odd man out

 

Of all the players who have passed through the doors of White Hart Lane down the 100 years it has been the world famous home of Tottenham Hotspur, surely this one is a player who will not be regularly featured in the programme or even once in a while as a Millennium Man.

 

While moseying thorough our local market recently, I discovered a set of playing cards featuring Spurs players from 1911-12. Some names I had heard of before; Billy Minter, two of the Steel brothers, the McTavish brothers too, Herbert Middlemiss. But there were many others I did not recall, so I went to the source for all this type of information - Bob Goodwin’s “The Spurs Alphabet”.

Of all the players of that season, one stands out from the rest. It is not only the look of the man, in an age of short back and sides, but also what his history that I found out about him. The man in question was Alexander Simpson Young, a Scot who started with St. Mirren before moving South to play for Everton. During his six years there he scored the only goal in the 1906 FA Cup Final and got a runner-up medal the following year. His goalscoring earned him two Scottish caps and his 110 goals for the club made him a favourite among the Goodison crowd. However, in 1911, he moved down to London when Spurs signed him to bolster the attack.

His Tottenham career started brightly. With three goals in his first two games, he looked set fair for a good run with the club, but, following goal-less showings in his next two outings, he was dropped from the team - something that would probably not happen these days !! He took exception to this and demanded a transfer, which was granted to him and he returned to the North-West to play for Manchester City and South Liverpool. Unsettled, he eventually emigrated to Australia, where he began a new life with his family.

Unfortunately, it was not the dream move he might have hoped for. In December 1915, Young appeared in court charged with the murder of his brother. Although he got off with the murder charge, he was found guilty of manslaughter in June 1916. The most worrying aspect was that football officials from England had provided evidence in the case to explain how, during spells in his career he had been prone to fits of “temporary insanity”. Now, while current players are thought to be in the same boat, it appears in Alex’s case, it was all too real. His three year sentence was extended on the grounds of “mental weakness” and it was a while before he was adequately rehabilitated and he could return to his native country.

Surely, if, in the days that Young played, his team-mates had awarded nicknames to their colleagues, he would have been the first (and the most apt) recipient of the epithet “Psycho” !!

The Funky Phantom

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