bobby mimms


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.

Andrew Ford

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