The Cup campaign that saw us defeat Newton Heath (Manchester United) and Sunderland as the non league Spurs drew attention to themselves as they reached the Third Round of the English Cup for the first time. It also aroused several controversies off the pitch.
The Campaign started on October 29th 1898, yes even before we were playing at White Hart Lane. We had been drawn away to Wolverton and Tottenham were under the guidance of their first manager Frank Brettell who had been appointed the previous March.
The game was then switched to Northumberland Park by mutual consent. The press previewing the game said ‘A large crowd is likely to congregate at Northumberland Park where Tottenham Hotspur entertain Wolverton. Although the visitors are an exceptionally clever team Tottenham are likely to come out of the ordeal with the balance in their favour.’ The report said ‘The Hotspur were much the better side at Tottenham and after scoring three goals in the opening half they won by four goals to non. Despite the unsettled weather there were five thousand spectators.’ Our goals came from McKay, Joyce, Cameron and Bradshaw. Some different crowd figures (1).
The second qualifying round and we traveled the short distance to Clapton where the press felt ‘a tight struggle is likely to be witnessed.’ Tom Bradshaw (7) got our goal in a 1-1 draw. His goal fifteen minutes in the second half cancelling out the home side’s first half goal. The first half had been very even and Spurs being the better side after their goal. One side note at this point Spurs were fourth in the Southern League table. The draw was made for the third and final qualifying round with the winners at home to Luton when the sides met four days later in ‘drizzling rain and a strong wind.’
‘The game proved to be of a very one sided character, and in fact after the first ten minutes the Spurs had all the best of the play.’ This despite the wind being with Clapton who did take the lead when, ‘barely a minute had elapsed.’ Tottenham then ‘strongly bombarded their opponents’ and ‘it was not until they had forced quite half a dozen abortive corners that Cameron succeeded in equalizing.’ In the second half Cameron got his second again following a corner. ‘From this period the play was scarcely out of the Claptonians quarters.’
Next we met Luton Town who we had met before in the competition during our first season, 1895, they had knocked us out in the final qualifying round. Tottenham had gained revenge by beating them the following season as we reached the first round proper for the first time.
Clearly there were memories of the Luton game the previous season which resulted in the ground being shut for two weeks (2). The game ending 1-1 with our goal coming from Bill Joyce.
Four days later the sides met again with the Tottenham fans traveling by a special train from South Tottenham via St Pancras to Luton. The fare was two shillings and sixpence. The game was another 1-1 draw with Meade scoring for Spurs.
The sides met again this time at the Tufnell Park ground on the following Monday the week before Christmas Cameron and Bradshaw scoring in a 2-0 win. ‘The Hotspur forwards were seen at their best.’ Thus having played six games to date we entered the First Round Proper for only the Second time in our history. The following season we entered the competition at this stage and never again played in the qualifying competition.
We met Newton Heath, a second division side, on January 28th 1899 for the first time. A club that later due to financial difficulties was forced to change its name to Manchester United. More than thirteen thousand were at The Park.
‘Tottenham had another installment of the bad luck that has dogged their footsteps throughout the season and by only drawing with Newton Heath they will probably find themselves out of the Cup at their next meeting.’ Heath had taken the lead in an even first half but after the break ‘Newton were always defending’ and ‘corner after corner was taken fruitlessly and it was the last kick of the match that Joyce obtained the equalising goal, and there was of course the usual enthusiastic scenes at the close. On the play in the second half Tottenham should have won by two or three goals.’ Heath’s players were described as ‘at times none too particular in their methods. Draycott played a very dirty game.’ McNaught ‘was lamed early in the game’ While Joyce was said to ‘have his best game seen from him at Tottenham.’
The press informed their readers ‘The great fault of Spurs is their refusal to study to shove the ball into the goal as soon as they get within range They show extremely pretty mid field exhibition play but past masters of the art of ‘diddling’ but when they go on ‘diddling’ at a time when they should be shooting they become exasperating.
Thus Tottenham traveled north for the replay on February 1st at the Bank Street ground, (3). The crowd was less than half for the first game but they were served a treat. Spurs were without Bradshaw as he was playing in the international trial game. Heath opened the scoring after quarter of an hour but Spurs levelled through McKay. Heath scored twice more (Bryant getting a hat trick) before Joyce made it 2-3 at half time. Tottenham changed tactics at half time and even the Manchester press said we were the better team side with the home side of the defence. McNaught scored a magnificent shot and their goalie made some splendid saves. Joyce gave the visitors the lead. We then lost Erentz with a dislocated shoulder before after ‘corner after corner’ Smith became our fifth different scorer to win the tie 5-3.
The next round saw first division Sunderland visit Northumberland Park for Tottenham’s first game in the Second round of the Cup. Tottenham increased admission charges to five shillings for the covered stand. Normal ground tickets were a shilling (from the usual sixpence). The match day report later stated ‘the high prices charged would tend to keep away the lower order of so called enthusiasts.’ ‘The Hotspur team will proceed to High Beach again to train as they have derived much benefit from their stay in the forest.’ (4).
The game on 11th February also aroused some controversial comments in the press when Sunderland complained to the FA that Tottenham had not provided them with the names of their players five days before the game! Before the game people gave credit to Tottenham for their victory over Newton Heath but felt they had little chance against Sunderland. At the end they admitted ‘the game was won and lost on its merits fairly and squarely.’ And of the Spurs ‘Never were men trained to a better pitch of perfection or the tick of the clock.’ The Spurs started at a fast pace ‘the forwards dashed along with the ball at such a rate that they were close up to the goal before you could look around. A fast and even game followed and Spurs slowly became the better team. Sunderland took the lead following a free kick after 25 minutes. After the break ‘Harry Bradshaw received a pass from Smith and banged the ball and his own body into the net’ and required treatment before he could continue. ‘Sunderland’s defence was taxed to the utmost but for some time they were impregnable.’ It was Cameron who scored next when they failed to clear a high ball with twenty minutes left. This made Sunderland come forward and ‘the Spurs custodian has many anxious moments.’ When the whistle went the band struck up and the fans invaded the pitch (5).
The press estimated sixteen to seventeen thousand were present (1) with others hanging from the trees outside the ground. They also said there was so many in the press box it made reporting difficult.
Five days later the manager Frank Brettell (6) left the club and John Cameron took over as player manager. The Third round (the last eight) and we would travel to first division Stoke, both teams experienced training camps in the lead up to the tie. An exciting game in front of more than twenty five thousand, in which Spurs played their part. ‘When in front of goal the Tottenham forwards showed remarkable skill and dash.’ Both sides had a number of chances before Stoke took the lead. The game remained very open but Stoke scored again. In the last few minutes they scored a third, Bradshaw for Spurs before their fourth as we lost 1-4.
Tottenham had certainly enhanced their reputation throughout the country having beaten two league sides and played well against a third. The league form slipped in a season that saw them play 70 games, (winning 36) as they finished seventh in the Southern League.
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Notes – 1 – Bob Goodwin’s The Complete Record. Shows the Luton game at 3,000 and the Sunderland match at 12,371.
2 – The previous year the ground was closed after crowd problems during the Luton game. We will be covering this story in the near future.
3 – The Bank Street Ground, was next to a chemical works and well known for having a foul smell and was regularly referred to as ‘a toxic waste dump.’
4 – The team often used The Royal Hunting Lodge before big games. Dating back to when Henry VIII stayed there and can still be seen today.
5 – The Tottenham Town Band had played before the game and at the break. They played ‘Hail the Conquering Hero.’ A tune they would also play in the next two seasons when Spurs returned home with their first two major trophies.
6 – We will be looking at Frank Brettell in the near future.
7 - Tom Bradshaw is the subject of the Tottenham Mysteries published this week.
Thanks also to - THFC, Sporting Life, Morning Post, Lloyds Weekly Newspaper, St James’s Gazette, Athletic News, Manchester Evening News, Sunderland Daily Echo, Sheffield Telegraph,
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