My interview with former Spurs player Mark Yeates:

My interview with former Spurs player Mark Yeates:

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Dubliner and former Spurs man Mark Yeates came through the academy ranks at the Lilywhites to progress into the first team where he made four appearances in total. Yeates’ Spurs debut came on the final day of the 2003/04 Premier League season against Wolverhampton Wanderers, when the then youngster helped Spurs to a 2-0 victory by assisting fellow Irishman Robbie Keane who scored the opening goal of the game. Yeates would go onto make a further three competitive appearances for Spurs’ first team as well as appearing for them in pre-season, before then leaving the club to join then League One side Colchester United, after spending the last couple of years of his time at Spurs out on loan. The skilful winger/attacking midfielder who had won three under 21 caps for the Republic of Ireland during his youth, would enjoy a successful career in the Football League playing for the likes of Middlesbrough, Sheffield United, Watford and Bradford City. However, since 2017 the Tallaght born player has been plying his trade in the National League. First for Eastleigh where he once registered a phenomenal 26 goals in a season, and now at AFC Fylde where he is still going strong at the age of 35. I caught up with Yeates to discuss his time spent at Spurs and can I just it was an absolute pleasure and a privilege to do so.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Mark: Obviously just being out in your road on your estate and playing with your friends. Just around the corner from my house there was the local football pitch, and all of the lads just used to go up there and you’d have teenagers right down to kids who were seven years old, and you’d be playing a game of Wembley or two v two, so they’d probably be my earliest memories. Also the club that I started with is a club that my grandfather and my father were involved in and my grandfather still is, which is a club called Greenhills Boys which is where I started my football at.

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

Mark: My earliest memories would have been when I was at Cherry Orchard which is probably the best schoolboy set up back in Ireland (I’m probably being biased) especially at that time, a lot of the lads in our side ended up moving away. A really close friend of mine called Willo Flood who had a decent career and me were in the same side at Cherry Orchard, but anyway a Tottenham scout called Terry Arber came over and he basically did a two day coaching session with our youth set ups. And a week later a phone call was put in (I’d been on trial a with a few clubs already being in the Ireland youth set up) and me, Willo and Stephen Quinn were invited over to come and have a trial at Spurs so that would be my earliest memory. However, it’s quite funny because after coming over for our trial we stayed in a lady’s house in Enfield somewhere, anyway Willo went to the toilet in the house on the first night and whatever he’d done he’d flushed the chain, and he ended up flooding the whole house before we’d even kicked a ball, and we’d ended up ruining someone’s bathroom, upstairs and landing. So the next day when we came to Spurs we met John Moncur and people like that and they were saying that we were the three Irish lads who’d just ruined one of our digs, and we were like oh my god this isn’t going to go well. Anyway we went into a youth team game soon afterwards, we were 15 at the time so it might have been in the under 19’s or under 17’s mixed together. So we got thrown in and got told that were going to do 15 minutes each sort of thing, and we were three small and slight lads but coming from quite tough estates we had a little bit about us and I think that a few of the lads didn’t expect it, but we were flying into challenges and giving a bit of lip. So I suppose I sort of made a good impression on the youth team coaches that were there.

Two days after we had flown back to Ireland I had a phone call from the club saying that they’d love to sign me. I’d been on trial at a few clubs but I think that the way that Tottenham made me feel straight away and the faith that they put in me made me jump at the opportunity to sign for them.

It must have been tough making that transition from life in Dublin to the big smoke in London. How did you find it and was it difficult to adjust?

Mark: Dublin I suppose is the big city back in Ireland and it’s probably as close to being used to growing up in a London situation I suppose, but nothing can sort of ready you for moving to London when you’re just an Irish lad coming across. Plus for myself in my first couple of years at Spurs I had some tough moments away from football, I lost my father when I was around 18 when I’d only been in the youth set up for a year and he had passed away after having an accident, so that was really tough for me however, the club were really good from top to bottom. David Pleat, Glen Hoddle, John Gorman who was Glen’s assistant at the time and John Moncur who had a little soft spot for me when he used to come down and watch the youth team. Going back to life in London, it was tough, I’d moved into digs with an Italian family in South Woodford who were a lovely family. Actually their son was a little bit mad because he was a big drum and base DJ, so he had his studio in the front room of the house and there was two of or three of us Spurs youth team players in the house, and it used to be as noisy as anything, so it probably wouldn’t be the sort of digs that they’d stick lads into now however, they were a lovely family. I then ended up moving to a different family in Chigwell who I’m still quite close to. Mark Hughes who was in the youth team is married to one of the daughters Carly and that family were brilliant, it was also closer to the Tottenham training ground and I was in the house with other Spurs lads who I was close to. You recently did an interview with Fozzy (Danny Foster) and he was probably my closest mate coming through the youth set up, especially coming from our side.

I don’t think that I ever knew what garage music was before I moved to London but Fozzy used to do a bit of DJing on the side, and I think that I was the only Irish fella to give a go at MCing and stuff like that, so it was brilliant. I settled in really well to life in London and I love the city because it’s an unbelievable place and I’ve still got loads of mates who live there. So realistically from my time at Colchester and Watford, and from when I’d bought my first place when I was at Tottenham when I was in Buckhurst Hill, I did probably most of my growing up and living down in that part of the world, so I have loads of fond memories of London. 

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

Mark: Like I said it was an unbelievable chance to move over and sign for such a good club, and when I was in the youth team I suppose that they knew that I  had ability but I was always quite slight and small so there was obviously things to work on. And with my father passing away that was a tough little spell for me but the club were brilliant and while I had thoughts of just jacking it in, in the end I said to myself I’m playing for Tottenham Hotspur here and what a chance this is, I don’t want to be back on an estate in Dublin where I could end up going down any path. So actually after all that happened it was mad because I was in the youth set up where I was a decent player but I wasn’t the one that they were saying that he was going to go all the way. However, after that happened to my dad, at the end of that season I sort of started being involved and training with the first team, and I ended up getting on the bench for the last game of the season away to Middlesbrough when we had a horrendous result and got battered. Then the season after I went out on loan to Brighton which was unbelievable for me because I sort of learnt my trade there. Then at the end of that season like you mentioned to me the other day that I made my full debut 16 years ago to the day against Wolves. So my time at Tottenham was unbelievable, getting experience and learning my trade was as I say was unbelievable. When I first went to Spurs you had Les Ferdinand, Teddy Sheringham and Tim Sherwood who were proper men who you were a bit in awe of. However, after you get used to being at Spurs and you’re in and around the place and have got your bearings it’s all great. So then luckily enough I started to train with the first team at a decent age and really being involved quite a bit as well as being a regular with the reserves group with Colin Calderwood and Chris Hughton at the time. I’ve just got so many unbelievable things to say when I look back now and I can only say so many good things about Spurs because it sort of built me and gave me so much. What a club! 

Could you talk me through your competitive debut for Spurs against Wolverhampton Wanderers on the 15th of May 2004, and how it came about?

Mark: Like I said I’d been on loan at Brighton for the first half of that season and it had gone pretty well. I predominantly always liked playing as a second striker but a lot of managers used to play me off the left so I would come in on my right foot and stuff like that. So I went down to Brighton and after one game Mark McGhee called me in and he put me in central midfield for the whole spell that I was there, so that was brilliant. Then Tottenham called me back and for the second half of the season I pretty much I trained as part of the first team group and I was on the bench quite a few times, and I was probably unlucky not to get my go a bit earlier to be honest, but the season was a bit of an up and down one I think. Anyway I was training and I think that it would have been on the Friday and I was down there training whatever, and then the bibs started being handed out and if I remember rightly it was Stephen Carr and Robbie Keane who was from the same estate as me in Dublin who said I think that they’re going to give you a start tomorrow. So I was obviously a bit shocked and a bit nervous as you would be as a young lad, so obviously I rang the family and rang my grandad who I still now am always on the blower to on a Friday before my game when we’ll have a chat about stuff. However, yeah obviously it was a really proud and emotional moment for me after a mad couple of years on and off the pitch, but for the club to see potential in me and want to give me my Premiership debut is probably what academies are all about where you want to see the lads that you’re nurturing given a chance. So obviously Stephen Kelly and Johnnie Jackson had been given quite a few opportunities so we sort of knew that there was a pathway at Spurs. The game and the day itself went really well and it was a great day even though I can only remember parts of it. To play with the likes of Jamie Redknapp and others was just a proud moment for me as well as getting an assist on my debut for Spurs.

Could you describe to me what it was like to play for Spurs at the highest level?

Mark: I suppose looking back I had a decent reputation at the club and I always did well for the reserves and stuff like that. I probably chose to go out loan more than sticking around most of the time because I just wanted to go out and play mens football after getting a taste of it so young. So playing on a Monday night in the reverses knowing that you’re probably not going to get a sniff of playing for the first team on Saturday, that sort of didn’t do enough for me. And that’s why ended up going out on loan quite so often, quite a few times especially when Martin Jol was in charge and he was very fond of me and liked me with him being Dutch and the technical side of stuff, he took a shine to me and he did give me some run outs but I think that at that spell he probably could have given me a lot more. Because I thought that I was doing well enough in the reserves and the games that I was playing in, so he could probably have given me a few more games. So that’s the only thing that when I look back on I think that it’s a pity that I didn’t get more run outs because at the time I was in and around stuff but every six months the transfer window would come along and the club would want to progress that much more, that they’d want to bring in two of three players to go into the first team set up and two or three to go into the reserves. We had such a big squad of reserve players that it was crazy let alone the first team. So I went down and chose a different pathway a few times, I went to Colchester which was unbelievable and we got promoted from League One and had a brilliant FA Cup run, and I was only 20 and I played 50 odd games that year which you just don’t get in a reserve league. I came back again at Spurs and Martin Jol was really, really happy with how I’d down and he was all for wanting to keep me and give me a new deal, and I ended up going on a season long loan to Hull City. Which in hindsight having just come back from a shoulder injury I probably should have stuck around at Spurs and seen what happened that season at Tottenham because Martin Jol wasn’t very keen on me going.

I ended up coming back early from that loan at Hull and I was back around Spurs in the January time and Martin Jol had said don’t go anywhere because I want you to stay. However, in the last few months of the January transfer window Leicester City came in for me and offered me a half season loan for the second half of that season, and after weighing it all up I decided to go there. So maybe if I’d have stuck around and not gone out on several loans I might have made more appearances for Spurs, but all in all Spurs was an unbelievable football club where I did so much growing up. However, it does kill me a little bit that I didn’t play for them a little bit more, but the names and characters that your trying to get in ahead of makes it very hard for you and at the end of the day managers have to hit certain goals, whether that be trying to get into Europe or into the top six etc. So I’ve got no regrets about anything but I suppose going back could I have done things a little bit different myself such as getting myself in the gym which I wasn’t the best at and stuff like that. So I’ve got to look at myself on certain things like that as well as liking a bit of fun with the lads such as a night out, so I’ve got to look at myself in that sense too but about the football club in general and all of the people that were there from Jimmy Neighbour to Pat Holland and John Moncur, Glen Hoddle and Chris Hughton they were just great.

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

Mark: I probably wasn’t old enough to see enough of him but growing up Maradona was great to watch. Also my father was a good footballer himself and he played League Of Ireland and he was a tricky player. My father was actually a Chelsea fan so for me to play at Watford under Gianfranco Zola was unbelievable. So players like that and Dennis Bergkamp and at Tottenham Robbie Keane and Teddy Sheringham and also at Colchester with Teddy, they were all proper technical footballers. So number ten sort of players were the players that I sort of looked to. Funnily enough people used to give me a little bit of banter because I used to have a little bit of weight on me and on my face so at Spurs they used to call me baby Gazza, and I remember Martin Jol said it after a game that I reminded him of Gazza, which to be fair was probably more how I looked, and then Clive Allen said to me you can’t be getting compared to him because he is a hero here, so he put me in my place on that one. So I didn’t have one sort of player who I would call my footballing hero or inspiration but the sort of number ten ilk of a player was what I looked at. However, growing up my father was massive in my football and I used to watch him growing up and without sounding a bit funny he was actually a super footballer who had a lot about him, so as a young kid you’re sort of a bit biased towards that.

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

Mark: I was always sort of seen myself as a withdrawn striker/a number ten and that’s where I’ve always believed is my best position, and that’s where I started off at Tottenham. I only started getting pushed out to the left wing because I was quite good with both feet and I could drop my shoulder, and although I was never rapidly quick or anything like that I had decent feet. Then when I went into men’s football it was all 4-4-2 back then and to be honest we actually used to play 3-5-2 in the FA Youth Cup at Spurs because that’s what Glen Hoddle was playing at the time at Tottenham, and I used to play as a number ten in the three in midfield, behind the two strikers. I also played in that position at Watford and at Eastleigh where I was last season so that brought back good memories for me. However, going through my career and people saying that you were that winger I sort of say to myself that I wouldn’t have pigeonholed myself as that. As I didn’t think of myself as a head down get to the byline and cut a ball back sort of player. Obviously when I was at Tottenham there were players like Aaron Lennon and Wayne Routledge who to me they were wingers who were really quick and could zoom past people. Whereas I was the sort of player who would drop my shoulder and jink inside, and I liked doing that from a central place as I liked slipping passes. So for me I would always say that I was a number ten or central player but as I went through my career I spent about 70% of my time playing as a wide player for other gaffers teams, and then when I was out there I used to get hammered because I was terrible at tracking back.

How difficult was it for a young Spurs player like yourself to break into the first team back then?

Mark: I think for any youth team player now it’s tough and despite the money spent on academies you don’t see bucket loads of these lads coming through. It was probably the same back then to be honest and back when I was at Tottenham it was a team full of men if I could put it that way as it had a lot of experienced professionals such as Gus Poyet and people like that, who were central to the teams and the managers liked trusting them. All of those players by the way were unbelievable top players anyway but that was sort of the way the team was built back then, so as a young lad you had to obviously impress. If you didn’t train well it wasn’t the manager who told you not to come back, you’d have five or six first team players who would be able to say that he wasn’t ready to be up here. Luckily enough I had a decent relationship with them and they probably just thought that I had one of them cheeky ways about me that the first team lads all took to me. However, as I say it was tough and as I look back I made four or five appearances for Tottenham and I think really over a whole spell at the club that I should have got to double figures, as my performances in the reserves in spells where I was scoring in the reserves and where I was scoring every week or doing really well and then be pulled in and told that I might get some first team minutes on the pitch at the weekend, but then it wouldn’t happen. However, Johnnie Jackson got into the side and became a bit of a regular for some time, me and Johnnie are really close and still speak all of the time. Then you also had Dean Marney who got his bit of a chance as well as Phil Ifil who got a few games, so there was lads who were given opportunities but I don’t think that any of them really became full on established players in the first team apart from maybe Johnnie Jackson who got quite a good run and also Rohan Ricketts who signed as a bit of an older lad. 

So it was very tough and as a young lad coming over from Ireland you dream regularly of playing in the Premiership but sometimes that just doesn’t happen for whatever reason. I was at Spurs through four or five managers including Jacques Santini who was there for a short spell, but who had no interest in anything to do with the youth set up, so you’d go through different spells with different managers. However, there was such a strong group of strong senior professionals at the club who were very established and it was hard to move them. Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe were unbelievable up front and then you had the likes of Ledley King so there was just unbelievable people and players at that club that it was very hard for young players and people at that club to get in and get a decent go at it. Since I’ve left Spurs there’s been a few more who have broken through, I think there was a spell when Harry Kane, Tom Carroll and Andros Townsend came through, so that was a decent group at one stage. However, you can’t really think of loads coming through that set up, especially not when I was there.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Mark: When I first came over on that trial period the Spurs side included David Ginola and what a player he was. However, when I actually joined and was in the youth set up everyday there was the likes of Tim Sherwood, Teddy Sheringham, Stephen Carr and Gus Poyet and people like that. Then when I started going up and training with them there was Jamie Redknapp, Robbie Keane, Ledley King and Christian Ziege who were full internationals and top, top professionals and they all had different influences on everyone. Obviously Robbie Keane being an Irish lad and being from the estate as me and knowing each other’s families. I was actually Robbie’s boot boy for a good while at Spurs, so he was a good lad with me. Then we signed Andy Reid, me and him are still very close and still speak, and our families are friends, so there was loads of different influences for different reasons. Like I said with what happened to my dad Pat Holland was just super with me and he’d gone through some similar things when he was a lad. Also John Moncur was somebody who took to me and looked out for me as I sort of rubbed off on him. However, listen you take bits of advice off of all these people but ultimately it’s down to yourself.

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

Mark: I think when I was there I would have fell into the category of a Robbie Keane type player even though I stuck out a bit wider than what he would of. However, looking at players day to day you’d have to look at players who you might be similar to with there movements or what they do. During finishing sessions you’d watch how Jermain Defoe who was probably the best finisher at the club strike a ball with both feet. You’d try and take bits from every player for example Gus Poyet’s professionalism and how he played at the top for so long. I also look back at my second season at Watford when Gianfranco Zola came in and I had my first sort of trial. I started getting my head down and realising how you should train everyday and how you should do it. As I said I was a bit of a cheeky lad and I was always one of them who sort of just relied on my ability and didn’t track back. I thought that I was in the team to bend the ball over the wall sort of thing and we’d win 1-0 so what else matters, so when you’re young you have that sort of attitude but when you get older you sort of say yeah you can see why these lads were top professionals for so long. So those were the things that you wish that you’d have taken and instilled in yourself a little earlier in your career.

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

Mark: I think my time had definitely come to an end, I had a year left at the club but I had, had two loan spells at one season that I had spoken about when I wasn’t fit with my shoulder and I’d went to Hull, and then the manager was sacked like two and a half months in. Then I went to Leicester and scored on my debut with my first touch and we ended up going on a good run in my first few games and got ourselves out of the relegation zone so it was a good loan spell, but then again they were a club who were in transition and while I was only on loan there for five months I had three different managers. So I came back to Tottenham and Martin Jol was in charge, and we used to have chats and he’d give me a bit of stick because he thought that I was a lively lad so he used to say to me to stay out of those bars and clubs. Me and Martin had a good relationship but I was at an age where at 20/21 every season he sort of brought in different forwards and different attacking midfielders, and I was saying I’ve got a year on my deal here and if I come back for pre-season I’m going to be well down the pecking order. I might play in a few pre-season games but ultimately I’m not going to get a go in the first team set up once the Premiership gets up and running. So I didn’t sort of feel that that was going to be the case for me, so I weighed everything up. I’d been at Colchester and I’d been up to Hull on loan and it was the first time that I’d been up north but being honest I hadn’t settled up there as I’d done all my growing in London. So in the end I decided to go to to Colchester who were in the Championship at the time and so I signed as I knew the club and the people. Teddy Sheringham signed a couple of weeks later and so I’d signed a three year deal there. On a personal level it was a brilliant move for me in the sense that I think that I got eight or nine goals in the first half of the season, and we weren’t one of the better sides in the league, we were one of the smaller clubs. However, personally I was doing well and getting my reputation back after the year before that had gone a little bit up and down for me.

However, I dislocated my shoulder again and so I ended up missing the second half of that season and unfortunately we just didn’t have enough to stay up. Crystal Palace came in for me right after the season ended and I agreed to move there and so I went there and done the medical etc and it was a week or so later that they called me and told me that my shoulder wasn’t right. So they wanted me to go on a programme for the rest of the summer to come back for pre-season before finalising the deal, but for whatever reason that didn’t happen so I stayed at Colchester for another season. In that season I probably had my best output for goals and had a great season in League One, but I felt that I was definitely not a League One player you know and at a minimum I felt that I was a Championship player. Luckily enough then Gareth Southgate came in and bought me at Middlesbrough, and I mean what a club with unbelievable facilities. For me to come from Colchester to go to a club that had been a Premiership side for a long time made it a massive move for me. I think that I got in the side and played pretty regularly all the way up until the club ended up parting ways with Gareth which for me was just terrible to be fair. If I go through my whole career it’s been the case that I’ve been unlucky that the managers who have brought me to clubs for whatever reason hadn’t lasted as long as they should have. Gordon Strachan came in and he wanted to do his own thing, and he brought in a load of boys from Scotland and a few of the lads that Gareth had brought in had moved on pretty quickly. I signed a three year deal at Middlesbrough and bought a house up there so I ended up turning around and speaking to the manager who’d didn’t want me to go. However, by the time the summer had come round he’d probably have signed another seven or eight boys up in Scotland which would have been pointless. So I ended up moving onto Sheffield United who are a huge club and we just missed out on the play offs in the Championship, finishing seventh that season. Kevin Blackwell left and Gary Speed took over, and it was under Speedo that I had my best ever spell.

He was just an unbelievable man and going back to when I was at Tottenham as a young lad he was the prime example of the player you should aspire to be like. He had faith in me and I had a really good spell under him but he ended up going and taking the Wales job and Micky Adams came in and he was a bit of an old school manager who wanted physical players to head and kick it. In the end I didn’t play enough and so they went down which I believe was unfortunate as to this day I believe if he’d have used the likes of myself and Leon Britton we would have stayed up. I then ended up leaving the club and joining Watford which for me was a no brainer as I still owned a house down in Buckhurst Hill and I still had really close ties to the London/Essex area. So I signed for Sean Dyche and all in all when I look back him and Zola used me in two completely different ways. Dyche played 4-4-2 and I played on the right for him which was something I didn’t always like being a technical player. Anyway he ended up moving on because the club had new owners the Pozzo family and they put Zola in charge, and for that year it was just unbelievable on and off the pitch. He was actually the one who after a few games in pre-season pulled me aside and said that you’re not a wide player I don’t know why people have been playing you there. And I said that I’ve always believed that myself but you play where your picked. So I think that I made 33 appearances for Watford that season, playing in a three in midfield. The football that that Watford side played was unbelievable and to be honest I don’t think that there has been many Championship sides who have played that sort of football, and we should have won the league. In the end we just didn’t end up turning up for the play off final which was unfortunate being beaten in extra time that day. That year was just superb though and I loved everything about it but inevitably I knew that with these owners who owned Udinese and Granada were just filtering players in. So I probably did well enough to play as much as I did and I had to prove that I was good enough to play over these players who they’d brought in from Udinese.

My next move was to link up with an old manager Phil Parkinson who I’d been at at Colchester and he took me to Hull who’d just won League Two and had plans to go straight up to the Championship. I ended up having a great start there and scoring on my debut and the fans took to me however, I ended up picking a shoulder injury again and I ended up having to strap myself up for training every day and in the end I wasn’t showing my full potential I suppose. However, in my second season there I got myself fully fit and right and I ended playing number ten in the team regularly and chipping in with goals and going on a great cup run where I scored against Chelsea, so everything was going great. However, this shoulder which has been a bit of a killer for me throughout my career went again against Doncaster and that was sort of the end of my time there. Since leaving Hull it’s been a bit up and down, I was on a short term deal at Oldham which went alright before then deciding to go to Blackpool because of a longer contract which was put in front of me which I don’t regret, as I’ve been living around the St Annes area now for five years and my children have grown up here and are at school and it’s a great area to raise a family in. However, the football side in the last four years has really been a rollercoaster of up and downs. After helping to keep Notts County up I decided to drop out of the Football League and join Eastleigh who came in for me as well as a couple of other non league clubs. I was contemplating it and also maybe going back to Ireland to sign for Shamrock Rovers, but I spoke to an ex teammate of mine called Paul Reid at Eastleigh who said that they were going to sign six or seven lads out of the Football League and have a real real go at winning the National League, so I decided to go down there. The first season was a bit up and down and then in the second season we got beaten on penalties in the semi final of the play offs. I really enjoyed my time there and I don’t think that there’s really any difference between playing in the National League and League Two because the level is very similar. 

Then last summer I ended up signing for AFC Fylde which is right on my doorstep and is a lovely little football club with all of the right facilities and things needed to go forward. However, we’ve ended up having a funny season down near the bottom of the league which I don’t think that anybody expected, but I’m still loving every minute of it, and I still feel fit and more than capable. Having not done many of these reflective things it’s been a crazy old career and I wouldn’t change anything.

What has been the greatest moment of your footballing career thus far?

Mark: I suppose that there’s certain stand outs at different clubs, obviously being a youth team player at Tottenham and making my Premiership debut there is one. Also the goal against Chelsea for Bradford in the FA Cup, and for moments and goals that is probably the one. That goal sort of showed what type of player I was and am because that was a proper footballing goal, which brings a smile to my face when people mention it. Also being at Colchester which is a football club that I love and had great times at, also being promoted from League One to the Championship with them was an unbelievable achievement. This sort of sums me up but during our second last game of the season against Rotherham we needed to win and I ended up scoring the winner and doing a celebration, and I landed and dislocated my shoulder for the first time there, so that was a bittersweet moment. Another great moment was playing for the Ireland B squad and I suppose that the one thing that I was missing was being capped for my country at senior level, especially when I was playing well in the Championship for that five year period however, that just didn’t happen. However, they would be the moments really, there’s no one stand out.

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

Mark: I suppose when I look at that Spurs team which I made my debut in where you had Ledley King, Robbie Keane and Jamie Redknapp who was a great player. However, the greatest one of all is a tough question but I think that when I came on for Martin Jol against Chelsea when I think they beat us 2-0 at White Hart Lane I thought that Arjen Robben was unbelievable at his time at that club. I think that when I came on that day I actually ran straight on the pitch and put one on him and got booked, so he would be the greatest. However, it’s a tough question because I suppose I was so young at Tottenham whereas there were lads who I spent seasons with who although not in those brackets were great players. Troy Deeney and Matej Vydra at Watford were probably the best front two that I ever played with. Also Iwelumo and Cureton were brilliant when I was at Colchester but it’s difficult to just pigeonhole one player, but I suppose when I was at Tottenham as a young lad and I’m going to put myself in my 18/19 year old shoes and say Teddy Sheringham and Robbie Keane and say that they were the two players that I looked up to the most. Robbie being a local lad in Ireland and Teddy being the legend that he is and the top man that he is (I was actually close to signing for him when he was Stevenage manager). Probably now looking back it would have been the right thing to do, but having family I decided to stick it up north. The players I’ve mentioned are all players who you can be proud of to have played with and it’s just so hard to pick one to be honest.

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

Mark: There’s so many and some of them would probably get you in trouble if you printed them on a piece of paper. Every day was just unbelievable, you just imagine going into a dressing room for work and kicking a ball and just having banter and craic, it was just nonstop every day but there are quite a few things in my mind which stand out. If I can remember rightly there used to be some of the lads in digs who were London or Essex lads and there was a lad called Nicky Wettner who was a proper tough lad. I think that he loved a tear up more than football to be honest, I think that he said that he was going to arrange a boxing tournament for all the digs lads on Buckhurst Hill near the high street. So when all the people who lived in the digs had gone out for the day, he had set up his own boxing ring and got mitts and boxing gloves for each lad and a weights class for each bloke to fight each other. So we’d had this full on boxing tournament as youth players and I mean we were proper punching the heads of each other when all of sudden we see this car come down the road. And we see this guy whose beeping and horning and screaming, and we’re just thinking that it was somebody going past thinking what’s going on in that garden. However, it ended up being the youth team manager and there’s like two of us in a thorn bush on top of each other. So we all ended up getting pulled in the next day and it was like what are you playing at kind of thing. There were so many silly things and pranks etc, and when I’d first gone over there as a young Irish boy getting used to the London lingo and banter, and the older lads from the youth team used to pull the younger lads into the changing room and they’d have a whole lot of DP and they’d knock the light off and just attack you with it. So it was just silly stuff like that just what makes football clubs with the banter and camaraderie. Fans just see 90 minutes of us on a pitch, but for a week it’s obviously hard work and dedication and ups and downs and stuff like that however, there’s also the fun elements too. 

Obviously Fozzy and Johnnie Jackson are still really close pals of mine so you make friends for life. So Tottenham was where I had my upbringing and it made me stronger, but analysing my time there from the the time that I left, I went through quite a lot. From leaving home and moving in with a family that you don’t know to losing your father and then coming back and trying to get your head down it’s tough. Then a year down the line making your Premiership debut, there was a lot in there as well as making my senior debut for Brighton against men. So that five or six years that I spent with Spurs was life changing in every single way so I’ll always have loads of fond memories and loads to talk about because it’s such an unbelievable football club where so many good things happened to me there. In our youth team which was really good at that time we won our regional league a couple of times and we were unlucky in the FA Youth Cup where we probably should have gone further. I can remember Middlesbrough beating us late in one cup game and that really killed the lads and I can remember the bus journey back. I can also remember the likes of Teddy Sheringham and Ledley King in the crowd and wanting to impress them, but footballs completely changed now and is different as the academies are so big whereas in my day the set up was a lot tighter and smaller and Chigwell wasn’t the biggest of training grounds. We also had coaches who were proper old school such as Jimmy Neighbour, Pat Holland and Colin Calderwood who was our reserves manager, and they were all proper characters. I have such great memories of that place but as I said before it’s just a pity that I didn’t make more appearances for the first team. However, coming through and so on I must ask myself did I do everything right and what’s expected but I wouldn’t change anything. I’ve played at some unbelievable football clubs and I’m still playing and I feel fit, but that all started from coming over to Tottenham and doing my schooling there.

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

Mark: My captain at Sheffield United was Chris Morgan and he was tough and somebody who if you went near him in training you’d get booted up in the air, he was just a proper old school centre half who took no prisoners. For my toughest fullbacks I suppose there’s not one that stands out having played in the Championship that I didn’t get a sniff out of. However, to train with and as a proper tough man Chris Morgan stands out as a typical northern centre half.

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

Mark: Like I said in the youth team coming through me and Danny Foster just clicked. We were from similar sort of backgrounds and had grown up on an estate and in a working class area. I got really close with Fozzy’s dad Steve and still am close with him, but yeah me and Danny just sort of had the same banter and he kind of took me under his wing a little bit. Danny was the boy at the start in our youth team, he was our centre half and captain and was in the England youth team and were still close to this day. He also introduced me to garage music and he’s got a few tapes of me MCing which I don’t think should ever get shown. Another player who I was close to was Nicky Wettner in that age group and he was very protective of me. Once I’d moved up to the first team/reserves I got really close with Johnnie Jackson and were still tight to this day and obviously being at Colchester together, and he’s also a legend at Charlton. Dean Marney was another player who I was close with and who I was at Hull with, so I’m lucky enough to still be in touch with a few lads from that set up as well as Mark Hughes. So you’ll always have that bond in football even if you don’t speak in years and years and years you can just pick up a phone and put a text out on the WhatsApp and it feels like it was yesterday that we were together. Obviously then going into the first team set up the Irish lads Robbie Keane and Stephen Carr and Stephen Kelly always kept an eye out for and were fond of me. I also got on well with Sean Davis as well as Aaron Lennon and Tom Huddlestone who I still see when I can and have been on holiday with together. Also Andy Reid was another one who I was close with and when I was at Notts County I used to stay at his house. So there’s still people from my days at Spurs that I’m still in loads of contact with and hopefully will be for a long, long time.

What was former Spurs great Robbie Keane like to play and train with?

Mark: I’ve mentioned Keano loads in this interview but being an Irish lad he is a superstar and I don’t think that he gets the credit enough. For somebody to do the stuff that he did when he was so young and the fact that he is one of Tottenham’s greatest forwards and did plenty of off the cuff stuff which comes from playing on your estate against the older lads gets stuck in you, so watching Keano and then training and playing with him was just unbelievable. Watching back my assist for his goal against Wolves it’s just a pity that I didn’t get a chance to play with him a bit more and maybe do that a bit more. Look he had a soft spot for me when I was at Spurs and we’re not too far in age, and we also have family who are friends so we sort of knew of each other when he was first on our books. Then I was on his boots and he was the Ireland number ten star forward when I was in the Ireland under 19/21 set up. There’ll always be comparisons between us, Jamie Redknapp used to call me little Keano which I don’t think that Robbie liked to be fair. Robbie was just a top, top player and being a youth team player you used to have to to watch, and there were so many games that standout such as when he hit a shot with the outside if his boot that flew into the top right hand corner of the goal against Everton, and we used to see that in training every day. The man played for Inter Milan and he’s our country’s highest scorer, and he did it all really through his career, so I think that people need to give him the full, full respect. He was a player who had that fight in him and being from an estate that has drugs, joy riding and all that going on it’s been bred into you to have that fight about you. So I can only say top things about Keano and we’re always going to be linked in a way because we were at Spurs at the same time and we are from the same area.

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

Mark: I’ve been asked this when I’ve done some interviews before, you know advice I suppose is one of those things, I could say do this and do that but I don’t think that’s right. I think that people have got to learn things for themselves and as I’ve got older I believe that every day that you train, that you should train to your maximum and enjoy it and embrace it. What a job that your doing and I think that you need to have a winning mentality I think, the youth set ups now are about learning and development and you have to develop as that’s normal, but I think that you have to push yourself to be the best, and if the best isn’t good enough then you’re at a level where you’re up there with them. I think that it’s so hard now for young boys to break into Premiership set ups and teams, you’ve got to be outstanding really in every way. In your fitness, in your ability and in your mental side of things. However, if your at a Premiership club and you’re doing everything right and you do drop down then you’ve got all these good traits inside of you. If I could go back and with all of the natural ability that I had and the way that the club perceived me, and I’d have just worked a bit harder in the gym and on my diet (I still eat horrendously and drink bottles of coke and eat bags of crisps which I definitely wouldn’t advice!) so to get the best out of you, you’ve got to do what these guys are telling you and maybe say to people you know with the gym stuff don’t look at it as a chore. And when you’re on the football pitch show what your about and stick your chest out and believe in your own ability, and take on board what the people are trying to help you are saying. When I was at Tottenham one of the people who I used to think was always on me was Martin Jol even though I knew that he liked me. I remember Michael Carrick one day telling me that the day he stops screaming and shouting at you is the day that you start worrying, because he’s come to the end of his tether with you. 

I used to let his attitude and him needing everything to be perfect something that would get to me and that’s probably why I didn’t get the run outs with the first team that I probably deserved. I’ve got loads of funny stories with Martin where he’s not been happy with me but ultimately he had a soft spot for me and had a lot of time for me. One funny story which I’ll tell you is when I was on loan at Colchester and I ended up popping out for a couple of drinks one night, I was at the bar or whatever and the media lad whose still there at Tottenham now, he came over to me and said Yeatesy there’s someone I want you to come over to and say hello. So I said yeah alright and an hour later when I’d had a couple of drinks on me and he said I want you to meet this guy who was a big tall guy. So he said in a Dutch accent how are you Mark and I was thinking where is he from and then the media guy said it was Martin’s brother, and I was thinking oh my god I don’t need to be in this situation. Then the next day when I was on my way to training down to Colchester and it was Keano who was on the phone, and he said what were you up to last night? I was out for a couple of drinks for a friends birthday and Keano replied well Martin’s not happy, so I’m thinking oh no! So he used to be on my case for things like that but like I say I’ve got so many good memories of Tottenham and funny stories, which I can take with me for the rest of my life so I’m very blessed that I got to spend my time at that football club.

 

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

Mark: Like I said I’ve got so many good memories from that football club, good and bad and things that put me in good stead going forward in my life, but the  memories I have are ones that I’ll cherish for ever. Ultimately every young lad has a dream of wanting to play in the Premiership or getting to the FA Cup final or whatever it may be. When I first joined Tottenham my goal was to get into the first team and play a game in the Premiership. Luckily enough I played a few games for the club and I also had things that went on outside of football that had to make me stronger and that put me in a good space and to stay strong for my family. So there’s just so many things about that football club that have linked into my life, especially my early life. For a young lad at 15/16 to move away from home it’s basically the start of your learning, and I did all my teenage years and early 20’s at Spurs as a young lad who was on my own with no family. So I’ve only got super memories of my time there, and when I meet up with former teammates such as Gus Poyet or Teddy Sheringham they all say complimentary things about me. So there’s just so many lads from that club that I’ve got friendships with. It’s a super place and I was privileged to play there. 

My interview with former Spurs player Danny Foster:

My interview with former Spurs player Danny Foster:

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I caught up with former Spurs man Danny Foster on Thursday to discuss his ten year spell at Spurs from the age of ten to 20. As a schoolboy, youth team player and as a reserve team player. Foster who operated primarily as a central defender, would later go onto play for Dagenham & Redbridge, Brentford and Wycombe Wanderers before being forced to retire from the game at the age of 28 due to suffering a serious knee injury. Foster has since taken the step into coaching and he was most recently the assistant manager of Isthmian League Premier Division club Wingate & Finchley. A big thank you must go to Danny for taking the time to speak with me about his time at the Lilywhites and his footballing career in general.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Danny: My earliest footballing memories would have been probably playing out in the front in the road with friends and next door neighbours who lived nearby. We just used to get a ball and play in the street as there wasn’t so much traffic and cars back then, so you could play sometimes for an hour and not see a car drive past.

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

Danny: I joined the club when I was ten and I was picked up by a scout called Terry Adambar, and I caught his eye playing for my local club which was Brimsdown Rovers in Enfield. I then got invited down for a trial and back then we were training at White Hart Lane at the ground in the old ball court, and I went down for a trial and it sort of went from there. I remember that we would train in the ball court for about an hour in the under 10’s under a coach called Johnny Martin and after that hours training you would get your one pound expenses and a cup of tea and a custard cream on your way out. 

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

Danny: It was amazing to be fair, it’s a great club and being a local boy who was born and bred in Enfield which is predominantly a Spurs area. They were just great days and being at Spurs for ten years in total from under 10’s right the way through, so I experienced all parts of the club from when it was centre of excellence as I’ve just described, to when the academies started coming in and the academy was first built. Also moving over to Chigwell and being part of all of that, it was just great and I have such fond memories. They’re a great club to have been affiliated with and learnt your trade with, and also made some good friends with some of the really great people who were at the club, so I’ve only got good things to say about the club.

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

Danny: When I was growing up you had Gazza who was a big name so he was somebody that you’d always look up to and aspire to be like during the early days being a young player. However, as I got a little bit older and you start moving up you start looking at who is playing in the first team then and people like Ledley King who were coming through. I can remember going down and watching the games at White Hart Lane and David Ginola was the man of the moment, he literally was unplayable on his day on the left wing. The tickets we used to get were right down at the front in the stand which I can’t remember the name of, but you literally had Ginola for 45 minutes standing right in front of you and he was just great to watch, but you had so many great players back then at Spurs.

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

Danny: I was always predominantly a central defender during my time at Spurs and I was quite a big lad in the early years although it did level off in later later years. However, naturally I was a centre half although I did play a bit at fullback   as well, but I was predominantly a centre half and I was very comfortable on the ball obviously coming through the academy at Spurs where we did a lot of technical stuff. So I was probably a ball playing centre half, so that is probably the best way of describing me.

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

Danny: It was difficult and for any youngster coming through in the Premier League the statistics don’t lie. To make that transition from youth team to reserves and then to first team football is tough, it’s one of those things where you need to be going and getting experience out on loan as a young player. A loan move I believe is key for a young player to go and experience first team football where you are playing for points and where there’s a lot more for stake. Youth team football and reserve football is more of a development type game whereas first team football ultimately has a lot more at stake. Ultimately the lads at Spurs who progressed and done well were probably the ones who had loan experience and had successful loan moves. I was unfortunate enough that I didn’t get that opportunity which undoubtedly would have benefited me and my progression at Spurs. However, things just didn’t quite materialise for me so yes it was very tough to break through.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Danny: I’d probably say Teddy Sheringham who I met at Spurs as a young apprentice and professional, and he was always somebody who used to keep his eye on the youth team games. He was one of those model professionals who took the the time to speak to the young players and give them guidance and tips and what not. We sort of knew each other enough to say hi or what not when we saw each other away from football. So Teddy was a great influence and role model, and it just shows you how long his career went for and that shows the type of model professional that he was. 

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

Danny: Ledley King for me was a player that was a rare breed, he was a proper Tottenham player. Technically he was just unbelievable right foot and left foot, he was also just a great guy on and off the pitch and he very rarely lost his cool, and he very rarely got booked. He was just a model professional and the way that he conducted himself on and off the pitch, and me being a centre back as well I’d just have to say Ledley King at that time.

 

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

Danny: When I left school I had a contract in place at Spurs and I was in the England youth sides which was good but I was unlucky a bit with injuries. I had signed a two year professional contract at Spurs and I played quite a lot of reserve team football but I could never quite force my way into the first team set up and I was eventually released after the end of my second year when I had sort of a bad spell with injuries and what not, so it was difficult again for me to get going again the following season. Anyway I ended up signing for Dagenham & Redbridge who at the time were in the Conference, so that at the time was a massive, massive culture shock to me to go from ten years at a Premier League club and being on the international stage to going straight into the Conference and non league football. However, I was very fortunate enough to have a good manager at Dagenham called John Still who took a chance on me and we had a great group of young players, and many of them including myself moved up and had careers in the Football League. At Dagenham I had five great years at the club where we won promotion with the club to the Football League which was a massive achievement. From Dagenham I moved on to Brentford which was a step up for me as I wanted to test myself so I moved up into League One. Brentford was another great club and I had a really good time there even though I was only there a year due to a sort of misunderstanding with the manager at the time.

I then moved on to Wycombe Wanderers where we had Gary Waddock who was another great manager and superb coach. I think that I really progressed my game when I was at Wycombe, that whole approach to the game and training was first class and it was a great club and set up who had some great players. We managed to achieve a promotion from League Two to League One however, a couple of years later I unfortunately suffered a serious knee injury which ultimately forced me to retire and hang my boots up, so that was a tough one at the time at 28 and in my prime years. However, it’s one of those things that happens and you’ve sort of just got to dust yourself down and move on and keep positive and keep trying to move on forward with your life. However, I had some great years in the game.

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Danny: That is a very tough one! Obviously being capped by your country is something that I’m very, very proud to have done but promotion with Wycombe was fantastic when I think we went on a ten game unbeaten run at the end of the season to secure it. However, I’d have to say that my promotion with Dagenham was my biggest achievement because it really was against all odds, and at the start of the season we were second favourites for relegation and probably had the smallest budget in the league. We also had Oxford United in the league that season and they were running away with it during the first half of the season but the turnaround was just fantastic, the determination in that Dagenham team was just absolutely fantastic and during the second half of the season we just stormed home.

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

Danny: When Glenn Hoddle was manager of Spurs he used to join in the sessions when we used to train with the first team squad, and he was probably still the best player even though he couldn’t run as much! Again Ledley King stands out, Robbie Keane was fantastic too but there were so many great players. In a professional game Carl Cort at Brentford was a fantastic player who was phenomenal but again I’d probably have to say Ledley King as the greatest player that I shared a pitch with.

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

Danny: There was a funny day at the training ground where it snowed quite heavily so we were all sort of pitched up in the dressing rooms, looking out hoping that the snow was going to clear. A couple of the lads (Ronnie Henry and David Galbraith) had actually been out and had been building a snowman in the car park at Chigwell training ground and they were all proud of themselves. So they’d came back up and we were all saying to each other that we were going to go down there and smash it up and break it up, but they said that anybody who touches that snowman is dead! So to cut a long story short there was a welfare officer at the time called Gwyn Walters who was a lovely man, and he’d just pulled into the car park in his car, and he was on the phone and it seemed to be an important call as he seemed quite stressed to be fair. David and Ronnie had gone back down and started making snowballs and throwing it at Gwyn’s car while he was on the phone, and he was signalling at them to get lost as it was an important call sort of thing. However, they kept on throwing snowballs at his car (we could all see what was unfolding) and they were getting bigger and bigger, and Gwyn was getting angrier and angrier and he ended up losing the plot and driving his car into the snowman to try and break it. 

However, because it was such a big solid snowman, all that happened was, was that it hit the snowman’s belly and the head rolled off onto the bonnet and dented the bonnet of the car. So one of the lads I can’t remember which one, had got a massive big load of snow and thrown it at the window of the car, and if must have had a stone in it as it shattered the window so hard all over Gwyn, who was still on the phone. He ended up running out in a rage chasing after the two lads while he was still on the phone. It was just like something out of a comedy sketch, it was hilarious and just brilliant as they were slipping all over the place in the snow as he was chasing them. Another funny story was when we went to a tournament in Switzerland and we got delayed at Heathrow airport for 12 hours, and we were all sort of sitting around as there was nowhere to go and this was during a heatwave when it was about thirty degrees. Anyway we finally got on the plane and got out to Switzerland but when we arrived none of our bags turned up (I think about three turned up) so everyones kit, boots and personal belongings and training kit and match kits hadn’t arrived. So once we got on the coach to go to the hotel where we were staying at, we had to stop off at random sport shops in Switzerland to try and buy new boots and to try and buy what ever we could. We ended up wearing the same kit for the three or four days of the tournament! 

There was another trip where we went to Germany on a winter tour with Pat Holland who was our manager at the time. As we were flying back in late on a Sunday night there was a snow blizzard so instead of landing at Stansted we had to divert to Portsmouth or somewhere like that. And in the end we had to drive back in the snow, so that was another one of those calamity journeys. Meanwhile on the pitch we had some good players in our side, including Mark Yeates who went on to make first team appearances as well as Jamie Slabber so we went on to have a good little side to be fair even though we didn’t win any trophies or anything like that, but it was a really good side.

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

Danny: In terms of big strikers the likes of Grant Holt who was an old school centre forward when he was at Shrewsbury Town, and he was always a nightmare. Another was Rickie Lambert and Adebayo Akinfenwa when he was at Northampton, also Jamie Vardy when he was at Fleetwood and unfortunately knocked us out of the FA Cup when I was at Wycombe, but he was a tough opponent. However, those big old centre forwards which you don’t seem to see a lot of anymore. However, all those players that I named went on to play at the highest level so it just shows you that there are players down there in League One and Two who are capable of playing at the highest level.

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

Danny: Mark Yeates was probably my closet friend at Spurs and we still keep in touch and have a chat on the phone. We used to live quite close to each other and when he moved over from Ireland we struck a bit of a friendship. However, another player was Stuart Lewis who was a couple of years younger than me and we’re still good friends now (we also played with each other at Wycombe).

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

Danny: My advice to any of the young Spurs players would be to get out on loan and do what it takes to get out on loan and get first team experience under your belt in any of the leagues. Just get out there and rough it for a couple of months and develop and progress, and get all of the benefits of going out on loan and experience of first team football. 

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

Danny: It’s great to see the new stadium and what they are doing, and being a local boy from Enfield it’s just great to see. The new training ground is also unbelievable so it’s great for Spurs. I can actually remember well the first day I went to Spurs like it was just the other day. Spurs are a special club and a special place, and my memories of being at them for ten years are only good ones. Without going too deep you’ve only got to look what’s going on in the world at the moment to appreciate what you’ve done and achieved in the game, so I’m just grateful to have experienced it and been a part of that club, and also have people like yourself even after all these years still getting in touch.

My interview with former Spurs player Jimmy Lye:

My interview with former Spurs player Jimmy Lye: 

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I caught up with former Spurs player Jimmy Lye recently to interview him about his time at the Lilywhites during the late 1950’s and early and mid 1960’s. Lye, who was born in County Tipperary, Ireland but brought up in Hackney, London was a left half during his time at Spurs though he would later become a fullback after departing the North London club when he played for Barnet where he played with fellow former Spurs teammates Ben Embery, Ricky George and Ian Fusedale who sadly passed away recently. Lye also played for  Dagenham and Redbridge and Cambridge City. Lye was only ever a part time player at Spurs (he played for the juniors, A team and reserves) as he also worked in the printing trade, this would have been a great challenge for the then promising young footballer.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Jimmy: It would have to be being picked for the school team when I was nine years old for the under 11’s.

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

Jimmy: I actually played in a cup final in the Star shield against Tottenham under 15’s when I was playing for Hackney boys under 15’s and we drew at Leyton Orient and then the replay was at Tottenham. Anyway we ended up winning 4-3 and one of the scouts from Tottenham was there and he ended up coming down my house, and I ended up signing for Tottenham and that was in 1959.

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

Jimmy: I thoroughly enjoyed it although I was only ever part time as I was working in Hackney during the day and then I used to train on nights. However, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Spurs.

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

Jimmy: Well Dave Mackay was the best player that I thought was at Tottenham and Cliff Jones who I also used to like as a man as well as a footballer, as he was a great player. They were in my opinion the two best Spurs players at the time when they did the double.

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

Jimmy: While I was at Tottenham I normally played at left half, it was only when I left Tottenham and when I came to Cambridge City that I ended up playing fullback. In fact when I went for a trial when I was 14 I was playing fullback then, but what Spurs did was they moved me forward to wing half so the amount of time I was at Tottenham the old style of football was as a left half. However, later on in my career when I went to Barnet and Dagenham I was a fullback/right back. 

What was it like to brush shoulders with some of the legendary players that were around at Spurs at the time?

Jimmy: It was really good because they weren’t one bit off handed and during that time I used to take a big interest in boxing in the time when there was only eight weights in boxing. I used to talk to the first team players as they were quite interested in boxing at that time. You used to mix with the first team and being in the reserves there could be a first team player getting over an injury playing in the reserves for two of three weeks to try and get over an injury, so you would get to play with those type of people.

During the 1962/63 season you played with Danny Blanchflower in the old A team, what was he like to play with?

Jimmy: Well in fact he once gave me a lift after he was coming back from a knee operation which was a cartilage, and at that time it was quite a serious operation. After picking up this injury, he was in his mid thirties at that time and he actually played in the A team just to get a bit of fitness. What we used to do was turn up at the ground at White Hart Lane and get on the coach and drive down to Cheshunt where the pitches were, but Danny said to me do you want to come with me as I’m going by car, and so I went in his Jaguar car with him. Danny was a nice man but he didn’t have that much to do with me as I wasn’t actually at Tottenham full time as a ground staff boy or even as a full time professional so I wouldn’t mix with the likes of Blanchflower. The only time that I would mix with them was during pre-season training when I used to get two weeks off of work and go to Cheshunt to train, and when everyone would get their picture taken together.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Jimmy: When you say greatest influences I suppose when I was a kid there was a gentleman called Sid Tickridge who was the youth team manager and he was a very nice man who would pass on his information down to you. You would also look up to Bill Nicholson however, at the time Eddie Baily was the manager when I was in the reserves but all in there own way you looked up to them as an 18, 19, 20 year old and of course you would take notice of what these people were saying to you. 

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

Jimmy: I’m a great believer that you can look at players but at the end of the day you are only as good as what you are yourself. We’d all like to be able to play like Dave Mackay but if you were a wing half you couldn’t play like Dave Mackay because he was in the first team. Every game you went out and did the best that you could and hoped that the coaches would pass that onto Bill Nicholson, and ultimately I had a few seasons in the reserves as a part time professional which I was lucky to do as the only other player to my knowledge that did that was Peter Baker.

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

Jimmy: At the end of the day I was 21 coming up to 22 and after being a part time professional for five years and let’s be fair I had progressed as far as I was going to. I was never going to get into the first team at Spurs because they were a team of internationals and things like that. So what happened was that I got called in at the end of the season and they said thank you very much Jim but we feel that you’ve gone as far you can with us but we’ll have to let you go. So what you done then was hoped that some would come in for you, I had a couple of opportunities at going up north for a couple of league sides but I wasn’t interested in that because I didn’t want to become a full time professional who was playing in the third division or something like that. So at that time Tony Marchi he had just become the manager of Cambridge City in the Southern League and what happened was that he took me Alan Dennis and Ian Fusedale down to Cambridge City, but after six months Tony Marchi got sacked. The three of us stayed on for that season but at the end of the season Alan Dennis and Ian Fusedale were let go and were given a free transfer, but they wouldn’t let me go. So there I was travelling down to Cambridge City on my own for the following season which was what I did but at the end of the day I turned around and said to the chairman that I couldn’t carry on like this because I worked in the print so I was unable to play any games that were away from home. So after that I ended up signing for Barnet and I was at them for about six years where we managed to get to the FA Trophy final where we were beat unfortunately. However, we had a good team and we were a very good footballing side. Then at the back end of my career when I was 30 in about 1972, and in them days when you were a professional you couldn’t play for an amateur side. However, they changed the rules around that time so I ended up joining Dagenham and Redbridge as my final club which I enjoyed.

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Jimmy: Probably when we (Barnet) went to Wembley and played Stafford Rangers in the FA Trophy final. I was the captain of the team in front of 35,000 people standing before you which was nice, but unfortunately we got beat 3-0 with a team that really had nine players on who weren’t fit, while two were only semi fit, but that was just the way it was and we got beaten.

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

Jimmy: Well I’d played in the reserves with Jimmy Greaves who was a great goalscorer and Pat Jennings who was a great goalkeeper. I also played in the reserves with Bobby Smith who won the double with Spurs, so they were all players that I would class as great players.

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

Jimmy: During the first season I was at Spurs we didn’t have a great youth side. However, in the second season that I was there you had players like Philip Beal and Roy Low, and at the end of the day we seemed to win every game that we played. And then when you’d step up to play for the A team in the Eastern Counties League which was a professional league at that time where you played against men who played for the likes of Colchester, Lowestoft and Cambridge who were all decent players.

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

Jimmy: The toughest player in opposition was probably Ronnie Harris I suppose. As well as being tough he was also dirty and he was a hard tackler however, he wasn’t trying to put the boot in . 

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

Jimmy: Well when we were kids at Spurs I was close with Alan Dennis and Ben Embery who I later spent many years with at Barnet.

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

Jimmy: To be truthful unless you’ve got natural ability and are dedicated it is very tough, If you’re good enough you’re good enough and that’s just how it is. I’m a great believer that you can only get to a certain standard. Later on in my career I became a fullback I just wish that I’d moved into that position when I was a youngster as I was better there, so that was one of my regrets at Spurs.

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

Jimmy: Of course, I always look for their results but the trouble is that when we were at Spurs it was the glory times when they won the double so I was fortunate enough to be at Tottenham when they did all of that.

My end of season player reviews of Spurs’ development side (2019/20):

My end of season player reviews of Spurs’ development side (2019/20):

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Following on from my end of season review of Spurs’ under 18 side, I thought that I would also write my one of the under 23/development sides season, as I always do at the end of each season. Our development side, led by head coach Wayne Burnett enjoyed a fine pre-season, one which saw them finish in third place at the prestigious Tournoi Europeen out in France, before then competing in both the PL2 Division One (the U23 league) and the Checkatrade Trophy in the main part of the season. Burnett’s side had a solid season, but most importantly of all it provided so many players with the opportunity to test themselves at a higher level after having made that step up from under 18’s. Spurs finished in tenth position of 12 in the PL2, after recording 21 points from 18 games (we were six points away from the relegation zone). In the league Spurs started off really well by beating both Liverpool and Manchester City in their first two matches, and they were solid and consistent during the early parts of the season. However, they also had difficult periods like all teams, but a draw against Derby County and a win over Wolverhampton Wanderers during the latter part of the campaign helped to ensure that their PL2 Division One status remains for at least another season. Meanwhile in the Checkatrade Trophy where Spurs’ development side were pitted against EFL teams, Wayne Burnett’s side arguably put in their best performances of the season. After only narrowly losing to League One side Ipswich Town, Spurs beat Colchester United on penalties before then losing to Gillingham in their final group game (they finished bottom of their group).

In the following piece I will be doing a detailed review of each players season, including comments and statistics (from my view of watching the entirety of the 2019/20 season up and down the country, and at the pre-season Tournoi Europeen in France). For second year scholars who played up for the development side on more occasions than they did for the under 18’s, I will also be including them in this piece. The development side lads should be proud of all that they achieved over the course of the 2019/20 season.

Goalkeepers: 

Jonathan De Bie: The 20 year old Belgian goalkeeper who traveled with the first team to their pre-season tour of Asia last summer (he didn’t play a game for them), De Bie in his second year as a professional at Spurs, made six appearances for our development side and two for our under 19’s (he registered one assist for them) in the UEFA Youth League, during the season just gone. De Bie wasn’t the first choice goalkeeper for our development side for much of the season, hence his lack of game time for them. However, the Malines born shot stopper did put in a couple of noteworthy performances, of which two stood out for me. A solid performance against League Two side Colchester United in which the Belgium youth international saved a penalty kick in a penalty shoot out, and a performance against Leicester City’s under 23’s in the PL2 when he made a string of fine saves. A player with good potential (it is worth noting that De Bie ruptured his spleen while on international duty with Belgium’s under 17’s during the 2016/17 season) the former K.V. Mechelen goalkeeper was reportedly on trial with Belgian club K.A.A Gent earlier in the year according to a tweet on Twitter. If this were the case then one could assume that he might leave Spurs when the annual retained and released lists  are announced (usually in the first week of June). During his second year of scholarship at Spurs he was an outstanding performer, and was named as Spurs’ scholar of the season by the Premier League.

Brandon Austin: Highly rated Hemel Hempstead born goalkeeper Brandon Austin missed out on this seasons pre-season tour due to injury however, he more than made up for this by featuring on the bench for the Spurs senior team on six occasions. Austin, who was called up to represent England’s under 21’s during the season just gone, also was pictured training a lot with the Spurs first team when Mauricio Pochettino was in charge, and before Michel Vorm was signed once again by the club. The 21 year old also made five appearances for the under 23’s in the PL2 (he won the plaudits of former Liverpool under 23’s head coach Neil Critchley after making a string of superb stops in Spurs’ league opener against Liverpool back in August of 2019). The commanding goalkeeper who is also a terrific shot stopper who moves his feet so quickly, also put in a good performance against Chelsea’s under 23’s. Austin who is also eligible to represent the US Virgin Islands at international level clearly attracted the attention of a number of clubs who would have been seeking to sign him on loan for them after he had impressed during the last couple of seasons for our development side. And in January of this year he earned his first loan of his career by moving to Danish NordicBet Liga side Viborg FF until the end of their season (they play in the second division of Danish football). After impressing in a couple of mid season friendlies for Viborg, Austin who was given the number one shirt made his competitive debut for the high flying Danish side against Hvidovre IF where he was named man of the match after making some important saves. He then went on to play a further league game for Viborg which came against FC Frederica before the season was postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic. 

I believe strongly that the ever improving young shot stopper could be a future goalkeeper for Spurs’ first team in years to come, this will come as no surprise to those of you who have been reading my reports over the last couple of years. Austin has notably improved on his kicking this season in my opinion and that in my eyes was the only slight weakness of his game. Let us hope that the Danish second division does kick back off at some point during the near future, as it provides young Brandon with such a great platform to test himself in senior competitive football. 

Joshua Oluwayemi: First year professional Joshua Oluwayemi started off the 2019/20 campaign by making two appearances for our development side in pre-season friendlies, before then impressing at the annual Tournoi Europeen in France (I named Oluwayemi as Spurs’ player of the tournament). The 19 year old former England under 15 international did however, start the season off by playing for our under 18’s as an overage goalkeeper on three occasions. The Londoner then impressed on two occasions for our under 19’s in  the UEFA Youth League against both Olympiakos and Bayern Munich respectively (he would go onto make a further two appearances for our under 19’s in that competition). Oluwayemi had to wait until November before he could make his competitive debut for our under 23’s, that came in a PL2 game against Everton. And from then on he generally made that under 23 goalkeeping spot his own for the remainder of the campaign (he made five appearances for the under 23’s), until it was cancelled. After making some top saves against Everton, Oluwayemi further impressed in games against Liverpool, Manchester City and Leicester City. Although not the tallest of goalkeepers the Spurs youngster has a good jumping reach and this makes up for his lack of height. Furthermore, Oluwayemi who is also eligible to represent Nigeria at international level is another very good shot stopper that Spurs have on their books, and he is more often than not quick off of his line. This has been a positive season in my eyes for Joshua Oluwayemi and he’ll look to build on it next season by imposing himself as our development sides number one goalkeeper, especially if Brandon Austin and Alfie Whiteman are out on loan, and Jonathan De Bie has left the club.

Alfie Whiteman: London born Alfie Whiteman (21) now in his third years as a professional at Spurs, Whiteman only made five appearances for our development side in the season just gone. The former England under 17 international made three appearances for our under 23’s in the PL2 where he impressed in a home game against Derby County in which he saved a penalty kick as well as making some good saves. He also made two appearances for our under 21’s in the Checkatrade Trophy. A player who often trained with the first team, and who also went on the pre-season tour of Asia, Whiteman made the bench on five occasions for Jose Mourinho’s first team last season, owing to an injury to Hugo Lloris. Next season Whiteman will turn 22 and I would imagine that it is highly likely that he will go out on the first loan spell of his career before next season starts.

Defenders:

Tariq Hinds: A consistent performer for our development side during the 2019/20 season, second year professional Tariq Hinds of Goodmayes in London was a mainstay stay in Wayne Burnett’s side. Hinds could be seen in matches getting up and down the flank well, and with his aggression and tenacity he made himself an important player for our under 23’s for the second season running. Playing primary out of position at left back, owing to the younger Dennis Cirkin being injured for parts of the season, Hinds didn’t look at all out of place. Making 19 appearances in all competitions for our development side, Hinds also filled in at CDM and in his natural position of right back. I like Hinds and the consistently good quality of his performances last season should be admired. Good both in defence and attack, Hinds is a player who possesses a fair amount of pace, but it is his aggression, willingness and determination which is what I like the most about him. During his 19 appearances he also chipped in with two assists, and he generally did create a good number of chances for the team from out on the wide areas. Hinds was a very reliable member of Wayne Burnett’s side last season and he would have most certainly impressed scouts of EFL clubs who were looking for loan players. Now 20 years of age Tariq Hinds could well go out on loan next season, and I think that would be good for his personal development. Over the course of last season some performances of Hinds which stood out for the player who is also eligible to represent Jamaica, include games against Manchester City, Derby County, Everton and most of all his very well rounded performance at home to Liverpool at Hotspur Way when he registered an assist as well as defending solidly for the entirety of the game.

Jubril Okedina: After consistently putting in sterling performances for our under 18’s during the 2018/19 season, centre half Jubril Okedina now seemingly converted to a right back, carried on last seasons good form for our development side by making 15 appearances for them in all competitions in 2019/20. Okedina (19) like Tariq Hinds was a consistent and effective performer for the team and he stood out to me during the season just gone. The Londoner who is also eligible to represent Nigeria at international level was a steady player for our development side and overall he was the first choice for them. After a good pre-season he established himself well in the team, an agile player who is quick and direct, Okedina is a really good passer and crosser of the ball and that in particular really stood out to me last season, even more so than in the 2018/19 campaign. Chipping in with a single goal from his 15 appearances, the first year professional got better and better as the season progressed. Linking up well with both Dilan Markanday and Shilow Tracey down the right flank, Okedina knew when to make well timed overlapping runs and also when to stay deep and defend tightly. The teenager had fine games against the likes of Liverpool, Derby County and Wolverhampton Wanderers and he will be looking to build on a good debut season with our development side by asserting himself further in the team whenever next season starts. He should be proud of what he achieved during the season just gone.

Maxi Tainio: Unfortunately Finland under 19 international Maxi Tainio (the son of our former player Teemu) missed last pre-season due to injury. The right back who is also comfortable at filling in as a CDM did not make a single competitive appearance for our development side in the 2019/20 season. It is worth noting that the Auxerre born defender did miss a significant part of the second half of the 2018/19 season to injury. 

Maxwell Statham: An ever present player for our development side during pre-season, where he impressed both at centre half and out of position at fullback. The Southend born defender who is the son of our former player Brian Statham, unfortunately did not make a competitive appearance for our development side during the 2019/20 campaign. However, Statham did make the bench for our under 23’s on two occasions in the PL2, in games against both Brighton & Hove Albion and Derby County respectively.

Jonathan Dinzeyi: Making six appearances in total for our development side in 2019/20 (three of them came as a substitute). Skilful 20 year old centre half Jonathan Dinzeyi of Islington in London, was only used sparsely for Spurs during the 2019/20 Academy season. Dinzeyi is a tall defender who is good in the air and who likes to bring the ball out from the back, he is also a player who isn’t afraid to lunge in, in dangerous situations, and take risks. The former Highbury Grove pupil put in my eyes two good performances during the season just gone, they came in a 2-2 draw with Southampton and a narrow 3-2 defeat to Leicester City where he made a number of good challenges. Shortly before the Leicester game he went out on trial to fellow London club QPR where he played for their under 23’s in a league game. And Dinzeyi impressed for the ‘ Hoops ’ by scoring a goal and helping them to keep a clean sheet in a 2-0 away win over Coventry City. West London Sport reported that Jonathan Dinzeyi could become the latest of a number of Tottenham youngsters to join QPR last month. The one time winger who was also used as a centre forward by Wayne Burnett in the latter stages of a match last season, could well leave Spurs upon the expiration of his contract next month. Dinzeyi played once for Spurs’ first team when he came on as a substitute in a pre-season friendly against Girona back in 2018.

Brooklyn Lyons-Foster: The very versatile and adaptable defender Brooklyn Lyons-Foster (19) made 16 appearances for our development side last season (he captained them on one occasion) and he also featured on two occasions for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League. The Islington born defender played in a variety of positions for Wayne Burnett’s side of which included RB, LB, his natural position of CB and CDM. Lyons-Foster is a tall ball playing centre half who although slim, is deceptively strong and dominant in the air. His calmness with the ball at his feet and his ice cool composure in defence makes him a very good defender. However, during the season just gone it was his versatility as well as his adaptability to situations and games which really did impress me the most. A member of the travelling Spurs first team squad which travelled to Asia (unfortunately Brooklyn didn’t get to play a minute of that tour) Lyons-Foster started the season off really well with our development side, particularly our under 23’s. He helped them to keep a clean sheet in a 4-0 win over Liverpool on the opening day of the PL2 season. He would then further impress in games against Derby County, Chelsea, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Gillingham. Lyons-Foster impressed and was effective with his positioning, awareness, distribution and his positive forward passing in matches. Playing out at full back, he got up and down the pitch well, kept impeccable positioning and also showed good spatial awareness. Building on from a good 2018/19 season as a second year scholar, Lyons-Foster managed to establish himself as a regular from Wayne Burnett’s development side. From late November 2019 onwards he played in every game for our development side until the season came to a premature end in March. 

The first year professional would go on to do well in games against the likes of Chelsea, Derby County and Leicester City where he captained the team and played very well as a CDM. A player who is authoritative and takes responsibility in his game, after fellow centre half Luis Binks left the club to join MLS side Montreal Impact in January, he became alongside Malachi Fagan-Walcott the first choice centre half for our under 23’s. I personally think that this was another very positive season of development for Lyons-Foster who has improved further in his all round play. The only surprise for me was that he didn’t make the bench for the first team in any competitive games last season, or even play for them. His versatility and maturity beyond his years makes me believe that he would have been able to handle first team minutes for Spurs’s first team during the season just gone. I do hope that he goes on the next pre-season tour and gets minutes. Also with the financial impact of the Coronavirus pandemic likely to affect clubs spending in the summer transfer window, Spurs could be forced to promote played from their Academy set up. Lyons-Foster is a defender who in my eyes could replicate what the older Japhet Tanganga has  done. My favourite young defender at the club, Lyons-Foster could also potentially head out on loan next season to gain further experience.

Timothy Eyoma: 20 year old centre back Timothy Eyoma (also known as TJ) made 16 appearances for our development side and five for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League last season, chipping in with three assists. The Londoner who made his competitive debut for Spurs during the 2018/19 season was absent from last seasons pre-season tour of Asia due to injury however, he did return for a Spurs under 21 side at the pre-season Tournoi Europeen where he put in a solid performance against SM Caen in game two of the group stages. Eyoma would then go on to establish himself as a mainstay for our development side for the third season in a row, often captaining them. The former England under 19 international who is also eligible to represent Nigeria, was solid both at right back and centre half for our under 23’s and under 19’s. With good ball control, pace, reading of the game and aerial dominance Eyoma has all the attributes that a centre back needs to make it in the professional game. After being a good consistent performer for our development side in 2019/20 Eyoma earned himself a loan move to League One side Lincoln City (this was the first loan move of his career). However, Eyoma only made the bench on two occasions for Lincoln before the season was postponed in March. Next season Eyoma should hopefully get another League One loan if this season doesn’t resume. He is yet another good defensive prospect that the club have on their books who could go far in the game.

Malachi Fagan-Walcott: The second year scholar (18) enjoyed a fine season for the Lilywhites often playing up for our development side. RCB Malachi Fagan-Walcott made nine appearances for our development side, six for our under 18’s and five for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League. The tall and athletic centre half missed pre-season and the early parts of the proper campaign due to injury however, he looked nice and sharp upon his return in an under 18 league game against Southampton in late August of 2019. The North Londoner who is good in the air and has a fine jumping reach, is also a good reader of the game who is somewhat of an expert at making last ditch blocks and challenges, and also at making important defensive interventions. Fagan-Walcott formed a strong central defensive partnership with Luis Binks for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League before then being promoted to our development side, and after impressing in a Checkatrade Trophy game against Colchester United he was a regular for our under 23’s in the PL2 right until the end of the season (Fagan-Walcott chipped in with one goal for them). Dominating defensively against teams as varied as Wigan Athletic, Liverpool, Everton and Fulham I noted down in my many reports that the teenager’s aerial prowess, numerous well timed interceptions and challenges as well as his long range passing and vision were all strengths of his game. Fagan-Walcott had a very fine season as a first year scholar in 2018/19 to make individual good progress as a defender. This good progress which continued last season was rewarded as he was handed his first senior competitive appearance for Spurs when he came on as a late substitute in our UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg tie against Red Bull Leipzig in February. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Fagan-Walcott get more first team minutes next season while also becoming a key player for our development side in his first season as a professional at the club.

Japhet Tanganga: The 2019/20 season was central defender and Academy prospect Japhet Tanganga’s breakthrough season at Spurs (I have included Tanganga in this end of season review as he featured on two occasions for our development side). After the 21 year old was included on our pre-season tour of Asia and he put in some very solid performances during that tour and also at the subsequent Audi Cup in Germany, it was then that Tanganga started to train exclusively with the first team along with Troy Parrott. Although he did make two appearances for our under 23’s in the PL2, both of which came against Manchester City. Tanganga made his competitive senior debut against Colchester United in the third round of the Carabao Cup (he completed 66 minutes of that game) and he was solid however, he never got another chance to play again under Mauricio Pochettino. However, it was shortly after new manager Jose Mourinho’s took charge of Spurs that the England under 20 international got his first taste of Premier League football. The Hackney born defender highly impressed in that game against title challengers Liverpool and as they say the rest is history. Tanganga would go onto make ten more senior appearances for Spurs during the 2019/20 season and he was generally solid in every single game. He played in a variety of positions, including RB, LB and in his natural position of central defence. However, he never looked out of place when he played out wide at full back or as a wing back. Tanganga was good in the air (he has a tremendous leap which makes up for him being slightly short for a central defender) he also made some really good blocks and his overall defending was good, as well as him wanting to bring the ball out of the back effectively. However, there is so much more to his defending that many Spurs fans have not yet seen such as his ability to score headers from corner kicks, as well as his very accurate long passing and good leadership skills and authoritativeness. 

The 2020/21 season promises to be a hugely exciting one for this very talented young man. I shall be writing an in-depth piece on Tanganga at some point during the lockdown.

Luis Binks: My development sides player of the season, see below.

Midfielders/wingers: 

Jamie Bowden: After enduring an injury disrupted but overall positive 2018/19 campaign, 18 year old first year professional Jamie Bowden unfortunately suffered more injury troubles during the season just gone. However, this didn’t stop the local lad from Tottenham making good individual progress during the 2019/20 season for both club and country. The classy central midfielder made ten appearances for our development side last season registering three goals and one assist, plus an additional six appearances for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League (Bowden captained the team in every game). He started pre-season off by being selected by the then Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino to go on their tour of Asia. Bowden featured as a late substitute in our 3-2 win over Italian side Juventus, but he didn’t feature again for the first team in pre-season. The teenager started off the proper campaign by playing for our development side (under 23’s) and he put in two sterling performances against both Liverpool and Manchester City in the opening two PL2 games of the season. Shortly after that Manchester City game he picked up an injury however, he returned to action in a game against Southampton where he played during the first half. During that game against the ‘ Saints ’ Bowden pulled the strings from central midfield, he was sharp and his vision for a pass was very good indeed. Bowden put in a further two decent performances against both Brighton & Hove Albion and Blackburn Rovers, he captained the team on both occasions. The midfielder who primarily operates as the deeper of the two CM’s also made his first ever appearance for the Republic of Ireland (he qualifies through his parents) when he turned out for Tom Mohan’s under 19 side in a friendly against Denmark in Sligo, in October. I was at the first of two games that Bowden played against Denmark and he played as a number six, in that position Bowden was very good and adventurous with his passing.

Later on in the year he made his competitive debut for the Republic of Ireland’s under 19’s in a 13-0 win over Gibraltar. Bowden chipped in by scoring two goals and registering two assists in that Euro Under 19 qualifier. Upon returning to Spurs he registered an unexpected hat-trick in a 4-0 PL2 win over Liverpool at Hotspur Way before then getting injured again. However, he did return in February as a late substitute in a league game against Leicester City before then playing the whole of our final game of the season against Wolverhampton Wanderers. To describe Bowden as a player, he is a midfielder who can either operate as a four or as a number eight, he is a fairly skilful player who has great vision, in game intelligence and a good passing range (he is a progressive passer). In addition he is also tenacious and he likes to get stuck in and stamp his authority on the game. I am genuinely excited about next season for Bowden as providing he can stay injury free he could well make his competitive debut for his boyhood club in a domestic cup game. He could also potentially be yet another player who heads out on loan following the seeming shift in policy under Jose Mourinho. Either way Spurs fans should pay close attention to this young prospect.

Luke Amos: 23 year old London born defensive midfielder Luke Amos has spent the entirety of the 2019/20 season on loan at Championship side QPR. Amos who featured on a couple of occasions for our development side last season and is an Academy product, joined QPR long before the season started. In total he made 26 competitive appearances for the ‘ Hoops ’ scoring two goals after impressing in pre-season. Whenever I saw Amos play for QPR this season he was industrious and good on the ball. He is a real team player who contributes so much to games. After a very difficult injury hit 2018/19 it was so great to see Amos get such a good loan move in the first place and to see him perform so consistently for Nigel Warburton’s side, and become admired by their fan base is very satisfying indeed. It will be interesting to see what happens with Amos at Spurs next season.

Oliver Skipp: Another player who is not technically part of the development side but who is an Academy product, and who did play for them last season. Extremely hard working central midfielder Oliver Skipp has had an interesting season, he has featured on just eight occasions for Spurs’ first team with the latest appearance coming in a Premier League game against Burnley in March. He also completed the entirety of our FA Cup fifth round tie against Norwich City which he impressed in and also another game in which he was arguably the best player on the pitch came against Colchester United in the Carabao Cup. Spurs manager Jose Mourinho has reportedly been a big fan of the 19 year old and its not difficult to see why. At 19 years of age the Welwyn Garden City born player is already far too good for under 23 football such is his fine footballing brain and maturity. Skipp reads the game so well for somebody so young and he is so industrious and effective at what he does on the pitch. He is also a skilful player who can drive forward with the ball well (something we haven’t really seem him do a lot for the first team). Arguably Skipp’s best performance of the season came against Netherlands under 21’s for England in an international friendly, where he put in a very good all round performance against a very good Dutch team. Like Luke Amos it will be very interesting to see what happens to Skipp next season. Having already made 20 competitive appearances for Spurs’ first team he could well head out on his first ever loan (I believe he could easily do well for a high end Championship side at the very least). However, he could also be kept at Spurs and become a very useful squad player.

George Marsh: Pembury born defensive midfielder George Marsh has notched up 29 appearances for loan club Leyton Orient (this is his first loan) during the 2019/20 season. Marsh became an important and dependable member for the League Two side, filling in at both right back and in his natural position of CDM. The 21 year old tenacious player has had a very successful loan overall considering he has largely been played out of position at right back for the most part of it. Although the hard working midfielder lacks pace he makes up for it with his aggressiveness and tenacity on the field. Furthermore, Marsh is a versatile player who can also operate at centre half as he has proved on several occasions for Spurs at youth level over the years. A player who featured for Spurs’ first team during pre-season, Marsh has impressed many Leyton Orient fans over the course of the current campaign, and when I went to see him play he impressed me by defending solidly out of position at right back in a league game against Macclesfield Town. It is unknown whether he will go out on loan next season again when it resumes, or if he will stay at Spurs.

Harvey White: Maidstone born defensive midfielder Harvey White (18) made 16 appearances for our development side this season, while also making six for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League, plus an extra seven for our under 18’s. At all levels White chipped in with seven goals and registered five assists, this was a good campaign for the second year scholar who managed to establish himself as an important player for the development side. White started pre-season off by being selected by the then Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino to go on their tour of Asia, where he impressed out of position at left back, particularly in a game against Manchester United. Calm and composed on the ball, White has a wicked left foot and he is an expert set piece taker whose deliveries from corners and free kicks are frighteningly good. The midfielder from County Kent who was a keen cricketer during his school days, is a technical midfielder who like the slightly older Jamie Bowden is a really good passer of the ball, but who also possess great vision. White often ran the show from midfield when stepping down to represent our under 18’s last season while also putting in several consistently good performances for our development side from central midfield. He impressed in games against Southampton, Ipswich Town and Arsenal where his individual qualities especially his footballing intelligence really shone through. Another player who is surely not too far away from making his senior competitive debut for Spurs, White who has previously represented England at under 18 level is arguably the best set piece taker at the club and that alone will surely really interest manager Jose Mourinho. Like Jamie Bowden next season will be a very interesting one for the young defensive minded midfielder.

Elliot Thorpe: A player whose passion and confidence on the pitch is wonderful to see, the aggressive Elliot Thorpe who can operate as either a CAM or CM, was a player who shone during the 2019/20 pre-season for our development side. Thorpe who is a former Wales under 19 international, is direct and positive in his play, and last pre-season in his first year as a professional at Spurs the Hinchingbrooke born player really caught the eye despite having limited playing time. After scoring in a friendly against Ebbsfleet United back in July, Thorpe put in a similarly good performance against Dulwich Hamlet before then featuring in three of our four games at the Tournoi Europeen in France. At that tournament the young attack minded midfielder who plays with real bite, showed good flair and he also was direct, positive and purposeful in his play (his passing was nice and progressive). Our second game against SM Caen stood out for me as Thorpe’s best of the tournament. The former Cambridge United youth team player did however, have to wait a long time before he could, make his competitive debut for our development side (January 2019 to be precise). That came in a London derby against Chelsea’s under 23’s where Thorpe actually played as a CDM however, he looked very competent in that position on that day contributing well to both defence and attack. Thorpe made one more appearances for our under 23’s in a PL2 game against Derby County in which he scored in. Hopefully next season Thorpe will play a lot more for our development side. I am a big fan of the Wales youth international, this is a player who used to play in the same Wales youth team as Ethan Ampadu when they won the Victory Shield back in 2015 (Thorpe was playing up in age).

Armando Shashoua: Creative midfield craftsman Armando Shashoua (19) had a sensational 2018/19 season as captain of our under 18’s. And the attacking midfielder unsurprisingly took to our under 23 side pretty much like a duck to water during the season just gone. After impressing greatly in pre-season for our development side, the player with a great low centre of gravity made 14 competitive appearances for them during 2019/20 chipping in with five goals (our top scorer at that level) and three assists. A highly effective player whose footballing brain is unrivalled at this level, Shashoua made his first competitive start of the season in September of 2019 when he put in a really mature performance against Ipswich Town at Portman Road in the Checkatrade Trophy (he scored a goal in that game). The Chelsea born midfielder then put in a man of the match worthy display against Southampton before becoming a mainstay of Wayne Burnett’s side right up until late January. Shashoua capped off wonderful performances where he showed off his brilliant dribbling ability, movement and fine reading of the game by scoring braces in games against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Everton. The silky attacking midfielder who is a real grafter off the ball, also impressed in games against Arsenal and Chelsea before rumours from Mallorca started to circulate on Twitter that Spanish third tier side Atlético Baleares were interested in signing Shashoua on loan. The Balearic club had previously had Armando’s older brother Samuel on loan during the 2018/19 campaign. Armando eventually ended up signing on loan for the Spanish Segunda División B Grupo 1 side in late January until the end of their domestic season. After receiving international clearance the younger of the two Shashoua brothers made his senior competitive appearance for Atlético as a second half substitute against Pontevedra in February. The first year professional then made his full debut against Coruxo FC the following week, it was a game that he performed well in. Shashoua would make two more appearances for Atlético before the season was postponed in March.

To summarise Armando’s season for our development side he was one of our very best performers and without him we would simply not have avoided relegation to division two!

Jack Roles: 21 year old Cyprus under 21 international Jack Roles, like his fellow Tottenham teammate George Marsh enjoyed a very good season at his loan club. The Londoners team was League Two side Cambridge United and the attacking midfielder despite having some injury problems over the course of the season, managed to make 25 appearances for the ‘ U’s ’ scoring five goals over the course of the campaign. Roles was another player who featured for Spurs’ first team during pre-season before heading out on loan to Cambridge United. Impressing for them with his excellent off the ball movement and knack of being in the right place at the right time, Roles scored some fine goals and created some key chances, he was also rewarded with a number of man of the match awards during his time there. I wouldn’t be at all surprised for the young player who made the Cyprus senior squad for the first time this season, to get a loan at maybe a League one or even a Championship club next season.

Rayan Clarke: Speedy and skilful right winger Rayan Clarke made ten appearances for our development side during 2019/20. Clarke who can often be seen cutting inside and shooting from the right flank did however, struggle for starts last season (he only made one for our development side and an additional one for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League). The North London born 19 year old impressed most in my eyes in the UEFA Youth League group stage 1-1 draw against Olympiacos where he operated on the left flank. Clarke went on some good skilful runs during that game.

Dilan Markanday: Barnet born winger Dilan Markanday (18) made 19 appearances for our development side last season, plus an additional six for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League. Markanday scored three goals for our development side and registered five assists (the joint most with Shilow Tracey). The skilful wide man who likes to go on weaving forward runs, was a consistent player for Spurs’s under 23’s and 21’s. After playing for both our development side and our under 19’s in pre-season Markanday hardly missed a game for Wayne Burnett’s side during the season proper. The technically astute winger put in some big performances over the course of the campaign, these came against Southampton, Everton, Liverpool and Leicester City. Markanday operated on both the left and right wing over the course of the season despite being left footed. Furthermore, Markanday at full pace is a nice player to watch as he is very hard to get the ball off of, he is also a very hard worker for the team and he tracks back very well after himself. Markanday had a good overall 2019/20 season.

Jeremie Mukendi: Versatile London born winger Jeremie Mukendi suffered a serious knee injury for our under 18’s back in December 2018, this injury kept Mukendi out for over 13 months until he returned to action for a Spurs development side in a friendly against Chinese team Beijing Renhe (Mukendi scored on his return). The 19 year old then made three competitive appearances for our under 23’s in the PL2 before the season was called off. Mukendi’s best performance came as a CAM in a 3-2 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers where he contributed a goal and an assist in what was a very good performance from the fast winger.

 

Phoenix Patterson: Former Scotland under 19 international Phoenix Patterson made 16 competitive appearances for our development side during 2019/20 after missing most of pre-season due to injury. The skilful High Wycombe born winger who also operated as a CAM and as a centre forward throughout the season put in some strong performances for Wayne Burnett’s side. Patterson is a player who has a high work rate and who reads and understands the game very well. Arguably Patterson’s best performance of the season came when he found his one and only goal in a 2-2 draw with Chelsea’s under 23’s. Like many of our attacking and creative players Patterson has good vision and he also times his runs down the flank well.

Maurizio Pochettino: Seemingly having found some new found pace last season, right winger Maurizio Pochettino did well for both the under 19’s and the development side. The Barcelona born player who made nine appearances for our development side and five for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League, scored one goal and registered four assists across all levels last season. Pochettino is a very direct player who is especially good at whipping dangerous crosses into the oppositions penalty area. The 19 year old first year professional would have found it very difficult to see his father Mauricio sacked by the club back in November however, Maurizio stayed put at Spurs and he put in some fine individual performances out on the right flank. Pochettino did really well in both of our league games against Wolverhampton Wanderers before then providing good service for our strikers in the away game against Leicester City. Furthermore his two assists in our home UEFA Youth League game against Crvena zvevda capped off a really good late cameo. One does wonder however, if Maurizio will still be here next season especially if his father does take up another managerial job.

Anthony Georgiou: Cyprus international Anthony Georgiou (23) did well once again in pre-season for Spurs’ first team where he performed out of position at left back. Then in August of 2019 the left winger who possesses searing pace went on the second loan move of his career to one of League Ones leading teams Ipswich Town. Paul Lambert’s acquisition should have been the perfect match for an Ipswich side which lacked in pace and flair, and after a really promising and lively debut against AFC Wimbledon things were really looking up for the player who has won seven international caps for Cyprus. However, for some reason Georgiou was not given sufficient playing time in the league despite looking good whenever he got minutes. Lively and inventive whenever he got more than 30 minutes of game time, Georgiou impressed in games against the likes of Rotherham, Colchester United and Lincoln City however, he he was never handed a league start at Ipswich. In late December and after making 13 appearances for the ‘ Tractor Boys ’ Georgiou’s time on loan at Ipswich came to an end. He had to wait due to injury until transfer deadline day in January to join fellow League One Club Bolton Wanderers. This promised to be a really positive move for the direct winger but after making two appearances off the bench for the ‘ Trotters ’ the season was postponed. For those of you that don’t know Georgiou is a lightening quick and nimble footed winger whose strengths include his ability to cross the ball as well as strike it sweetly. In addition his good defensive awareness, high work rate and determination are some of the other pluses of his game.

Shilow Tracey: Arguably the second fastest player we have in our entire Academy set up after Anthony Georgiou, former Ebbsfleet United winger Shilow Tracey of Northfleet in Kent was once again a mainstay of our development side during most of 2019/20. Tracey (22) made sixteen competitive appearances for our development side during 2019/20 and after doing well at the pre-season Tournoi Europeen in France where he scored two goals, Tracey started the season with a bang by netting one goal and registering five assists during the early stages of the league season. Putting in really purposeful performances against the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea the direct winger played without fear and when he was running at full speed with the ball at his feet he was very difficult to catch. In January of 2020 Tracey went out on loan to struggling League Two side Macclesfield Town. He became an instant starter for Mark Kennedy’s side, the winger impressed me when I went to watch his debut against Leyton Orient. He made a further six appearances for Macclesfield, scoring one goal in a league game against Plymouth Argyle. 

Forwards: 

Rodel Richards: South London born striker Rodel Richards (formerly of Arsenal) may not have been prolific in front of goal during 2019/20 however, his graft off the ball and determination on the pitch was hugely admirable and it helped the team out. Richards (19) scored four goals and registered four assists from his 21 combined appearances for both our development side and under 19’s. Still a clinical finisher who has good off the ball movement however, he wasn’t always given the best service last season. Rodel did score some clever goals in games against Bayern Munich, Brighton & Hove Albion, Derby County and Liverpool. He also created some good chances for his teammates too. He was also the first choice striker for our development side for much of the campaign owing to Troy Parrott training exclusively with the first team.

Kazaiah Sterling: 21 year old centre forward Kazaiah Sterling started pre-season off by playing with our development side, he scored three goals for them. The Londoner then played in our under 23’s opening PL2 game of the season against Liverpool where he netted a brace before going out on loan to League One side Doncaster Rovers. In total Sterling made four appearances for Doncaster, scoring one goal and registering one assist before he picked up a dead leg. This dead leg however, developed into an nfection and it ruled Sterling out for a significant period of time. He would go onto join former club Leyton Orient on loan until the end of the season during the January transfer window while still injured, but he never got a chance to play for them before the season was postponed in March.

Troy Parrott: Dubliner and Republic of Ireland international Troy Parrott (he made his senior debut for Ireland back in November in a friendly against New Zealand) enjoyed another season of fine progress in his second year of scholarship at the Lilywhites. The 18 year old who impressed in pre-season for Spurs’ first team played his first game of the proper season with our under 23’s by scoring two well taken goals in a 3-1 PL2 win over Manchester City. Shortly afterwards Parrott who trained almost exclusively with the senior team last season, made his competitive debut for Spurs’ first team in our Carabao Cup third round defeat to Colchester United in September 2019. He would go onto make three more appearances for Spurs’ first team in 2019/20. The highly clinical and skilful striker did make an appearance for our under 18’s in their FA Youth Cup third round tie against Liverpool (he scored two goals and assisted two in that game). He also played a further game for our under 23’s in a 3-2  PL2 win over Wolverhampton Wanderer in which he scored one goal in, and was involved in the build up play to the other two. And in the UEFA Youth League for our under 19’s Parrott was unplayable scoring six goals and assisting one from four appearances. On the international stage part from making his senior debut for the Republic of Ireland, Parrott also made a couple of very impressive appearances for Ireland’s under 21’s. I’ve got a feeling that we will be seeing a lot more of the physically ready and ridiculously talented Irishman next season or if the current one resumes (you can read more about Parrott in my in-depth piece that I wrote about him late last year).

My goal of the season: Troy Parrott’s sumptuous finish in our under 23’s 3-2 win over Manchester City in August of 2019. After receiving Dilan Markanday’s pass with his back to the Manchester City goal inside the penalty area, Parrott sorted his feet out superbly and swivelled quickly around before whipping an unstoppable effort into the top left hand corner of the goal at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

My save of the season: 19 year old shot stopper Joshua Oluwayemi’s superb reaction save to push away Ellis Simms bullet header in our under 23’s 3-1 PL2 win over Everton in November 2019.

My game of the season: Our under 23’s 3-1 PL2 win over Manchester City in which we picked apart a fine team by performing superbly as a team, and also playing our passing game to great effect.

My development sides player of the season 2019/20: A natural born leader and communicator, tall and physical centre half Luis Binks (18) was consistently imperious at the back for our development side before he left the club to join MLS side Montreal Impact in January. The Gillingham born defender who made ten appearances for our development side and an additional ten for our under 18’s, as well as six for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League, never seemed to have an off day. Binks’ reading of the game, impeccable positioning, strength and his aerial dominance makes him the complete young defender (not to mention that he’s improved on his pace). The England under 19 international also has a wand of a left foot and his cross field diagonal passes are truly special. After putting in a string of very solid performances at the Tournoi Europeen out in France with our development side during pre-season Binks started the competitive campaign off with our under 18’s, which he found too easy. He was soon promoted to the development side which he dominated just as much in every sense. Colossal defensive performances against senior teams Gillingham and Colchester United as well as under 23 teams Liverpool, Everton and Manchester City would only have intensified any interest from other clubs, and very sadly in January he decided to move onto Thierry Henry’s MLS side Montreal Impact. Binks walked straight into the starting eleven, making four competitive appearances for Montreal before the MLS season was postponed (I highly recommend any Spurs fan to watch a Montreal game just to see how good the 18 year old is). Binks will go onto become a top player in my eyes but who knows maybe Binks’ and Spurs’ paths will cross again at some point during the future.

Spurs under 23’s statistics: 

Goals: Armando Shashoua – 5

Harvey White – 3

Rodel Richards – 3

Jamie Bowden – 3

Dilan Markanday – 3

Troy Parrott – 3

Kazaiah Sterling – 2

Tashan Oakley-Boothe – 2

Shilow Tracey – 1

Paris Maghoma – 1

Phoenix Patterson – 1

Elliot Thorpe – 1

Luis Binks – 1

Malachi Fagan-Walcott – 1

Jubril Okedina – 1

Maurizio Pochettino – 1

Jeremie Mukendi – 1

Assists: Shilow Tracey – 5

Dilan Markanday – 5

Tashan Oakley-Boothe – 3

Armando Shashoua – 3

Rodel Richards – 3

Harvey White – 3

Tariq Hinds – 2

Maurizio Pochettino – 2

Jamie Bowden – 1

Paris Maghoma – 1

Kazaiah Sterling – 1

TJ Eyoma – 1

Jeremie Mukendi – 1

Clean sheets: Brandon Austin – 1

Joshua Oluwayemi – 1

My end of season player reviews of Spurs’ under 18 side (2019/20):

My end of season player reviews of Spurs’ under 18 side (2019/20):

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We are in extraordinary times and the decision to curtail the 2019/20 Academy Games Programme (to end our under 18’s and 23’s league seasons) really came as no great surprise. In the vocal head coach Matt Taylor’s first season in charge of our under 18’s we have enjoyed a good and solid campaign, putting in some very good performances, as well as improving as the season went on. In the Premier League South we ended up finishing in fifth place after accumulating 26 points from 17 games. Meanwhile, in the under 18 Premier League Cup we exited at the group stages in a group which contained West Ham United, Newcastle United and Stoke City. And in the prestigious FA Youth Cup we were knocked out in the fourth round of the competition by Wigan Athletic, after so impressively defeating the holders Liverpool in round three. A Spurs under 19 side which contained a number of players from our under 18’s also took part in the UEFA Youth League, where they were knocked out in the group stages (Spurs’ group contained German giants Bayern Munich). As has been so common in seasons gone by, a Spurs under 19 side would have also most likely competed in a prestigious end of season tournament somewhere in Europe, but hence they would have been unable to do so this season. It is also worth mentioning that Academy chief and highly respected coach John McDermott left Spurs during the 2019/20 campaign to take up a role with the FA. He will be greatly missed by Spurs after all his years of great service at the Lilywhites.

In the following piece I will be doing a detailed review of each players season, including comments and stats (from my view of watching the entirety of the 2019/20 season up and down the country). For players who also played up for the under 23’s I will only be including them in this piece if they played more times for the under 18’s than the under 23’s (I will also be doing a piece on our under 23 side). On a final note I’d just like to say that this seasons under 18’s have been an absolute pleasure to watch play with their wonderful style of attacking football. Every single player should be proud of all that they have achieved since the season started back in August 2019.

Goalkeepers: 

Kacper Kurylowicz: Luton born goalkeeper Kacper Kurylowicz (18) made 11 competitive appearances for our under 18’s during the 2019/20 season. The second year scholar who only made three competitive appearances for our under 18’s the previous season, was a lot more involved in the season just gone. Kurylowicz kept four clean sheets from his 11 appearances and he made some top saves along the way (a number of his saves from our 2-0 win over Southampton back in August 2019 really stood out). I am a big fan of the young shot stopper and throughout the season his excellent vocalness and communication in matches has been a big plus to the team. The 18 year old who is also eligible to represent Poland at international level, is really good at talking his defenders through games. In the season just gone Kurylowicz also showed opposing teams strikers that he wasn’t to be messed with. Apart from his many fine saves and the way in which he dealt with crosses and set pieces, Kurylowicz’s distribution (often direct) and calmness with the ball at his feet also impressed me greatly, as well as his ability to deal with one on ones. Apart from his 11 appearances for our under 18’s Kurylowicz also made the bench on two occasions for both our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League, and for our under 23’s in the PL2. Next season Kurylowicz will move up to the under 23’s although he will still be able to turn out for our under 18’s as an overage goalkeeper.

Thimothee Lo-Tutala: First year scholar Thimothee Lo-Tutala made his competitive debut for our under 18’s back in September 2019 when he came off the bench to feature against West Ham United in the Under 18 Premier League Cup. The Paris born goalkeeper would go onto make nine appearances in all competitions last season (Lo-Tutala also made the bench on two occasions for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League). The 17 year old like Kurylowicz has good distribution and he is a commanding goalkeeper who commands his box well. Lo-Tutala put in impressive performances against the likes of Chelsea and Leicester City last season, and I am looking forward to seeing him again for our under 18’s next season when he will likely be Matt Taylor’s sides first choice goalkeeper, as he will be the most experienced goalkeeper at that level.

Isak Solberg: Norwegian goalkeeper Isak Solberg (formerly of Byrne FK) made his competitive senior debut in football at the age of just 14. However, during his first season at Spurs, the very tall Solberg didn’t make any competitive appearances for our under 18’s. Although he did make the bench once, in our FA Youth Cup fourth round tie against Wigan Athletic in January. He also would have likely featured for our under 16 side throughout last season. Hopefully we will be seeing more of the 16 year old next season.

Defenders:

Dermi Lusala: Edmonton born and formerly of West London club Brentford, skilful fullback Dermi Lusala has represented England’s under 16 side in the past. Lusala who primarily operates at right back, but who is also able to play at left back and RCB as he demonstrated well during the season just gone. During his first year of scholarship at Spurs Lusala was one of the standout players for Spurs’ under 18 side. The 17 year old who made his competitive debut for our under 18’s the previous season in a league game against Chelsea, was dominant at right back for Matt Taylor’s side during the 2019/20 season. Lusala made an impressive 19 appearances (chipping in with three assists) for our under 18’s plus an additional four for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League where he played well despite being one of the youngest members of the side. Putting in sterling attacking and defensive performances against the likes of Southampton, Fulham, Leicester City and Liverpool, Lusala impressed me with his good balance, silky skills, speed, anticipation and his committed defending. The attacking fullback loves to get up and down the pitch and he is more than capable of beating players and going on long surging runs. Lusala was an extremely reliable player during the 2019/20 campaign and had the season have been completed he would have more than likely stepped up to make his competitive debut for Wayne Burnett’s under 23 side before the season would have been ended. Earlier on in the season Dermi was featured in The Guardian’s Next Generation series 2019: 20 of the best talents at Premier League clubs.

Jeremy Kyezu: Left back Jeremy Kyezu of Southgate in North London, made two competitive appearances for our under 18’s during the 2019/20 season. Kyezu came of the bench in our under 18’s Under 18 Premier League Cup game against Newcastle United back in 2019 to make his debut, before then completing his first full competitive game for the under 18’s against Norwich City where he put in a solid performance at left back in a 1-1 draw. The first year scholar (16) also featured for a Spurs XI in a pre-season friendly against Enfield Town back in August 2019. It is worth noting that Jeremy Kyezu is the youngest of all of last seasons first year scholars.

Kallum Cesay: Versatile first year scholar Kallum Cesay (formerly of West Ham United) was a mainstay of Matt Taylor’s side last season, making 15 competitive appearances for our under 18’s scoring two goals and registering one assist. During those 15 games, Cesay who is from Newham in East London, operated both as a RB and as a CDM where he did a good job at breaking up play in the middle of the park. A tenacious player who has many good attributes, Cesay looked good at right back, the position for which he made his own during the first half of the season. Another player who featured in that pre-season friendly against Enfield Town back in the previous August, Cesay looked good in that game against very physical players. To summarise, Cesay was a very consistent performer who hardly put a foot wrong during his time playing for our under 18’s last season. What I also liked about Kallum’s performances were some of his attacking attributes. A tall and steady player, Cesay would often run forward with the ball after receiving it on the right flank. Keeping good positioning, the 17 year old would also get into some good attacking positions. I would imagine that Cesay will become a very important player for our under 18’s next season after enjoying a good debut season for the young Lilywhites.

Marqes Muir: Without a shadow of a doubt one of our under 18’s most important players during the 2019/20 campaign. First year scholar Marqes Muir  was a player who constantly improved by each passing game that he played for our under 18’s. The Lambeth born centre half, who also filled in at right back on a couple of occasions, made 19 appearances for Matt Taylor’s side plus one for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League (Muir also made the bench on one occasion for our under 23’s and he registered one assist). A player who possesses tremendous strength, Muir made countless important defensive interventions throughout the season, and he was also good in the air. Furthermore, the defender demonstrated his ability to bring the ball out from the back in such a calm, composed and effective way. In addition Muir’s strength allowed him to deal with physical centre forwards and he was very good at making blocks and being in the right position at the right time, in the season just gone. This has been a very good season in my opinion for the young Marqes Muir and he has adapted really well to under 18 football in his debut season, even captaining our under 18’s on two occasions (Muir has shown some good leadership for Matt Taylor’s side). His best performances came against Norwich City, Fulham and Swansea City.

Aaron Skinner: Salford born and previously of Bury and Bolton, Aaron Skinner joined Spurs in the autumn of 2019, first as a triallist in an Under 18 Premier League Cup game against Stoke City and then at a later date as a second year scholar after signing terms. During the start of Skinner’s time at Spurs he operated primarily as a central defender however, as time went by the 17 year old was used in central midfield as a CDM. While playing in that position he looked even more comfortable and accomplished, and after putting in a number of good performances in that position, two during the second half of the season really stood out. Those performances came in wins against both Brighton & Hove Albion and Swansea City respectively. In both of those games Skinner covered a ridiculous amount of ground, he kept good positioning and he made some really good crunching challenges (I believe that he was primarily played as a CDM during his time at Bury). His anticipation and reading of both of those games was second to none, and to top of it off he also was very tidy in his play. After playing in those games Skinner reverted back to centre half and had improved even further in his all round play. Skinner is a player who I am a big fan of despite him only making 12 appearances for our under 18’s last season (Skinner chipped in with an assist and he also featured once on the bench for our under 23’s in a PL2 game against Brighton). What I like about Skinner’s style of play is that like George Marsh before him he is very committed, hard working and effective at mopping up in the central areas of the pitch. I hope that Skinner is still at Spurs next season and playing for our development side.

Dennis Cirkin: A player who really needs little introducing, talented left back Dennis Cirkin (18) has become well known amongst Spurs fans after making the bench for the first team on two occasions this season. In addition the Dublin born defender and England youth international had also been praised by Spurs manager Jose Mourinho shortly after he arrived at the club. Cirkin made 12 appearances for our under 18’s, two for our under 23’s and five for our under 19’s during the season just gone (Cirkin scored two goals and registered three assists). The attacking and physical left backs season however, was disrupted by injury at the beginning of the campaign after he picked up an injury shortly after our under 18’s season opener against Fulham, and then again in February. Despite this happening it was still a season of great progress for young Dennis who had made strides in his development as well as pushing ever closer to the first team set up. As well as being a very solid, aggressive and tenacious defender who has a tendency to make strong challenges, Cirkin is also an adventurous fullback who loves to get forward and go on long slaloming runs (something which he is very good at). During the season just past Cirkin also showed his versatility by playing as a CDM on one occasion and as a centre half on two occasions (he did a good job in both of those positions). Some of the second year scholars best performances last season came against Reading’s under 18’s, Crvena zvevda’s under 19’s and Leicester City’s under 18’s. If the Premier League 2019/20 season ever does resume, and providing that Dennis has recovered from his recent injury, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see him make his debut for our first team before the season ended. If the season doesn’t resume then I would imagine that the teenager who is eligible to represent England, Latvia and Ireland would be included on the next pre-season tour with the first team. Cirkin is a player who has great potential.

Midfielders: 

Yago Santiago: Spanish midfielder Yago Santiago joined Spurs from Celta Vigo shortly after the beginning of the 2019/20 season. The Vigo born player (17) is a first year scholar who made 12 appearances (only four starts) and chipped in with a goal and assist. Santiago is mainly a creative midfielder and he won good plaudits playing for Celta Vigo’s cadet side last season, contributing a number of goals and assists. The midfielder who can either play as a CM, CDM or as a CAM is a player who possesses good vision, and despite his slim frame he is a hard worker who gets stuck in. By far Santiago’s best performance came in our under 18’s last game against Southampton, where he managed to score his first goal for the club and put in a good all round performance. I look forward to seeing more of Santiago in action next season.

Max Robson: My under 18’s player of the season, see below.

Romaine Mundle: A reliable right winger who rarely gives the ball away and has a high work rate and good positioning, Edmonton born Romaine Mundle is also adapt at playing in central midfield. Mundle made 15 appearances for Matt Taylor’s under 18 side during the 2019/20 season chipping in with one goal and three assists. After coming off the bench to make his competitive debut for our under 18’s in our 4-0 home win over Norwich City back in August of 2019, after that game Mundle would go onto play a prominent role in the side. Putting in good performances against the likes of Chelsea, Reading and Stoke City. The first year scholar (17) is good at whipping crosses into the danger zone and at taking corner kicks. Mundle is also a quick player who possesses good agility and skill, as he showed on several occasions last season.

Nile John: Central midfielder/CAM and winger Nile John is an England youth international who has played regularly with an extremely talented group of young players, of which includes Karamoko Dembele and Jude Bellingham. The skilful West London born John who was formerly on Brentford’s books, unfortunately experienced an injury hit debut campaign as a first year scholar for Spurs during 2019/20. As a result of this John only made nine competitive appearances for our under 18’s plus an additional one for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League (John contributed two goals and one assist). The 17 year old is an extremely silky and skilful player who has that ability to drift effortlessly past players and create chances for his teammates. Nile put in two excellent performances for our under 18’s, one coming against Swansea City where he put in an industrious display in central midfield as well as scoring a fabulous goal after side stepping his way past a Swansea defender before finding the back of the net. The other came against Southampton (again from central midfield) as John put in a very dominant midfield performance as well as chipping in with a goal and an assist. I would imagine that in his second year of scholarship that John will become a key player for the under 18’s as well as possibly making a couple of appearances for our development side.

Michael Craig: A very tidy and efficient central midfielder who has been capped by Scotland at under 16 level, Barnet born Michael Craig (first year scholar) was unfortunately another young player who had an injury disrupted season. Craig who was formerly on the books of Arsenal and Watford, started all four of under 18’s first four league matches (he registered one assist) after impressing for a Spurs XI in a pre-season friendly against Enfield Town. Craig also played well in all four of his league appearances before he picked up a season ending injury shortly after our under 18’s league game against Swansea City in August of 2019.  

Matthew Craig: Michael’s identical twin brother Matthew also had injury troubles during the 2019/20 season however, he still managed to accumulate nine appearances (chipping in with two assists and also making the bench for our under 19’s in a UEFA Youth League game against Olympiakos). Craig is predominately a central midfielder although he did appear as a central defender on a couple of occasions last season, and I was impressed with him in those games. As a midfielder Craig is a little bit like Harry Winks in the sense that he keeps things ticking over nicely in the middle of the park. He also often makes good and positive forward passes. Arguably the Scotland youth internationals finest performance of the season came against Southampton in our under 18’s last league game, when he created two goals. It will be interesting to see both of the Craig twins operating together in the central of the park again, next season.

Eddie Carrington: Speedy and skilful Hackney born winger Eddie Carrington chipped in with two assists from his four appearances for our under 18’s last season (all of which came off the bench). The former Brentford youth player looked lively during his appearances during the season just goes. He seems to be a very direct player who likes to beat his man, in addition he also has really quick feet. We should be seeing a lot more of Carrington next season.

Rafferty Pedder: Making 21 appearances (the most of any player in the under 18’s last season. He also made one appearance for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League) Maidstone born midfielder Rafferty Pedder enjoyed a breakthrough season for Matt Taylor’s side after only playing a number of games for the under 18’s the previous season. Pedder was one of our most consistent performers and he had a really good season. Apart from registering two goals and two assists, the second year scholar really improved in his all round game and he seemed to look even more quicker (as a schoolboy Pedder missed over a year of his development with a broken arm). Pedder played as a CAM, central midfielder and as a winger on a couple of occasions. The 18 year old loved to drive forward and go on long jinking runs with the ball after receiving it. He also linked the play well and did a good job at finding useful pockets of space. A player who has an extremely high work rate, Pedder plays with a bite about his game, similar to that of the slightly older Elliot Thorpe. Furthermore, he also tracks back well and covers a lot of blades of grass during matches. A really enjoyable player to watch, Pedder ran the show from the CAM role in matches against the likes of Norwich City and Leicester City, with his pace, skill and agility. In addition his vision and weight of pass in such games was also very good. Rafferty was arguably was one of our under 18’s most influential performers and he should be very proud of himself for all that he has achieved throughout the season. The next challenge for Pedder will be breaking into Wayne Burnett’s under 23 side next season. (You can read more about Pedder in my article that I wrote about him last November).

Chay Cooper: After only featuring for our under 18’s on a handful of occasions last season, highly skilful winger Chay Cooper was yet another player who enjoyed a breakthrough season for Matt Taylor’s side. Cooper who is from Harlow in Essex, and formerly of Southend United was without doubt one of our very best players. The second year scholar was directly involved in an impressive 11 goals from 14 appearances for our under 18’s (five goals and six assists) from a variety of positions and he excelled as a left and right winger and as a central midfielder. Not afraid to try outrageous pieces of skill, the 18 year old is a direct player who has good pace and balance. I’m addition, when playing as a winger he would always track back well and help out the fullbacks and get involved defensively. Cooper who is a scorer of fine goals and a creator of fine assists, went on a really good run of games from August onwards, and he became one of Matt Taylor’s most important and reliable players. However, a seven week injury lay off disrupted his fine form and we greatly missed him for our FA Youth Cup fourth round tie against Wigan Athletic in January. However, on his return from injury in what turned out to be our under 18’s final game of the season, he returned in style by coming off of the bench to score one goal and lay off another. This was a very positive season for Cooper and he had many fine moments, now for the former ‘ Shrimpers ’ player he will move up to Wayne Burnett’s development side. (You can read more about Chay in my article that I wrote about him earlier in the year).

J’Neil Bennett: In his third season of under 18 football winger J’Neil Bennett was directly involved in 12 goals (seven goals and five assists) from 14 appearances. A key performer for our under 18’s last season, Bennett who was formerly on QPR’s books was also an important player for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League (he made four appearances for them and chipped in with a goal and an assist) as well as playing once for our development side. Bennett missed most of pre-season through injury and he only returned in October to our under 18 side, but he made an instant impact on the team. The two footed winger whose footballing idol is Cristiano Ronaldo stood out with his dazzling skills and unpredictable style of play. So often taking players on before skilfully cutting inside and testing the goalkeeper from long range (this is where a lot of Bennett’s goals came from) the Camden born speedy winger and England youth international put in superb performances against the likes of Arsenal, Gillingham, Swansea City and Southampton and he was so often the spark that our under 18’s needed to overcome opposing teams. The second year scholar will hopefully become an important player for our under 23’s next season and who knows he may even be a contender to go on the next pre-season tour (whenever that happens!) with the first team.

Forwards:

Tarrelle Whittaker: After playing quite a few games for our under 18’s while still a schoolboy during the 2018/19 season, forward Tarrelle Whittaker who can operate on either flank or as a CAM and centre forward, was an important player for Matt Taylor’s side last season, chipping in with seven goals and three assists from 18 appearances. The Newham born forward also made two appearances for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League. Whittaker is a quick forward whose off the ball movement makes him a thorn in the side of opposition defenders. The first year scholars exposure to competitive under 18 football the previous season would have helped him during the season just gone. The scorer of some really well taken goals, Whittaker had some really good games against the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool, Southampton and Fulham. His movement is one of his best attributes however, he is also a really hardworking centre forward who presses well and works well for the team. As well as also being good in the air despite not being the tallest, he is a clinical player. I look forward to seeing him play again for our under 18’s and under 19’s next season.

Kion Etete: Derby born centre forward Kion Etete (18) is a second year scholar who joined us from non league club Notts County last June, after spending some time at Spurs during the 2018/19 season on trial. A tall and physical player who is excellent at holding the ball up and laying it off to teammates, Etete scored eight goals and laid off four assists for our under 18’s from 14 appearances last season (Etete also made two appearances for our under 19’s, scoring one goal, and he made five appearances for our development side). During pre-season Etete impressed for our development side at the Tournoi Europeen out in France (he scored one goal) before then also impressing for our under 19’s at the Oberndorf tournament in Germany. Etete spent most of last season playing with our under 18’s and while playing with them he was able to bully opposing teams defenders with his strength and aerial prowess. He also looked good during the times that he played for our under 19’s in Europe. Etete is a skilful player who is adaptable to different kinds of matches and he showed that throughout the season. Next season Etete will likely be competing with Enock Asante and Rodel Richards for a starting berth in our development side.

Enock Asante: For the second season running striker Enock Asante had an injury disrupted campaign for our under 18’s. Asante who was born in Akuapim-Mampong in Ghana, made nine appearances for our under 18’s and one for our development side (he scored three goals and laid off two assists). After featuring for our development side in a pre-season friendly against Dulwich Hamlet, Asante played in the first six under 18 league games of the season before he frustratingly picked up an injury. Asante returned in December as a substitute in an FA Youth Cup game against Liverpool before then playing in a league game against Leicester City however, he went off injured again. The second year scholar didn’t play for Spurs again before the season came to a premature end. Asante looked good and he scored some well taken poachers goals during his time on the pitch last season, and he worked hard for the team.

My goal of the season: Chay Cooper’s glorious effort against Norwich City in our 4-0 win over the ‘ Canaries ’ back in August of 2019. After playing a quick one two with Eddie Carrington down the right flank, Cooper picked up the ball on the edge of the Norwich penalty area and shifted it onto his left foot before curling the ball stunningly into the top left hand corner of the goal.

My save of the season: Second year scholar Kacper Kurylowicz’s superb save to push Southampton’s Sam Bellis’ powerfully struck effort from inside the Spurs box onto his left hand post, after the Southampton player had latched onto the ball some seven yards out from goal (this was during our 2-0 league win over the ‘ Saints ’ back in August 2019).

My game of the season: Our under 18’s wonderful 4-2 win over FA Youth Cup holders Liverpool in the third round of the prestigious competition back in December 2019. Goals from Troy Parrott who netted a brace, Max Robson and a fine goal from Chay Cooper secured what was arguably our best win of the season, and they did it by playing some really nice attacking football.

My under 18’s player of the season 2019/20: Creative attacking midfielder Max Robson had a superb debut first season with our under 18’s as a first year scholar. The Haywards Heath born midfielder made 20 competitive appearances for our under 18’s scoring five goals and registering six assists, he also made three appearances for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League, scoring one goal. Robson oozed class both as a CM and as a CAM throughout the season just gone. The 17 year old was classy both on and off the ball, with his razor sharp movement, the timing of his runs and his exceptional of the ball pressing and chasing down of opponents. The Englishman who has a touch of Jack Grealish about him, is a very skilful player who loves to drive forward with the ball at speed and effortlessly beat players. Robson also has that knack of being in the right place at the right time, just like Jack Roles before him, and he scored some very well taken goals and created some fine ones as well. He is confident, hardworking and classy and that combination of attributes makes him a very, very good prospect. The young Spurs man should be very proud of all that he has achieved throughout the course of the 2019/20 season and its just a shame that the season didn’t run till the end as I think that he thoroughly deserved to get his chance playing for our under 23’s. Furthermore, it wouldn’t have surprised me at all if he had been called up to England under 18’s (some of Robson’s finest performances last season came against the likes of Liverpool, Leicester City and Crvena zvevda.

Spurs under 18’s statistics 2019/20:

Goals: 

Kion Etete –  8

Tarrelle Whittaker – 7

J’Neil Bennett – 7

Max Robson – 5

Chay Cooper – 5

Enock Asante – 3

Harvey White – 3

Kallum Cesay – 2

Rafferty Pedder – 2

Troy Parrott – 2

Dennis Cirkin – 2

Nile John – 2

Dane Scarlett – 1

Romaine Mundle – 1

Yago Santiago – 1

Assists:

Max Robson – 6

Chay Cooper – 6

J’Neil Bennett – 5

Kion Etete – 4

Tarrelle Whittaker – 3

Dermi Lusala –  3

Romaine Mundle – 3

Troy Parrott – 2

Rafferty Pedder – 2

Dennis Cirkin – 2

Harvey White – 2

Enock Asante – 2

Eddie Carrington – 2

Matthew Craig – 2

Luis Binks – 1

Michael Craig – 1

Kallum Cesay – 1

Marqes Muir –  1

Yago Santiago – 1

Jordan Hackett – 1

Aaron Skinner – 1

Nile John – 1

Clean sheets: 

Kacper Kurylowicz – 4

Josh Oluwayemi – 1

Spurs under 18’s versus Aston Villa: (match preview)

Spurs under 18’s versus Aston Villa: (match preview)

Our under 18’s will take on seventh place Aston Villa in the Premier League South on Saturday lunchtime. Spurs come into this game on the back of an impressive 6-1 win over Southampton and they’ll be hoping to make it two wins from two. Spurs have won at Aston Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training ground in two of the last three seasons, and last season they won 3-2. Some of Aston Villa’s danger men include top scorer Jaden Philogene-Bidace and Aaron Ramsey who had a particularly good game in the reverse fixture at Hotspur Way earlier in the season when the ‘ Villains ’ won 4-2, in a game in which they dominated for large periods. I shall be travelling up to Tamworth to report on Saturday’s game and I would like to wish the lads all the very best of luck for the game.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Kurylowicz, Lusala, Muir, Skinner, Hackett, Matthew Craig, John, Bennett, Robson, Cooper, Etete (c).

Subs from: Lo-Tutala, Kyezu, Santiago, Pedder, Whittaker.

Injured/unavailable: Dennis Cirkin, Michael Craig.

Doubtful: Enock Asante, Dane Scarlett. 

Previous meeting: Spurs 2-4.

My score prediction: Spurs 3-1.

My one to watch: The ‘ Villains ’ top scorer this season with seven goals from ten league games Jaden Philogene-Bidace.

Spurs under 23’s versus Arsenal: (match preview)

Spurs under 23’s versus Arsenal: (match preview)

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Our under 23’s are preparing to face bitter north London rivals Arsenal on Friday evening, at Boreham Wood’s Meadow Lane stadium. Wayne Burnett’s side come into this game off the back of a crucial 3-2 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers the previous week, and Spurs who are now six points clear of the relegation zone will be fancying their chances against sixth place Arsenal. The ‘ Gunners ’ have picked up 25 points from 18 games in the league and they recently recorded an impressive 4-3 win over Monaco II in the Premier League International Cup. Spurs put in a good performance against Wolves in their last game and having Troy Parrott for the first half of it really helped the team out. However, it is unknown whether the Ireland international will be available for Friday’s game. Arsenal’s main danger man is striker Folarin Balogun who has scored an impressive 10 goals from 15 appearances in the PL2 this season. The Englishman is quick and clinical in front of goal. Another player to look out for on Friday is skilful winger Trae Coyle. This will undoubtedly be a fiercely contested London derby and one which should make fascinating viewing. I would like to wish Wayne Burnett’s side all the very best of luck for the game.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Oluwayemi, Okedina, Fagan-Walcott, Lyons-Foster, Hinds, White, Bowden (c), Pochettino, Mukendi, Markanday, Richards.

Subs from: De Bie, Dinzeyi, Patterson, R.Clarke, Etete.

Injured/unavailable: Dennis Cirkin.

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: Spurs 1-3.

My score prediction: Spurs 3-2.

My one to watch: Arsenal’s clinical 18 year old centre forward Folarin Balogun who has scored 10 goals from 15 appearances in the PL2 this season.

My interview with former Spurs player John Sainty:

My interview with former Spurs player John Sainty:

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Born in Poplar, East London, John Albert Sainty played for Spurs throughout the majority of the 1960’s. The former England schoolboys player would play for the Spurs youth team, A team and reserves where he established himself as a physical and prolific centre forward. After leaving Spurs in 1967, Sainty who never actually played for Spurs’ first team would later go on to have a good career at the likes of Reading, AFC Bournemouth, Mansfield Town and Aldershot, before later going on to have a good career as a coach with the likes of Manchester City and Norwich City. I caught up with John earlier in the week to look back on his time at the Lilywhites in what was a glorious time in the clubs history. And can I just say it was an absolute privilege and a pleasure to interview the former Spurs man.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

John: Actually it was playing in a game at a holiday camp when I was away on holiday with my mum and dad when I was only 12 at the time, and it was an adult game. One holiday camp would play another holiday camp down the road and I had to get permission from my parents to play in that game, but that was the start of things (I was a big lad!). 

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

John: I was playing for Barking boys in a good schoolboy game and there was a scout on the line watching us play, and his name was Dickie Walker who used to play for West Ham. So, my dad being my dad who used to push me here there and everywhere, asked Dick Walker if he was interested in the lad playing out there and if he could take him to West Ham, as that was my local club. Dickie Walker then said that I was really interested in him and that he worked for Spurs at the time. So that’s how I ended up at Spurs and not West Ham, so that was that. My earliest memories of my time at Spurs were difficult because when I was at school I was head and shoulders above most of the boys that I played with. However, when I went to Spurs I was never top of the list sort of thing. Spurs was difficult because they mainly concentrated on groups which was the first team and if you weren’t in the first team there was a reserve group and a schoolboy group which was taken by a lad called Johnny Wallis. He was a rather bulky lad who had never really played football in his life so he would tell you to clean the dressing rooms out and sweep the toilets and god knows what if you didn’t do what you were told. There was as much work off the field at the time as there was on the field.

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

John: It was a learning curve but at the time I was very disappointed when I left because I would have given my arm and a leg for one game in the first team squad as such, but that just wasn’t going to be. At the time I think it was 1961, the Spurs squad was really big and the players were all international sort of type of players. The best player out of the lot of them who I ever saw play was Dave Mackay. However, John White was another lad as well and Ron Henry and Peter Baker. So whatever position you played in there was always international class players ahead of you as such, so it would have taken a long, long time to get in to the first team. One year I was particularly disappointed as I was playing in the youth team and then in the A team which was in the Metropolitan league in midweek. I sort of used to play on a Saturday or on a Wednesday, and anyway one season in 1966 I scored 33 goals and I still never ever got a look in, in the first team squad. I then basically left Spurs in 1967 but as I said previously my dad was a bit disappointed when I signed for Spurs as West Ham was my local team and because Dickie Walker had played for West Ham I assumed that I would have got a trial there. However, in the local paper at the time it mentioned that I had failed to impress West Ham, which I wasn’t very happy about. However, had I have had the choice I would have went to West Ham because they were local to me, but I went to Spurs and I was lucky to be able to go to somebody like that.

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

John: Dave Mackay was my best hero ever because he could do anything! He used to do tricks with coins, where he’d kick them up on his head and flip them back onto his head again. Mackay could pass a ball, he could go around people and he was an encouragement to everybody else, he wouldn’t let anyone slack. I actually went to his funeral in Scotland, that’s how much I admired the man. In all my years of football he was the best footballer that I had ever seen. However, he wasn’t your Danny Blanchflower type player who was a wizard at passing but he didn’t really tackle, instead he used to let everybody else do his tackling (such as player like Mackay who was a great tackler).

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

John: When I was at school I was initially very big for my age and so they always put me at the back as a central defender. However, when I moved on to other teams higher up the level, the players were a similar size to me so I went into midfield and then eventually as a centre forward.

What was it like to brush shoulders with some of the legendary players that were around at Spurs at the time?

John: When you say brush shoulders you had to be within 20 yards of them, that was the nearest that you got because when we trained at Cheshunt, the first team players all used to arrive by car. Whereas when we used to get to the ground early in the morning, we used to have to get all of the kit ready and then go on a coach. So it was very, very rare that we would mix with the first team players unless we had to get the balls. It was a learning curve whereas some kids now a days think that they have made it by the time they are 17/18 and they’re getting good money, but in them days you had a lot of hard work that you had to do. 

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

John: Again it’s the same person Dave Mackay. However, Bill Nicholson was another one and whenever he said anything to you which was very rare, you knew that he had noticed you. So if he didn’t say anything to you from one week to the next then you knew that he hadn’t noticed you as he had enough on his plate with managing the first team. So Bill Nicholson was a big influence on my career and whenever he said something I listened. 

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

John: As I said before Dave Mackay was my favourite player ever because he was so hard however, another lad who tragically died young was John White. Centre forward Bobby Smith was another player, and if you lined those three players up in a line you would get the complete footballer. However, the only time we had any chance of watching those players was in a match because we never had the opportunity to watch them train at Cheshunt as we would all be training at the same time so we would never ever mix in that respect. The only other chance that we’d have of watching them was if we were injured when we’d able to watch them training as such but it was difficult to learn things from them unless we watched them in a game. Nowadays youth teams and youth set ups are a big thing, whereas in those days they weren’t unless you pushed your way into the top half of the reserves, otherwise you just weren’t considered. 

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

John: Basically I was getting on to 21 and I just didn’t want to be a 21/22 year old and still be in somebody’s reserve side, so I wanted to play somewhere a bit higher than that. And so in 1967 I left Spurs because I asked for a transfer and surprise surprise they didn’t stand in my way. Then the next surprise came up that they wanted 12,000 pounds for me which was in 1967. So anyway Reading paid that fee for me which was a record at the time. So why did they not rate me that much but still want a record fee for me? (in my last season at Spurs I scored 33 goals). It was difficult for me to leave and go into somebody’s first team and then after Reading I went to Bournemouth which was where I stayed for quite a while. Then from Bournemouth I went to Aldershot and that was the end of my playing career before I went into coaching. I used to coach at Spurs on a Tuesday and Thursday night when I used to take the schoolboys, so they thought that I was a good coach but they didn’t think I was that good a player. I’d got my badges and eventually I took training three times a week at Spurs before taking sessions at a secondary school in East Ham. I then did sessions for Barking under 13’s as well. I think that I was a very good coach but maybe not as good a footballer. I loved coaching and couldn’t have spent my life without being a coach.

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

John: Playing for England schoolboys on my birthday at the Vetch Field, Swansea on March the 24th 1961. So that was the best birthday present that I ever had apart from marrying my wife of course!

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

John: Personally it would have to be Martin Peters who was here, there and everywhere. However, Dave Mackay was different and John White was different. So I’d have given my right arm to play one game with any of those, but life goes on and it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. However, I think that the standard of football now is a lot higher then when I was playing but I was quite happy to play then.

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

John: The games that used to stand out to me were the South East Counties League and then in the A team it was the Metropolitan League. In the South East Counties League I used to score on average 30-40 goals a season in the midweek games. In one season I lost four goals because Barnet reserves resigned from the league! 

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

John: It was more for when I played for Reading but I couldn’t name one player as such (I was a physical player myself). 

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

John: There was a set of twins from Barking called Bill and Ben Embery who were a year older than me however, my closest one was Keith Weller. When I got married the first time he was my best man and when he got married I was his best man, and he was a good friend of mine. Keith was another player who missed out on opportunities at Spurs but I think that we all did in them days because they didn’t let youngsters push through.

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

John: Listen and learn, because if you’ve come this far don’t ever believe that, that is as far as you are going to come because that is not the peak of your career. Otherwise there is no point in playing football. You must do your job the best that you can do.

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

John: Spurs are one of three teams whose results I look at and when they are on television I’d always watch them play because that is my history, and they (Spurs) are a big part of my history. And if anyone says what did you do, I can say that I played for Spurs!

Spurs under 23’s 3-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers: (match report)

Spurs under 23’s 3-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers: (match report)

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Our under 23’s returned to PL2 action when they took on bottom of the league Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday evening at the Lamex Stadium. Wayne Burnett’s side of which included Republic Of Ireland international Troy Parrott started the game strongly and they played some good football during the first half. Spurs went into the halftime break three goals to the good however, in the second half Wolverhampton Wanderers were much better and Spurs missed the potency of Parrott who went off at halftime. The final score was Spurs three Wolves two. Spurs lined up in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation as Jonathan De Bie started in goal. A back four consisting of Jubril Okedina, Malachi Fagan-Walcott, Brooklyn Lyons-Foster and Tariq Hinds lined up in front of him. Harvey White and captain Jamie Bowden anchored the midfield while Maurizio Pochettino and Dilan Markanday operated out on the flanks, either side of CAM Jeremie Mukendi. Troy Parrott led the line for Spurs. After the Spurs lads huddled together prior to kick off, Wolves got the game underway on a bitterly cold night in Stevenage. Early on in the game Jamie Bowden nodded wide Maurizio Pochettino’s cross before Troy Parrott raced into the Wolves box before cutting the ball back to Dilan Markanday who shot wide. Then in the eighth minute of the game Spurs took a deserved lead through Troy Parrott. After Jubril Okedina found Maurizio Pochettino down the right wing with a splendid pass, the Barcelona born winger whipped the ball into the Wolves box where it was met by the alert Parrott who jabbed the ball past Andreas Sondergaard and into the back of the net, 1-0.

After latching onto Hugo Bueno’s pass Renat Dadashov spun around sharply in the Spurs box before forcing a save out of Jonathan De Bie. Tariq Hinds then blocked Morgan Gibb-White’s cross before Owen Otasowie nodded Taylor Perry’s free kick wide of the Spurs goal. A couple of minutes later Wolves had a glorious chance to draw level. Bruno Jordao’s forward pass ran past Malachi Fagan-Walcott and into the path of Renat Dadashov who darted into the Spurs box where he was met by De Bie who slid in however, Dadashov had slipped the ball into the path of Morgan Gibbs-White who somehow shot wide of the goal. At the other end of the pitch Jeremie Mukendi shot wide from the edge of the Wolves box. Spurs continued to come at Wolves and after White passed the ball to Bowden whose shot was blocked by Christian Marques before Maurizio Pochettino fired the ball over Andreas Sondergaard’s goal. At the other end of the pitch and after latching onto Hugo Bueno’s pass Renat Dadashov spun around inside the Spurs box before firing an effort on goal but his shot was tipped well onto the post by De Bie. Morgan Gibbs-White then whipped the ball dangerously across the face of De Bie’s goal before at the other end of the pitch Troy Parrott tapped wide Maurizio Pochettino’s cross. Then in the 27th minute Spurs doubled their lead through Jeremie Mukendi. After Parrott had won a free kick out on the left flank the Irishman opted to take it quickly and pass it to Harvey White who passed to Mukendi who continued forward before firing the ball into the bottom left hand corner of the Wolves goal from the edge of the penalty area, 2-0.

Malachi Fagan-Walcott did well to clear away Chem Campbell’s corner kick before Bowden received White’s pass before blazing an effort over from distance. Spurs were fully on top as Mukendi came desperately close to slipping Parrott through on goal. Maurizio Pochettino then had a cross cleared away by Christian Marques before Renat Dadashov tapped Taylor Perry’s cross into the arms of De Bie. Wolves came at us again, this time Bueno passed it to Perry who passed it to Dadashov whose effort on goal was tipped over the crossbar by De Bie. Tariq Hinds then cleared away Taylor Perry’s cross before the Spurs fullback passed the ball to Parrott who went on an excellent long lung bursting forward run through the middle of the park. After speeding into the Wolves half, Parrott passed the ball to Pochettino who played a one two with Mukendi inside the Wolves box before calmly slotting the ball into the bottom left hand corner of the goal, 3-0. The referee sounded his whistle for halftime shortly afterwards. Rodel Richards came onto replace Troy Parrott at the break as Spurs got the second half underway. Malachi Fagan-Walcott cleared away Hugo Bueno’s cross before Brooklyn Lyons-Foster blocked the same players shot in the box. Rodel Richards then had a curling effort from distance saved by Sondergaard. Fagan-Walcott then cleared away Taylor Terry’s free kick before Mukendi had a shot saved by Sondergaard after receiving Markanday’s pass down the left flank. After Bueno had passed the ball to Dadashov down the left side of the Spurs box the Azerbaijani youngster shot, but his effort was well saved and gathered by De Bie.

After turning inside the Spurs box Dadashov shot wide of De Bie’s goal from close range before Fagan-Walcott made a good challenge on Dadashov in the Spurs box. Phoenix Patterson came onto replace Maurizio Pochettino out on the right flank before Spurs conceded a penalty after Malachi Fagan-Walcott brought down Dadashov from behind. Dadashov stepped up to fire the ball down the left of the goal, 3-1. Jamie Bowden was shown a yellow card for fouling Taylor Perry. Phoenix Patterson then had a shot blocked by Christian Marques inside the Wolves box. Andreas Sondergaard’s long kick up field came to Renat Dadashov who darted past the outrushing De Bie and slotted the ball into the empty net. Bruno Jordao hit the bar with a thumping effort from the edge of the Spurs box before Harvey White blocked the same players shot. After Oskar Buur passed the ball to Jordao the Portuguese youngsters shot was saved well by De Bie. Rayan Clarke then came onto replace the influential Jeremie Mukendi. After breaking forward well Clarke passed the ball to Markanday who skied a shot over the crossbar. Dadashov blazed an effort over at the other end of the pitch before De Bie gathered Enzo Loiodice’s cross, before the referee brought the game to an end.

Player reviews:

  • Jonathan De Bie: The Belgian goalkeeper made half a dozen good saves last night and he also dealt well with set pieces.
  • Jubril Okedina: The right back had a very good game for Wayne Burnett’s side. Okedina got up and down the right flank well and he made some good and clever passes. The 19 year old also defended solidly down his side of the pitch. 
  • Malachi Fagan-Walcott: The RCB defended well and he cut out some dangerous chances. The penalty that Fagan-Walcott conceded was a harsh one.
  • Brooklyn Lyons-Foster: The centre half along with Fagan-Walcott had a good game. Lyons-Foster was sharp and attentive, and aware of his surroundings. The 19 year old also made some good passes and he read the game well. 
  • Tariq Hinds: The left back got up and down the flank well and he defended with real maturity. 
  • Jamie Bowden: The Spurs captain played with real bite in the middle of the park and he made some good forward passes. Bowden also took some good set pieces. 
  • Harvey White: Like Bowden, fellow central midfielder Harvey White was good on the ball and he used it intelligently.
  • Maurizio Pochettino: The right winger made a big impact on the game last night and he went on some good surging runs down the right flank. Pochettino also whipped in some delightful crosses and he registered a goal and an assist.
  • Jeremie Mukendi: Operating as a CAM, Mukendi linked the play really well and he traveled forward with the ball well. Mukendi took his goal well and he created some good chances for Spurs.
  • Dilan Markanday: The skilful left winger made some good darting forward runs and he linked up well with Parrott during his time on the pitch.
  • Troy Parrott: My man of the match, see below.
  • Rodel Richards: The second half substitute worked hard up top and he pressed well.
  • Phoenix Patterson: The right winger worked hard and he tracked back well. 
  • Rayan Clarke: The fast winger was involved in one good Spurs break away towards the end of the game. 

My man of the match: Ireland international Troy Parrott (18) came off the bench to play against Wolves’ first team at the weekend. On Monday evening the Dubliner started against their under 23’s. Parrott really was the difference between the two sides last night and his sheer presence on the pitch helped to galvanise the team. Parrott played a part in all three of our goals and his off the ball movement, work rate, aggression and decision making was top class. Despite only playing 45 minutes, Parrott influence on the game was massive.

Spurs: De Bie, Okedina, Hinds, Bowden (c), Fagan-Walcott, Lyons-Foster, Pochettino (Patterson 72), White, Parrott (Richards 46), Mukendi (R Clarke 90), Markanday. Substitutes (not used): Oluwayemi, Dinzeyi.

Wolves: Sondergaard, Buur, Otasowie, Marques (c), Mayounga Ngolou, Bueno (Loiodice 90+1), Gibbs-White (Taylor 36), Perry, Dadashov, Jordao, Campbell (He 82). Substitutes (not used): Nya, Cundle.

Goals: Spurs – Parrott 8, Mukendi 27, Pochettino 45+2; Wolves – Dadashov 77 (pen), 85.

Yellow cards: Spurs – Pochettino 61, Bowden 79; Wolves – Buur 73.

Referee: Gary Parsons.

Venue: Lamex Stadium, Stevenage.

Attendance: 464.

Spurs under 23’s statistics: 

Goals: Armando Shashoua – 5

Harvey White – 3

Rodel Richards – 3

Jamie Bowden – 3

Dilan Markanday – 3

Troy Parrott – 3

Kazaiah Sterling – 2

Tashan Oakley-Boothe – 2

Shilow Tracey – 1

Paris Maghoma – 1

Phoenix Patterson – 1

Elliot Thorpe – 1

Luis Binks – 1

Malachi Fagan-Walcott – 1

Jubril Okedina – 1

Maurizio Pochettino – 1

Jeremie Mukendi – 1

Assists: Shilow Tracey – 5

Dilan Markanday – 5

Tashan Oakley-Boothe – 3

Armando Shashoua – 3

Rodel Richards – 3

Harvey White – 3

Tariq Hinds – 2

Maurizio Pochettino – 2

Jamie Bowden – 1

Paris Maghoma – 1

Kazaiah Sterling – 1

TJ Eyoma – 1

Jeremie Mukendi – 1

Clean sheets: Brandon Austin – 1

Josh Oluwayemi – 1

Spurs under 23’s versus Wolverhampton Wanderers: (match preview)

 

Spurs under 23’s versus Wolverhampton Wanderers: (match preview)

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Our under 23’s return to PL2 action tomorrow evening when they face Wolverhampton Wanderers in an important game. Wayne Burnett’s side need to win tomorrow to help distance themselves from the relegation zone (Spurs are only three points from the drop zone). Spurs face a Wolves side who they defeated 2-1 at their Jack Hayward training centre earlier on in the campaign. Wolves are rock bottom of the league table with 11 points from 17 matches. This really is a must win game for the club from the Midlands. Spurs are on a five game winless run in the league but after putting in an encouraging performance against Leicester City in their last game things could be looking up for Spurs. Wolves have a number of players who Spurs will have to be wary off at the Lamex Stadium tomorrow evening. 20 year old Azerbaijani centre forward Renat Dadashov is one player to look out for (Dadashov has experience playing senior football in Portugal). Another player to look out for is Portuguese forward Hugo Bueno and English winger Taylor Perry. This will be another tough game for Spurs as Wolves are fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table and they’ll be desperate to win. However, it should be a good competitive game of football. 

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Oluwayemi, Okedina, Fagan-Walcott, Lyons-Foster, Hinds, White, Bowden (c), Pochettino, Patterson, Markanday, Richards.

Subs from: De Bie, Dinzeyi, Thorpe, Clarke, Mukendi. 

Injured/unavailable: Dennis Cirkin.

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: Spurs 2-1.

My score prediction: Spurs 2-1.

My one to watch: Wolves’ Azerbaijani centre forward Renat Dadashov (20) who has experience playing mens football with Portuguese club Estoril.