On This Day:
19th December, 1959
Bill Nicholson’s Greatest Team Comes Together
Tottenham Hotspur 4 Newcastle United 0
Scorers: Norman, Jones, White, Blanchflower
Team: Brown; Baker, Henry; Blanchflower, Norman, Mackay; White, Harmer, Smith, Allen, Jones
Tottenham had opened the 1959-60 season in sensational fashion with a 5-1 victory over Newcastle United at St. James’ Park. It was Bill Nicholson’s first full season as Spurs manager and he was gathering the nucleus of the team that was to bring such success to the club in the early 1960s.
Spurs comfortably completed the double over the north-east club. Following this victory, played in front of the lowest attendance of the season at White Hart Lane, Spurs moved to the top of the table ahead of Preston.
On a waterlogged pitch both teams kept up a furious pace throughout the game but it was Spurs who took the lead after 20 minutes when Maurice Norman headed in a free-kick from Tommy Harmer. Two minutes later Cliff Jones scored with a header after a cross had been deflected against the bar. Newcastle then put Spurs under pressure but Spurs ensured victory with two goals in a minute – the first, after 65 minutes, was scored by John White and the second came from Danny Blanchflower.
To have achieved two such resounding victories over Newcastle was exceptional as they were a strong side which finished the season in eighth position while Spurs were third.
Bill Nicholson’s Great Team Evolves
The team which defeated Newcastle at White Hart Lane showed three changes from the team which started the season in such style in August. At St James’ Park goalkeeper made his Tottenham debut and for the return game, Les Allen, newly signed from Chelsea made his first Tottenham appearance. He replaced Johnny Brooks who had scored two of the goals at St James’ Park and who moved across London to Stamford Bridge as part of the deal. John White had been signed from Falkirk in mid-October and was ever-present in the side since then. He moved to the right of midfield for the game against Newcastle replacing Terry Medwin, as Bill Nicholson tried to accommodate White and Tommy Harmer in the same team. Eventually, he would decide that there was only room for one of them. Ron Henry had come into the side a few weeks earlier in place of Mel Hopkins who had been injured playing for Wales.
Bill Nicholson was gradually piecing together the team which would go on to become the greatest team that Tottenham ever had. He had transferred or would sell a number of players who had been in his first team selection just over twelve months earlier. Jim Iley had gone to Nottingham Forest, Brooks had left in the deal for Allen, Dave Dunmore and Johnny Ryden would be transferred as would Tommy Harmer.
All of the players who would be members of the ‘Double’ winning team were already at White Hart Lane and there would only be one alteration from the side which defeated Newcastle, Terry Dyson coming in for Harmer with White taking a more central role. The win over Newcastle was an early indication of the good times ahead.