With February 29th only occurring every four years events on this day are limited but let’s take a look back at what I could find that has happened on this day previously. Taking them in a chronological order we have played just five games, winning four of them. We have not played two games in the same competition but three in different leagues, one cup match and a friendly. Those five games have all been played on different grounds and under five different managers.
There was also the small matter of somebody writing a letter that day which would help shape the clubs destiny in the years that followed.
We had to wait until 1896, the fourth leap day since our formation before we actually played a game. That was when we entertained Burslem Port Vale, they dropped the Burslem much later. They came to Northumberland Park and we beat them 4-0 in a friendly encounter. Logan scored twice Lanham and Clements one each as we won 4-0. Note, this game does not appear in all databases of Spurs games.
By the time of the next match in 1904 we were had moved to White Hart Lane and Plymouth traveled to meet us in a Western League match for the first competitive game on this day. Spurs won again this time 5-1on our way to winning the title. The team completed in three competitions that season the main one being the Southern League as well as the London league and we were runners up in both. The goals that day went to Bill Berry on his debut, Pat Gilhooley his last for the club, two from Joe Walton and a penalty from James Chambers. Joe Walton had joined us in 1903. He played in international trial games in 1905 & 06 but did not win England honours. He later moved on to Sheffield United having scored 51 goals in 215 games from outside right. There is a team picture of this winning team in Hotspur Towers – The First Tours.
Just four years later and our first away game is at Bradford Park Avenue and a 2-1win in front of 7,000 in the Southern League, we would finish seventh. The goals that day came from Bert Middlemiss and Max Seeburg.
It seems odd that Bradford were in the Southern League. At that time it took teams from the north and the top teams were close to the Football League in standard. The overall standard was however lower than the Football League. This despite some sources which attempt to claim it was on a par with the football League. This tends to be people who wish to decry our FA Cup triumph whilst still in the Southern League. That summer would see us elected to the Football League but it would not be till 1964 that we played a game on this day in that competition.
In between those matches we played just once and that was in 1936 and our only FA Cup tie on this day. Having beaten Southend, Huddersfield and Bradford we travelled to Sheffield United in round six. On that day nearly twenty three thousand watched Johnny Morrison score for us as we lost 1-3. The only time we have lost on this date.
Whilst the team were traveling to Yorkshire for that game back at White Hart Lane that same day our chief scout, Ben Ives, was writing a letter to a family living in Yorkshire. It was to a Mr. & Mrs. Nicholson in Scarborough and it invited their young son William, then just 17 years old and working in a laundry to come to Tottenham for a month’s trial. Ben Ives had not even seen the lad play but he came recommended.
Right - Ben Ives seen here on the right is pointing, he is showing new manager, Jack Tresadern (center), around White Hart Lane which means it is July 1935. The third chap, on the left is trainer Jack Hardy.
Ives wrote to the Nicholson’s ‘you need not fear about him as at present we have about 20 boys his age and we get them good lodgings with personal friends of mine.’ He also added ‘the boys seem very bright and I am sure he will get on and in any case I trust you realise that he must have a far greater chance of making headway in London than elsewhere.’ Then adding instructions for his traveling on the overnight train to London Ben posted the letter.
There is then that long gap till 1964 and our most recent game, by which time that former laundry worker had become our manager. Tottenham were starting to rebuild after the Double and this game saw just the second appearance of Laurie Brown who Nicholson brought in from Arsenal. He later described Brown as one of the two worse signings he made. Spurs would go to Birmingham City where Cliff Jones and Jimmy Greaves netted for us in a 2-1 win in front of twenty seven and half thousand in a game that that would leave us top of the table that night. Top pic – Greasvey on the training ground watched by Terry Medwin and Cliff Jones.
In 1992 we were due to play Notts County away but our rearranged League Cup semi final replay for the next day met the game was postponded.
With no game arranged for this year it seems we must wait another four years before we discover if the next chapter will be written
t- Keith 16024542
f- peter shearman (old non de plume)
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