2oth Century Tottenham Men

This article first appeared in MEHSTG Vol. 2 No.12  -  February 2000

With the last century now having closed it’s eyes, MEHSTG decided to take a look back, like everyone else, at who were the major influences of the 1900’s. But our view was towards White Hart Lane. The ground that has seen so many glories and failures over the last 100 years is the focus of all our attention and so we picked the top ten managers and players who we feel have had the greatest effect on Tottenham through the years.




The man who has made Tottenham what they are today. Without his team building and motivational skills, The managers who had followed him into the post would not have had anything to strive for. Not only did he compile the players he wanted into the formidable “Double” side, who some say were the greatest club side ever in this country, but he did it again, when that team had broken up, to produce another spell of success for the club in the early 1970’s. A disciplinarian, Bill crafted the players into a force that was unstoppable that season and then went on to challenge the best in Europe. His ability to spot a talent and meld it into the pattern he knew that he wanted to achieve success was his greatest strength. Having been brought to the club from Yorkshire and serving them man and boy, the man loves Spurs and the fans love him. It was a disgrace when he was told he was not required at Tottenham and he went off to West Ham. He is held in such great respect that I find it incomprehensible how he has failed to receive proper recognition for being responsible for the club winning the first “Double” this century. A true legend and a great in times when these words are bandied about too freely.




If Nicholson was responsible for bringing together the men to win the coveted “Double”, then Danny was the man responsible for bringing the glory. His attitude to the game and the way that it should be played has perhaps been a weight too great for many who have come after, but he introduced a prerequisite for Tottenham teams of the future. Not just to win, but to do it in style. A player who could be hard-working and tough, but preferred to play the game in a manner that brought praise and admiration for him and the side. A general and motivator on the pitch, he believed in taking control and speaking his mind. It sometimes got him into trouble, but Blanchflower didn’t mind that; it was what kept him going. The one big regret is that he didn’t get the Tottenham manager’s job when Bill Nicholson resigned; the board (still there and remembering what had happened when he was a player) being frightened of what he might do !! A player who was very well respected and rightly so, even when he went into journalism after retirement.




A man who started it all off for Tottenham. His “push and run” side of the early 1950’s took the game by storm. He was innovative and had learned quickly while coaching in Hungary, so when the ideas were well received by his Tottenham players, they had a way of playing that was different to everybody else. Winning the Second Division title in 1950, they then ripped through the First to top the table at the end of the following season to win the first League Championship of Tottenham’s history. Watching Tottenham over the last 30 odd years, it brings it home as to how consistent they must have been, because there has never been that level of continued points gathering since the early Sixties. Rowe was another coach who took his work seriously and one who brought together a group of players who he could work with. Not all outstanding players, but as a team they really clicked.




A controversial inclusion at this point in proceedings maybe, but his influence and performances during the FA Cup winning run of 1991 were crucial to the survival of the club at a time when it looked like THFC would go to the wall. His skill was undoubted; not something you could also say for his attitude. However, playing with and after an operation on his groin injury, he took games by the scruff of the neck and won them virtually single-handedly. The Portsmouth FA Cup tie, when Spurs were 0-1 down, was a match in point. His two goals and general battling display raised the players around him to achieve an unlikely looking victory. His goal in the semi-final against Arsenal will go down in history, as will his hyped up cameo in the Final, but he had done the hard work by then and that should never be forgotten.




Everyone knows about Greavesie. His goalscoring debuts; his devastating pace over ten yards; his knack of being in the right place at the right time; his love of hitting the ball against the back of the net; his records and his £99,999 transfer to Tottenham from AC Milan. A goalscorer who many have tried to emulate, but have rarely come close. Being brought home from Italy by Bill Nicholson was probably the best thing that could have happened to Greaves, but unfortunately for him, it was a year too late. He missed out on the “Double” success, although he went on to get two FA Cup winners medals and a European Cup Winners Cup gong with the Lilywhites. His records still stand for Spurs and will never be broken now. Able to hit it off with whoever played alongside him, Greaves was a forward of the sort that Tottenham are crying out for these days.




About this time 100 years ago, Alex “Sandy” Brown was taking the FA Cup by storm as he scored in every round of the competition to take non-League Tottenham Hotspur to the Final and a replay win over Sheffield United. His tally of 15 goals in the competition (including all four in a 4-0 win over WBA in the semi-final) still stands today and the trophy was a major stepping stone in establishing Spurs as a force in the early days of the century. After winning the Southern League in 1900, within eight years Tottenham had been elected to the Second Division. The FA Cup win also struck a blow for the South against the domination of teams from the North, where most of the pioneers of the Football League were based. Despite only spending two seasons at Tottenham, his scoring prowess shot them to prominence.




An amateur who joined Tottenham from Chelmsford City, but an important figure in the history of the club. A skilled practitioner of the forward’s art, he wasn’t the typical English centre forward and used his ability to outmanoeuvre defenders rather than go through them. Although he became a regular after the FA Cup win of 1901, he played for the club with great distinction and represented his country in 21 games scoring 27 goals. He also captained the United Kingdom to two Olympic gold medals in 1908 and 1912, as well as scoring Tottenham’s first ever League goal and becoming a player-director in the promotion season of 1908-09. The first Spurs superstar.




Not only record holder for appearances for the club, but a man who was dedicated to Tottenham Hotspur. His determination to win things as player and later captain shone out like a beacon. An industrious player, who was able to run all day, but also had the awareness to play others in when better placed, his attitude lifted those around him. In these days of Bosman transfers and freedom of movement, there was only one thing that Perryman wanted to do and that was to play for Tottenham Hotspur. Ended lifting the FA Cup twice and was denied raising the UEFA Cup by suspension in the second leg of the 1984 final. A constant link between the Nicholson era and the reign of Burkinshaw. A Tottenham man through and through who was treated poorly when Ossie left the club as manager.




The first “manager” of Tottenham Hotspur. Gathering together the boys who came from the area and were interested in playing football, the man who helped out at the cricket club and YMCA to form and organise the club. From the lamppost on the corner of the High Road opposite Park Lane to what Spurs have become today; none of it would be possible without the dedication and time sacrificed by Mr. Ripsher.



A great servant to the club and a model modern player. An intelligent and skilful player, Ossie was taken to the hearts of Spurs fans from the start. His darting runs and deceptive strength to hold off bigger opponents, coupled with his superb passing ability made him a marvellous foil for Glenn Hoddle. He brought a new dimension to Tottenham’s play and opened the eyes of the players who played alongside him. Unable to blend the attacking philosophy with a defensive resolve, it cost him his post as Tottenham manager, but what he had given to Spurs fans – the Famous Five – would never be forgotten. A character who had adapted to the English culture was a pioneer in coming to the Football League from overseas. Now that the foreign import is accepted as part of the football scene in England is in no small degree attributable to Ardiles.


Like everything else in football, these are only our opinions on the top ten most important players and managers of the club. It’s not always the most obvious that are the most important and some would make cases for other Spurs servants to be included in the list. If you disagree with our choices, then let us know by post or e-mail and we will share your views with the other readers on the MEHSTG website.


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