In this final part we turn out attention to Bill Nicholson's first full season in charge and Spurs got off to a flying start as we won 5-1 at Newcastle and Cliff Jones banged in a hat trick and Bill Brown made his debut. We actually went 12 games undefeated at the start of the season, the trouble was 6 of them were draws (four at home) and they would prove costly. In September we went to Old Trafford and won 5-1 which put us top of the table. The same month we won 5-1 at home to Preston. Then on October 10th we ran up four fourth 5-1 of the season at home to the champions Wolves, Bobby Smith hit four goals that day. The press were singing our praises but wondered if we could keep going once the weather turned bad and the pitches heavy.
The following weekend saw our first defeat 1-2 at Sheffield Wednesday which also saw John White score on his debut. John replaced Dave Dunmore who would only play one more game for us. Len Worley made his debut at outside right in his only ever Spurs game as Medwin was playing for Wales alongside Mel Hopkins and Cliff Jones (1).
The following weekend we beat Nottingham Forest at home 2-1, Smith scoring both. Harmer and White combining to set up the second. They did however tend to cover the same ground and the combination never seemed to blend as well as hoped. At the start Mel Hopkins broke his nose playing for Wales in Scotland (2) and Henry came into the side. The next weekend saw a workman like Bolton come to the Lane defend in numbers and score twice from long balls out of defence. This was followed by a 0-1 defeat at Luton which saw Spurs slip from the top of the table.
December saw Les Allen (shooting left) join us from Chelsea’s reserves and Johnny Brooks go the other way. Les played at inside left and White switched to the right wing. Allen made his debut in the 4-0 home win over Newcastle on the 19th.
The next game on Boxing Day saw him score twice in a 4-2 win at Leeds which saw Tottenham top the table again and stay there until the closing weeks.
The New Year started with a win at Birmingham and then a 4-0 at Newport in the Cup who we met for the second season running. Then we had two home wins over Arsenal 3-0 and then Manchester United 2-1. The Arsenal game saw Harmer set up all three goals in dreadful conditions. The second goal was outstanding and talked about for years as Tommy dribbled a good thirty yards splashing through the mud, one report said the defence were like rabbits caught in the headlights then at the end of his run he laid on the finish for Smith.
We then traveled to Crewe away in the Cup and drew 2-2 and they had chances to win the tie. Bill Nicholson must not have been impressed as Tottenham showed their best form in the replay which ended 13-2. The story of this record scoring match has previously been discussed (4) Tottenham then only managed one point from the next two games and lost at home to Blackburn in the Fifth Round of the Cup. Weirdly the next game saw us travel to Blackburn and win 4-1.
Right in the gym with Bill Watson - Bill Brown, Maurice Norman, Terry Medwin, Ron Henry, Les Aleen Dave Mackay.
see - Hotspur Towers - Russia 1959.
Another Jones hat trick came in the home win over Wednesday. Then after a win over Forest away the mud seemed to catch up with Spurs gaining two points from four games. The third a draw at Luton on 2nd April saw Wolves draw level with us on points and Burnley close behind. Allen seemed to have completely lost confidence and was dropped and wouldn’t play again that season. With six games to play Spurs and Wolves both had 47 points.
Tottenham were then hit with another Club V Country problem. It’s amazing now to think that on the same day as they played the 37th game of the season England travelled to Glasgow to play Scotland. Scotland had asked us to release all three of our players for the game. The Spurs Directors declined as we were still hopefully of landing the title. Nicholson recalled the players being upset and the team seemed below par as we lost 1-2 at Everton. The game also saw John Smith’s debut. John a promising inside forward had joined from West Ham with Dunmore going the other way.
Things picked up with our trip to Chelsea and a 3-1 win and Bobby Smith fired a hat trick against his old side. This came on Good Friday. At that time teams three games over the weekend. Disaster struck during the home game with Manchester City the next day which was lost 0-1. Tottenham threw everything at City but couldn’t score. Then on the stroke of half time we won penalty after they handled. Cliff Jones stepped up and saw his shot saved but ran forward and fired the rebound home. The ref disallowed the goal saying he had blown for halftime between the save and Jones scoring. The teams left the pitch level even if most of the fans did not realize it. The second half and again Tottenham pressed and then City grabbed the only goal of the game. Things got worse as the other results came in. Three teams were now level on points and Spurs had three games to play, Wolves four and Burnley five.
On the Monday Nicholson brought back Dyson who had not played since October and dropped Harmer in a rearranged forward line. The game was lost 0-1 to Chelsea. Their goal coming from a young teenager called Jimmy Greaves who scored when he picked up the ball in his own half and tore through our defence.
The press wondered if Tottenham had the mental strength to bring the title south, could they stand up under pressure. This despite many saying we still played the best football.
Tottenham travelled to Molyneux for the next game against Wolves who were in the Cup Final and the talk was that they would take the Double. Spurs took the field and Blanchflower who normally gave the captains talk in the dressing room called the players together and delivered it on the pitch on a hot sunny afternoon with fifty six thousand in the ground. Mackay had missed the Chelsea game and returned at inside left with Medwin dropped. Tottenham raced into a second minute lead after Jones and Blanchflower linked up before Smith fired us into the lead. They drew level when Brown couldn’t hold a shot and Broadbent hit the rebound. Spurs went back in front when Smith moved wide and centered for Mackay to head home. The second half saw us get a third when Cliff Jones launched himself forward to head home. That day also saw the first rendition of Glory, Glory Hallelujah (5) by the fans although it would not be adopted completely until the European campaign two years later.
That night Wolves had 52 points, Spurs 51, both had a game to play. Burnley in third had 50 points but held two games in hand.
Tottenham’s last game that season was at home to Blackpool and we won 4-1. Then the news came through that Wolves had also won. Burnley however took five points from their three games to snatch the title on the rails, Tottenham finishing third. We had scored one goal more than the champions and conceded eleven less, just 50 in 42 games. Bobby Smith was again our top with 30 in the league and cup. Jones was next with 25, Allen 15 (8 in the cup) and Mackay 11.
The following weekend Wolves won the Cup Final beating Blackburn 3-0. If not for Tottenham’s win at Wolves they would have taken the Double a year ahead of us.
Bill Nicholson was deeply disappointed not to have taken the title but knew we were not far off from what was needed. With no summer tour, just one game lined up away to Juventus in May (6) he spent the break planning his strategy and fine tuning dead ball situations and did not delve into the transfer market. The team that had played that last game contained ten of the players that would start the next season. The missing man was Les Allen who would replace Tony Marchi come the following August with Mackay moving back into the half back line. The fans had enjoyed their season and many dreamt that the following season, 1960/61, might just be their year. To end I’ll quote Nicholson’s autobiography ‘I was optimistic.’
t- Keith 16024542
f- peter shearman (old non de plume)
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Notes -1 – England and Wales drew 1-1 in Cardiff, England’s goal coming from Chelsea’s Jimmy Greaves.
2 – Wales played another 1-1 draw. Brown, Mackay and White were all in the Scottish side that day. Hopkins won 2 caps that season, Jones and Medwin 3 each. Scotland including their summer tour, Brown would win 5 caps, Mackay 6 and White 4. Blanchflower won three caps for Northern Ireland. No Tottenham player won an England cap that season.
4 - Platform 13 –http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/platform-13
5 –Hotspur Towers 24 - http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/hotspur-towers-24
6 – Tottenham lost 0-2 in Turin. The only other friendly of note that season was in November when we beat Moscow Torpedo 3-2 at home in a return match following our tour of Russia. See ‘Connections – Italy’ and ‘Russia 1959’.
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