After the triumph’s of the previous few years described in 'Tottenham and the Roaring 20's', including the highest ever finish in the League by a London club, the first London club to win the FA Cup since we won it 20 years earlier as well as another semi-final, Tottenham slipped away from the top but the remainder of that decade still produced a number of tales worth recalling including the first time we ever topped the Football League table. There was the most bizarre end to a season in the League’s history. In the Cup we had one of the best ties ever seen and also one of the oddest. There was also a reprimand from the FA and a major change in the Laws of the game.
Left - Two of our greatest legends Arthur Grimsdell and Fanny Walden.
The genesis of this article stems from readers asking what happened next? after I wrote ‘Tottenham and the Roaring 20’s’ (1) that looked at the second great team in our clubs history and their successes at the start of that decade. Certainly from a trophy point of view the next years could be described as disappointing. There were still a number of stories arising from that period both on and off the field that helped shape the club at that time and for the years to follow. If your wondering about the title, it came from a comment made during a conversation discussing the period last summer with a couple of Tottenham fans who whilst pre-dating me still don’t go quite back that far.
The next season, 1922-23, saw Tottenham slump to 12th in the league (2) and exit the Cup at the 4th Round. The defence remained reasonably strong but there was a lack of goals, something that haunted us throughout that time. Only fifty goals came from the 42 league matches and the same number conceded. The year before it was 65-39. Nor did we manage to score more than three times in any game. The problem lay in our home form failing to win on ten occasions and losing seven of them.
Left - Bert Smith,
Smith first played for us as a guest in World War One and later signed for us. A member of the team that saw success in the Second Division title win and the FA Cup triumph. Playing over 300 League and Cup games for us he later became a coach at the Northfleet nursery and coached in Switzerland.
The FA Cup on the other hand started with a goalless draw with non-league Workshop Town at White Hart Lane (3), and they hit the bar, before we dispatched them 9-0 in the Monday night replay. This included four by Alex Lindsey who only managed 11 in 34 league games as the season’s top scorer. Handley also scored a hat trick that night and repeated the feat in the Second Round as we beat Manchester United 4-0 at home. Charlie ‘Tich’ Handley was an Edmonton lad and had played in the same school team as Jimmy Dimmock. Handley could play anywhere across the forward line which properly restricted his appearances. He managed 131 games for Tottenham before leaving in 1929.
We then won at Cardiff before drawing Derby County at home in the Sixth Round. That game saw Tottenham miss so many chances that one report called it criminal negligence. Derby stole the only goal and the tie. After such great Cup exploits at the start of the 20’s we would not reach the last eight again for five years.
Right - Jack Elkes playing for the FA XI in Western Australia, 1925
The fans called upon the Board to spent and bring in the players required to maintain the high standards that had been set at the start of the decade. The Board declined having spent much of the income from their Cup success on purchasing he Red House in the High Road and ground improvements. They wanted to bring through players from the youth set up. This would produce good results but sadly not for some years. We have previously mentioned how Northfleet United in Kent became our Nursery Club.
The following year of 1923-24 brought little of note as we slipped to 15th in the table. There was little to cheer about except we finished above Arsenal taking three points off them (still two for a win) and Chelsea were relegated. We still only managed 50 goals in 42 games this time conceding 56. Alex Lindsey again top scored managing 20, almost double his previous season’s tally. Frank Osbourne was signed from Fulham in the January but managed just one goal that season. Another debutant that season was Cecil Poynton who would stay with the club for more than 50 years ending up as trainer / Physio for the great team of the early 60’s.
That summer saw another change this time in the Board Room. T.A. Deacock died suddenly. He had been a Board member since 1913. He was replaced by C. Wagstaffe Simmons. Simmons a qualified referee and he had been a lineman in the 1903 Cup Final. He was also a member of the FA Council and a journalistic. As a football historian he wrote an interesting insightful history of the club.
left - Jimmy Seed in action in the Derby Cup tie, 1923
Tottenham found themselves in trouble during 1924-25. After beating Northampton in the Cup we were drawn with Bolton. After a foul on one of our players a beer bottle (empty) was thrown on to the pitch in the Second Round game. The referee picked it up and handed it over to our grounds man, John Over. After the match the FA ordered Spurs to issue notices stating that any further incidents would mean the ground being closed. They even reprimanded John Over for not saving the bottle even though the ref gave it to him to dispose of. The game ended in a 1-1 draw with Jimmy Seed scoring for us and we won the replay. That goal coming from another local lad, Bill Lane who also came through from Northfleet. (4). He would score eight times in twenty one games that year.
That first Bolton game was called the best match seen at our ground for many a year and no Spurs performance would match it again until 1951 (a 7-0 win over Newcastle). The game was described as a perfect football display by both sides. As the game came to its conclusion a draw seemed the fairest result. Then Dimmock went across to take a corner. Jimmy Seed took up a position at the far side on the edge of the box. The historian Julian Holland claims the goal was scored the moment he took the kick. He directed the ball with an inch accurate lob on to Seeds head and to nod it home was an almost superfluous gesture. Bolton were the better team in the replay and Tottenham’s hero was goalie Fred Hinton, a former Bolton man. Just after half time Spurs broke forward and Seed scored. He later said ‘they were all over us. We were fantastically lucky to win, it was quite unjust.’ Our luck ran out in the next round a goal up at home to Blackburn they equalized with the last kick of the game and then won the replay.
It was another disappointed league campaign as we were the top London club but still in 12th place, winning just 15 times in the 42 games. For those noting these things we actually scored 52 times (Seed topped with 17) and the defence improved conceding just 43, with just two coming in the first five games. One item to note was previously league games tended to have the return the following week this season saw the fixtures ’jumbled’ up for the first time.
left - Jimmy Seed again, leading out the team V Northampton for the FA Cup game 1925.
That summer saw Tottenham undertake their first summer tour since before the first world war when they headed to Switzerland and earned rave reviews from the local press for their performances, (5). The FA also sent a team to Australia for a three month tour and included several Tottenham players. In part 2 we start the season by beating Arsenal away, there is a major change in the way the game is played. Tottenham top the table and there is tragedy ahead.
t- Keith 16024542
f- peter shearman (old non de plume)
Notes - 1 - Tottenham and the Roaring 20’s link -http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/ht36-tottenham-and-the-roaring-20s-part-1
2 - Believe it or not there are references that even get this fact wrong. Indeed whilst researching and cross checking I discovered an endless supply of boobs, from even well
known sources. Whilst we are all human maybe proof reading is a lost art.
3 - We were drawn away but the game was played at Tottenham.
4 - Bill’s great claim to fame came after he left Spurs and he scored a hat trick in three minutes for Watford.
5 - We will be looking at Tottenham on Tour in the New Year.
Thanks also - THFC, Bob Goodwin, Julian Holland
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