The end of the 1884/85 season brought about a very important change for Hotspurs. At that time another club was using a similar name and some of their post had been directed to Sam Casey who was acting as the sectary. It was agreed to avoid further confusion that the word Tottenham would be added to Hotspur for the coming season.
In many texts this other Hotspur tends to be considered a poor relation but they were in fact quite a successful side, (1).
There was also a change in colours during that season. The lads had decided to cancel their last game of that 84/85 season and made their way to Kennington Oval to watch the FA Cup final. Where Blackburn Rovers overcame the Glasgow’s Queen Park club. The boys were so impressed they adopted the blue and white halved shirts of the Rovers for themselves (2).
The first game under our new name was (we believe) away to Silesia College, a 4-3 win on 3rd October 1885 sadly detail again evades us. The first ‘home’ game for Tottenham Hotspur was our first ever competitive fixture. This fell on the 17th October 1884 when we played St Albans in the London Association Cup. This St Alban’s was a London business and not the city just to the north of London, although we did play that side as well during those formative years.
Hartson, Mason 2 and Amos 2 were the scorers in our 5-2 win. The Weekly Herald reporting “the whole Tottenham Hotspur played well together.’ A crowd of 400 is said to have been present, one of the first games where an audience was recorded. We can’t call it a gate as the game was on public land and the club had no control over who watched nor could they charge them. Some of that crowd carried Hartson and Buckle from the pitch at the conclusion of the game only for Hartson to discover when he reached the dressing room someone had stolen his coat.
We only have a few lineups for that season but one of them was that first cup encounter. It was Bumberry, Jull, Tyrell, Bull, Lovis, Casey, Buckle, Hartson, Mason, Amos and Cottrell, (3).
Left - The first team before the St. Alban's clash.
Top image- The first and second teams taken at the same time.
Before the game what is believed to be the ‘photo shoot’ of the club was taken, with one of the team that day and one of ‘the whole club’. It was taken on the banks of the River Lea at Stonebridge Lock about one mile from WHL and half a mile from where Spurs were thought to be playing at the time. It was likely taken here as it was seen as a notably moment requiring a suitable backdrop.
The second round was in November and saw Tottenham travel to Wandsworth to meet the famous Casuals, making one change, Conu in for Lovis . The Casuals were a step up in class and as recently as 1884 had reached the final of the first ever FA Amateur Cup. They had the pick of players from universities and public schools and when football went professional (1895) they would regular provide the England Amateur side. It will be no surprise, ‘that the Spurs handicapped by their lack of inches’ lost heavily. Another team on the marshes at this point, Star disbanded, (coincidentally they had also started as a cricket team) and a number of their better players joined Spurs. The two sides had often ‘loaned’ players to each other to help the other out. This led to a ‘great accession in the playing strength of the Spurs’. The Herald tells us that ‘The Spurs play improved and the number of people who watched the side regularly increased from a handful to a hundred or more.’
Tottenham were already known for their entertaining style and right from the beginning Hartson and Buckle on the left had developed a fast flowing style that was pleasing on the eye and they would serve Spurs on the pitch for ten years. The team however still had to combat unruly elements, the side might not have to defend their pitch as much and even though the team’s reputation was spreading some teams did not wish to play in what could be at best described as a called hostile environment.
The Weekly Herald claims there was a total of 37 games (at all levels) were played that season. 24 wins, 11 defeats, 2 unknown. We scored 111 goals times with 51 conceded. However records of only 22 matches can be found (4).
Above - This map is from 1900. On the right side you can see Northumberland Park station and the way to the Marsh's. Park Lane (until the turn of the century Marsh Lane). At the level crossing you can also see Willoughby Road. Northumberland Park arching away to join the High Road. Just north of this you can also see Wagon Horse Lane, which we refer to later in the series.
While things were going well on the pitch those early Hotspurs had a few mishaps off it. In their fledgling days the boys had met under lampposts and later in the basements of houses being built in nearby Willoughby Road by candle light. John Ripsher arranged for them to use the basement at Percy House where the YMCA was based. This was however short lived, the boys not living up to one of their early nicknames of the Saints (derived from one of the schools they attended), made so much noise that when a YMCA counselor came down stairs to investigate he was struck in the face with a ball, and to make things worse it was covered in soot. It was not the first transgression; amongst other incidents was the raiding of the fruit plants in the YMCA grounds. The boys needed a new base.
It was Ripsher who came to their rescue and persuaded the vicar of All Hallows church (where the Thompson's father was a church warden) to allow them to use no 1, Dorsett Villas in Northumberland Road. This was on the understanding that on Wednesday evenings they attended church. This came to an end when they were caught playing cards during the service.
They moved again this time to the Red House in the High Road, (5). This would remain their HQ until 1891. Here the boys had a library and board games and would often retire there to replay the games in the evening. These headquarters were all too far from the playing area and so dressing rooms were hired in various public houses in the area during the period. Most commonly used were the Milford Tavern as well as The Park Hotel and the Northumberland Arms.
It was in the Milford Tavern on Tuesday 20th April 1886 that the club held its first annual dinner to celebrate the end of the season. The last game was played three days earlier. The once schoolboys were now 17 and 18 years old. The Weekly Herald carried a report of the evening and it is quite clear that a good time was had. The President John Ripsher was congratulated and a toast was drunk to him, proposed by Vice President J Thompson Jnr. (one of the founders). The club was toasted with ‘Success to Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.’
The responses include several comments of interest. The first detailed how the club had devolved and considered the quality of the fixtures was much stronger than the previous year. The other is a mention of the clubs second XI who had had a very good season and beaten every team placed before them.
The series concludes in part 3 as we move on the 1886/7 season when we discover the clubs first great cup controversy, we play a team from south of the river and the club have to make a decision that could make or break it.
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Acknowledgements appear in Talking Tottenham - 1882 and all that.
See also – Hotspur by Gaslight -http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/hotspur-by-gaslight
& part 1.
& Talking Tottenham –Adventures in N17
Notes – 1 – Talking Tottenham – 1882 and All That.
2 – You will remember the 125th anniversary strip. For details of Tottenham’s kits throughout this time please check out Tony Sealey’s series
3 - For those interested in football formations, at this teams tended to play two backs, two half backs and six forwards.
4 - Once again various databases differ and these figures are taken from the Official History written by Phil Soar.
5 - This building was later purchased by the club in 1921 and is featured throughout the various articles celebrating White Hart Lane.
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