The Royal Mail has issued a set of stamps to mark the 150th anniversary of the Football Association. Two Tottenham players are included in the group of famous footballers from the past decades – Jimmy Greaves and Dave Mackay. HotspurHQ has selected a Tottenham team from across the decades, one player from each decade since Tottenham entered the Football League in 1908. Many acclaimed Tottenham ‘Legends’ have had to be omitted from the team which has been selected in a 4 – 4 – 2 formation.
Goalkeeper: Pat Jennings (1960s)
Pat Jennings fought off competition from those other custodians of the 1950s and 60s, Ted Ditchburn and ‘Double’ winning hero, Bill Brown. Jennings joined Tottenham in 1964 from Watford and after taking two seasons to settle into the team, he was Tottenham’s regular goalkeeper until Keith Burkinshaw’s unexplainable decision to release him in the summer of 1977, following Tottenham’s relegation. Jennings won the FA Cup, two League Cups and the UEFA Cup during his time at White Hart Lane and was possibly Tottenham’s greatest ever goalkeeper.
Right Back: Tommy Clay (1910s)
Tommy Clay joined Tottenham in 1914 from Leicester Fosse, the day after starring for Fosse in an FA Cup replay against Spurs. He stepped straight into the Tottenham team two days later and retained his place until the late 1920s. He captained the team to promotion as Champions from the 2nd Division in 1919-20. He then relinquished the captaincy but was a member of the 1921 FA Cup winning team. Bob Goodwin described Clay in his book, The Spurs Alphabet,
“Clay was idolised by young supporters as one of the finest full-backs of his day. Strong in the tackle and an immaculate passer of the ball who always aimed to be constructive…”
One strange quirk in his career was playing as goalkeeper for the full match in a 1st Division game at Sunderland in March, 1921. Spurs won 1 – 0.
Central Defence: Arthur Rowe (1930s)
Arthur Rowe was a centre half in the Tottenham tradition, a ball playing defender. He joined Tottenham as an amateur in 1923 and worked his way through the schoolboy system of the day. His debut came in 1931 and he retained his place for the next two seasons, helping Tottenham to promotion and a 3rd place finish in the 1st Division. Midway through the following season an injury brought his season to an early finish. In his absence Spurs were relegated and didn’t regain their top flight status until he became manger, fourteen years later. Rowe won one England cap and continued to play for Spurs but was restricted through injury until he retired in 1939 and went into coaching. He was a visionary as a coach and is included in the team to mark his role as the successful manager of the ‘Push and Run’ team of the 1950s.
Central Defence: Ledley King (2000s)
During a time of constant change, Ledley King became the corner-stone of Tottenham’s defence throughout the 2000s. If injury had not been his constant companion in the latter years of his career, leading to a premature retirement, he would have made many more appearances for the club and Tottenham’s chances of success would have been so much greater. He managed to avoid injury for the 2008 extra-time Carling Cup win over Chelsea. Now, a Tottenham ambassador, an honour he thoroughly deserves.
Left Back: Gareth Bale (2010s)
No other selection from the current decade was appropriate but in order to include a player from every decade, Gareth Bale takes on the attacking left back role. Today, any mention of Tottenham and people immediately think of one player – Gareth Bale.
Right Midfield: Cliff Jones (1950s)
Cliff Jones joined Tottenham in 1958 and his career spanned the years of the club’s greatest successes. Jones was an inspirational member of the trophy winning team in the early 1960s. He was a fearless player, going in bravely where others feared to tread. He was a fast, goalscoring winger, equally effective on either wing. He scored 159 goals for Tottenham and is 4th on their all-time goal scoring list. Jones remained with Spurs until 1968 and was an unused substitute for the 1967 FA Cup winning team.
Central Midfield: Glenn Hoddle (1980s)
Glenn Hoddle was a truly gifted player, the jewel of the Tottenham team from the mid-1970s for over a decade. No-one has come near to replicating his sublime passing skills and he produced many memorable and exquisite goals from midfield. A ‘player of the century’ never mind a decade. He won the FA Cup with Spurs in 1981 and 1982, scoring both Tottenham’s goals in the Final and the replay against Q.P.R. He missed the 1984 UEFA Cup Final through injury but had played his part in the earlier rounds, especially on a memorable evening against Feyenoord and Johan Cruyff.
Central Midfield: Ron Burgess (Captain) (1940s)
Ron Burgess’ career at Tottenham nearly finished before it started. Having originally been turned away after a season, he was given a chance in the ‘A’ team when they were a man short. He signed as an amateur in 1933 and made his debut in 1939. From then until the mid-1950s Burgess was a regular in the Tottenham team leading the ‘Push and Run’ side to successive titles in the 2nd and 1st Divisions in 1950 and 1951.
Left Midfield: Jimmy Dimmock (1920s)
Jimmy Dimmock scored the winning goal in the 1921 FA Cup winning team. He was 20 years of age and having joined Spurs as a professional in 1919, he remained at the club until 1931. He made 400 League appearances and scored 100 goals. In Bob Goodwin’s book, Dimmock is described as,
‘a special talent and one of the greatest wingers ever on Spurs’ books’.
Striker: Jimmy Greaves (1960s)
Jimmy Greaves is the most natural goal scoring genius that Spurs have ever had. He scored a hat-trick on his debut against Blackpool in November, 1961 and continued to score goals until his unexpected transfer to West Ham United in March, 1970. Greaves helped Spurs to two FA Cup Final wins and the European Cup Winners Cup. He scored the opening goal in the 1962 Final against Burnley and scored twice as Spurs defeated Atletico Madrid in 1963. His total of goals will never be equalled – 266.
Striker: Teddy Sheringham (1990s)
The 1990s were troubled times for Tottenham, both on and off the pitch. Teddy Sheringham was one of a few bright lights to shine in that period. He joined in 1992 and was a regular goalscorer until his departure to Manchester United in 1998. His goals kept Spurs afloat and his absence through injury in 1994 almost lead to relegation. His best season followed in 1994-95 when he developed an almost telepathic understanding with Jurgen Klinsmann which came so close to restoring some Tottenham pride.
Manager: Bill Nicholson
There is only one Tottenham manager capable of managing a Spurs team from across the decades – Bill Nicholson, the club’s greatest and most successful manager. A player at Tottenham from the late 1930s he was a member of the successful team which brought the club’s first League Championships in consecutive years. On retiring he went on to become a coach, assistant manager and manager. After a successful career as manager, on resigning in 1974, he left the club for a short time before returning as Consultant and finally Club President.
Substitutes:Many players deserving of inclusion have been omitted from the above selection, so to right some wrongs, the following substitutes are listed.
Goalkeeper: Ted Ditchburn (1940s)
Defenders: Steve Perryman (1980s)
Midfield: Danny Blanchflower (1950s), Dave Mackay (1960s), Arthur Grimsdell (1920s), Paul Gascoigne (1990s)
Strikers: Martin Chivers (1970s), George Hunt (1930s)
Over to You!
What players would you have considered as a MUST pick for the Tottenham team through the decades?
Royal Mail Selection
The other players included for the Royal Mail stamp issue are: Gordon Banks, George Best, Kevin Keegan, Denis Law, Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore, Bryan Robson, John Barnes and John Charles.