In part 2 of the Forgotten Years we discover a goal scorer record breaker as we top the Football League for the first time. There is a major change in the laws and we lose our England captain to injury. There is also a change in manager but not our fortunes. However the 1925-26 season could not have got off to a better start with a 1-0 win away to Arsenal.
left - Tottenham 1924.
That season saw a change to the off-side law. Now a man was only off side if one opponent instead of two was between him and the goal. The idea had worked in Scotland and it would speed up the game and reduce the number of stoppages. Which it did in the first season then players had worked out how to us it to their defensive advantage. This led to a major tactical change in how the game was played. The center half now became a defender. This left much more room for the inside forwards to operate in. Jimmy Seed was one of the first to use this to his advantage. Tottenham would win their first four games and draw the fifth. At the start of October Tottenham actually headed the table for the first time in their history.
Then in the game at Leicester Arthur Grimsdell broke his leg and was out for not just the rest of the season but the whole of the next, apart from the last two games. Grimsdell was the leader of the side, and had captained England. The team missed him badly and slowly sunk away and again failed to finish in the top half coming 12th. Even then we were again the top London side. September saw Huddersfield Town who would be champions come to the Lane and draw 5-5 ! Elkes 2, Osbourne, Dimmock and Clay with a penalty score our goals.
Frank Osbourne who had joined us for 1,500 from Fulham during the previous season hit 25 goals in 39 league games. At the end of October he scored a hat trick at home to Liverpool, and followed this up with hat tricks in our next two games Leicester away (the Grimsdell match) and West Ham at home. Frank is the only Tottenham player to hit three hat tricks in concussive matches. He is also the first Tottenham man to play for England having been born outside the UK in South Africa where his father was a Colonel in the Army. Frank was a versatile player and played across a number of forward positions for both club and country. He won four full caps, two at Spurs. In his last game he hit a hat trick V Belgium and wasn’t chosen again. (1)
Above - Arthur Grimsdell is described as " one of the best football captains in the country besides being a half back of pure distinction".
In the FA Cup we started with a 5-0 win over West Ham and then played our last ever Second Round game in the competition. A 2-2 draw with Manchester United who would win the replay. The following season the competition was re-organized and the top tier teams entered in the Third Round.
Moving on to 1926-27 and we again started well with wins against Everton and a 7-3 defeat of Sheffield Wednesday. That opening day saw a goal scoring debut for John (known as Jimmy) Blair who playing number 8 or 9 scored eleven times in twenty nine games that year. Nine coming in the first 11 games before he was injured. We had signed him from Third Lanark after the transfer closing date the previous season. Upon his return he struggled with form and the emergence of Taffy O’Callaghan who made his debut in the January. Blair would endear himself to club historians when on 29th January he was the first Tottenham player to be sent off in a League match in the at Huddersfield. That early promise quickly disappeared and Tottenham would finish 13th.
Right - Wilie Evans and Taffy O'Callaghan.
Willie was chosen to play for England before he informed them he was Welsh. He later played for his own country and over 200 times for Spurs before injury ended his career. Taffy (Eugene) like Willie worked down the coal pits before becoming a footballer. Also a Welsh international and played over 300 games for the club.
In the February manager Peter McWilliam had been approached by Middlesbourgh in the Second Division. They offered him 1,500 a year. At that time Peter was on 850 at Spurs. He was also on a weekly contract (in the clubs defence that was his idea). He did not want to leave Tottenham and asked the board if they would raise his salary to 1,000 a year still much less than he had been offered. The Board declined and he left . McWilliam who had led the side to its glorious start to the decade and struggled within a tight budget since would return to the club eleven years later. Before he left McWilliam gave Billy Minter a crash course in management who stepped up from trainer. Minter had joined the club in 1907 and been a star player (2) before becoming trainer of the 1921 Cup wining side. The club recruited George Hardy from Arsenal to take his place as trainer.
Left - Action from the West Ham game away in April 1927. That's Tottenham keeper Britton in our 2-1 win.
John (Jock) Britton one of the many goalies we used in the decade as we tried to find a settled defence. Britton again below facing the camera.
Minter would oversee two of the biggest talking points in that chapter of the clubs history. The first was the sale of Jimmy Seed. Seed had been injured and his place taken by a young O’Callaghan who played above expectations. Taffy had also come across from Northfleet and was labeled the Boy Wonder due to his never rending running and demanding of the ball.
When Seed recovered he couldn’t get back into the side. He himself admitted it wouldn’t be fair on Taffy. Jimmy decided to move rather than play in the reserves. He applied for the manager’s job at Aldershot but Tottenham would not release him and said they had something else planned (3).
Shortly after Tottenham agreed to sell Seed to Sheffield Wednesday in what can only be described as one of the biggest transfer blunders in the club’s history. It has regularly been compared to letting Pat Jennings go to Arsenal many years later. This wasn’t just hindsight as many fans at the time were outraged at the sale.
The following season Seed was to return with Wednesday and cast Tottenham down into the Second Division in the most incredible finish to the Football League to this day.
The other major event in Minter’s rein came in the FA Cup run the following season that saw us reach the last eight and become involved in one of the oddest games in our Cup history. The 1927-28 season and both these events are investigated in the final part of the series.
t- Keith 16024542
f- peter shearman (old non de plume)
Notes -1 - Frank was later sold to Southampton, before joining the Board at Fulham. He then stepped down and became their manager and led them to promotion from the third to the first divisions. His brother also played for England.
2 - Minter is featured in the 100 Club.
3 - Jimmy’s brother Alex did become their manager in his place.
Additional thanks - THFC, Bob Goodwin, Phil Soar, Julian Holland
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