Johnny Brooks Joined Tottenham in 1953 from Reading for just three thousand pounds plus two of our players making the reverse trip as Arthur Rowe looked to rebuild the side that had won the Championship.
Johnny took a while to force his way into the team but finally did so two years later and became the main creative force at the time. Described as a naturally gifted player, those who saw him play say he had an amazing body swerve, a powerful shot and a great dribbling ability which could mesmerize defenders.
Terry Venables once said of Brooks ‘an idol who processed a brilliant body swerve.’
Johnny admits he did however have two faults the first was being inconsistent. Talking about Arthur Rowe ‘Arthur was a lovely man who knew his football inside out.’ He told John, ‘you could be one of the greatest players in the world if you just concentrate and put your mind to it.’ Danny Blanchflower would agree telling Johnny ‘Come on you’ve everything you need in the game.’
The second was he was just too nice, a flaw many thing stopped him going to the very top. Johnny remembers Bill Nicholson “he was a good manager but he was a hard taskmaster and liked you to dig in a bit to battle for everything.” He admits he didn’t win headers and did not like going to hard tackles.
Johnny grew up a Spurs fan and use to watch the 1950’s team from the terraces. Talking about that side he said ‘It was simple but super football and that’s been Tottenham throughout the years until George Graham took over, as a kid it made a big impression on me and the ground was always full.’ Later when he had a choice of going to Arsenal, West Ham or Newcastle Tottenham was an easy choice, although he struggled at first to break into the first team. Starting out at inside forward, he later also played on the wing.
At Tottenham he scored 51 goals in 179 appearances, eleven of those goals coming when we were runners-up in the League in 1956/57. He won all three of his England caps whilst at Tottenham, all of them coming in the space of 21 days.
The first cap in November ‘56 saw him score a goal V Wales in the Home Championship. Two weeks later he scored again this time in a Friendly V Yugoslavia and finally at the start of December his last game was a World Cup qualifier V Denmark. Johnny claimed this was a brilliant experience and he enjoyed the games tremendously.
He would say I only played for England three times, but we won all three.
Johnny seen here with Danny Blanchflower and Cliff Jones waiting for the FA Cup draw in 1959.
He become one of the first footballers to lean himself to advertising and endorsed hair products for Max Factor in the early 1950’s.
Johnny s inconsistency returned and he fell out with Bill Nicholson several times. He says after one game when Spurs lost, that Bill said in the dressing room “Brooksy, look, not a bit of sweat on you, England player? F***** rubbish.” He said that was Bill, but the next day it would be forgotten. Indeed they stayed friends and sat together in the stands in later years. Johnny claims Bill would say the same thing about David Ginola
However he knew his time at Spurs was coming to an end, still many were surprised when Bill Nicholson let him go to Chelsea in the deal that brought Les Allen to Spurs.
He later played for Brentford and won a Third Division Champions medal. He played for several other clubs and had a spell playing in Toronto.
Later he worked in a Bank in the City if London, strangely alongside Tommy Harmer. Johnny coached youth sides into his seventies.
Speaking when he was 68, he said he regretted leaving Tottenham when he did and missing out on the chance of being part of the Double side. He remained a regular visitor for many years to watch Spurs play.
Johnny who I believe had not been in the best of health for a while passed away last night.
We extend our condolences to his family and friends at this sad time.
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