Newspaper photograph of Jimmy Greaves' first Tottenham goal, signed by the player. [Photo: Logan Holmes]

A Memorable Debut for Tottenham – Jimmy Greaves’ Hat-trick Against Blackpool


Throughout Jimmy Greaves’ career, he made a habit of scoring on his debut and it was no different in his first appearance for Tottenham, scoring a hat-trick against Blackpool at White Hart Lane.

Programme for Tottenham v Blackpool in Devember, 1961. Jimmy Greaves’ Tottenham debut. [Photo: Logan Holmes]

Jimmy Greaves  scored on his League debut for Chelsea at Tottenham on the opening day of the 1957-58 season. At just 17 years of age he scored Chelsea’s equaliser in a 1 – 1 draw. He also scored on his debut for the England under-23 team as well as on his full England debut. He was transferred to AC Milan in the summer of 1961 and although it turned out to be an unhappy experience for him, he still managed to score on his first appearance.

Hearing of Greaves’ discontent in Italy and desire to return to England, Bill Nicholson made it his business to sign the goalscorer to add to his talented team which had just completed the ‘Double’ the previous season. After lengthy and difficult negotiations, Greaves signed for Tottenham for £99,999 as Nicholson didn’t want him to be labelled as the ‘first £100,000 player’.

Jimmy Greaves makes his Spurs’ debut for the reserves at Plymouth [Photo: Logan Holmes]

Greaves returned to England and made his first appearance in a Tottenham shirt for the reserves at Plymouth. The match attracted a record crowd of 12,907 spectators for a Combination match and was the second highest attendance at Home Park for for all matches that season. Greaves duly delivered with two goals as Spurs won 4 – 1. He scored the third and fourth goals with his first coming after 31 minutes and added a second early in the second half.

Debut v Blackpool

A week later, on 16th December,1961, he made his Tottenham League debut against Blackpool at White Hart Lane and got his Spurs career off on the right footing with a hat-trick, the first of his record 266 goals for Tottenham.

The Sunday Express report on the match by Alan Hoby described Greaves’ first Tottenham goal,

‘In the 39th minute of this unforgettable game that white-shirted Spurs storm-trooper, left-half Dave Mackay, took a quick throw in on the left. Straight as a bullet the ball flew to right-winger Terry Medwin. A superb back-header by the Welsh international arched to Jimmy Greaves standing hemmed in by Blackpool’s defenders in front of goal.

Like a flash of black and white lightning, Greaves struck. With an acrobatic continental leap he volleyed the ball into the roof of the net.

Golden Greaves, Tottenham’s near £100,000 ‘buy’ from Milan, had scored in his first league match for Spurs – and White Hart Lane exploded into a pandemonium of cheering.’

A minute later, Greaves added his second with a header from a cross floated in by Mackay and the third came in the second half, heading in from a corner by Les Allen. He then created the fifth goal for Allen when his shot crashed against the foot of the post but fell to the centre forward to complete Tottenham’s scoring in the 5 – 2 victory.

A memorable debut by Jimmy Greaves at the beginning of a career at White Hart Lane which was to see him become the club’s record goal scorer. On leaving Tottenham, he maintained his tradition of scoring on his debut when he joined West Ham in 1970, scoring twice against Manchester City.

Tags: Blackpool Debut Jimmy Greaves Soccer Tottenham Hotspur

  • Ian Noble

    I remember it as if it was yesterday, I was ten years old. My Dad had a season ticket with a business friend and on this occasion because it was so close to Christmas his friend could not make so gave this ticket to Dad and said take your son with you. Jimmy G, the greatest goal scorer, and scorer of great goals our club has ever had or is ever likely to have. At that time he was just about the only British player who could have improved the wonderful Double side and wow did he do that. Made the art of scoring goals look ridiculously easy, like O’Sullivan at the snooker table today. Still the best player I have ever seen bearing down on goal with only the keeper to beat, you could bet your house that Jimmy would score 99 times out of a 100, and that is no mean feat especially when you have several seconds t hink about what you are going to do, Jimmy knew instinctively. His scissor kicked opening goal in that game, was his first real contribution in a Tottenham shirt, and what a contribution it was, many still rate it as his finest ever Spurs goal. I remember people around me staring on in disbelief as I jumped up and down like a maniac. The great, and I mean truly great Jimmy G was home.

    • Logan Holmes

      What an amazing way to start his Tottenham career – a great goal, the first of many. My favourite Greaves goal is the one against Manchester United when he picks the ball up inside their half and takes on the defence, going round man after man to score.

      Jimmy Greaves provided Spurs fans with many highlights in his time at WHL. COYS!

    • basilvictorhomer

      I too was there and remember that extraordinary debut goal. The reason it stays in the memory after all these years is not so much that it was his first for Tottenham but that it was so spectacular. i feel sure he never again scored another quite like it.

      It was as if as a Spurs fan himself he felt he needed to announce his arrival with something very special.

      • Logan Holmes

        There was pressure on Greaves to provide goals for Spurs, coming into the best team in the country. He showed what he could do that day and with quality players around him he continued to finish off their good work. A really great goal scorer, the like of which we’ll never see again.

  • Ggreybeard

    I had the good fortune to be standing right behind the Park Lane goal that day and that was one of the most exciting goals anyone could hope to see. He scored some fantastic goals for us but this one will always be etched on my memory. Another was a goal he scored against Fulham, direct from a corner kick. The man was pure magic.

    • Logan Holmes

      I always think it’s great to be able to say, “I was there!” A fantastic memory to have of a truly great goal scorer. His Spurs goalscoring record will never be beaten and it contains many very memorable goals.

      Thankfully, we can say, “Jimmy Greaves played and scored for Tottenham.”

    • basilvictorhomer

      On another occasion against Fulham he scored what was for me the funniest goal ever. The Cottagers had outplayed us from the off but despite numerous attempts just could not get the ball in the net, one of those days for them.

      We on the other hand were absolutely wretched that day, could hardly mount an attack let alone score and it looked certain we would either lose or at best get away with an undeserved draw.

      Then towards the end we eventually managed an attack but with time running out it came to nothing. The crowd whistled at Greaves who had ended up on the turf behind the goal-line to get back up the field as quickly as possible so the goalie could take the goal kick and get on with play, but he carried on walking slowly as if to say I don’t give a damn.

      At last the goal kick was taken by Macedo, but to the astonishment of everyone he kicked the ball straight to Jimmy of all people, who finding himself isolated and alone with all the Fulham defenders miles away up around the half-way line, eagerly accepted the gift and rounded the goalie for the simplest of tap-ins and our luckiest victory ever.

      The crowd hooted with laughter, probably as much in relief and guilt as in bemusement!

      • Logan Holmes

        Nice one! A goal from a time when there was little if any television coverage so really only appreciated by those who were present.

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  • spurs62

    Jimmy Greaves is probably my all time favourite Spurs player.