Tom Morris, not the most famous name in the clubs history but he played an important part in our development and served the club for 43 years. He was a member of the side that won the Southern League and FA Cup.
Tom appeared in more than 500 games for Hotspur. He was involved in the first game at WHL, the first Football League game, the first Division One match and the World Club Championship and that’s just the start of the story.
One of my earliest heroes when I started sitting on the library floor reading everything I could find about Tottenham was Tom Morris. As I explored the clubs early days his name kept cropping up.
Tom was born in Grantham, Lincolnshire in 1875. He played for Grantham Rovers and Gainsborough Trinity, then a Second Division side. Despite several first division sides trying to sign him John Cameron convinced him to join Tottenham. Tom then made his debut for Spurs in the game that officially opened White Hart Lane in September 1899 V Notts County (1). His competitive debut came five days later in the first Southern League game played at the new ground as we beat QPR. The following week he scored his first goal in the away victory at Chatham.
That first season he played a total of 39 games with seven goals. Twenty (out of 28) of those matches were in the Southern League as Tottenham won the title.
He was also a regular in the side that finished second in the Southern District Combination the same season. He topped the season off by playing in the international trial game for England.
The next season despite being injured at the start of the year he played in 39 games, this included being ever present in the side that would win the FA Cup for the first time. He also scored seven more goals in the Southern and Western Leagues.
Tom was recognised as a top half back of his day, although he also played centre half and full back at different times when needed. He was described as a powerfully built, determined hard worker who was never seen to tire, being just as comfortable in defence as attack. It’s said he would cover every blade of grass. He liked to support the attack when possible and processed a powerful shot; he scored a total of 48 goals for Spurs. He was seen at his best helping the defence and was a strong tackler who liked nothing more than winning the ball and bringing it forward before playing the pass rather than just thumping it clear.
He played in both games V Hearts for what was labelled the World Club Championship, (2). Then in 1903 he again took part in the international trial game and was considered unlucky never to have played for his country.
He also took part in the first game that Spurs played international opposition at White Hart Lane and was a member of the party to undertake the first three tours with the club including the famous trip to South America (3).
When Tottenham won election to the Football League he had played more games in the Southern League than any other player for the club, 239 with 21 goals. He was the last surviving first team regular from the 1901 side when he played in the first Football League game played at White Hart Lane (4) when he scored from twenty five yards as we beat the FA Cup holders.
The following season he played in the first Division One game for the club and scored our first goal in the top flight in the defeat at Sunderland. He then played in the next game at Everton and the first game at home to Manchester United (5).
Toms finest moment the 1901 FA Cup winners - Tom middle row, first left.
He would continue to play well into his 30’s before he failed to hold down a first team place. He then played for the reserves until 1913, (when he was 38). At that point he joined the clubs ground-staff and was still active for the club when he died aged 67 in 1942.
The only time he spent away from Spurs was during the First World War when he was wounded on no less than three occasions serving with the Footballers Battalion. Then in the second war he was an air-raid warden. Tom played 523 games for Tottenham, including 63 in the Football League.
Is it any wonder that Tom, who may still wait to be admitted to the Tottenham Hall of Fame, was one of the magical names that stirred that young boys imagination many years ago.
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Notes 1 – http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/hotspur-towers-notts-county-1899
2 - http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/ht-spurs-and-the-world-club-championship
3 - see http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/hotspur-towers-the-early-tours
4 - http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/hotspur-towers-wolves-1908
5 - http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/hotspur-towers-manchester-united-1909
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