Tottenham Survive But Chelsea Are Relegated 30th April 1910


On this day, 30th April, 1910, Tottenham and Chelsea met in a crucial relegation battle on the final day of the season. It was Tottenham second season in the Football League and they had struggled to meet the demands of the 1st Division.

Vivian Woodward [Photo:]Tottenham has been voted into the Football League in the summer of 1908. They had resigned from the Southern League and after first missing out in the ballot, a later vote saw them admitted to the 2nd Division for the first time. The first season proved a success and Spurs were promoted having finished as runners-up to Bolton Wanderers. They were only a point behind the Champions but ahead of West Brom on goal average.

In that first season in the Football League, their leading goalscorer was Vivian Woodward who scored 18 goals. In the summer of 1909 he decided to retire from top level football to play for Chelmsford. This came a great surprise to Tottenham but the following November they had an even greater shock when Woodward returned to League football to play for Chelsea.

Tottenham struggled throughout that first year in the 1st Division. As the end of the season approached they were in serious danger of relegation. With two matches to play, Spurs were 18th, one point above the relegation zone. Their final two games happened to be against the two sides below them in the league. On the penultimate Saturday, they defeated Bolton 2 – 0 at Burden Park. The result moved them up one place, above Bristol City on goal average but Chelsea were still only one point behind and the threat of relegation remained.

On the final day of the season, Chelsea arrived at White Hart Lane and both clubs knew that whichever team won would avoid relegation.

On This Day

30th April, 1910

Tottenham Hotspur 2  Chelsea 1

Scorers: Minter, Humphreys

The Tottenham programme for the match noted the importance of the game to both clubs.

‘The long drawn-out struggle ends today. The climax has come and by this eventide all doubts and fears will be set at rest. This final match of 1909-10 must be as memorable as the last game of 1908-09. It is hardly possible to conceive of a more dramatic finish to a season than this which brings into conflict two great rivals when the prize at stake is of infinite importance to each.’

Bolton were already relegated to Division 2 but five other clubs – Spurs, Bristol City, Middlesbrough, Woolwich Arsenal and Chelsea – were also in the relegation zone.

Tottenham won this crucial relegation battle before a crowd of 35,000 with goals from Billy Minter and the all important second goal from centre-forward Percy Humphreys. To add irony to the situation, Humphreys had played for almost two years with Chelsea before joining Spurs in December, 1909, having lost his place to Woodward who was in the Chelsea team that afternoon.

The victory ensured that Tottenham survived while Chelsea were relegated but so close was it at the bottom of the 1st Division that the two points enabled Spurs to move up to 15th place.

The Gentleman Footballer

Vivian Woodward played for Spurs in their first season in the Football League helping them to promotion. He was a true amateur with associations to Tottenham going back to 1901 and was regarded widely as a ‘gentleman’ of football. He was an amateur player who also played cricket and was one of the best players of his generation. He was a full England international and also played for the amateur team, captaining the team at two Olympic Games. His involvement in cricket often meant that he was unavailable until the end of the cricket season. He became a director of the club in 1908.

As Spurs prepared for their first year in the top flight the football world was shocked to hear of his retirement from football but the club was in even greater shock when a few months later he re-appeared with Chelsea for whom he played until the outbreak of the 1st World War.

Percy Humphreys, who won one England cap, on retirement from playing went to coach in Switzerland where he was the first manager of FC Basel in 1913. The outbreak of the First World War meant it was a short stay.

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