A Victorian Hotspur - Part 1
This mini-series of ‘A Victorian Hotspur’ takes the story of Hotspur football club from the events described in ‘Hotspur by Gaslight’ on and off the pitch and covers the next five years during which period the Spurs played on Tottenham Marshes.
Sensing the need for an adult hand on the tiller the boys approached John Ripsher and asked for his help in ensuring the clubs stability and putting them on to a permanent footing.
Left - William (Billy) Hartson, who served the club for more than 50 years.
Ripsher was well known locally and had helped the boys earlier in their cricketing endeavours. He worked as a clerk in an iron works as well as being the warden at the local YMCA. He also conducted bible classes at All Hallows church. John agreed to help and enlisted the help of John Randall, a former player with the Radicals, and was the clerk at the County Court.
Ripsher arranged a meeting at the YMCA in August 1883 where 21 boys attended. At this meeting the foundations for the future were laid. Ripsher agreed to become the teams President and John Randall was elected club captain. It was than agreed matches would be played at what is now the Park Lane end of the Marshes. The team’s colours would be navy blue and would bear a scarlet shield with the letter H on the left breast. A rota was drawn up for who would carry the goal posts; these were kept during the week at Northumberland Park station. The cricket club transferred its own funds (five shillings) after the cricket equipment was sold and the summer sport appears to have played little part of the clubs immediate future.
That second season started with a 9-0 win over Brownlow Rovers on the 6th October as the team formatted a fixture list rather than play the ad hoc games of the previous year. The first recorded line up (and the only full one we know that season) was recalled some years later as - Leaman, Tyrell, Dexter, Casey, Lovis, Lomas, Cottrell, Watson, Fisher, Hartson and Buckle. The goal scorers in this early rout are not recorded. You will note that Randall missed this game (he was injured) and the side was led by Vice Captain Billy Hartson. The Weekly Herald reported “The result in an easy victory for the home team by nine goals to nil. Messrs Hartson, Casey, Jull and Buckle did good service for Hotspur.” You will note Jull was not named in that remembered line up and we will learn about him later in the series.
That season would see them win 17 of their 22 games (1). We managed 47 goals and conceded just 11, the game with Brownlow being the highest score. All the games were friendlies, friendly that is as in non-competitive rather than of a descriptive nature.
As we saw in ‘Gaslight’ (2) records for this period are scant for these games. The second known game of the season records a 6-1 win over Evelyn at home, (or 5-1 and a disputed goal).
Left - John Ripsher
A couple of games that are worth noting are on October 29th Bobby Buckle (6) scores the first goal which credits a player as we lose 1-3 at home to Grange Park. The return game with Brownlow in November sees us winning one nil when in the eightieth minute the ball bursts and the game becomes the earliest record we have of an abandoned match. The weather / light appear to have played their part as several games are recorded as either 60 or 80 minute games. Different sources report that on at least two occasions we only fielded only nine or ten players.
The game away to Albion on February 9th 1884 saw Jack Jull score the first recorded hat trick for Hotspur in a 3-0 victory. A sign of how the club was progressing following their heavy defeat the year before was when Hotspur beat Latymer 2-0 home and away that season. The season ending on 22nd March with a 2-0 home win over to Remington.
Tottenham Marshes were much larger in those days and were also the home of the Radicals, Star and Park (both these last two would later disband and some of their players and fans join Hotspur). The Marshes was also the home of the rugby team from University College London. There may have been plenty of space but that did not stop other gangs of boys deciding to use the area you had marked out, because they wanted the pitch or just a fight.
Left - Jack Jull. Pictured here a few years later.
As the team’s games rapidly became a local attraction and drew early ‘supporters’ this would become less of a problem but throughout their sojourn on the Marshes Hotspur would encounter a number of ‘issues’ as we will discover. It is highly likely that despite having favourite areas, different games would have been played on different parts of the Marshes in those early days. Bobby Buckle when taken back there some years later indicated that most of the games were played in an area that is now covered with the London Underground depot.
At that time the club secretary sent hand written match reports to the local newspapers in the hope of a mention the following week. The difficulty arose that with both sides submitting reports, no doubt heavily leaning towards their own side and at times disagreeing on the result and score. The local press would decline to publish these reports until the sides could come to a compromise. Over the next few year as Hotspurs reputation grew locally reports would appear more frequently and the side would develop from a bunch of schoolboys to a side that attracted a slightly better quality of opposition each season often using older players than ourselves This was at a time when the game was much more physical and despite their middle-class backgrounds the boys would have had to ‘know how to handle themselves.’
Before moving on there are several references (3) during this second season of Hotspur fielding a 2nd XI including mentions of games with Clifton in November and ‘The Oak being trounced at Tottenham on Boxing Day by 6-0, the goals coming from Buckle 3, Hartson 2 and Lomas. Although these are first team players, the first XI did not having a fixture that day and this game does not feature in various first XI lists.
The records for following year (1884/85) show we played 29 games. Fourteen of those ended in victory, five draws and seven unknown (4). A sign of the teams progress was the Weekly Herald published their fixtures as the team drew supporters from a wider area that enjoyed their style of play. The team’s first recorded draw (0-0) came in December away to Woodgrange. Once again there are references to us fielding nine or ten players and some matches lasting shorter periods.
The season had started in September with a match between a Jack Julls XI against a Billy Hartsons XI. As these were two of the leading characters within the club this may well have taken the form of an early player trial game. We also played Tottenham (no connection) and won 4-0. At the AGM that year a vote of thanks was passed to Mr Hartin, Stationmaster at Park Station ‘for taking good care of the goal posts etc.’ Mr. Ripsher (5) was also thanked ‘with great cheering for the way he had helped the club financially and for providing the tea that evening.’
In Part 2 - The summer of 1885 would be one of change off the pitch and the following season saw developments on it.
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Acknowledgements appear in Talking Tottenham - 1882 and all that.
See also –Talking Tottenham –Adventures in N17. -
Notes – 1 Based on Phil Soars Official history which contains games other databases omit.
2 – by gaslight link -http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/hotspur-by-gaslight
3 – The Romance of Football was published by the Weekly Herald in 1921 and drew upon its own archives as well as crediting a number of the founders and later members of the club in its preparation. Whilst therefore you should consider it ‘fairly’ reliable we should bear in mind that newspapers during the era often relied on the reports supplied by the club and the clubs would ‘tend to differ.’
4 - The records for this period in common with many now famous sides have a number of gaps, these include, results, scores, venues and even dates. Lineups and scorers are somewhat sparse or simply confusing. Something in the interests of completion will be addressed in a future Tottenham Mysteries.
5 – John Ripsher – http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/hotspur-towers-john-ripsher
6 – Bobby Buckle - http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/hotspur-towers-bobby-buckle
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