In October 1987 Ray Clemence made his final first
team appearance for Spurs in the 1-2 defeat at Norwich City. Troubled
with an Achilles tendon injury, Clemence announced his retirement from
playing at the end of that season. Initially, his place in the Tottenham
goal went to Tony Parks, hero of the UEFA Cup Final win over Anderlecht
in 1984, who had spent most of his White Hart Lane career in the
reserves. New manager Terry Venables obviously didn't see Parks as the
new regular goalkeeper as, in February 1988, he bought Bobby Mimms from
Everton for a fee of £325,000 and put him straight into the first team.
Mimms had been understudy to the regular guardian of the Goodison goal,
Neville Southall, but had managed to win an FA Cup Final medal (albeit a
loser's one), deputising for the injured Southall in the 1986 Wembley
defeat against Liverpool.
Beginning his career with Halifax Town, for
whom he did not appear for the first team, Mimms joined Rotherham as an
eighteen-year-old in 1981 before moving to Everton in 1985. By the time
he signed for Tottenham, Mimms had appeared at Under-21 level for
England, from which it could have been assumed that a promising career
was in prospect. A shrewd bit of business by Mr. Venables, perhaps ?
However, there was another side to the coin. Mimms had already been on
loan to Notts. County, Sunderland, Blackburn and Manchester City. None of
these clubs had been sufficiently impressed to make an all-out effort to
buy him. Maybe he wasn't so good after all. To be fair to him, Mimms did
join Tottenham at a time when the team was struggling, and his defence
wasn't the most rock-solid we have ever had. However, our new goalkeeper
looked nervous and reserved and didn't exactly fill the Spurs supporters
with confidence. Although he could look impressive on occasions, he made
some horrendous howlers, one in particular on Easter Monday 1988 when he
let the poorest excuse for a shot trickle through his legs to gift
Queens Park Rangers a goal at Loftus Road. Okay, so it was on Rangers
plastic pitch, but that was really no excuse.
The 1988-9 season team
photo included only two goalkeepers - the error-prone Bobby Mimms and
Peter Guthrie (who was quickly destined for mediocrity). Mimms began as
first choice goalkeeper (mainly due to lack of competition). Venables
had bought him and seemed determined to give him sufficient time to make
his mark. However, by December 1988. It seemed that the manager had had
enough as he signed Erik Thorstvedt from IFK Gothenburg for a £400,000
fee. However, the manager then told Mimms that the first team
goalkeeper's shirt was his and it was up to him to retain it. Mimms
didn't manage it for long and was dropped in early 1989. Ironically,
Thorstvedt dropped a clanger on his debut for Spurs, against Nottingham
Forest in a game televised live, but didn't turn into a Mimms Mark two.
For Bobby, it was just about all over.
Erik the Viking became an instant
favourite with the crowd whilst Mimms plied his trade in the reserves.
Bobby made just five first team appearances for Spurs in 1989-90. He had
a loan spell with Aberdeen which started the following month and finally
left Spurs towards the end of the year, moving to Blackburn Rovers for a
fee of £250,000. Mimms had spent almost three years at White Hart Lane
but only played 44 times for the first team. At Ewood Park he made over
150 appearances but his first team chances were limited following the
arrival of £2.4M signing Tim Flowers in 1993 During Blackburn's
Premiership winning season of 1995-6 Mimms made just one league
appearance. With his career coming to an end, Mimms dropped down to the
lower levels of the Nationwide League, returning to Rotherham United
where he established himself as the first choice goalkeeper in the
1997-8 season, when he missed only three league games. Maybe Bobby Mimms
should have played his whole career in the lower leagues. He certainly
wasn't up to the standard of goalkeeper that Tottenham should have.
Still, at least Terry Venables got it right with Erik Thorstvedt.