Hotspur Towers - Tommy Harmer
One of the most talented footballers to play for Tottenham but it could be said he never quite fitted into the style of play that his different managers demanded. The Telegraph called him ‘a very special footballer, a triumph over matter and skill over strength.’
Tommy the man they called Harmer the Charmer played 222 games for Spurs scoring 51 times but he will be remembered as a creator and entertainer with a magical sleight of foot.
Tommy was said to have a mesmeric control of the ball that could help him dominate a game but despite this he never fully earned the faith of his managers. It was felt that under Arthur Rowe he was too static. Rowe wanted the ball (and man) to move quickly and so preferred Eddie Baily as his schemer, while Harmer was at his best holding the ball up and beating his man and good conditions brought the best out of him. When Jimmy Anderson took over he actually dropped Tommy before a cup semi final because he felt the heavy pitch and the imposing opponents would take him out of the game. Something skipper Blanchflower disagreed with. We lost.
Sometimes also known as ‘Tom Thumb’ because of his size, he stood just five feet two inches tall and never weighted more than nine stone, this despite attempts by the club to build up him up through excise and diet, at onetime he was on a beef steak and milk diet.
With a crop of hair he was said to look like a scarecrow in a white shirt. That didn’t stop him getting the better of many defenders who towered over him.
Many witnesses felt he was at his best the day Bill Nicholson took over. Recalled to the side he inspired Spurs to their ten goal haul V Everton in 1958. Scoring one that day he had a hand in nearly everything. Still Nicholson had reservations and in 59/60 moved Tommy to right wing with John White inside him. Nicholson decided he couldn’t accommodate both in the side and Tommy made way. His last game was V Manchester City in April ‘60.
Tommy who had broken into the first team in 1951, thus just missing out of that first Championship winning side now found himself out of the team for the second championship win. That autumn he moved on to Watford. He could have played for a number of first division sides but did not want to move away from London.
Right - Going over the hurdles at WHL.
His talent was wasted in the lower divisions. He did later join Chelsea as player / coach and made a handful of appearances, one against Spurs when he set up both their goals in a 1-2 win.
A local lad, born in 1928, he first joined Spurs as an amateur and in 1945/6 the side won their league and two cup competitions he followed this up the following year with three more trophies. The only representative honours Tommy won was while playing for the British Army during his National Service and then a England B cap away to Holland in 1952. Then came another B game V a British Olympic XI.
Upon his return from the army in 1948 he signed professional forms and played in Tottenham’s first ever game in the Eastern Counties league, a competition our junior sides graced for many years. He quickly moved up to the reserves and in around 100 games scored 51 goals.
Left - He became so nervous before a game he chain smoked. Here with Arthur Rowe.
That first team debut arrived in September 1951 V Bolton when he was cheered from the field having overcome any fan fears that his small frame would prevent him from becoming an asset. That season he scored 17 goals, ten from the penalty spot.
Cliff Jones said of him, that he one of the most talented players in terms of pure skill, a wonderful football brain, and a unity between brain and feet that left him speechless.
In later years he was often seen at White Hart Lane, usually working in the one of the hospitality suites. A well liked man who loved talking about the club with a good sense of humour. Once when the club tried throwing a pair of boots away at the end of a season he claimed they still had hundreds of flicks and back heels in them still.
In 2004 a tribute dinner was held for him. Tommy passed away on Christmas Day 2007.
His tricks were loved by the fans even on the cold days with little else to cheer. A small man who was called a giant of a player.
There is a picture of Tommy preforming on of his favourite ball tricks in -
t- Keith 16024542
f - https://www.facebook.com/keith.harrison.9659
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2/2/2017 10:03:26 am
hardly is the article out when I receive this 'two things about Tommy, one he was a really nice chap, and he loved to talk about Spurs even in those playing days. The other is he was unbelievably skillful. Don't forget this was in the days when the ball had leather panels and laces and when wet became like a medicine ball. If there had been TV coverage in that time his name would be used in the same sentence as Hoddle and Ardiles.'
10/2/2020 05:45:28 pm
I grew up with Tommy Harmer ,he went to London Fields School,he lived in Bocking Street just behind the school,.I have loads of stories of those days.
29/1/2023 12:01:35 am
It is said that Tommy Harmer had the smallest feet of ant professional footballer. Can anyone throw a light on this statement?
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