Season 1977-78 has been Spurs only season out of the top flight of English football since gaining promotion in 1949-50 which was the start of Tottenham becoming one of the established top clubs of English football under first Arthur Rowe and then Bill Nicholson. The resignation of Nicholson in 1974 brought a few difficult years under the unlikely Tottenham manager, Terry Neill. His departure in the summer of 1976 brought about the appointment of Keith Burkinshaw but in his first season Spurs suffered the disappointment of relegation. The directors kept faith with him and he led the team to promotion and further glory in the early 1980s.
On this day, 22nd October, in 1977 Tottenham scored 9 goals without reply in a 2nd Division game against Bristol Rovers at White hart Lane. Colin Lee who had just signed from Torquay United had a memorable debut scoring 4 goals while his strike partner, Ian Moores, scored a hat-trick.
Spurs season in the 2nd Division had started positively and this win showed the team at its very best.
22nd October, 1977
Tottenham Hotspur 9 Bristol Rovers 0 (2nd Division)
Scorers: Lee (4), Moores (3), Taylor, Hoddle
This was the first time that the clubs had met in League competition and what a memorable game and what a debut for Colin Lee. The game got top billing on ‘Match of the Day’ and showed Spurs at their very best.
Colin Lee had joined Spurs from Torquay United, a 4th Division club, for £60,000 two days earlier. He was 21 years of age and was seen as a player for the future.
Injuries to John Duncan and Chris Jones meant that Lee made his debut two days sooner than anyone had expected. He opened the scoring after twenty minutes and headed his second four minutes later. Peter Taylor scored before half-time and in the second half Lee scored two more. His strike partner, Ian Moores scored a hat-trick and the rout was completed with a goal from Glenn Hoddle who had created so many chances throughout the game.
This is Spurs’ record Football League winning margin and what an important result it proved to be come the end of the season when Spurs won the final promotion place on goal difference from Brighton, exactly nine goals better than the south coast club.
Team: Daines, Naylor, Holmes, Hoddle, McAllister, Perryman, Pratt, McNab, Moores, Lee, Taylor
Watch the Goals: Here
It was a dram start to life at White Hart Lane for Colin Lee and he played regularly that season making 25 League appearances and scoring 11 goals. He found it more difficult as a striker when Spurs returned to the 1st Division the following season, scoring just 7 goals in 26 appearances. By the end of the season, however, he had reverted to playing at right back, a position he had filled earlier in his career with Bristol City and Torquay. After a period out of the team, he returned to play the final four matches in that position. His versatility was useful to the manager but he never held down a regular position in the team and was transferred to Chelsea in January, 1980 having made only 71 League and Cup appearances for Spurs, scoring 21 goals.
While Colin Lee’s time with Spurs was short, and never reached the heights suggested by his debut, those four goals were an important part of Spurs history as the club returned to the top flight in May, 1978, a position they have retained ever since.