"Oh, magic man. There's no doubt - not only in football during my career but he's had the biggest influence on my life, generally.
..When you thought of Tottenham you thought of Bill Nicholson , one of the legendary figures in football. Bill was a major servant to English football and a fantastic man. It was an honour to serve under him."
- Pat Jennings
With such an excellent managerial record its is sometimes overlooked what a good player he was. Today we look at the next part of his playing career and his first steps in coaching. When World War 2 broke out Bill joined the Durham Light Infantry. Being a professional footballer he was sent on a PE course and would rise to the rank of sergeant-instructor.
Upon his discharge he attended a FA coaching course at Birmingham University and passed his Full Badge at the first attempt. He returned to Tottenham and played center half for two years before moving to right half. In December 1948 he scored the first of his six League goals, and the clubs 2,000th goal in the Football League.
Bill became known as a solid, dependable, ball-winning, hard-tackling and robust half back and was considered one of the best of his generation. The ‘Push and Run’ era of 1949-51 saw Bill miss just four games as we lifted the Second Division Championship in 1949/50 and then the First Division Championship in 1950/51. They then finished runners-up in 1951/52.
He was due to play a second time V Austria the following autumn with Billy Wright moving forward to play inside right but injury prevented him from playing. He was named as a reserve on 22 occasions. Looking back on his international career, which would of produced many more caps if his position had not been dominated by Billy Wright and injuries. He said "My duty is to get fit for Tottenham. Well, they pay my wages, don't they?" He added that it was however very disappointing not to have played again.
At the start of the 1958/59 season we had played 11 games and obtained 9 points. (remember it was two points for a win) from three wins, three draws and five defeats. Tottenham were 16th in the table. When on the 11th October 1958 he was called to the Board room at lunch-time and informed they wanted him to take over from Jimmy Anderson as Manager starting with that afternoons game at home to Everton.
1. Flying Down to Rio - Flights 2 and 3.
2. The timing is subject to some dispute. It has been recorded at anywhere from 19 seconds to 30 seconds, but either is still a record.
Images - top, 2 & 3 Empics sport/Press Association, 5 - Micky Durling, 6 - THFC, 7 - Sporting MirrorThanks- A full list of acknowledgements will appear at the end of the series, but particular thanks in this section must go to. THFC, THOS, John Fennelly, England on Line, and Bob Goodwin’s- The Complete Record.
About the author:
Keith Harrison, Nilgiris, TN
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