joe kinnear ... joe cool

This article first appeared in MEHSTG Vol. 2 Issue 26 (April 2002)


  Joe Kinnear was born in Dublin but lived in Watford from the age of seven years.  After playing for St. Albans City, he joined Spurs as an amateur in August 1963 and became a professional in February 1965.  Joe was a right-back and he made his debut for the first team in April 1966 against West Ham and he soon achieved his first full cap for Eire against Turkey in 1966-67.

Kinnear soon became a very popular figure in the Spurs' team and he was a real joker off the field.  On it, Joe had a cool, unruffled style.  At 5 feet 8 and a half inches tall, quite quick and a neat tackler, his game was built on timing.  Joe knew when to go in for a tackle and he seemed to win the ball effortlessly.  In addition, he was a good distributor of the ball aiming to start an attack quickly after making a tackle.  He made good use of the right flank by often making himself play as an extra attacker by overlapping on the wing and looking for the ball in order to provide a telling cross for the central strikers.  Joe was so calm and cool in his play and he soon formed a good full-back partnership with Cyril Knowles, who was the regular left-back in the side.  

Apart from breaking his leg, all seemed well for Joe to be the regular right-back for many years, as he made 74 appearances between 1967-68 and 1968-69 including winning an FA Cup winner's medal in 1967, playing in the 2-1 win over Chelsea in the final.  Then in 1971, Joe twisted his ankle against Nottingham Forest and Ray Evans deputised.  Ray played solidly and carefully and soon established himself in the team making it a difficult choice for Bill Nicholson who to pick when Joe was fully fit again.  Evans was very strong, fast and could even pose a threat in attack while Joe was very classy, skilful; very polished and precise.  Initially, Bill continued with Ray in the side, yet he still wanted Joe as a vital part of his squad and Kinnear found himself back in favour.  The Irishman was in the team in time for the vital European games and he won a UEFA Cup winner's medal appearing in both legs of the final against Wolves.  

In 1972-3, he was in the team that won the Football League Cup final against Norwich City; his second winners medal in the same competition as he was in the team that won the final 2-0 against Aston Villa in 1970-71.

Joe continued to be the regular Tottenham right-back, although Ray Evans continued to be in contention.  In 1971-72, Joe had made 21 League starts and Ray made 22, while they both made 24 starts each in 1972-73.  By the time Kinnear left Spurs in 1975, he had made 251 League starts for Spurs, scoring two goals.  He would have made considerably more starts had it not been for the quality of Ray Evans who also left Spurs in the same season.

Kinnear had been exciting to watch and a true Spurs' type of player - full of skill and flair.  He always seemed in control and his game developed with the eighteen appearances in European games he made for Spurs.  Joe always seemed to play with a smile on his face and he was an integral part of Spurs' successful trophy winning sides of the era.

After leaving Tottenham, Joe played one season for Brighton before coaching in Malaysia and United Arab Emirates from 1975-87.  He coached Doncaster before moving on to manage Wimbledon.  He developed a strong side there before suffering a heart attack in 1999.  He has a love for horse racing and this is where he spent much of his time during recuperation.  It is good to see Joe Cool doing well again now he is manager of Luton Town.

RICHARD PORTER

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