In this section we review the next two seasons which produced a second and third place finish. Jimmy Anderson’s second full season in charge saw the team get off to a much better start. The season dawned with a 4-1 win at Preston. Terry Medwin on his debut scoring twice and Johnny Brooks the other two. Seven points (2 for a win) arriving in four games. This was followed by a six wins in a row during September and October. After 16 games we had 15 points and had racked up 48 goals. This was then followed by a draw at the Champions Manchester United. On Christmas Day the team beat Everton 6-0 at home.
The club were still too inconsistent and some players who were excellent one week fell much shorter the next game. Too many points dropped saw United pull ahead and Preston overtook us into second place as March saw us pick up six points in six games. One game, Arsenal at home, showed both sides of the team. Even with Stokes playing for the Football League the same night, Tottenham tore into the visitors in front of 65,000. A record crowd for a floodlight match. Tottenham took the lead through a Medwin shot from the edge of the box but Tottenham just fell away in the words of one eye witness and Arsenal took the points. Then a few weeks later the side went to United on the verge of retaining title and made them look ordinary and should of won the game by a handful rather than finish 0-0. Having missed endless chances that night the Tottenham inconsistency saw them strike five past Birmingham the following game. A couple of weeks later they hit six past Charlton. On that day they passed the 100 goal league goals in a season mark. The first side to do so for 10 years. Then a win over Blackpool meant they would finish runners up unless they lost their last game at Burnley 14-0. In the end it was just 1-0 and Tottenham claimed second place. Smith and Stokes both grabbed 18 goals in the season with Harmer on 17. And three other players finished in double figures.
The FA Cup finished in the fifth round, after beating Chelsea and Leicester they lost at Bournemouth. That summer the side toured the USA. The Blanchflower / Harmer axis that Rowe had hoped to blend together was finding delivering the drive to push Spurs forward.
The 1957/58 season would be Anderson’s third and final complete campaign in charge. It would be Tottenham’s 50th season in the league. Tony Marchi left to join Juventus and would later return to the club. He was replaced at left half by Jim Iley from Sheffield United. A good player but one that witnesses felt never really suited the Spur style of play. Things did not start well for the side who were leaking goals. One point came from four games as we let in fourteen. Portsmouth hitting five twice. A 7-1 win at home to Birmingham gave some hope, Stokes scoring five times in the game to equal the league record. This was followed by a win at home to Sheffield Wednesday.
Then heavy defeats in the next three games. The last of these was Eddie Baily return to Tottenham with Nottingham Forest as league leaders. It was now 34 goals in 12 games. The only player that was performing well was Terry Medwin. That brought Arsenal to The Lane Ted Ditchburn returned to the side in goal. Suddenly the Blanchflower / Harmer midfield clicked and Tottenham won 3-1. Tottenham’s form picked up and ten points came in the next seven games as the position slowly improved. Blanchflower is described as being in the best form of his career. Historian Julian Holland claiming ’The football poured from him in a ceaseless irresistible profusion as though his genie had been taking lessons from the sorcerer’s apprentice, he was a footballing cornucopia.’ This combined with Tottenham’s defence not being so generous slowly drove Spurs up the table.
In the November Blanchflower brought his Northern Ireland side to Wembley and beat England for the first time in 30 years and Blanchflower was instrumental in the success. Blanchflower would end the season by becoming the Footballer of the year and leading his country to their best performance ever in the World Cup finals (1).
Then on November 30th Spurs won at Old Trafford. The first London side to do so in 19 years. The team won 4-3, having been 4-1 at half time with Smith scoring a hat trick. United pulled the score back but never looked like overcoming the visitors. Tottenham still dropped odd points but at times were suburb. Their 4-2 win at Chelsea over Christmas saw them at its best. Harmer receiving the press plaudits. Described as going through the Chelsea defence ‘like a man who knows his way through a maze blindfolded.’ and ‘ opening up Chelsea like a fishmonger opening a herring.’
Boxing Day saw Wolves the leaders come to White Hart Lane undefeated and lose having been beaten by a Bobby Smith goal. Blanchflower sending the whole defence the wrong way then centered for an unmarked Smith to head home. Not everything was going to plan, in the new year heavier pitches saw Hills at right back fall victim to clever wingers as age caught up, he had been with the club ten years. Brooks continued to be excellent and poor in equal measure. Cliff Jones (2) arrived as the most expensive player in the land from Swansea and made his bow in a draw at Arsenal. Top image shows him with Anderson and Swansea manager and Tottenham legend Ron Burgess. Jones had great speed but it took him time to find his rhythm working with the Spurs team. He would break his leg in pre-season the following summer and it was only upon his return that the fans discovered why he was wanted by the Italian clubs. Tottenham having started badly finished the season with a great run. On the 8th February they beat Manchester City 5-1. On April 26th they finished the season winning 2-1 at home to Blackpool. In that period they played fourteen matches and lost one. They picked up 23 points (still 2 for a win) and finished with five straight wins.
This wasn’t enough to catch Wolves and Preston above them and Tottenham finished in third place. They managed ninety three goals in the 42 games. They also conceded seventy seven. Thirty more than Wolves and twenty one more than the season before.
In the FA Cup they beat Leicester for the second year running before losing to Sheffield United.
Even with a second followed by a third place Tottenham still had issues to sort out and the defence needed strengthening as Anderson swapped players around in an attempt to cure the problem.
Top image Cliff Jones becomes Britain's most expensive player with Anderson right. The man on the left is Tottenham legend and Swansea manager Ron Burgess.
In the final part of the series we look at his final days at the helm.
t- Keith 16024542
f- peter shearman (old non de plume)
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Notes - 1 - Flying Down to Rio series.
2 - Hotspur Towers - Cliff Jones
Flying Down to Rio
History of T.H.F.C.
Tribute to Bill Nicholson
The Road to Turin
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