fellow! When I first went there I was very small, I was quite small for my age. They used to have lunches under the stand, they had a restaurant where you used to go to lunch. He took me in there and he said to the catering staff I want this lad to have a steak everyday, to build me up like. I signed in December 1955, I signed professional on I think £7.50 a week.

You spent ten years at Spurs what was your time at the Lilywhites like on the whole?

Barrie: Pretty good really, it was good everybody was quite friendly there so it was pretty good on the whole.

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

Barrie: When I was at school I used to always look to see if Billy Steel scored, he was an inside forward for Derby County. A Scots international and he used to sort of be my hero, I used to always look to see if he’d scored goals.

Who were your greatest influences at the club?

Barrie: It’s hard to say really, I played with Jimmy Greaves for one game because when Jimmy signed from Juventus they couldn’t get him registered in time. So he played in a reserve game at Plymouth Argyle which was away, he scored two goals and I got one goal. I was playing on the wing then, what I do remember when I first went to Tottenham I was really an inside forward. But Arthur Rowe said to me we were going to play you on the wing Barrie because you’ve put on a bit more weight. I never did get back playing inside forward I used to play on both wings left or right, so I was always sort of recognised as a winger.

Being a winger were there any other players at the club or outside who you’d would model your game around?

Barrie: I used to look at Cliff Jones a lot because he was brilliant in the air you know. He was only a little fellow really, 5’6 like me and he was brilliant in the air, Cliff and Terry Medwin. I tried to model myself on him.

What was it like to brush shoulders with the likes of Danny Blanchflower, John White and Sir Bill Nicholson on a regular basis?

Barrie: It was quite alright, John White when he first came to Tottenham I think he came from Berwick. I used to pick him up in the mornings at Tottenham town hall and take him into training. I used to pick him up before he got a car himself like.

What was John White like?

Barrie: He was a smashing fellow they were all pretty good you know, they mixed very well. We used to do a lot of training at Cheshunt in them days which was their training ground then. I got a call from me national service when I was 18 I had to do two years in the army and in that time Arthur Rowe was unwell and he had to retire. Jimmy Anderson took over from Arthur Rowe, I played under three managers whilst I was there Arthur Rowe, Jimmy Anderson and Bill Nicholson.

Who was your favourite out of those three managers?

Barrie: It was definitely Arthur Rowe he used to encourage me all the time really.

How did your time at Spurs prepare you for your subsequent career in the game?

Barrie: I was there a long time because I never made a first team appearance not in the league or anything. I should have done really, there was games when Bill Nicholson had signed players on like John Smith from West Ham. If someone got injured on the right wing or something, instead of putting me in he would play John Smith who was a right half at outside right. Or Eddie Clayton who was another inside forward.

Why do you think that was?

Barrie: I don’t know really it’s hard to say.

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories of your time at Spurs or ones which particularly standout within your memory from your time in the reserves?

Barrie: When we played Luton reserves at White Hart Lane and I think it was 7-1 we won and I got four goals. Three of them were headers, crosses from Tony Marchi. Tony was in the reserves because Dave Mackay was in the first team then. I used to get quite a few goals I think it was in 62, I didn’t miss one game in the reserves. I played all 34 games and scored 17 goals.

After departing the lilywhites you went onto play for teams such as Colchester United and Cambridge City could you talk me through what prompted you to leave the club and your career post Spurs?

Barrie: What happened really it was 62-63 and Nicholson called me in and said Scunthorpe had been on the phone and they wanted to sign me on. So I met with their manager who was Dickie Duckworth, at Kings Cross and I wasn’t keen on going to Scunthorpe you know. It was right up in Lincolnshire and my mother wasn’t all that well at that time in Colchester. I wasn’t all that happy about going there because to be quite honest Tottenham Hotspur were going to get £10,000 and I think I was going to get about £500 out of it. All them years I’d been there, nine years almost I thought they were going to get all that money back, so I played for them for nothing and I weren’t very happy about that! Bill Nicholson said to me what are you going to do if you’re on the list at the end of the season, well I said to be quite honest that’s a chance I’ll take. So with that I thought I was bound to be put on the transfer list, we only had contracts for one year then, we used to sign every June. I knew Alf Ramsey when I used to clean his boots whilst I was on the ground staff. So I phoned Alf and he said alright Barrie leave it with me he said, Alf Ramsey was at Ipswich then, of course that was near to Colchester so it would have suited me lovely. But then what happened he didn’t get back to me, Ipswich signed a young winger Aled Owen (from Spurs) and he went to Ipswich and at the end of the season Bill Nicholson signed me back on.

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

Barrie: I can tell you who that was. England played a practice game over at Cheshunt, we played an England eleven against a Tottenham eleven. Just a practice game, it was behind closed doors obviously. I played left wing and I thought this would have been a good time for me to shine, who was playing right back for England Jimmy Armfield, and I didn’t get a kick! I kept on trying to get away from him, but he was there all the time, he was a fantastic fullback he really was. Jimmy Armfield was the best I ever played against. Johnny Hayes was playing that day as well for England.

What was the pinnacle of your career?

Barrie: It’s hard to say really, when I went to Colchester first season was a bit of a struggle because the manager was Mel Franklin, he was the old England centre half. He played for England with Stanley Matthews and all them, he struggled the first season but the second season what happened was I got to play inside forward which I hadn’t done and I was playing really well, scoring goals. Then against Rochdale at Colchester I damaged my knee and had to have a cartilage operation which never went right. I was off for about three or four months, I got back in the team but left at the end of that season (I had two seasons there). The pinnacle was probably Ted Phillips who signed for Colchester from Luton and at his first home game he scored a hat trick and we beat Barnsley 4-1. I scored the other goal which was a 25 yarder right in the top corner, so that was probably my highlight because there was a good crowd there watching Ted make his debut. After that season Frank offered me part time terms and I wasn’t happy to do that at the time. So my mate Tony Marchi was the manager of Cambridge City then, so I signed for Cambridge and played for them in the southern league. That was pretty good, Tony was a pretty fair bloke.

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

Barrie: Well the greatest striker was obviously Jimmy Greaves Jimmy was a fantastic player. He was so quick and agile, but one other great player who I played against when I was playing for Spurs A actually. We played Cambridge, we was in the eastern counties league, who was playing for Cambridge United, Wilf Mannion! Wilf was a great inside forward who played for England. We won the match and he shook hands with me after the game because I’d only be about 18 then, and he said well done son you done well today. And shaking hands with him, Wilf Mannion who played all those games for England, he was an absolutely brilliant player. But I would say probably Jimmy Greaves being a striker you know, Jimmy was a fantastic player and a nice fellow as well. He said to me one day you know what I do when I’ve only got the goalkeeper to beat, I watch that goalkeeper he said. And as soon as he moves towards me I play the play ball past him, with his little left foot he used to just play it round because he caught him unaware. Fantastic timing to do that absolutely brilliant the way he used to do it. He’d have probably been knighted I should think if he’d have played when England won the World Cup, of course he was injured as Geoff Hurst played instead of him.

What was the toughest moment of your career?

Barrie: Toughest moment was coming back after injury the toughest part was missing the games. I had a couple of bad injuries at Tottenham when I done a bad ankle, and then I had a blood clot cut out of me ankle. At the time I was off about nine or ten weeks, then I dislocated an elbow playing in a London midweek game against Charlton and I was out for about three months then. Then also when I had the cartilage at Colchester I was out a long time then, so the worst part was not being able to get out there and play, watching all the chaps play when you couldn’t play yourself.

After all these years could you tell me what Spurs still means to you?

Barrie: I still support them, me brother does as well actually, once you play for Tottenham that long you always follow them and support them like. I do anyhow.

Have you ever been back to the lane since you left?

Barrie: No I haven’t no, I haven’t been back since I left. I do tell a fib there because after I left Cambridge I was still having a bit of knee trouble, and they went bankrupt. So I signed for Bury St Edmunds in the old Essex counties league and I played at White Hart Lane one day. So going back and playing at White Hart Lane just after I’d left there. And then after I left there my knee was still bad and he said if you carry on playing your going to end up a cripple. So I packed up when I was about 31 I think it was then.

Where did you go for you military service?

Barrie: I went to Aldershot and done me training and then to Yeovil in Somerset to do private training and the rest of the army training. They called me into say that because I was a Tottenham player I’d be going back to Aldershot one battalion, I said to the lads I’m going back to the training battalion in Aldershot. When the postings went up being an Aitchison I was right at the top and it said Private Aitchison to 31 camp Perth, Scotland. Everybody else all went to West Germany and I went to Perth in Scotland. Where I was thinking of getting a game playing for St.Johnstone anyhow, I got called in (I was up there for three months) and they gave me a travel warrant and said you’re going back to Aldershot one training battalion and he said they’ve been looking for you everywhere. I went back there and fortunately enough who was there, Bill Foulkes of Manchester United and Brian Harris of Everton, there was loads of players. I finished the rest of me time there at Aldershot at one training battalion, RAF.

Barrie on Danny Blanchflower: Danny was a very quiet chap except when he was talking about football, when he was talking about football you couldn’t stop him. But he never really mixed that well, but he was a great player he never used to waste a pass hardly.

Barrie on Ted Ditchburn: My favourite keeper was Ted Ditchburn, I remember playing games in the reserves with Ted and I remember one particular game. He was playing at Bristol City, I was a young lad and I got picked on. He came down the halfway line and he said if you kick that lad again, you come up in my area and I’ll sort you out, that was Ted! Ted would say before the game if any crosses come in (high crosses) on or inside that six yard box there mine. So get out the way he said or I’ll take you with it and all, anything that was in that six yard box he used come out and just gobble them up. Fantastic player.

My interview with former Spurs player Derek Tharme:

My interview with former Spurs player Derek Tharme:

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I don’t use the word privileged lightly but I felt exactly that on Friday afternoon, when I got the opportunity to interview former Spurs player Derek Tharme. He may not have played for the first team during his time at the club, but Derek who turns 80 later this year was present throughout one of the most exciting periods in the clubs history. Joining Spurs way back in 1956 the fullback from Brighton had to adapt to life in the big smoke, he lived in digs up in Ponders end with the late great Mel Hopkins. Tharme managed to establish himself in the old Spurs A team (a time before we had even established a proper youth team) playing alongside some fine young pros, Derek would also brush shoulders with the first team on a daily basis. However, not long into his time at the lilywhites Tharme had to do military service, something which hampered the promising fullbacks development at the club. In total Derek spent five years at Spurs, during that time he saw the club transform into the household name it is today, he got to experience first hand the magic of Bill Nicholson. He got to know many Tottenham legends during his time at the club, ranging from Ted Ditchburn to Bobby Smith who he would later play alongside for Hastings United. After getting released by Spurs in 1961, Derek went onto sign for Southend United. Unfortunately a bad knee injury ended his time at the shrimpers shortly after working his way into the first team. Derek would subsequently return to his native Sussex, playing for a whole host of semi professional clubs, before entering the world of management. Derek still lives by the south coast and he still retains his love for both Tottenham Hotspur and local side Brighton who he also follows closely to this very day.

(Pictured above during a game involving the Spurs A team and Clacton in 1956. Derek is two places to the right of goalkeeper John Hollowbread.)

You came to Spurs in the mid 1950’s a period of great transition for the club. What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs, and how did you come about joining the club?

Derek: They had a scout I think his name was Ned Liddell and I was playing for Whitehawk. There was two players there, myself and a centre forward called Bob Meelia, he was a little bit older than me. We both came up but I think he played in different trials to me, I played in a game at Highbury against Arsenal 11. And then I played in a game at Oxford University and they took it from there I suppose. At the time I was playing for the Sussex County side and I think we had a game against Bedfordshire at Luton, and they obviously had somebody watching me then and they took it on from there, which was in October 1956. I went up there and I was in digs with Mel Hopkins in Ponders end and that was really the start of it.

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

Derek: It was a great experience obviously there were so many class players around at the time, it was such a good time for the club with the double around the 60’s. So there was an abundance of players there, I think there was probably about 35 pros there. So it was very difficult as a young player to get into the first team, and as you know a lot of them were internationals as well. I was in digs with Mel Hopkins who was a Welsh international and he had a job to get into the side once he was injured. He got injured playing for Wales against Scotland I think, and he fractured his nose and cheekbone and he was out for quite sometime. Of course then he lost his place to Ron Henry and it was difficult for him to get back in.

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

Derek: Being a Brighton boy I used to go and watch Brighton and I think at the time there was a player called Jimmy Langley. I don’t know if he came from Fulham or he went to Fulham, but he was such a great player. I liked the way he played, he was adventurous going down the wings, fullbacks didn’t do that much in those days. He’s probably one that comes to mind apart from all the others at Spurs.

Who were your greatest influences at the club?

Derek: Although Jimmy Anderson signed me on Bill Nicholson has got to be the one, I mean he was the coach and obviously trained you in pre season. As we all trained together, as a squad you learnt very quickly from that, it was good times to be around. The only thing I didn’t like was at the weekends on a Saturday I think, we used to do these six mile road runs which wasn’t my forte. I was quite good at short stuff, sprints and that sort of thing. Hard pre season training but it stood you in good stead for the remainder of the season.

Being a full back were there any other players at the club or outside who you’d would model your game around?

Derek: Being in digs with Mel obviously we spoke a lot and I sort of took something from him. I think he was about four years older than me so obviously he was more experienced at the time, and only being 18 you take these things in don’t you. But basically being a fullback he did help me a lot.

What was it like to brush shoulders with the likes of Danny Blanchflower, Bobby Smith and Sir Bill Nicholson on a regular basis?

Derek: Because you were there day in day out you just assumed that they were there all the time. There was a pub right outside the old ground, the White Hart and we all used to mingle in there after the morning training, and go for lunch or something like that. I always remember Bobby Smith and Alfie Stokes because they were right gamblers you know, and of course they used to like gambling. I always remember Dave Mackay, I think he used to eat steak but he didn’t eat the steak, he just chewed it and left the rest on the plate. You know all those things you sort of remember, great times. Danny was like a professor, a professor amongst the young boys, quite an intelligent person and he showed that on the pitch.

How did your time at Spurs prepare you for your subsequent career in the game?

Derek: I suppose really the way they taught me how to play you know, and I took that with me when I left Spurs and I went to Southend. Fortunately I got into the first team there and I suppose I was really unlucky, because at Spurs I think I went five or six years without an injury. I got into the first side and we were playing against Bournemouth, I think it was about the seventh game I was playing and that’s where I got this serious knee injury. Which sort of put paid to full time professional football, although I remained there until the season ended and that was that. That was a bad time.

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories of your time at Spurs or ones which particularly standout within your memory?

Derek: I think obviously the ones that stand out mostly is the double year and also the two cup finals, year after year. As you know we won both of those and the celebrations afterwards, they really were the highlights. Also probably late 60’s when they were in the European cup, the midweek floodlit games I think I vaguely remember a few, they were fantastic nights! They really were the standouts of my time there.

How about for the A team?

Derek: When I first went there we used to play all our games away so we did quite a bit of traveling, and they looked after us very well. We used to always stop for lunch and usually in those days we used to have steak. Then we played the game and then on the way back, I don’t think we ever used to stop but they used to give us five shillings tea money, it was great! Before I went in the forces I was in digs in Ponders end but obviously when I came out of the forces I got married in 1960. Then I used to travel up each day from Brighton to Tottenham. I always remember one day they signed Jimmy Greaves on, and I met him outside the ground. He had his big jaguar left hand drive you know, we used to go to Cheshunt to train and I got a lift with him that day.

Initially we used to play all our games away and then I think the latter years we used to play our home games at Cheshunt. But when I was in the forces I played for a side called the western command and we played the Irish league in Belfast. We had Bobby Charlton, Peter Dobing and also at the camp where I was based in Donnington in Shropshire, was a pro with Notts County called John Sheridan and a Scottish boy Alex Hamilton who played for Accrington Stanley. We got walloped 6-0 by the Irish league it was in Windsor park, on paper we had a strong side but we still got beat. Funnily enough me and my wife went on a World Cup cruise in the year 2000 and all the World Cup team were on it, but the only one that was missing from Bobby Moore was Bobby Charlton. After leaving Southend I went to Hastings United in the southern league and I was there about four or five years, and then really I sort of gave it up a bit because I was still getting trouble with my knee. Then Roy Jennings who took over at Crawley phoned me up, and I went up there for five years. I finished my semi pro time at Crawley and then I played for Burgess Hill a Sussex County league side. Then I managed a couple of teams in the Sussex County league.

After departing the lilywhites you went onto play for teams such as Southend United and Crawley, could you talk me through what prompted you to leave the club and your career post Spurs?

Derek: They released me, I wasn’t going to get into any first sides up there, then I signed for Southend. That was in 61/62, I played seven games there and got the knee injury and that was it.

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

Derek: There were plenty of them but I don’t remember there names, the one that sort of sticks in my mind was when I made my league debut for Southend which was at Watford, Vicarage Road. They had a left winger called Freddie Bunce he gave me a really torrid time that day, and of course it being your debut in the league it was really an eye opener.

What was the pinnacle of your career?

Derek: I suppose being with the A team, we were a very very good side. We won the league on a few occasions and also the east Anglian cup final. I’ll always remember that, that was played at White Hart Lane and we won that as well. I suppose the pinnacle really in a way like any professional is it make a league debut. That would have been at Southend when I played at Watford, I mean I played in Cup finals for other teams and that sort of thing, but like any young footballer you want to make your league debut. So probably I would say that would be.

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

Derek: If you want to go by names Bobby Smith. He came to Hastings as well, in fact I used to pick him up and take him to Hastings. I also remember John White when he came to Spurs ‘the ghost’, fantastic he was and a tragic end for him wasn’t it.

What was Bobby like when he was at Hastings?

Derek: Don’t quote me on this but we were playing a midweek game at Ashford in Kent I think it was his first game for Hastings, it was a floodlit game. It was about 7:15 and he hadn’t turned up, anyway he did eventually turn up in time for the kick off and they all wondered where he’d went. He’d been to Folkestone races!

What was the toughest moment of your career?

Derek: I think that would have been when I damaged my knee against Bournemouth at Southend. It was a really serious knee injury, in those days they didn’t have the equipment and facilities they’ve got in front of them today, and in those days we didn’t have any subs. They used to try and get you back on the pitch just to be a nuisance. I was out for a very long time I think it was about three months, and of course if you ask any footballer. Any injury likes knees, ankles and joints are far worse then probably a broken leg because a broken leg can mend but damage to the knees and ankles don’t get much better.

After all these years could you tell me what Spurs still means to you?

Derek: Oh god, there obviously the first result I look for every Saturday or in midweek games. And I suppose second to that would be Brighton, but I’ve never been back (to White Hart Lane).

Not long after you joined the club you had to do military service. What was that like and how did it affect your development as a footballer at Spurs?

Derek: It curtailed it obviously because we didn’t get the everyday training which we were having before I went into the forces. But I was very, very lucky the club used to phone up our camp on a Thursday and ask permission at the weekend to play football. And as I mentioned John Sheridan and Alex Hamilton were both playing as well for their clubs, and we used to get off every week. In those days when you were a professional in the forces they had to retain you on a pound a week. But when I used to get home to play I used to get appearance plus bonuses, which I think was £1.50 at the time, of course they were paying my travel expenses as well. It doesn’t sound a lot of money but in the 60’s or late 50’s it was quite good money. I went for basic training down in Hillsy in Portsmouth and then I went trade training to Blackdown near Aldershot. I think in those days you were earmarked if you were a pro footballer, you were earmarked for different places and I went to Donnington in Shropshire which is near Telford as it is now. I was there for two years and and the only weekend I spent at camp was when they had the Suez crisis on. Really I had quite an easy time in the army but I really enjoyed it, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Another player who you would have known from your time at the club was the legendary Len Duquemin. What was he like as both a player and a person?

Derek: He was a lovely fellow he was so easy to talk to and as you know he came from the Channel Islands and he was a centre forward, but he was made of iron, he really was. And such a lovely bloke. Ted Ditchburn was exactly the same (Derek scored a penalty against Ted in a game involving Burgess Hill and Romford) and Harry Clarke, lovely people to be around. They were the sort of people who had a bit more time for you. They’d seen it all before.

My interview with ex Spurs player John Margerrison:

My interview with ex Spurs player John Margerrison:

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John Margerrison was a highly thought of youth prospect at Spurs during the early 1970’s. A talented central midfielder, Margerrison would go onto play a big part in Spurs winning the 1974 FA youth cup. Following on from his time at Spurs, Margerrison made a name for himself at London clubs Fulham, Leyton Orient and Barnet via stints in both Holland and America. I caught up with John to discuss his memories from his time at the club.

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

John: I joined Spurs from school at around 15, as an apprentice. Their scouts saw me play for the county football side, Hertsmere, and invited me down for training. From the training they then offered me an apprenticeship. Other clubs such as Arsenal, Leeds, Aston Villa also offered me apprenticeships too. I went with Spurs as always I followed them growing up. At first it was cleaning the first teams boots and the gyms, alongside the football.

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

John: Very enjoyable. Met some great players and made some good friends. Was very sad when I left.

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

John: To be honest I didn’t really have any specific inspirations, I just enjoyed playing football. It was a dream to be able to do it as a profession from a young age.

Who were your greatest influences at the club?

John: At the club Pat Welton the youth team coach and Eddie Bailey the reserve team coach were very influential in my progress as a player. I had a good relationship with them both. I think they saw I had potential and always tried to push me further in my development.

Being a midfielder, were there any other players at the club or outside who you’d would model your game around?

John: Again, not really. I always played midfield and enjoyed that this position meant I was quite involved in every match. I literally played from an enjoyment point of view and my game came from there with the help of coaches and teammates.

 

What was the toughest thing about being an apprentice at Spurs and what were your biggest challenges?

John: I think who had the biggest challenge was the coaching staff. I was always told I had great skill but lacked in pushing myself to my full potential. Getting me to do that was a challenge. Trying to get in the first team was the toughest thing. I was with great up and coming players so it was never going to be easy.

How did your time as both an apprentice and professional at Spurs prepare you for your subsequent career in the game?

John: It definitely helped make me a better player. Playing against/with great players and pushing myself to get into the first team improved my game both physically and mentally.

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories of your time at Spurs or ones which particularly standout in your memory?

John: Just to be there, around professionals, taking in the clubs achievements was a dream come true. As I said I’d followed the club since being introduced to football so to be in the youth team was an amazing achievement.

After leaving Spurs in 1975 you went onto join fellow London club Fulham, from there you played for a variety of clubs including Leyton Orient, Barnet, Kansas City comets and Wealdstone. Could you talk me through your career post Spurs?

John: Playing at Fulham, I was close to getting in the first team and the manager came to watch me. In that game I had a stinker and later went off injured. I was close to getting transferred but worked my way back to get into the first team. The first few years at Fulham I have fond memories of. At Leyton Orient I had some good and bad games, looking back I’m disappointed in my performance at the club. At Kansas I only had a few games and didn’t really have time to adjust to the game there, as it was a 5 a side team and they played at a million miles an hour. After there I went to Holland and the team there wanted to sign me, but family commitments stopped me. Looking back I think I may have enjoyed it there. I really enjoyed my time at Barnet. I played some great football and made some life long friends. At the same time however it was here I suffered an injury that I feel I never really fully recovered from, snapping my medial ligament in my knee. This then effected my time at Wealdstone. However, I enjoyed my time there and got voted players player, and fans player of the season, so didn’t do too bad.

Whilst at Fulham you played alongside the legendary George Best, What was George like to play with?

John: He was such a fantastic player, far better than the rest of us. Not only that he was a really lovely bloke with it. I have some great memories with him.

What was the pinnacle of your career?

John: What always comes to mind is scoring against Man United in the FA cup at Fulham. Such a great feeling.

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

John: I played with some great players, Glen Hoddle, Graham Souness. However it goes without saying that George Best was just that, the absolute best.

Are you still in contact with any of your former Tottenham team mates?

John: No, sadly not.

I couldn’t end our interview without talking about the triumphant FA youth cup winning side of 1974, a side which you played a major part in. What are your memories of that campaign and did winning the cup help your development as a player?

John: I tried to think about this but I just can’t remember much. I know I scored in the draw at White Hart Lane against Huddersfield. In the first leg we should have won the match in the first half. Second leg it was anyone’s game. A great experience and achievement in the start of my career, and I’m sure it would have gave me more confidence as a player.

 

My interview with former Spurs player Andy Bish:

My interview with former Spurs player Andy Bish:

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A fullback for Spurs during the 1960’s, east Londoner Andy Bish joined Spurs as a schoolboy before progressing right up to professional level for Spurs where he is pictured above, back in 1967 (third to the right of a certain Pat Jennings!). Bish never got a chance to play for the Tottenham senior side and eventually moved out to Gloucestershire, where he would combine teaching with playing for local sides Cheltenham Town and Forest Green. Bish has achieved some remarkable things throughout his career both as a footballer and as a teacher. He played over 1000 games of football and played a key role in helping Forest Green climb their way up the footballing ladder. But besides his achievements in the game, Andy has also made an outstanding contribution to teaching. Andy has taught in schools for over 40 years, a role in which he continues to do to this very day, aged 69. Mr Bish has taught both in mainstream schools and in special needs schools and PRU’s. Andy’s tales from his time at Spurs are both fascinating and intriguing, and it was both a pleasure and a privilege to have interviewed the former Spurs man about his time at the club. What he has achieved throughout his career is nothing short of extraordinary, and as a massive Spurs fan I am immensely proud to call him one of our own. Wouldn’t it be nice if Andy could be Paul Coyte’s halftime guest of honour at some point next season, in our brand new stadium!

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

Andy: Thank you for the opportunity to share my memories and experiences from my time at Spurs. I am 70 next birthday so the 60’s when I played are in the distant past but the questions have re-ignited memories of a wonderful time with memorable personalities. My earliest memory must be Sunday 26 April 1964 when I reported to White Hart Lane then to be taken by Henry’s Coaches to the Cheshunt Training Ground for a schoolboy trial game. My invite came after a school district Cup Final for West Ham Boys played at Upton Park where my claim to fame was to make a clearance out of the ground over the “ Chicken Run “ where the steward expected me to go and retrieve the ball. Thankfully the referee would not let me leave the field of play. Anyway after the game a Spurs scout Norman Corbett came to my house and invited me to the trial. I must have done well because I was invited to sign on as an Associate Schoolboy.

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

Andy: I had a 5 year connection with the club as a schoolboy, youth player and a Full Professional. I joined as a very impressionable 15 year old and being part of such a great club was very difficult at the time to comprehend and appreciate. One co-incidence is that in Gloucestershire where I now reside the  football club I last played for is also nicknamed the Lilywhites !

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

Andy: As a kid I ‘ supported ‘ Manchester United as so many people did and vividly remember when my favourite footballer Duncan Edwards died in the Munich Air Disaster but it was not long before I began a more local football allegiance. I was born and bred in East London. In the West Ham maternity hospital on the day I was born a Mrs Brooking was giving birth to her son Trevor followed a few days later by Mrs Lampard producing son Frank. So we grew up as schoolboy contemporaries amongst so many other famous names in the area. West Ham was the local team to support where at the end of games you could go on the pitch and meet the likes of Malcolm Allison and Bobby Moore who to a young boy were towering influences. In the Spurs Double Year of 60-61 I was behind the goal when Dave Mackay smashed the winner against West Ham and we all ducked in case he broke the net!

Who were your greatest influences at the club?

Andy: After my schoolboy trial at Cheshunt and signing as a schoolboy the doors into White Hart Lane opened and I became part of the club. Dick Walker was our youth contact who was the most charming and charamistic person to liaise with Mums and Dads and care for our welfare. On evening games he would bring Mrs Bick the ‘ Blonde Bombshell ‘ from the office to a night out only for her to find she was having to write up a report about the game at Ipswich or Cambridge. The coach and manager I first came into contact with was an ex player Sid Tickridge who I came to admire and really appreciated. He had been a fullback himself at the club and I am sure his reports of my games influenced my progress. As I progressed through the ranks I then came more into contact with Johnny Wallis and Eddie Baily and of course Bill Nicholson who always had a lot of time for me after I came into contact and I recounted to him that he was a one capped England player versus Portugal who scored on his debut and held the record for the fastest goal scored in 19 seconds! He shared with me how on a Tuesday he was not to be disturbed in his office as he read scouting reports on players of every position in case he had an injury and had to buy a replacement. He really laughed one time when his reports included Keith Weller and Derek Possee who he had sold to Millwall but had matured into 1st Division material. On another occasion I was in his office on a ‪Friday morning‬ when he and Eddie Baily selected the Saturday teams. Every player had a named disc that could be put on hooks on a stand for each of the 3 Professional teams. That way he accounted for all players. I recall he had asked my advice about some injuries that might affect selection. Another big influence for me was when Pat Welton became a youth coach as in the evenings I would attend the club to assist him with youth training. He became a role model and mentor for me as I took my coaching badges. Eventually he became the full time youth manager and transformed the set up to win the F.A. Youth Cup.

Being a fullback, were there any other players at the club or outside who you’d would model your game around?

Andy: In the 60’s schoolboy and youth players could sit on benches alongside the pitch for home matches. This was really up close and personal ! When Cyril Knowles was signed from Middlesbrough I related to his style of play being so close and really admired him. At pre season training at Cheshunt he organised the lunchtime cricket matches and I never knew him without a smile on his face. Later in life I met him when he was manager of Torquay and his hair had turned white. He had tragedy in his life when a stone shattered his car windscreen and killed his son sitting on the back seat. He died of a brain tumour which was very sad. Dave Mackay was an absolute mountain of a person who influenced everyone around him. On his recoveries from broken leg he played practice games and in the ‘A’ team as a left half in front of me at left back. He would talk and commentate for the whole 90 minutes helping, encouraging and offering advice. He was a great loss when he left the club. At pre season in ‘68 I was asked to show a visitor to Cheshunt to meet Dave Mackay. I found myself in a car with a soft spoken Brian Clough who was going to persuade him to go to Derby and not Hearts!

What was the toughest thing about being an apprentice at Spurs during the mid 1960’s?

Andy: I did not follow the normal route into football. On leaving school ‪at 15 a‬ young player would become an apprentice professional for 2 years before if good enough be offered a 2 year full professional contract. I was at Grammar School so took exams at 16 then Advanced Level exams at 18 because I always wanted to be a PE teacher. Way back in 1967 the Head teacher of my school came striding through the school hall after my last exam telling me he had just had a phone call from a Mr Nicholson asking permission to sign me as a Professional Footballer and could I go to the ground to sign. Off I went and signed for the grand sum of £14 a week. I would also receive travel expenses and a win bonus of £2 if I was in a winning team. I remember Bill Nicholson warning that very few players made the grade from the youth set up as every year he made a big signing to strengthen the team. I was allocated a kit number of 31 so any footwear or training kit with that number was mine. I was so proud at signing as a professional that I did not take much in but remember on the bus home wanting to tell everyone but kept quiet.

How did your time as both an apprentice and professional at Spurs prepare you for your subsequent career in the game?

Andy: What stands out for me is how well I was treated and cared for. Perhaps it was down to my personality and respect from others. However I saw how difficult some players found others around them. Graeme Souness was a apprentice who was very quickly disliked through his arrogance and attitude of superiority and antagonised those around him. Very often he had a bar of soap rammed in his mouth to shut him up. On another occasion the apprentices became so fed up with him that a few got the boot polish and “ blackened his balls “ This led to him quite often going AWOL back to Scotland.

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories of your time at Spurs or ones which particularly standout in your memory?

Andy: It would be when I became a Full Professional and the transition from youth player. Attending pre season training for 4 weeks at Cheshunt was a real experience. All players were welcomed back before setting off on Bill Nicholson’s favourite activity, Power Walking through the lanes of Cheshunt. Then it would be communal lunch in the pavilion where Greaves and Gilzean would pick one of the young newcomers to take their order for wine to Eddie Baily who would go apoplectic and shake his fist! In the break Cyril Knowles organised teams for cricket before more power walking or jogging. Because Eddie Baily had bad knees he would ride a bike at the back of the group. He had to keep it locked up or the bike would be sabotaged with tyres let down and he even had a wheel go missing. Greaves and Gilzean were the jokers again because if a car wanted to pass they would jump on the back for a lift leaving Eddie Baily shaking his fist again. One afternoon was always a press photo shoot where we had to sit on benches whilst photographers moved along taking individual portraits before the big team photo. Once league fixtures started we trained at the ground with always one day often Wednesday at Cheshunt to play 1st team versus Reserves with track suited Bill Nicholson directing play and organising free kicks and moving players around into correct positions. Training at the ground would involve running laps around the perimeter of the pitch, exercises and weights with Bill Watson in the gym before small sided games in the indoor training area. Friday was very light with running spikes on to do sprints before team sheets were put up for the Saturday fixtures. Every home game we could buy 4 tickets which we took over to The White Hart pub to sell to Stan Flashman the ticket tout. At the start of the season we would be given 2 season tickets which most young players sold. Mine went to Frank Saul for his Canvey Island Spurs supporters. Other players had side lines. Terry Reardon would bring in clothing whilst Steve Perryman could get the Vinyl records which was how we listened to music at the time! Once the season was under way we had a day off a week plus every afternoon. So lots of spare time which I used to go back to the ground and help with the youth training. This I found an invaluable experience and made me realise how much I enjoyed working with young people.

Could you talk me through what happened after you left Spurs?

Andy: In 1969 towards the end of my contract I applied for Teacher Training at St Paul’s College, Cheltenham. Bill Nicholson was very supportive as during the War years he was a Physical Training Instructor so he did not stand in my way. My last month at Spurs was hectic playing for the Reserves against Arsenal where I marked Charlie George, Walsall and Birmingham before my farewell game at Hatfield on Saturday 17 May 1969 for the ‘A’ team which we won 3-2. It was nostalgic and brought to a conclusion 5 happy and wonderful years as a Spurs player. But as one door shuts another opens.

What prompted your move to play football in Gloucestershire and how did you manage to combine training as a teacher with playing football?

Andy: Leaving London to live in Cheltenham was a real culture shock and I had to get used to a different pace of life in the rural Cotswolds. I would never have dreamed at the time that I would go on to spend the rest of my life in Gloucestershire. Teacher training was 3 years full time where I played for the college football team. However in the final year I played Southern League football for Cheltenham Town earning £5 a game plus expenses and a win bonus. On leaving college I entered teaching as a PE teacher and having been a professional footballer this fact was always picked up on my CV. It opened so many doors to me. As well as teaching I became team manager to District and County Football teams and became well respected in The English Schools Football Association. I also started a 10 year career with Forest Green Rovers who I helped progress through County, Hellenic and Southern Leagues. They are now in the Football League.

What was the pinnacle of your career?

Andy: Looking back there are so many highlights. From my time at Spurs I have always kept a record of games played. My last games as a spritely 50 something were in the Umbro Veterans Competition and in the Gloucestershire Senior League for a Stroud team called Brimscombe nicknamed ‘The Lilywhites’. The pinnacle came when I realised an ambition when my record of games showed I had reached 1000 games. I had a good write up in the local press and felt that I should now move aside for a younger generation. I carried on coaching for a while with the Gloucester Ladies Team which was a new experience. During one session someone had a quiet word about not coaching chest control!

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

Andy: Two players stand out. Dave Mackay who was a great role model and inspiration and whilst at Cheltenham we had Johnny Haynes ex Fulham and England as a guest player. He was always looking for the ball and seemed like a magnet in receiving the ball.

Are you still in contact with any of your former Spurs team mates?

Andy: The players at Spurs were team mates who you trained and played with did not really socialise with so I am not in contact. However I have come across ex players in later life. I played against David Jenkins in Bristol, Steve Pitt and Brian Parkinson who were playing for Stevenage and Cheltenham played Swindon who were managed by Dave Mackay and had Ray Bunkell as a player. In 1986 after the ‘hand of God’ World Cup Glenn Hoddle and myself had neighbouring holiday homes in Spain. Topics of conversation were about Spurs but he was about to leave for Monaco. Little did I know that by 1991 he was back in England as player manager of Swindon and I would be coaching at their Centre of Excellence and Manager of their Under 15 Youth Team which I combined with teaching. Dare I mention Arsenal! One of my managers at Forest Green was Peter Goring ex Arsenal from the 50’s. I had taken training for him one evening and in the clubhouse after he gave me a handful of loose change to buy myself a drink. Amongst the coins was a medal. When I returned it he said thank goodness, I wondered where that was. It was his F.A. Cup Final Winners Medal from 1950 when Arsenal beat Liverpool. Luckily I had not spent it! Whilst playing one ‪Saturday afternoon‬ an opponent told me he knew me from Spurs. It turned out to be Peter Storey who used to be an Arsenal player before being given a prison sentence for counterfeiting coins and running a brothel. He was in HMP Leyhill where on a Saturday he was allowed out to play local football. After the game I stood him his drinks while his escorting prison officer waited outside. Later in the evening he reluctantly left to go back to prison. Some months later I received a package with sovereigns inside. After some deliberation I posted them back ‘Return to Sender ‘ as I guessed they must be from him and maybe dodgy.

I couldn’t end the interview without talking about your subsequent career as a teacher something which I know that you are very proud about. Would you mind talking about that?

Andy: I have been a teacher for over 40 years and although past retirement age I still teach and mentor pupils excluded from school. I started as a PE teacher and found it one of the best jobs you could wish for because most children enjoy sport. As I got into my 40’s I started to teach in a Special Needs School for children with Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties. I have always related to young people and although very difficult and challenging it is very worthwhile to make a difference in someone’s life.

My interview with former Spurs goalkeeper Ian Cranstone:

My interview with former Spurs goalkeeper Ian Cranstone:

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A key component of the 1973/74 FA youth cup winning side, goalkeeper Ian Cranstone played a significant part of Tottenham successes. A talented young goalkeeper who signed for the club in 1972, Cranstone was a part of one of the most talented Tottenham youth teams in the clubs history. I caught up with Ian to chat about his time at the club and subsequent career at both Colchester United and Wealdstone.

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

Ian: Playing for Essex County schools. Scouted by Dicky Walker who was the chief scout at the time and a legend. Aged 15 ½ years of age it was a big deal to leave home and stay in a strange place. Being cared for by another couple (adopted parents). Playing for the club was an honour. Wherever you went in the Tottenham area people would know who you were and would stop and talk to you. Even away games, supporters would ask for your autograph. I would always oblige. It was great!

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

Ian: A great experience, a dream come true. The experience still remains with me. Being around famous people and socialising with the first team players and players from other clubs, it was fantastic.

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

Ian: Apart from Pat Jennings of course, my goalkeeping hero was Peter Shilton. I met him by chance in a hotel in Nottingham prior to me playing for Notts County for a trial match when I was playing for Wealdstone. Peter was playing for Nottingham Forest at the time and lived in the hotel.

Who were your greatest influences at the club?

Ian: Pat Welton the youth team coach and ex Leyton Orient goalkeeper. The coach that had all the character was Eddie Bailey, first team coach and assistant to Bill Nicholson. Johnny Wallis was the clubs first team trainer and he had to make sure that all the kit was ready for training sessions and boots were cleaned etc. Johnny was in charge of the apprentices when not in training and it was our jobs to clean up and do jobs around the ground (White Hart Lane) etc.

Who were you favourite players at the club?

Ian: Cyril Knowles was my favourite as he always had a smile on his face and joked about a lot.

You shared a house with the likes of Graeme Souness and Noel Brotherston  in Tottenham during your time as a youth player, a far cry from the luxury that our current youth players enjoy today. What was that experience like for you?

Ian: Quite daunting! I was not a very confident person, so to share a house with established players like Graeme Souness and Chris Jones was a big deal. In total there were six of us at one point in the house, (Clive Avenue). I had the opportunity of going home once a month subject to football fixtures… My parents were living in South Wales at the time. I would travel by train ‪Saturday afternoon‬ and return ‪Sunday night‬. At 15 ½ years of age and an only child it was quite a life change. One I wouldn’t want to swap.

How did your time at Spurs prepare you for your subsequent career in the game?

Ian: My expectations were quite high and the training regime was tough. It taught me to work hard and never expect anything. Moving from Spurs to other clubs was a shock as other clubs could not come up to the standards Spurs had given me.

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories of your time at Spurs or ones which particularly standout within your memory?

There are so many. During my Spurs career we were the most successful London youth football team around. We won every youth competition in London, plus the South East Counties League. My best moment was in the second half of extra time in the second leg of the FA youth cup final. The score was 0-0. Huddersfield had an attack. A high ball came into the penalty box and one of their players got on the end and headed it towards goal. It was in all intense purposes a goal. I was on my six yard line and the ball went over my head. I ran backwards and leapt up into the air and managed to tip the ball over the bar for a corner. Minutes later Roger Gibbins scores at the other end.
The rest is history!

Sadder story was the occasion I broke my 5th matatarsus bone in my right foot whilst playing in a tournament in Rotterdam prior to the UEFA cup final between Spurs and Ajax. Having smothered a through ball, the opposition forward decided to carry on and kick my foot. I stood up to kick the ball out and I heard the bone break. I had to travel all the way back to Tottenham in a plaster cast and then a taxi took me all the way to South Wales.

After departing the lilywhites you went onto play for teams such as Colchester United and Wealdstone. could you talk me through what prompted you to leave the club, and your career post Spurs?

Ian: I was given a free transfer from the club by Keith Burkinshaw. Spurs signed a young up and coming goalkeeper, ‪Mark Kendall‬. At the time the club had Barry Daines, Nicky Markwick and myself. One of us had to leave and it was me. After lots of rejections from lower clubs I finally ended up at Colchester United. Again like Spurs I had joined a club that had a well established goalkeeper, Micky Walker (father of Ian Walker). I signed a one year contract with a one year option. This was a standard contract format at the time. Unfortunately the one time I had to make my league debut was against Newport County away. The game got called off due to a waterlogged pitch.
After that I sustained a broken scaphoid bone in my left wrist and it needed surgery and a one inch screw inserted. I was in plaster for 15 weeks. To this day I still have the screw inside me. A cover goalkeeper from Ipswich Town came to the club on loan. He was fortunate enough to play three league games and that was the end of my career at Colchester United.

After Colchester United I held down a civvy job and played semi pro for Wealdstone in the Alliance Premier league. Notable claim to fame was Stuart Pearce being my left back and substitute goalkeeper when I was concussed during a match at Scarborough. Although not mentioned directly in Stuarts autobiography the incident is mentioned.

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

I have played against some well known forwards during my youth years and reserve games. Notable forwards: Charlie George, Frank Stapleton, Kerry Dixon, Jimmy Greaves (Barnet), Martin Chivers, Alan Gilzean during training sessions.

What was the pinnacle of your career?

Without a doubt the FA Youth cup victory. If it wasn’t for a penalty save against Leyton Orient (Dean Moody) we wouldn’t have progressed. Signing professional forms as well.

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

Ian: One year I played in the London Evening Standard football five a side tournament which was televised. We got beat 5-0 by Millwall. That was my 15 minutes of fame! Our team was Glenn Hoddle, Martin Chivers, John Pratt, Jimmy Robertson and myself. We were abysmal. So the greatest has to be Glenn. He was groomed to be great.

You’re still a Spurs fan and member at the club, what does the club still mean to you now after all these years?

Ian: I have enjoyed seeing the club evolve. Money has been a big influence how clubs are run and the facilities they can provide. I wish I was born in the 90’s. The opportunities for players is much greater and the off pitch support the club can offer players. It is a shame however that having played for the club there is no contact. At the end of the day players are only a commodity.

1974 will be a year which will always be synonymous with our triumphant FA youth cup campaign. A campaign in which you played a major part in, could you talk me through your memories of that campaign?

Ian: The team had the confidence to walk onto the pitch and had the belief we would win. I can recall playing at Birmingham City (St Andrews) midweek with empty stands and the thumping of an industrial hammer pounding away constantly. As mentioned before the penalty save against Leyton Orient
the semi final, two legged against Arsenal. They had a talented team and many went on to first team glory and beyond. It was 0-0 at W.H.L. Under floodlights at Highbury was magical. We won the final 1-0 at W.H.L. It was disappointing. There wasn’t much atmosphere. Huddersfield were content to frustrate us and so it proved, 0-0. At Huddersfield in front of 14,000 home supporters the atmosphere was electric. The goals were tight up against the stands and I had coins and coke cans thrown at me, along with verbal taunts. All tactics to unsettle me and break my concentration. It didn’t work! I did come into some money! LOL. After the game in the dressing room and having photos taken with Bill Nicholson (he signed me as an apprentice professional) it was special and who would have thought I would be writing about such an occasion 46 years on?

My interview with former Spurs man Eddie Gormley:

My interview with former Spurs man Eddie Gormley:

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Eddie Gormley came across the water as a teenager to sign for Spurs in 1988, the young Dubliner had been scouted by a certain David Pleat but following Pleat’s dismissal during the 87-88 season, Gormley was officially signed by new boss Terry Venables. Unable to make the breakthrough to the first team, the Ireland under 21 international spent his three years at the lilywhites playing for the reserve team. A tricky winger, Gormley subsequently went onto play for the likes of Doncaster Rovers, Chesterfield and a plethora of Irish clubs. Gormley went onto forge a hugely successful playing career back in his native country. Since retiring from the game in 2005 Gormley has since turned his hand to coaching. First taking charge of Irish premier division side Bray Wanderers, Gormley then went onto coach Cabinteely in the second tier of Irish football, where he remains in charge today. Eddie kindly spoke to me about his time at Spurs and subsequent career in the game.

Questions:

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

Eddie: I was playing league of Ireland here, obviously Spurs came to watch me in a game against Dundalk and a week later they signed me. My earliest memories was I think my first game, I was only at the club maybe three days and we were playing Gillingham away in a reserve game. And I was taken off at halftime and it was an absolute disaster. You know I found it difficult to get with the pace of the game you know, obviously playing with players in the reserve team that would have played in the first team. So coming from the league of Ireland it took me a while to adjust to it. I got a bad ankle injury when I chipped my bone, so I was out for about eight weeks with that. So that was sort of the first year I was there.

What was your time at Spurs like on the whole?

Eddie: I really enjoyed it, obviously it was difficult to get into the first team at that time. You had Lineker playing and the likes of Paul Gascoigne but I really enjoyed it. Going training I really knuckled down and took on board the coaching I was getting, and just really tried to improve myself as a player and see where that took me, you know. I had three good years there, the final year was probably my best year where I played most of the reserve games. I scored a good few goals playing wide left, as a whole I really enjoyed the experience and when your with a club like Spurs If you don’t enjoy it then there’s something wrong with you!

Who was your footballing inspiration/hero?

Eddie: I was a wide player so my first thoughts would be the 70’s, the likes of Steve Coppell and Gordon Hill, those sorts of players. They were wide players, they were quick and they were great crossers of the ball. And obviously I was a Man United supporter, but I also remember the 1981 cup final I think it was between Spurs and Man City. And Ricky Villa scored that incredible goal, obviously he’d gone when I got there, and Ardilles. But I can remember Ardilles playing in the 78 World Cup final, and obviously when I arrived I was a little bit in awe of him you know.

Who were your greatest influences at the club?

Eddie: Obviously Doug Livermore the coach when I got there and obviously Ray Clemence came on board then. So they were obviously a big influence on me. But I have to say now, who impressed me the most was probably Terry Venables, just the way he spoke to everybody the same, he treated everybody the same you know. He was the type of manager that you’d run through walls for, you know. Unfortunately I never played for the first team but given the opportunity I certainty would of, he was a gentleman. So they were my biggest influences.

Being a winger were there any other players at the club or outside who you’d would model your game around?

Eddie: Not really, I just really focused on myself and just trying to do the best I could. So not really, I wouldn’t say I moulded myself on anybody I would have just really got on and tried to be my own type of player.

Coming across the water to England as a teenager in the late 80’s would have been a big step for you to make. What was the toughest thing about being a professional at Spurs and what were your biggest challenges that you faced?

Eddie: It was very difficult, coming from Dublin and being dropped at London. I mean it’s like chalk and cheese, obviously the home sickness was a difficult thing. But you’d just tell yourself no listen you’ve just got to get through it, but it did take me a little while to settle down but luckily enough I was put in with an Irish family, the Moores. So that helped me really adjust, but it is difficult and being away from your own family and going out to a top club trying to produce. It gets less difficult but you just take your time. A lot of players go home with home sickness but I looked at it very simply. That I’d been given this three years and to see where it takes me, If I end up getting a career over in England or in worst case scenario I come back to Bray after three years.

How did your time as a professional at Spurs prepare you for your subsequent career in the game?

Eddie: It was a huge help, I mean when you go into an environment like Spurs you have to be very professional adjusting. I was lucky enough that there were some very good players there that looked after me you know. Like Gary Stevens, Garry Mabbutt and Tony Parkes. These types of players you know they were top, top pros and they always had a word with you and had time for you. So it just makes you more professional, It makes you realise how difficult it is to get to the top and what it takes. The dedication it takes to succeed you know.

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories of your time at Spurs or ones which particularly standout within your memory?

Eddie: I suppose the last season, we won the reserve league and I think I scored something like seven or eight goals in the last ten games, I just remember scoring a lot of goals towards the end. And obviously one of my last games was playing in Danny Blanchflower’s testimonial against Northern Ireland. I played some of that game, I have to say now I really enjoyed playing in front of a nearly full stadium you know. It was enjoyable to get a run in the first team against an international side.

After departing the lilywhites you went on to play for the likes of Doncaster, St Patrick’s and Bray Could you talk me through your career post Spurs?

Eddie: I was offered another year by Terry Venables at Spurs but I just felt I wasn’t going to get an opportunity in the first team, so I decided to move on. So I had a good few calls from other clubs, so when I went home for the summer I just decided I’ll go and meet them. I literally got the boat back to Holyhead and drove from the north to the south, meeting all the clubs and the one that impressed me most was Billy Bremner with Doncaster. So I signed with them and had three very good years. I won the players player of the year and player of the year in the last two years that I was there. Then unfortunately I had a little fallout over the contract. My wife had just had her first child so she wanted to move back to Ireland so it was just coincidence with me falling out with them with my contract. I eventually went on loan first because Doncaster wouldn’t release me. They let me go out on loan with Drogheda, I played there on loan for about two months and then St Patricks Athletic with Brian Kerr who was later the Ireland manager, got me to sign for St Pats. So I never looked back after that, I had seven or eight good seasons at St Pats where I won three leagues and the Irish player of the year, I had a good innings let’s say with Pats. And then when I hit 30-31 I always said I’d finish with Bray because it was the club I started out with. So I even bumped into the Bray manager who was actually my adviser when I went to Spurs in the first place, he was the Bray manager when I left.

Pat asked me if I would be interested, they’d just been promoted back to the premier division and he asked me if I’d go back. So I’d go back and play for the last couple of years and I ended up playing till I was 36. Actually the first year I went back we should have won the league, we were unlucky we had a very strong squad. We actually lost to the weaker team which really cost us dearly we should have won the league that year, which would have been nice as they’d never won it before you know. I finished up playing really with them, when I was 36 I retired. Obviously they asked me to go on the coaching staff because I had my badges, so I done that and Pat Devlin moved onto work with Steve Staunton at the Ireland team. And they basically asked me to take over as their manager (at Bray). So I managed them for four years and then I resigned after four years, things weren’t going well and the budget here was pushing the boat a bit down south you know. I finished that up and ended staying out of football for a year, and my local team Cabinteely which my eldest son was football for at the time asked me the usual. Would I do a coaching session for the team and would I look after the age group, and would I be director of coaching for when they got national league football. They asked me would I manage the team. I done it on a short term basis for two years which was meant to be for two months. That’s it really, that’s it in a nut shell.

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

Eddie: Toughest fullback… probably a lad who played here called Willie Burke. He played for Shamrock rovers and ended up signing for St Pats actually after that. He wasn’t a big lad but he was aggressive, he was quick and he read the game really well. He really knew how to give you a tough game, he was probably the toughest fullback I played against.

What was the pinnacle of your career?

Eddie: Probably a coupl, obviously getting my under 21 caps for Ireland, but obviously winning the league of Ireland three times, there’s so many but that would probably be the pinnacle of my career. Winning that and winning the LOI players player of the year, it was nice to get recognised by players that you played against you know.

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

Eddie: I’d have to say Gascoigne, when I played in that friendly game he was just unbelievable, unbelievable! He was a good lad as well, a gentleman you know but he was absolutely top drawer.

How quickly did you adapt to playing reserve team football for Spurs and how did it aid your development as a footballer?

Eddie: It took me a while to adapt if I was to be honest with you, probably it took me the best of six months really to adapt to it. So obviously there was an injury thrown in there as well, it’s difficult when you’re dealing with so many things and your a young Irish player going over. It’s just a totally different way of life to the life I was used to. Being laid back you know and you’re dropped into London England, and everything’s 100 miles an hour. You’re dealing with your family not being around, your’e dealing with the players, the tempo of the game. But you know it took me a good six months to adapt, it really did but I think it made me a better player obviously. The second year and then the third year I have to say now I thoroughly enjoyed it towards the third year you know.

Whilst at Doncaster Rovers you played under the legendary Billy Bremner, could you describe what it was like to be coached by such a legendary figure in the game?

Eddie: Just his knowledge of the game was just phenomenal you know. And I was lucky enough I was a central midfield player at that stage. The first season I arrived I played wide left so I think the first couple of months he just said you’re a central midfield player. There’s a good story I always tell, he used to train with us on a Friday. I remember a particular day he played for the second team, he told us the starting lineup for Saturday. He played a ball out to the right winger and he took off down the line, and I just took off to break into the box. And as the winger went to cross the ball I just remember waking up not being able to breath, he’d literally just dropped his shoulder and he’d ran right into me, and it just winded me. He said to me I’ll give you a bit of advice, always watch where you’re running! And fair enough he must have been 50 odd at that stage, being a fit lad he absolutely floored me you know. His knowledge of the game was just phenomenal.

Since retiring from the game you have since entered the world of management, first taking charge of Irish premier division club Bray and then Cabinteely who you are currently in charge of at the moment. How has that experience been for you so far and do you have any ambitions of coaching in England in the future or even back at Spurs in some capacity?

Eddie: I think my days as a coach in England now are gone, it’s just not a logical thing for me at the moment. My coaching ambitions, to be honest with you I enjoy coaching the underage sides an awful lot more and prefer to give back that way. The reason I ended up at Cabinteely for three years managing the first team was because they needed me in order to get their license. They needed someone that had a pro license, I agreed to step in on a temporary basis till they got somebody else in and that took two years. And then I resigned at the end of the two years as I just prefer being a coach then a manager. I enjoy the underage stuff an awful lot more then senior football, I’ll be totally honest with you.

Troy Parrott is a young Irishman who is touted for great things both at Spurs and on the international stage for Ireland. As somebody who was once in Parrott’s shoes what would your advice be to young Troy as he looks to work his way up the ranks at Spurs?

Eddie: To stay mentally strong and bounce back from your disappointments as you will have disappointments sometimes. You think you should get picked and you don’t, but just to basically stay mentally strong. If you can do that you’ll always have a good chance you know. I mean he has the ability but sometimes you need to have your head straight. Everybody gets disappointments in games but it’s how you bounce back from them you know. If you’re mentally strong you’ve got a great chance.

My interview with former Spurs star Ian Walker:

My interview with former Spurs star Ian Walker:

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I needn’t introduce one of our most successful academy graduates of the 20th century. Goalkeeper Ian Walker rose up the ranks at youth level before making the grade at first team level. Making 312 appearances for the lilywhites over an 11 year period. Walker was one of the finest English goalkeepers of his generation and was capped four times by the three lions. Spells at Leicester and Bolton followed for the Watford born goalkeeper before he retired from te game in 2008. Ian kindly agreed to doing an interview with me about his time at the club, and I must say it was an absolute privilege to do so.

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

Ian: Earliest memory was going to watch an evening game with my dad when I was at Lilleshall. I remember walking through the gates and feeling the atmosphere, I knew straight away I wanted to join the club, there was something magical about it. Luckily being at Lilleshall I had quite a few clubs interested in me and as soon as I knew Spurs wanted me that was it.

What was your time at Spurs like on the whole?

Ian: I loved my time at Spurs, of course there were some ups and downs. From the beginning things went very well, we had a very successful youth team and I managed to move through pretty quickly into first team contention. Once I got into the first team I felt like I had some very good times and some which were up and down, my level dropped at some points and I felt I could and should have done better, overall I didn’t reach my expectations for my career but then I was always hyper critical of myself which probably didn’t help.

Who was your footballing inspiration/hero?

Ian: I grew up watching Ray Clemence a lot and I’d say he was my main inspiration, he was top class and I was fortunate to have him as my goalkeeping coach and coach during my time at Spurs and with England. I’m very grateful to him for his guidance and patience even if sometimes I’m sure I drove him crazy.

Who were your greatest influences at the club?

Ian: So many good people, Clem, Terry Venables, Keith Blunt, Keith Waldron, Pat Holland, Pat Jennings, Hans Segers, Tony Parks, Erik Thordsvedt, I can’t name everyone as there were so many who helped/influenced me or tried to help me, apologies to those not mentioned above!

Being a goalkeeper were there any other players at the club or outside, who you’d model your game around?

Ian: I didn’t model myself on anyone totally but I would say that I may have been influenced by Clem more than anyone else, big Pat also, they were the ones I watched or was around a lot.

What was the toughest thing about being a professional footballer?

Ian: Missing New Years celebrations with friends and family, not having a proper Xmas other than that it’s a dream “job”. The toughest thing really was living with myself when I cost the team a goal or a game, I had a hard time letting those moments go and I’m sure it had a damaging effect on my career. Self hatred and self sabotage are not conductive to growth and fulfilling your potential!

Could you talk me through that triumphant FA youth cup campaign of 1990?

Ian: It was a special moment for all of us, we won everything that season, the FA youth cup was the best. We were confident we were one of the best teams but we had to prove it. To be the first Spurs side since 1974 to win it was amazing and something I still look back on and smile, they were great times.

What was your greatest memory from your time at the lilywhites?

Ian: Apart from making my first team debut it has to be the league cup win in 1999. Having been at the club for a long time it meant so much to everyone at the club, the players, staff and especially the fans to win a trophy. It was such a great day and an amazing feeling as a player to celebrate with the fans at the end.

Could you talk me through your career after you left Spurs?

Ian: Before the beginning of the 2001 season I sat down with Glenn Hoddle and we both agreed I needed to play 1st team football, the conversation was very calm. I always thought I’d stay at Spurs all my career, I’d just signed a 5 year deal the season before but the club brought in Neil Sullivan who had a fantastic season so I knew I wouldn’t start the new one. I had to make a decision to go elsewhere, it was tough to leave after so long. I ended up at Leicester City which I enjoyed, it was a good move to a solid club, unfortunately things didn’t go well for the team and we went down, then up and down again, I still managed to stay in England contention before a knee injury ruled me out for 20 games. I then moved to Bolton Wanderers as back up to Jussi Jaaskalainen, I wanted to stay in the premier league. I enjoyed it there playing in the Uefa cup and cup matches. At the end of 2008 I had a move lined up to Sporting Kansas City in the MLS starting at the end of January 2009 but unfortunately I hurt my disc putting my son in his crib and that was that.

What was the pinnacle of your footballing career?

Ian: Playing for England and playing for Spurs. I had several really good consistent spells where I was up there with the best of them (and some bad spells where I was with the worst)! I’d say the 98/99 cup runs were very special, winning the league cup and getting to the semi final of the FA cup, maybe it would have been the final had the ref spotted Dabizas hand ball but that was a great spell with a lot of clean sheets.

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

Ian: To name one is tough, I was fortunate enough to share the pitch with Lineker, Klinsmann, Sheringham, Le Tissier, Okocha and more, they all had that something special but Gazza was the number 1.

You managed to work your way up the ranks at Spurs before securing the number one goalkeeping berth at the club. What do you accredit that incredibly tough achievement to?

Ian: Early belief in myself and my ability and good coaches. From a young age I visualised playing at the top level, for Spurs and for England, I had no doubt whatsoever that it would happen. I had tunnel vision and just kept going at the target, even when it came to Erik and me I still believed I would get there. Of course hard work and some luck with injuries also helped and some great coaches, Mike Kelly, Ray Clemence, Pat Jennings, Hans Segers to name a few. The only problem was once I reached the goals I didn’t upgrade them and at times during my career I struggled with self esteem and confidence/belief in myself.

What would your advice be to the current Spurs academy goalkeepers, as they look to make their way up the footballing pyramid?

Ian: Work hard, harder than anyone else, be the best you can be. Set goals and go after it. Believe in yourself no matter what, surround yourself with positive people who want the best for you. Don’t read social media or newspapers. Never stop learning, never give up and enjoy the ride as it goes fast.