BRIAN MOORE INTERVIEWS CLIFF JONES

(This interview first appeared on the Sky Sports website)

 

'JOHN WHITE? HE WAS LIKE GLENN HODDLE'

  BRIAN MOORE INTERVIEWS... CLIFF JONES

Cliff Jones was an old-fashioned winger who played more than 300 games for Spurs between 1957 and 1968, helping them win the Double in 1961 and the 1963 European Cup-Winners' Cup - the first British club to win a European trophy. He also won 59 caps for Wales and played in the 1958 World Cup. And as he told our Brian, them were the days you used to buy your fans a drink after the game.

Brian Moore: What is the greatest single achievement in your career, with Spurs, Swansea or Wales?

Cliff Jones: Oh, that would have to be winning the Double with Spurs in 1961. To be part of the first team to do the Double this century. That would be the pinnacle of my career.

Brian Moore: That was the peak, but you joined back in 1957, and for a while things didnít go very well for you, did they?

Cliff Jones: No, thatís right. Iíd just finished my National Service when I signed for Tottenham. Iíd been playing rugby and hockey in the army, and I broke my leg in pre-season, so things took a while to get going, under the then manager Jimmy Adamson.

Brian Moore: When did things start to change for you and the team? Was it the arrival of Bill Nicholson as the manager in 1958?

Cliff Jones: Yes it was. Bill was a big influence on all of that team. He was a great believer that managers should take responsibility for what happened on the pitch. Take for example, referees. He hated to see players chase after refs. He would say, ďLook, referees are human. They are going to make mistakes. I just hope they donít make as many mistakes as you lot out there. He also used to remind us that most players didnít understand the rules of the game as well as referees, and he was right. That, for me, is leadership.

Brian Moore: He was a man who had a lot of little sayings. One of them I remember is ďWhen the ball goes dead, good players come alive,Ē

Cliff Jones: Yes, thatís one I used myself when I was a teacher. Another one Bill loved to use was ďIf youíre not in possession, get in position,Ē. For me that sums football up. When you havenít got the ball, get ready to support the man who has.

Brian Moore: He was bringing an amazing side together at that time, in the late 50s and early 60s, wasnít he?

Cliff Jones: Well, it was 1959 when he really sorted things out. That was when he got Dave Mackay.

Brian Moore: That transformed Spurs, did it?

Cliff Jones: Dave gave us that edge, that machine-like approach and the competitive side to the game, that I wonít say we lacked, but we needed a bit more. Dave brought that and we took off from there. The rest is history.

Brian Moore: Most Spurs fans can remember that great Double-winning side. Players like Bill Brown, Bobby Smith and Maurice Norman, and that's without even mentioning Danny Blanchflower. Like many people I regard that team as the best club side I have ever seen. How do you think todayís players compare with those Spurs greats?

Cliff Jones: Well, you know, I go to Spurs a lot and I love to watch David Ginola, heís a class act. People often ask me how I would feel about playing today. But I turn it round. I ask them how todayís players would have fitted into the side I played in? Iím not so sure they would have.

Brian Moore: Spurs were involved in some tremendous matches during those years. What are your great memories of the big games, like the Cup Finals against Leicester and Burnley?

Cliff Jones: Well, I remember the Leicester final in 1961 wasnít a very good game. They lost Ken Chalmers early on to injury and they made it very difficult for us from there on.

Brian Moore: It may be hard for some people to believe today, but in those days, Burnley were a very good side, who played very good, exciting football, much like Tottenham.

Cliff Jones: Yes, well, they were one of the best we played against in that era. We took a lot from them in terms of free-kicks and corners, which we became quite successful at. When I look at todayís games, I think players donít work on them enough. They just come up and try to bend this new light ball around the wall. That's it, nothing else.

Brian Moore: Domestic success took you into Europe, tell us about your memories of those great exciting European nights at Tottenham.

Cliff Jones: I remember the first game against Gornick. At one point over there we were four-nil down, but we scrambled a couple to finish at four-two. We took some stick in the press for that. But BiIl and the fans got us geed up for the return. I tell you, Brian, when we walked out at White Hart Lane that night, the atmosphere was electric. There were 57 or 58,00 people in the ground and the same number outside. We were a goal up before the start, you could tell the Polish mob were intimidated.

Brian Moore: The semi-final of the European Cup against Benfica was not as successful, but was also an incredible night.

Cliff Jones: Unfortunately the tension of the crowd got to the players, and we didnít play as well as we should have. We tried to get the ball up to our forwards too quickly, and we by-passed our midfield playmakers, Danny Blanchflower and John White. In many ways we played in to their hands.

Brian Moore: Iíd like to talk to you about two other players. The first is Jimmy Greaves.

Cliff Jones: Jimmy was the greatest goalscorer Iíve ever seen. Every season he would score 30-35 goals. And he was a great man to know. I very much enjoyed his company. You know his whole motivation was to score goals. It didnít matter to him if weíd had a good or a bad game, so long as heíd scored, he was satisfied. I couldnít see it like that.

Brian Moore: The other player I want to ask you about is John White. He is still revered at White Hart Lane after he died so tragically young.

Cliff Jones: He was a great talent. People ask me what he was like. I say that he was like Glenn Hoddle. But he was different to Glenn in some ways. Glenn was someone who you had to bring into a game, whereas John White would bring himself into a game. If youíre not in possession, get in position, that was John White. He was always available if you needed to pass to someone.

Brian Moore: You still go to White Hart Lane regularly. Do you still see Bill Nicholson?

Cliff Jones: Yes, I do and its always great to chat to him. And you know, when I look at todayís players, Iím reminded of what Bill used to tell us about the club. Bill used to say that the fans were the most important people at the club, not the players and not the manager. The fans work 40 hours a week, then come here. You must repay that. He also used to tell us how important the club was to the fans and that we had conduct ourselves accordingly. That, to me, is leadership. Modern players donít seem to have the same approach.

Brian Moore: Something else that has changed is the camaraderie between the players and supporters.

Cliff Jones: Oh, yes, we used to go to the Bell and Hare just by the ground after home games and buy drinks for the supporters. That could never happen today, and I think the game has lost something as a result.

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