In the final part of the Forgotten Years the club’s special training plans don’t go to plan and the club is involved in one of the oddest Cup ties in its history. There is also the most stunning end to the season in the history of the Football League.
Billy Minter's spell in the managers chair is short lived but eventful. His first full season in charge came in the 1927-28 season.
That Cup run that year saw us win at Bristol City (2-1) and at home to Oldham (3-0). We then won 3-0 at Leicester in the Fifth Round. The draw for the quarter finals saw us travel to Huddersfield. In the last five years they had been champions three times and runners up twice in the League.
Left - Action from the Bury game September 1929, a 2-2 draw.
Before the Huddersfield game Minter decided to take the team to Derbyshire and the hills around Buxton to prepare for the game. Much to the surprise and displeasure of the players this special training involves daily long walks in the snow covered hills, without coats. What the idea was we can’t be sure. Possibly Minter was trying to toughen the men up before the game. In that case it backfired. On the day of the game it’s been said by several of the players that there wasn’t one man fit to play. Tommy Clay, a truly tough character was described as being near enough pneumonia as a man can be and still standing. More than fifty two thousand watched Huddersfield go four up in twenty two minutes and five by the break. After the restart Town clearly eased up and the match ended 1-6 and Tottenham returned home to their sick beds (1). Taffy O’Callaghan had scored our goal.
The team returned to action two days later with a game against Cardiff which we won 1-0.
This in a season that saw Spurs register a 5-3 win at home to West Ham, Burnley 5-0 (H)
5-2 away at Everton (who would be champions) as well as a number of heavy defeats.
Left - Frank Osbourne on England duty.
However the strangest end to a season was about to unfold. At a time when 33 points were seen as making a team safe Tottenham went down with 38. Never before had had any team in any division been relegated with as many points. Tottenham were only six points behind Derby, who finished fourth. Tottenham finished in 21st place above McWilliam’s Middlebourgh by one point. Seven ! teams finished on 39, one point above Tottenham.
The story gets even more bizarre when you discover at Easter we were seventh in the table. We had 35 points from as many games. The fans were dreaming of their highest finish since 1922’s second place. Everyone thought Sheffield Wednesday were doomed. As they were five points adrift at the bottom and ten games to play. But it was Wednesday, inspired by Jimmy Seed who we sold to them a year earlier who beat us twice over Easter, Seed scoring in both games. With just seven points from the last twelve games Tottenham should still be safe unless everything went against them and Minter could try rebuilding the next season.
Right - Another great forward - Ted Harper.
In what seems weird to us these days of synopsis fixtures Tottenham actually finished their games before the other teams and even headed off to Holland on tour (2) leaving the other teams to play the season out. Wednesday on 39 had climbed to 14th (and the following year Seed would lead them to the Championship). Every possible result had gone against Tottenham and they were relegated whilst they were not even in the country.
The fans screamed for changes and investment and during the long summer and remembered that the club had only ever been in the Second Division twice before and both times it had been for one season only. This time however their hopes of a quick return would be dashed as promotion eluded them. The season started with a 4-1 win at home over Oldham and then on the Monday McWilliams’s brought Middlebourgh to White Hart Lane and went home after winning 5-2. Middlesbourgh would win the Division that season whilst Tottenham finished in 10th. Whilst they managed seventy five goals in their 42 games they conceded eighty one.
Above - Arthur Grimsdell before the Bradford City game 1925. Strangely he had played in the same amateur team as both the Bradford captain AND the referee.
Once again Tottenham found themselves with several aging players Clay and Grimsdell, who never fully recovered his true form from his broken leg had been great servants but time was catching up with them. We exited the FA Cup at the Third Round. Maybe fate was enjoying itself but there was a little cup joy as in 1929 we won the London FA Charity Cup. Having overcome London Caledonians, QPR and Charlton on the way to the final. This was played at Highbury where we beat Millwall 5-1. Harper scoring a hat trick and O’Callaghan and Armstrong also scoring to win the trophy.
In March Ted Harper had been signed from Sheffield Wednesday for 5,500, a large fee for Tottenham at the time. Whilst Harper performed well for Tottenham the fans had hoped for more exciting purchases. Harper, a Scottish international had been the leagues top scorer in 1926 managed eleven goals in eleven games. He would end with 63 goals in just 67 league and cup games for Tottenham. He would also set a record later in 1931 of 36 league goals in a season (playing in just 30 games) which stood for many years.
The season’s low note came at Hull on April 15th. The result was a 1-1 draw and Harper scored. However only 4.139 people turned up making this the lowest attendance for a Tottenham game since World War One.
Right - The programme for the Chelsea game 20th April 1929.
The Chelsea Pensioner is looking at the Cockerels plumage and thinking how good it would be to have one of his feathers in his cap.
The decade came to a conclusion as the 1929-30 season saw Minter struggling, an extensive injury list would not help his cause. Minter a true Tottenham man knowing the task was beyond him offered his resignation at the start of November. Despite their lowly position Tottenham received over one hundred applicants for the manager’s job and in January 1930 appointed Percy Smith from Bury. Minter would take the post of Assistant Secretary and stay with the club he loved and had joined in 1913 until his death in 1940.
Tottenham would finish the season 12th. This is the lowest finish in their entire history, (3). Harper finished with fourteen goals in nineteen games, nobody else reached double figures. The season had its high points five goals at Millwall six at home to Blackpool (Smith’s first league game in charge, having seen the team bow out of the Cup in a Third Round replay). A total of 59 goals for and 61 against in 42 games tell the story. Too many silly points lost both home and away.
Below - Tottenham 1929-30.
The line up for the Team picture above is - Row 1. Bill Bann, Jack Reddish, Len Davis, Harry Wilding, Cyril Spiers, Joe Nicholls, Allan Taylor, Cecil Poynton, Harry Garbutt, Frank Osborne, Andy Thompson, inset FJ Bearman (director)
Row 2. G Hardy (trainer), J Darnell (asst. trainer), B Ives (asst. trainer), Tom Meads, Tommy Cable, Darkie Lowdell, Alex Lindsay, Harry Skitt, Jimmy Armstrong, Bert Smith, Baden Herod, Jimmy Dimmock, Ted Harper, Frank Hartley, Matt Forster, HG Crellin (asst. secretary), J Anderson (asst. trainer), W Over (groundsman)
Row 3. W Minter (manager), AW Turner (secretary), CD Roberts (chairman), Walter Bellamy, Arthur Crompton, Nat Griffiths, Joe Scott, Billy Cook, Taffy O'Callaghan, MF Cadman (vice-chairman), G Cox (director), G Wagstaffe Simmons (director)
Row 4. Jimmy Smy, Tom Evans, Arthur Rowe, Jack Illingworth.
Our only internationals in the period covered by this series were Taffy O’Callaghan who played for Wales twice in 1929 scoring once. Taffy would win nine more caps after the start of the 1930’s. Whilst for England Arthur Grimsdell would win his last (6th) Cap in 1923 and captained the side in the same game for the third time. Jimmy Dimmock would win two of his three caps and Jimmy Seed four of his five and score his only international goal V Belgium.
The decade that started so gloriously would end on a low. However if this was the low point, therefore the only way forward must be (if slowly) up. The fans wondered what the 1930’s would bring.
t- Keith 16024542
f- peter shearman (old non de plume)
Additional thanks - THFC, Phil Soar, Bob Goodwin, Julian Holland
Notes - 1 - Once again some accounts differ in how the game was played out and the timing of the goals, these notes are made from records made at the time and therefore I suspect a lot more accurate.
2 - A closer look at Tottenham on Tour will appear in the new year.
3 - Yet Again, some sources record this as 14th, want else can I say other than learn to count or get a new proof reader.
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