Ted Ditchburn is one of the true legends of the club having played over 400 games for the club, (only Perryman and Jennings have played more).
He won both Second and First Division titles with the club. Along the way he set a record that is unlikely to be broken of playing in 247 consecutive league appearances, including being ever present for five seasons (1).
Noted for his skill and reflexes as well as an excellent positional sense he is one of the finest goalkeepers to have played for Tottenham.
Ted, like all top keepers, liked to keep it simple. Alongside his marvelous skills he had excellent reactions (he was the son of a professional boxer). Edwin George Ditchburn was born in Gillingham and played for Kent Schools. In 1938 he signed amateur forms for us and became part of our ground staff being attached to the Northfleet nursery side. Turning professional in May 1939, just before World War Two started, which would cost him seven years of his career, who can tell what he would have achieved otherwise.
During the war he became a physical education instructor in the RAF. He returned to Tottenham whenever the opportunity arose and his Tottenham debut arrived in May 1940 in a Wartime Football League match. That game was a 3-2 win over Chelsea that ensured we would finish top of Group C. However he actually played more guest games for Aberdeen than his own club, also turning out for Birmingham and Dartford. During the war he won representative honours playing for the RAF, The FA XI and two Wartime Internationals (not counted as full caps) and he still had not made his League debut.
After leaving the services he quickly became our first choice goalie. His full debut, alongside five other new boys, coming at the start of the 1946/47 season at home to Birmingham City. We lost that day 1-2, our goal coming from another debutante George Foreman.
Ted must have made an impression as he was ever present that season. That was the start of his incredible run of appearances for Spurs. He missed just two games from April 1946 until March 1954. That allowed him to set a record of 247 consecutive league appearances. He was ever present when Tottenham won the Second Division Championship in 1950.
He then repeated the feat the following season as Tottenham won the First Division. A vital cog in Arthur Rowe’s team with their famous ‘push and run’ style.
He would quickly throw the ball out to (normally) Ramsey at Right Back and set the team moving rather than the more traditional long punt down the field. Although he would joke this was because he couldn’t kick.
Ted was also one of the first footballers to own his own car in this case it was a big American Cadillac which earned him the nickname Dillinger (after the US gangster). Some people claim he also did this without processing a driving licence. He was featured on the cover of the FA year book and many other publications.
Unfortunately for him he played at a time when England had several great goalies. This meant Ted was restricted to just six full caps, alongside five games for the Football League and playing for England B. He was also a member of the England squad that went to the 1950 World Cup.
Ted was still the Spurs first choice when the 1958-59 season started but a broken finger early in the campaign saw him replaced by John Hollowbread. Ted would move on to Romford in April 1959 having given the club over twenty year’s service. At Romford he was a player then their manager. Later still he played for Brentwood Town till he was 45. He passed away in 2005.
On a personal note one of his teammates at Romford was an uncle by marriage, who was one of those who helped wean me on tales of Tottenham and he introduced me to the great man at his sportswear shop, when I was sadly far too young to fully appreciate the event, other than this giant was one of the ‘Tottenham legends’ that were my heroes and he did seem delighted when I told him I was a Spurs fan.
Ted was also featured in Touring India, link –http://www.indiaspurs.com/apps/search?q=touring+india
And there is a lovely off-duty picture in the Every Picture Tells A Story series.
t- Keith 16024542
f- peter shearman (old non de plume)
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