With Tottenham Hotspur celebrating Ledley King’s career this week, this trip to the archives takes a look back at some of the other testimonials and benefit games featuring Tottenham over the years. Normally they are played as a reward for long service to the club although in some cases to celebrate an individual or for people whose lives and careers were cut tragically short or had fallen on hard times in later life.
John White was a member of the Double winning team and was one of the most talented players of his generation. He was tragically killed by lightning on a Golf course at 27 years of age. In November 1964 we played a Scotland XI in his memorial game at the Lane. The game was postponed for 24 hours due to fog but more than 29,000 turned up. His brother, Tommy, was under contract for Hearts but guested for us that night, and he scored for the Spurs. Playing for Scotland was Alan Gilzean who scored twice in his first appearance at Tottenham.
The first international opposition in these games I could find was for Jimmy Greaves’s testimonial in 1972 when we welcomed Feyenoord. Other international clubs coming to the Lane include Bayern Munich (Phil Beal 1973) and Red Star Belgrade (Alan Gilzean 1974). In 1986 Ossie Adriles’s testimonial brought Inter Milan to the Lane and we had a guest player in Ossie’s old friend, Deigo Maradonna (1).
Prior to those early benefit game’s the first I could trace was away to London Caledonians for a W. Stirling in April 1895. As the only Stirling I can find in our pre-league days is a ‘J’ and he only played five games I assume that this was a Caledonian's player.
Prior to the Jimmy Greaves game in 1972 Tottenham did not grant many testimonials. Over the next few years they did play games for a number of players including Pat Jennings, John Pratt, Steve Perryman, Terry Naylor, Glenn Hoddle, Paul Miller, Chris Houghton, Tony Galvin Gary Mabbutt and Joe Kinnear.
Cyril Knowles who was a member of the side in late 60’s and early 70’s who died at the age of 47 in 1991. Cyril was an outstanding left back and loved going forward and set up numerous openings for the forwards. When he returned to the Lane in his management days with lower league teams he was always welcomed with the chant ‘Nice One Cyril’ (4). He had a testimonial game in 1975 V Arsenal.
In 2002/03 we played DC United from the USA, first at the Lane and then later in Washington. The proceeds from the home game going to the Tottenham Tribute Trust which offers assistance to any former employee of the club and has done some splendid work. Just a year ago Spurs Legends played a game against a team of Scottish-Spurs fans in a John White memorial game to raise money for the Trust. While writers such as Norman Giller donate proceeds from their Tottenham writings to the Trust.
With testimonials reserved for players who have given ten years service to a club and players on much higher wages these days the future of the testimonial may be limited. They are still a great chance for players to say goodbye, fans to celebrate a hero and for former players the opportunity to perform a few of their party tricks once more as everyone has a great night. Long may they continue.
Notes -1 - Connections,Argentina, 11/9/13
2 - Bill Nicholson, 19/1/14
3 - Hotspur Towers 8, 3/3/14
4 - Talking Tottenham 10, 22/12/13
Thank you, THFC, Hotspurhq, Phil Sour, Bob Goodwin,
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