Bill nicholson - part 3
"My respect and admiration for him just grew the more I saw of him. He knew more about the game than anyone I ever met, and knew how to convey it. He was the complete manager. I cannot speak highly enough of him….
Bill was the main man, he was Tottenham through and through. He knew more about the game than any of us, he ran the club from the boot room to the Board room, and he gave us values and leadership. You have to respect that….
To Bill the fans were the most important people at the club and he made sure we gave value for money.”
- Cliff Jones
The start of his 16 year reign as manager started with a 10-4 win over Everton. The following week we won 4-3 at Leicester City. After three draws and three defeats on the road this was their first away win of the season. They then took one point from three games as Bill slowly got the team playing his way. The team finished the season 18th (out of 22). The following season we finished third, two points behind the winners.
He blended his side with the steel to match the style with amongst others John White, Bill Brown and Dave Mackay. His Double winning giants, the first team in the modern era to achieve the feat, set a number of First Division records as they led the table from Day 1 and were never headed. Their record of 11 successive victories at the start of the season still stands, not just in England but across the top Leagues in Europe. They were unbeaten in their first 16 games.They won 31 of the 42 League matches, 16 away from home.
We are not being big-headed when we say we have done the cup and league Double, but we must have a new target, to win the European Cup. It has not been done before by any team from this country. Neither has any team from Britain yet reached the final, a state of affairs we mean to change."
In that period only two English teams competed in Europe each season. If the current qualification process had been in place at that time we can only wonder where the Tottenham adventures would of led.
A season that if not for a dreadful spell of games in October/November could have been another Double. As we lost only one of our last twenty-eight matches.
Bill continued to attract the top players to Tottenham twice breaking the British transfer record with the signings of Martin Chivers and Martin Peters. We won the League Cup in 1971 and when we repeated the success in 1973, we became the first team to win the trophy a second time.
An interview (1) I read suggested he was disillusioned with some of the younger generation not being as dedicated as he thought they should be, agents and the growing financial influence were all factors. In August of that year Bill announced his intention to retire as manager, agreeing to stay on until his replacement could be appointed.
Danny had however already upset several Board members in the past with his outspokenness. One Board member said ‘If he had applied we would of considered him but he didn’t.’ Bill was upset his opinion had not carried the day. Whatever the truth Danny was overlooked and would later have a decent managerial career at club and international level before devoting himself to being a journalist. The fans were stunned having had Bill for as long as they could remember when the Board decide to appoint Terry Neill, an Arsenal legend, and who was the manager of the mighty Hull City who were not even in the top flight. Bill finally stood down on September 13th 1974. He would return to the club he devoted his life to in 1976 when the second most successful manager in our history Keith Burkenshaw took over.
Notes -1- Fairly sure this was with Ken Jones of the Daily Mirror, who was Cliffs cousin.
A list the acknowledgements will appear at the end of the series. Images - Top- My Football Heaven, 1-Daily Mail, 2- Getty Images, 5- Daily Mirror, 6- Press Association,
About the author:
Keith Harrison, Nilgiris, TN
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