In the previous two articles, ‘Two Seasons’ and ‘Five Seasons,’ we explored Tottenham’s early adventures and sucesses in the Football League and the period leading up to start of First World War.
In this final part of the mini-series we turn our attention to what happened to the club during that conflict. How the club survived and that in turn led to the events previously described in “Tottenham and the Roaring 20’s.”
Today we go back to the years 1916-1919 and “Ten things you don’t know about…The Lost Years.”
1. When it became clear that the war wasn’t going to over by Christmas, the Football League suspended the League. Despite the govenrments urging the game to contune. At the same time they did not like teams travelling long distances. Regional Leagues were formed. At this point the Football Legue seeing competitions come into existant they did have control over threatened to expell any teams taking part in them. Only when the FA and the government applied pressure did the FL relent. Thus the 1915 -16 season saw the introduction of the London Football Combination. Whilst the results hardly matter this was a time when clubs fought to survive. Tottenham managed to field a team which many others failed to do so. Although it did mean like all clubs the use of guest players.
2 - One particular game of note fell on March 4th 1916 when Spurs beat Arsenal for the first time at Highbury. That team having moved north of the river in September 1913. We won 3-0 with Barton, Banks and Bliss scoring.
3 – As the 1916-17 season started WHL was taken over by the Ministry of Munitions for war work. Using the West Stand and temporary buildings appeared on the terracing where the East Stand now stands. Our home games were split between Highbury and Homerton. Thus in that season we played Arsenal four times. Our home games were played at Highbury a 4-1 win and at Homerton a 0-0. Then in 1917/18 we also played home matches at Upton Park and in 1919 even Stamford Bridge.
4 – The Club’s future Chairman Fred Bearman made one appearance as a player for Spurs playing at Inside left. It came on December 30th. 1916. In a London Football Combination game at Home (Highbury) V Watford. Tottenham won 3-0. Fred would be a Director for more than 50 years and was the Chairman at the time we won the Double. Standing down at the end of that season.
5. The war time games saw lots of goals. On one occasion we put ten past Portsmouth in our home game (at Highbury) with Jimmy Banks (left) getting five. He totalled 67 during this period. Whilst his team mate Bertie Bliss racked up 63. Guest player Ted bassett fom Notts County managed 36 goals for us.
6 - Amongst the many guest players for the club during that time was Alex Lindsay ( top ) and Bert Smith who would both later sign for us.
Eric Tomkins from Northampton made over thirty guest appearnaces for Tottenham during the war. Playing in all three half back positions. Eric had played (left back) in the first ever schoolboy international England V Wales in 1907.
Kenneth Hunt the only ordinaded minister to play for England was another guest player.
7 - There were no cup competitions during WW1 but in 1918 -19 we did play in the Victory Cup beating West Ham at home (Higbury) and then losing to Fulham in the semi-final at home at Stamford Bridge.
8 - Away from the Lane, The Sportsman Newspaper from December 1914 reveals that Tottenham servants George Bowler and William John Oliver were early enlisters in the Footballers Batalion. Wing Half, George spent most of his time at Tottenham, 1913-19, in the reserves. William had two spells at Spurs 1908 – 09 and returning in 1913 until the outbreak of war. He also featured mostly for the reserve side. He was discharged form the army in 1916 after being injured and unfit for service. He was awarded the Silver War Badge in 1916.
9 - Since compiling Hotspur Towers 23, I’ve discovered references to two other former Tottenham players who served during the war. James Chalmers, an outside left who featured during our Southern League days at the start of the century. He made just 26 starts for Spurs scoring 5 times. The second is Ernie Coquet, Ernie was with us from 1908-11. He made 78 league starts for us and 8 more in the FA Cup where he scored his only goal for the club. Normally a right back he did also play at left back. He left us to join Port Vale then in the Central league and he died in 1946.
10 - 1914 saw Tommy clay sign for us and he played 351 games for Spurs with 24 goals. He retired in 1929 having won four England caps. The first was at Highbury V Wales in 1920 his next three caps came over the next two years.
With the end of the war football resumed and soon Tottenham would be celebrating the wonderful team that Peter McWiliam build in the early 1920’s.
t- Keith 16024542
f- peter shearman (old non de plume)
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