When describing the Double winning team Danny Blanchflower is often known as the brains (1), Dave Mackay the heart but it was Cliff Jones who earned the title the entertainer.
One of my own first terrace heroes. The Welsh wing wizard joined Tottenham in February 1958. He would go on to play in 378 games for the club scoring 159 goals. Rather a remarkable figure when you consider he was signed primarily a winger. A total that places him fourth in the club’s all-time list of goal scorers.
Cliff could play on either wing and was famous for being able to split defenses open with either sheer pace or a body serve. When he received the ball a wave of anticipation would ring around the ground and I well remember going to tip toe whenever he was on the ball, (it was all standing then). If that wasn’t enough he was exceptional in the air, surprisingly as he is only five foot seven. In the words of one spectator of the time, he could leap like a salmon. Often referred to during Tottenham's glory days as the best winger in the world, Juventus and Athletico Madrid both reportedly offered £100,000 for him in the early 1960’s.
Cliff scored the clubs first ever hat trick in European competition in the game with Gornik (2). Just one of the ten hat tricks he scored for the club, only three people have scored more. He was never afraid to throw himself in where the boots were flying if he had half a chance of getting the ball or scoring a goal and he suffered a number of injuries during his career.
Apart from the Double, Cliff won the FA Cup again in 1962 and the European Cup Winners Cup the following year. He actually won a third FA Cup medal in 1967 as an unused substitute, the first year they were allowed, as we beat Chelsea, although neither team used them. Cliff first played for his hometown team, Swansea Town. He had made only a handful of appearances before winning his first cap at 18. He made a total of 168 appearances for Swansea (47 goals) before Tottenham paid £35,000 for him. Things did not start to well for Cliff he as he broke his leg in the pre-season and by the time he was fit there was a new manager.
Cliff as well as the entertainer was known as one of the jokers in the team (3). He described his contribution to the Double side as "I was an individual player but Bill Nicholson always reminded me that it had to be within the framework of the team, I loved it and couldn't wait to get out there and play. I always felt an air of expectancy when I had the ball and loved to respond to it. Bill Nicholson always said to us that the most important people in the stadium were not the players, not the management, but the supporters."
Cliff once explained how he became a great dribbler. ‘We use to play on the beach in 30 a side games, if you passed the ball you never got it back.’
A Tottenham man through and through. Mike Summerbee (Man City) said one day they will put him up on the roof next to the Cockerel. In 1968 after ten years service he moved to Fulham to wind down, before playing non league football and then became a school teacher and also played competitive rugby till he was 45.
Cliff comes from a sporting family, his father (a Welsh international), three of his uncles and his own grandson were professional players. Whilst his cousin Ken became one of the country’s leading sports journalists. In 1962 he wrote his autobiography, ‘Forward with Spurs’. Since retiring he has been inducted into the Tottenham, Swansea and English Football Hall of Fame’s.
The University of Wales has awarded him an Honorary Fellowship. At the presentation he included in his address “As a working-class Swansea boy this award is beyond my wildest dreams,” He also remarked his teacher had told him “there’s more to life than exams and anyway, your brains are in your feet.”
Wales Sport Awards have presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award, during which he was described as ‘probably the greatest Welsh footballer ever.' Today he is still continues to work at the Lane as a match day host and looks as fit as ever.
Keith Harrison. ht42
t- Keith 16024542
f- peter shearman (old non de plume reserved for THFC matters)
Thanks – THFC, Welsh Football Data Archive, Top Spurs, BBC.
notes -1- Although in 2010 Cliff himself described Danny as the leader and John White as the brains.
2- Hotspur Towers 25.
3- Talking Tottenham 47.
4 – Flying Down to Rio 5 / 6.
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