Tommy Clay [Photo: Logan Holmes]

Tottenham On This Day: Spurs Right Back Plays In Goal For League Game

We remember fondly, in the days before substitutes, when an outfield player had to take over in goal if the goalkeeper went off injured. The Tottenham right back played the full ninety minutes in goal against Sunderland in a League Division 1 game in 1921.

Tottenham on this Day

26th March, 1921


Sunderland 0 Tottenham Hotspur 1 (1st Division)

Scorer: Seed

Team: Clay; Forster, McDonald; Smith, Walters, Grimsdell; Banks, Seed, Cantrell, Thompson, Dimmock

 Now-a-days with a goalkeeper among the substitutes you never see outfield players taking over in goal when the goalkeeper is injured or gets sent off. It always added excitement to a game to see the substitute goalkeeper flapping at crosses or making amazing saves. We remember occasions when both Graham Roberts and Glenn Hoddle excelled between the posts in an emergency.

Jimmy Seed [Photo: Logan Holmes]

Jimmy Seed [Photo: Logan Holmes]

In March, 1921, in Tottenham’s first season back in the 1st Division, they had to play three games over the Easter period. On Good Friday, they drew 1 – 1 at Anfield and for the Saturday fixture travelled to the north-east to play Sunderland at Roker Park. The Spurs first choice goalkeeper was already on the injured list and his deputy, Alex Hunter, had taken over. Hunter, however, was injured in the game against Liverpool and for the next day’s match, right back, Tommy Clay had to go into goal.

Clay was an England international full back but he kept a clean sheet against a Sunderland team which included the England international centre forward, Charlie Buchan who scored at least 35 league goals in each of his four full seasons at Roker Park. Spurs won with a goal from Jimmy Seed. Buchan was to join Arsenal in 1925.

It was a hectic programme of matches for Spurs. A week earlier they had defeated Preston in the FA Cup semi-final and then on Easter Monday defeated Liverpool in the return fixture at White Hart Lane. For that game Hunter returned in goal and Clay resumed at right back. The following month went on to lift the FA Cup for the second time in their history.

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Tags: Emergency Goalkeeper Right Back Soccer Tommy Clay Tottenham Hotspur

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