Obituary  -  Sid McClellan

Sydney Benjamin McClellan  1925-2000

 

On 16th December 2000, Sid McClellan passed away, with barely a mention in any publication I have seen.  But his part in Tottenham's history was established many years ago.

Born in Poplar in 1925, Sid started his career representing the Royal Navy against the other services, before settling at Chelmsford City after the war, where he scored freely in the Southern League for the Essex club.  It was in a match against Spurs Reserves that he caught the eye of the Tottenham officials, when he notched a hat trick in the January 1948 match.  When Chelmsford boss Arthur Rowe took over at Tottenham, he asked Sid to go with him and he was signed up by the club, but it was then a year before he was awarded his debut in a match against Sunderland on 23rd September 1950.  His first goals for the first team came in his second game at home to Derby County, when he scored both in a 2-2 draw.  It was in his debut season that he chipped in with 3 goals in seven matches to help Spurs to their first First Division title under the "push and run" guidance of Arthur Rowe.  The side finished second the following season, but could not maintain their momentum and Sid only rarely got called upon as when he was poised for a run in the first team, he was unlucky with ill-timed injuries.  His best season was 1954-55, when he played 11 matches and scored 8 goals, bettering the next seasons total when he played 16 matches and got seven goals.  In his time at Tottenham, McClellan often travelled up to the ground for training by tube from Dagenham or Barking with Alf Ramsey - a far cry from the modes of transport used by players of today !!

While many current day fans would not have heard of McClellan, he was to the Spurs side of his day, what Lineker or Klinsmann was to the more modern teams.  He could have forged a deadly partnership with Len Duquemin, but the Channel Islander was the one who kept him out of the side, denying the speedy McClellan a regular place.  When he did get a chance, he inevitably took it and ended up scoring 29 goals in 68 matches in the League with three goals in two FA Cup appearances.  In other outings, he managed a very creditable 30 goals in 23 starts, with four substitute appearances. It was in one of these other games that his unique record for Spurs was set and is unlikely to be broken.  In May 1952, he toured with Spurs to North America and in the match against the Saskatchewan FA he played in the 18-1 win, scoring no less than nine goals himself !!  It was a successful tour for Sid, who also scored twice against the Alberta FA, the final goal in a 7-1 win over reigning League champions Manchester United (which left the Americans asking if that made Spurs champions now !) and he rounded it off with a hat trick against the Quebec FA.

While ostensibly a forward, Sid was fast enough to double as a winger and played there when required.  His total of 62 goals in 97 games reflects a very healthy ratio and what Spurs would give for a player like him today !!  Denied a place in the starting line up, he left Spurs for Portsmouth in a 5,000 transfer and after a couple of years moved on to Leyton Orient and then non-league Romford, before retiring from playing.  He stayed in the game, becoming a successful coach with Dagenham in the 1960's and he took them to an Amateur Cup Final at Wembley.

Not a big name in terms of some of the Spurs side of his day (Ditchburn, Burgess, Bennett and Nicholson), but his goalscoring made him stand apart from others and his record still stands.  In these days of 0-0 draws, it will for many years. 

Wyart Lane

 

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