the history of tottenham hotspur



The history of Tottenham Hotspur began under a street lamp just across the road from what is now the Spurs Store on High Street Tottenham, London N17.  Some players from the local cricket club and the local grammar school - St. John's Presbyterian - were at a loss as to what to get up to during the winter and so they decided to start playing football.  This was back in 1882. Unsure about what to call themselves, they named themselves after the youngest son of the Duke of Northumberland, Percy, who went by the nickname of "Harry Hotspur".  It was the valiant nature of his derring-do heroics, that they thought it was an appropriate title to adopt, so Hotspur FC was born.  Under the chairmanship of the Reverend John Ripsher, the club was reorganised in 1883, took to wearing all navy blue and played their games at Tottenham Marshes.

The following year saw the club renamed "Tottenham Hotspur Football and Athletic club" and in 1885, Spurs played their first competitive match against St. Albans in the London Association Cup, winning the game 5-2.  By this time, the kit had transformed into light blue and white halved shirts and a credit balance of nine shillings was recorded !!

In 1887, Spurs had their first match against the "old enemy" (then called Royal) Arsenal and they were denied a 2-1 win as the game was abandoned because of darkness 15 minutes from the end of the match.  It was the year after this that Tottenham Hotspur moved their ground location to Northumberland Park and they charged the princely sum of 3d (1p) to get in !!  In 1890, a further kit change saw the shirts change to red in an act which was tantamount to heresy.  They did stick with the navy blue shorts though.

16th December 1895 was an important date in Spurs' history because they adopted professionalism and the following year also contained some milestones.  A friendly against Aston Villa attracted 6,000 to the ground, the club were elected to the Southern League Division One and the colours were changed to chocolate and gold stripes.  Indeed, the next year saw Tottenham reach their first (of many) Cup Finals, losing out to Wellingborough 0-2 in the local Charity cup competition.  

1898 was another landmark year in the history of the club as it became a limited company and the attendance record swelled to 14,000 for a match against Woolwich Arsenal.  Perhaps the most significant move of this year was the adoption of the colours of the "Invincibles" of Preston North End, who had done "the Double" and so Spurs first became associated with the white shirts and navy blue shorts for which they are now world famous.



In the final year of the century, Tottenham made a move to the current location -White Hart Lane - the world famous home of Tottenham Hotspur.  The 35,000 capacity stadium was almost called "Gilpin Park", but gradually became known as White Hart Lane.  The first game there was a match against Notts. County and the receipts totalled 115.  The move heralded success for the club and in 1900, Tottenham won the Southern League and the big success came in 1901, when Tottenham Hotspur became the first non-league team ever to win the FA Cup.  They beat Sheffield United 3-1 at Bolton after holding them to a 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace in front of a then record crowd of 110,000.  Breaking the Northern domination of the competition, Spurs also established a new tradition - that of tying coloured ribbons in favour of the the winners onto the trophy.  The FA Cup victory helped Spurs get elected to the Second Division of the Football League in 1908, but it wasn't straightforward, but what is with Spurs !! 

Stoke dropped out of the league after suffering financial problems and although Spurs had finished behind Grimsby Town, Bradford Park Avenue, Chesterfield and Lincoln City for the place of the relegated club, the voting was much tighter after that and following two tied votes, an eight man panel of the FA Management Committee voted Spurs in ahead of Lincoln by five to three.  Tottenham showed that the decision was fully justified as they won promotion to the First Division at their first attempt in 1909.

Spurs were also excelling in other activities, as they won the Baseball Championships in this country in 1906 and 1908 in the three years Tottenham took part.



The club remained in that division for six years before relegation struck, but promotion again was swift after the break for the Great War of 1914-1919.  A record points tally of 70 (with two points for a win) saw Spurs back in the top flight. The next year, 1921, found Tottenham winning the FA Cup for a second time, beating Wolverhampton Wanderers by a single goal at Stamford Bridge.  Relegation came seven years later and it was then five seasons before promotion as runners-up was achieved.  In 1934 the building of the East Stand was completed, just in time for the club to be relegated again in 1935.  However, 75,038 fans crammed into the ground to see a FA Cup Sixth Round tie against Sunderland in 1938 to set an attendance record at White Hart Lane, which will never be broken.



A period of wartime and doldrums for Spurs meant that they had to wait until 1950 to regain their place in the First Division and the bulk of that team went on to win the League Championship trophy for the first time in the club's history in 1951 under the management of Arthur Rowe.  When Rowe retired and Jimmy Anderson took over as manager, he could not handle the pressure and a player stepped up to take over the club and lead it into an unforgettable new era.  That man was Bill Nicholson and he made Tottenham what they are today.  It was October 1958 and Spurs were facing a home match against Everton.  Not much was expected that day, but Tottenham emerged victors by 10 goals to 4.  It was the start of a reign that would see Tottenham Hotspur scale peaks that other teams could not hope to reach.



His team building took a while, but by 1960 all the pieces were in place and his most famous achievement was about to begin.  His assault on the League started in amazing fashion and the side remained unbeaten for 16 matches, winning their first 11 of the season;  they won the most games (31) and the most away games (16); they reached 50 points in 29 games - quicker than anyone else; the 115 goals for that season is still a club record; they equalled the record of 66 points for a season; they equalled the number of away pints gained in one season (33), they completed the double over eleven clubs equalling the record in one season.  They ended up winning the title by eight points from Sheffield Wednesday, but the figures do not tell the whole story.  It was the manner in which the team played that won the matches and friends along the way.  The fluid, open, attacking game which made the team of Brown, Baker, Henry, Blanchflower, Norman, Mackay, Jones, White, Smith, Allen, Dyson so renowned across the globe.  The anti-climax came in the FA Cup final when they failed to live up to the football they had been playing and ended up winning 2-0 against a Leicester City side reduced to ten fit players (these being the days before substitutes).  However, "the Double" had been achieved for the first time this century and when no team was believed able to do so.  The side took much of the credit, but the manager was the driving force behind them.  His lack of recognition compared to people like Ferguson and Busby is a disgrace.  If anything, he set the standard that they had to live up to and is therefore, more important than any book will tell you.



The following season Tottenham believed they could repeat the feat and had the involvement of the European Cup to look forward to.  Their first leg of the Preliminary round tie they travelled to Poland and were taken aback by the conditions they found.  They lost the leg 2-4, but in the return at White Hart Lane, they took the Polish side, Gornik Zabrze, apart running out 8-2 winners.  The season ended up falling between two stools, as they lost out to Benfica in the semi-finals of the European Cup and came in third in the League behind newly promoted Ipswich Town (managed to the Championship by ex-Spurs Alf Ramsey) and Burnley.  Spurs did extract some revenge by beating Burnley 3-1 in the FA Cup Final to retain the trophy.  This gained entry to the 1963 European Cup Winners Cup and they reached the  Final, beating Atletico Madrid (the holders) 5-1 in Rotterdam, with new signing Jimmy Greaves among the goals.  Tottenham became the first British side to win a European trophy ... and how !!


60's AND 70's

The side gradually broke up through age and transfers, but Nicholson rebuilt and in 1967, the FA Cup returned to Tottenham after a 2-1 win over Chelsea in the first all-London final.  The process of change was continual and Bill Nick created another era of success for the club, starting with the League Cup triumph in 1971, winning at Wembley 2-0 over Third Division Aston Villa.  Again this meant entry to European competition and this time it was the UEFA Cup.  Spurs battled through to meet Wolverhampton Wanderers in the two legged final and won 2-1 at Molineux, with a 1-1 draw at the Lane giving Tottenham the Cup on aggregate.  Thus Spurs became the first English club to win two European trophies.  Another record was established in 1973, when Spurs became the first club to win the League Cup twice, overcoming Norwich City 1-0 in a poor final.  As holders they reached the semi-final of the UEFA Cup and the League Cup win ensured that Spurs would be back in the competition again.  The 1974 campaign was however one of the darker periods of Tottenham's history, with the two legged final (Spurs being the first English club to play in three major European finals) against Feyenoord being lost 2-4 (Tottenham's first final defeat) and Spurs fans rioted in the Dutch stadium leaving a reputation on the continent that has never been forgotten.  The night upset Nicholson greatly; his pleading to the Spurs fans to behave themselves went unheeded and Spurs got a ban from Europe, which was a bit unnecessary, because they were not to qualify for another 10 years.  



The heart had gone out of it for Bill Nick.  The hooliganism at home and abroad, the big name players, the way transfers were now conducted. It all added up and conspired to his resignation in 1976.  Taking over was ex-Arsenal manager Terry Neill, who presided over one escape from relegation and then another season that ended with him leaving the club, which could not be saved from the drop into Division Two by Keith Burkinshaw.  1977 saw Spurs start in the Second Division and at the first attempt, Spurs got promotion by taking third position in the league by goal difference.  What happened next stunned the football world.  The World Cup in Argentina had just finished and suddenly, Spurs were announcing that they had signed Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricardo Villa of the World Cup winning squad !! 



While their impact was slow at first, while they acclimatised to English football, within three years they had experienced the thrill of winning the FA Cup.  A new West Stand at White Hart Lane looked down on the side as they progressed to their place in the Centenary FA Cup Final against Manchester City in 1981.  A poor game on the Saturday saw Spurs go behind, but a deflected Glenn Hoddle free-kick earned Spurs another crack.  The replay was an altogether different kettle of fish.  Ricky Villa, along with his comrade from South America, had so been looking forward to playing at Wembley in an FA Cup Final, but had been substituted and trudged off around the running track, head hung low in disappointment in the first game.  Within a few minutes of the start of the replay he had scored to put Tottenham on the road to a famous victory.  Manchester City scored twice to take the lead, but a goal by Garth Crooks tied it at 2-2.  Then Ricky took over.  Receiving the ball from Tony Galvin wide on the left, his mazy run, beating at least five Manchester City players and the keeper was one of the greatest goals the old stadium ever saw.  A goal fit to win any FA Cup, but the 100th certainly.

The next season, the European Cup Winner's Cup campaign failed at the semi-final stage to the brutal Spaniards of Barcelona, but Tottenham did repeat their feat of twenty years previously and retained the trophy with a 1-0 win over Queens Park Rangers in the replay, after the first game was drawn 1-1.  They became the first team since the 1961/62 side to do the achievement.  And all this in the Club's Centenary year.

Following this proved a hard task and Spurs finished fourth in the League - qualifying for the UEFA Cup, but went cup-less in 1982/83.  Off the pitch the club became the first to float their shares on the Stock Market, a move which would be a millstone in years to come.  1984 saw the club win the UEFA Cup once again, beating Anderlecht on penalties after two 1-1 draws, with young keeper Tony Parks being the hero, by saving two penalties in the shoot-out.  The home match of the final marked the departure of Keith Burkinshaw as manager.  Disillusioned by the money men at the club he left with a comment that "there used to be a football club over there."

The 1984/85 season found Spurs playing their matches in an all white kit (previously reserved for European games) and in the next season, another Spurs great departed the club, when Steve Perryman left to join Oxford United after making 655 league appearances for Tottenham.  David Pleat came in as manager and in 1987 took Spurs to their eighth FA Cup Final, where they lost for the first time to Coventry City by 3-2 after extra time.  Two good things did come out of that season though - Clive Allen played as a lone striker and notched 49 goals in all competitions and the club strip returned to white shirts and navy blue shorts.



In 1988, Tottenham splashed out on Paul Stewart as their first million pound player - 1.5 million from Manchester City, but then went even further when they bought Paul Gascoigne from Newcastle United for 2.2 million.  The side trudged on and Chris Waddle left for Marseille costing 5 million, Tottenham were not setting anyone's pulses racing, but with Gazza's trickery and the added goalscoring ability of Gary Lineker, the side were on the brink of good things.  1989 saw the completion of the East Stand's refurbishment and just when things looked bleak for the club on the financial front - a minor miracle happened.  As funds drained out of the club because of poor investments and the failure of the club to win trophies, a FA Cup run was driven by Paul Gascoigne (despite suffering from a hernia problem) and Terry Venables.  The Geordie scored in almost every round and when he was just coming back from an operation on his groin, he scored a fantastic free-kick from 30 yards past David Seaman to give Tottenham a perfect start against rivals Arsenal in the first ever meeting at the semi-final stage between the two clubs.  Spurs went on to win 3-1 and although the Final against Nottingham Forest was a bit of an anti-climax in comparison (despite the loss of Gazza through injury, being a goal down and missing a penalty), the FA Cup had helped to save Spurs as a football club.  Alan Sugar (electronics entrepreneur) came in to join forces with Venables to secure the future of THFC.  Beating off the rival bid by media tycoon, Robert Maxwell, Sugar laid his faith in Venables, but his financial dealings were of concern and this lead to his dismissal followed by Court cases about who said what and about whom.



Coming at a time, when in 1992 the Premier League was founded in place of the old First Division, the club was in turmoil.  Gascoigne left for Lazio for a record 5.5 million.  It was a time for reconciliation and Ossie Ardiles was brought in as manager to assuage the upheaval felt by the fans of Venables removal.  In 1994, he made a swoop on the players who had lit up the World Cup in the USA.  Gica Popescu and Ilie Dumitrescu were brought in from the revelations of the tournament, Romania and in an audacious deal, Alan Sugar persuaded Jurgen Klinsmann to join the White Hart Lane revolution.  Suffering from a FA investigation into the mishandling of financial matters at the club, Spurs were docked League points and banned from that season's FA Cup.  Unfortunately for Ardiles, his attacking philosophy with the Famous Five (Barmby, Klinsmann, Sheringham, Anderton and Dumitrescu) up front was doomed once the side started leaking goals and the burden of the docked points meant he was replaced by Queens Park Rangers manager, Gerry Francis.  Sugar was determined to get justice over the sanctions taken and arguing that these misdemeanours took place before he was in charge at the club and also that he had brought these problems out into the open, he took the FA to court and won the points and the place in the FA Cup back in place of a large fine.  Francis got Spurs to an FA Cup semi-final, when they should not have even been in the competition, but the side lost 1-4 to Everton.  The year also saw the "Shelf" on the East Stand turned into a seated area and the next year a new South Stand was built.  But it wasn't all off the pitch activity - Chris Armstrong was brought in to replace Klinsmann for 4.5 million - a club record signing.  Again a lean time was had by all concerned with the club, until the sale of Teddy Sheringham to Manchester United lead to a record buy of 6 million for Les Ferdinand of Newcastle United and he was joined by his team-mate, David Ginola.  The ground was finally completed when the North Stand was rebuilt in 1998, leaving the stadium as one of the best in the country, but totally unrecognisable from that of only ten years before.  Another change in manager after Gerry Francis bit the bullet and then less than a year after (and having saved the club from relegation with the help of the returning Klinsmann) Christian Gross also left.  The appointment of George Graham - a stalwart former Arsenal player and manager - caused disquiet among Spurs fans, but he organised the side quickly and in his first season, the team beat Leicester City at Wembley 1-0 to win the Worthington (League) Cup with ten men after Justin Edinburgh had been dismissed.

In 2000, there were more changes behind the scenes as Sir Alan Sugar sold his majority shareholding to ENIC, an investment company, who became the biggest party on the board.  A couple of months into their reign, they dismissed George Graham as manager and shortly after installed Glenn Hoddle as the new boss on the eve of an FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal, which the club lost.  With new owners and an old Tottenham player back in charge, fans foresaw that as a dream ticket for years to come, but the worries about the lack of financing given to the strengthening of the team in the summer of 2001 has cast some doubts over the future.

After shuffling many managers over the early 2000s, Spurs were fifth two years running under Martin Jol, but his replacement following a secret visit to Spain to recruit Seville boss Juande Ramos ended in temporary success with a League Cup win in 2008, but the team slipped in the league and a poor start in 2008-09 saw Ramos sacked and Harry Redknapp brought in as Spurs returned to a traditional "manager" role with no Director of Football.  A League Cup final loss on penalties to Manchester United was the turning point of the season, as Redknapp guided Tottenham away from the bottom of the table to ensure Premier League football for another season and the team just missed out on European football by two points at the end of the campaign.

Today, the club has again slipped behind the top three or four clubs in the Premiership, but need to re-establish themselves at the very top of the English game before trying to make inroads into Europe and World football.  Investment in players must be made to do this, but the figures involved in these days is astronomical compared to those of the humble beginnings of the club over 100 years before.  The heritage of the Double winners have always left a shadow over subsequent teams, managers and players, but having gone 48 years without a League championship, we can only hope that things work out and we see one in our lifetime.


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