This weeks Hotspur Towers looks back to when Tottenham met Scottish opposition for the first time. It was against the Heart of Midlothian club, commonly known as Hearts, in 1901. The game was billed as the World Club Championship, although this was not recognized as such by either of the clubs football associations. It did follow on from a series of previous World Club Championship matches, which we will return to. Tottenham were still a Southern League side but had won the FA Cup the season before and clearly wanted to start their new season with a showpiece game with the Scottish Cup holders.
Tottenham certainly indulged in a little early marketing with the aid of the press to encourage fans to attend the game at White Hart Lane. They claimed that not since 1897 had the ‘title’ been competed for. Both teams displayed their national cups prior to kick-off, top image. The match was played on Monday 1st September (5.45 kickoff) the week before the English season started.
This from the Hearts supporters club archive, “It was totally unofficial but Spurs did it with a bit of style, neither FA was involved but Spurs marketed the game very well and got a big crowd. The official attendance for the first match in London was given as 10,000 but was probably nearer 12,000 (1) as Hearts’ half share of the gate money was £146, with fans paying sixpence each.” It further reports that Tottenham proved good hosts. “They gave Hearts lavish treatment. They were piped on to the pitch by the Scots Guards band and the players and officials were well looked after.” Hearts stayed at the Covent Garden Hotel and traveled home overnight by rail in a saloon car, which they had hired for the club’s private usage at a cost of £2. The Hearts’ official minutes show that the players voted it their best trip.
The Scottish Herald previewing the game said it ‘promises to be a rather interesting affair.’ The game itself was a 0-0 draw. Tottenham fielded the same side that had won the FA Cup the season before, Clawley, Erentz, Tait, Morris, Hughes, Jones, Smith, Cameron, Brown, Copeland and Kirwan. Hearts making a couple of chances from the one that had won the Scottish Cup.
Tottenham's player/manager John Cameron (2), you will be aware was Scottish as were his team mates Henry Erentz, Alexander Tait, Sandy Brown and David Copeland,
Tottenham kicked off and according to one report ‘were better together at the start and attacked hotly.” The Edinburgh Evening Post continues “both forward lines put in some very pretty work, the combination on either side being extremely neat.” Later on it states that Hearts were on top for much of the second half but “the defence was capital on both sides.” It concludes that “the English Cup holders, form seeing it was their first match was good enough to suggest that when they settle down they will be a very dangerous side.’ Another report suggests that Crawley was in fine form in the Spurs goal. The reports agree that Spurs fell away towards the end of the game and put this down to lack of fitness and practice. The Heart's league season had started on the 17th August. Most reports suggest the game ended in deteriorating light whilst one states that it ended early due to the darkness.
A return game was arranged and played at Tynecastle on January 2nd. For Hearts this came only twenty four hours after their traditional Edinburgh New Year derby game with Hibernian. Tottenham had last played on the 28th. The Spurs game drew a crowd of 8,000, which was larger than the derby match (1). Hearts this time defeated Spurs fairly comfortably, winning 3-1 with goals from Charlie Thomson, Bobby Walker and Tom Lorne. Thomson and Walker were established internationals and Walker in particular was regarded as one of the finest players in Europe at that time.
left - Tom Morris
Tottenham scored a late goal from a penalty taken by Tom Morris. The team that day showed three changes from the first game, Griffiths in goal, McNaught for Hughes and Gilhooley for Cameron. James McNaught and Patrick Gilhooley were both Scots.
The stronger Scottish side had the better of the action and the press reported ‘the Londoners were most effective in combination.’ ‘Hearts however did most of the shooting and tested Griffiths’ abilities.’
Hearts would finish the season in third place while Tottenham were runners up in three competitions, the Southern League, the Western League and the London League.
right - The programme from the game at White Hart Lane.
How could this game have been described as the World Club Championship? Well the idea isn’t quite as strange as it might first appear. It should be noted that at this time The English and Scottish leagues were the just about the only organized competitions in football. The earliest league competition outside of the UK is thought to have been organized by British and Irish expats in Argentina around 1891. Uruguay followed suit in 1900.
The first ‘World Club Championship’ match had taken place in August thirteen years earlier in 1887 when Hibernian had beaten Preston North End in Edinburgh 2-1. The following May Renton, a small club from just outside Glasgow, retained the trophy for the Scots by defeating West Bromwich Albion 4-1 in a game played in Glasgow. There was a trophy presented and this is currently on display (left) at the Scottish National football Museum at Hampden Park.
Despite what the press said at the time similar publicity had been used for another ‘unofficial’ match which had been played in 1895. The trophy was not at stake and Sunderland traveled to Tynecastle and overcame Hearts 5-3 in front of a crowd of 12,000.
t- Keith 16024542
f- peter shearman (old non de plume)
Notes – 1 - The attendances here are taken from the Scottish press, Bob Goodwin in his Complete Record gives the figures as 12,000 and 4,000.
2 – Hotspur Towers 32- John Cameron
For further competitive games against Scottish opposition see - Hotspur Towers 19- The Coronation Cup.
Watch out for, Connections - Scotland and our meeting with Glasgow Rangers in the European Cup Winners Cup, both scheduled for next month.
Special thanks to David Speed at Hearts FC, without whom this article would of proved impossible.
Thanks also to - The London Hearts Supporters Club, Sunderland FC, The Scotsman, The Scottish Herald, Bob Goodwin, The Edinburgh Evening Post, Western Daily Press, Shelfsidespurs, Scottish National football Museum.
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