Tottenham On This Day: North London Derby, Laurie Brown And The Beatles


Tottenham signed Laurie Brown from Arsenal on the eve of his debut at White Hart Lane against his former club on the day The Beatles returned from their first tour in America to be interviewed by David Coleman on Grandstand.

Congratulations for Laurie Brown [Photo: Logan Holmes]Tottenham on this Day

22nd February, 1964

Tottenham Hotspur 3 Arsenal 1 (1st Division)

Scorers: Jones (2), Greaves (pen)   Strong

Team: Hollowbread; Baker, Hopkins; Beal, Norman, Marchi; Jones, White, Brown, L., Greaves, Dyson

Going into the match, Tottenham were top of the table but Liverpool were three points behind with two games in hand. An early FA Cup exit and a run of three games where they took only one point immediately prior to the north London derby was a concern for Bill Nicholson. Another worry for the manager was that in those three matches, two of which were at home, Spurs had scored only one goal.

In a bid to strengthen his team, Bill Nicholson signed the former England amateur centre-forward, Laurie Brown from Arsenal. Brown who cost £40,000 had  played mostly as a central defender for Arsenal but on his debut against his former club, Nicholson opted to use his new signing as a centre-forward, in place of Bobby Smith. The England international was extremely upset to hear that he had lost his place to Brown. Bobby Smith called it an insult and said,

"When Bill Nicholson told me that I was out and that Brown was taking my place at centre-forward I was too choked even to talk to him. As far as I’m concerned that’s Nicholson and me finished. What other manager in the First Division would go out and buy a half-back to play centre-forward?"

Laurie Brown had an impressive debut and was involved in all three goals which was some achievement considering he had never played in a 1st Division game at centre-forward and had spent the previous two months in the Arsenal reserves. He gave Ian Ure who had replaced him in the Arsenal team a very uncomfortable afternoon as Spurs went on to record a 3 – 1 success.

Brown hit the post after 13 minutes but Arsenal scored two minutes before half time with a header by Geoff Strong. The game was level at the interval, however, when Jimmy Greaves equalised from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time after a header by Brown was handled on the line.

In the second half Spurs secured victory with two goals by Cliff Jones in three minutes midway through the half. He side-footed home a cross by Greaves in the 58th minute and headed in a cross by John White in the 61st minute.

John Hollowbread in the Tottenham goal kept Arsenal out as Spurs retained their three point lead at the top of the table.

Laurie Brown [Photo: Logan Holmes]After the match there was much praise for Brown and Nicholson’s judgement on transfers. Nicholson was pleased with his new signing;s display but fortunately he added,

"I never judge a player on one game."

as it soon became clear that Brown, the centre-forward, was not the answer to Spurs’ problems and they slipped down the table to finish the season in 4th place.

The win over Arsenal was the best day for Brown at White Hart Lane and he retained his place for the next 8 games at centre-forward. When he re-appeared in the team the following January he had moved back into defence where he played until the arrival of Mike England in the summer of 1966. Brown signed for Norwich City the following September.

The arrival of Brown from Arsenal, like most signings from our near neighbours was not a success.

Related Article:

Transfers Between Tottenham and Arsenal – Read more

The signing of Brown made it a disappointing way for Bobby Smith’s career at Tottenham to come to an end. He played only two more games for Spurs and left the club for 4th Division Brighton at the end of the season.

The Beatles Connection

On the same day in 1964, The Beatles returned to England from their first very successful tour of the US. They were greeted by thousands of fans at Heathrow and David Coleman who presented the BBC’s flagship Saturday afternoon sports programme, Grandstand, interviewed them on the show.

**Thanks to Chris for his information on the Beatles connection**

Tottenham v Arsenal Feb. 1964 [Photo: Logan Holmes]