The events covered in this mini-series follow on from those described in ‘A Victorian Hotspur’. As we turn our attention on to the years that followed Tottenham’s move from the Marshes to the first private enclosure at the Northumberland Park ground, commonly known as the ‘The Park.’
Tottenham now had much more control over its own fortunes and destiny and those next few years would see several giant leaps forward in the clubs development both on and off the field of play. Thus at the start of that 1888-89 season (that would also see the Football League formed) Spurs opened their account at The Park with a second XI game against Stratford St. Johns in the London Junior Cup on October 6th. A game that is said to have taken seventeen shillings in gate money (1) and resulted in a home win by 4-1.
The first team having started the season with a 1-0 win away to Royal Arsenal played their first game on the new pitch on 13th October in a London Senior Cup game against the legendary Old Etonians one of the top amateur sides of the day. The score was 2-3 at the half but then their age, size and experience told and Spurs lost 2-8. This was no disgrace as the Etonians had reached the FA Cup final eight times and won it as recently as 1882 whilst our side were still mostly in their teens, our scorers that day was Bobby Buckle and Tom Purdie. Admission to the game was six pence, (2).
Our other cup competition that season saw us draw 0-0 with the Civil Engineers before losing the replay in the Middlesex Cup. We have records of just 18 games that season (3). The first known win (at the fourth attempt) at the new ground was on 24th November when we beat Plaistow from Kent 4-0. That season also saw Tottenham win its first representative honours when Jack Jull was chosen to play for Middlesex.
If progress on the field was slow but steady then there were developments off it. In 1889 Spurs became a full member of the Football Association, at the cost of one guinea. It also saw Joseph Howard the local MP become a patron of the club whilst local tradesmen sensing customers offered their support. The ground also saw its first representative match, The London Medal game between the North and the South.
This picture taken in 1893 shows past and present. Different sources give slightly differing identification's. Julian Holland in his history of the club gives the order of players in the second rank in a different order. From J.Jull (the player with the Middlesex badge) Godfrey, R Bullock, then A Norris (certainly correct), J Jull Snr., F Dexter, C,Monk, J Thompson jr.,
Those first seasons at Northumberland Park would see us complete in various cup competitions and friendly games. Slowly the club was engaging with stronger more established sides. March 1890 saw us travel to Swindon, (holders of the Wiltshire Challenge Cup).
May 1890, and the AGM at the Red Lion Public House heard the side described as ‘this rising and popular local club’ and ‘The club at the present time is in a flourishing condition with a balance of over eleven pounds in hand.’
The following season we met QPR for the first time drawing away and winning the London Senior Cup replay 2-1. The scorers that day were Bobby Buckle and William Hartson both club founders. The crowd for the replay was 350 and is one of the first games with a recorded gate. We then overcame Barking and Barnes in the next rounds before losing to Millwall.
1891 also saw the first of an annual charity fixture between Edmonton and Tottenham districts played at the ground. Events were held in order to raise finance including an athletic meeting in June 1891. There was also regular ‘smoking concerts’, these were so successful that the Red Lion was described as ‘crowded to suffocation.’ The early facilities for the clubs spectators inside the ground were quite basic and wagons were used as a ‘stand.’ The local paper in 1891 applauded the club for introducing wooden trestles to stand on in bad weather and appealed to other clubs to follow suit.
One amusing tale from the time occurred in March 1892 when the team arrived home at Liverpool Street from Luton at 12.40am. (It seems they took a rather long time returning). Where they discovered their connecting train home had left. They then formed up in Indian file and marched out of the station singing much to the amusement of ‘the bobby and other late night roamers.’ They got as far as Shoreditch when the journey ‘started to tell’ and carriages were obtained to complete the journey. At the end of that season Buckle retired leaving Jull as the only surviving player from the clubs first season.
Even if the standard of visitor was improving and there was the occasional cup action the club knew they had to provide regular competitive action if they were to survive. In 1892 a number of the top Southern clubs discussed forming a league competition this would include both amateur and professional sides. Tottenham put their name forward but were not one of the sides elected. This however was academic as the London FA had a very strong line regarding any contact with professionalism and threatened the clubs for having any involvement with the professional game. The idea collapsed.
The need however for competitive fixtures remained and this arrived the following season in the form of the short lived Southern Alliance. Even then a number of the clubs involved would fail to fulfill their fixtures as cup games or lucrative friendlies were given priory.
Prior to that 92/93 season The Weekly Herald talked about the clubs prospects and declared ‘with an excellent ground finely situated at Northumberland Park, Tottenham Hotspur are to be envied.’ It discussed the new players including Sykes, a speedy winger, J Louis Sykes was in fact a doctor in the area and would also win honours playing for Middlesex several seasons later. The Herald again ‘Altogether the Tottenham Reds have a brilliant prospect and many of the Alliance teams will have a warm time of it at Park when they visit that excellent enclosure.’(4).
The Southern Alliance of 1892 /93 saw Tottenham play their first ‘league’ game away to Polytechnic (in Wimbledon) on 24th September and win 2-1. The first game at home was the fourth played on November when they beat Erith 3-2. Spurs won seven of their twelve games, and three defeats, and finished third in the table. The league however folded after just the one season.
The next season would again see Spurs without league matches but there was certainly plenty happening on and off the pitch as we discover in part 2.
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Notes – 1 – I found some references to the first gate money being taken at the Boxing Day game with Orion Gymnasium but this would seem strange even in those amateur days the club would have required the income, that was one of the reasons they moved.
2 – I have seen it suggested that we played Westminster before this date and won 13-0. As we played them the following season on 28th September and won by that score I would expect this is an error.
3 – Taken from Bob Goodwin’s complete record. As we discovered previously records from this period contain a number of omissions where details have been lost over time.
4 – Tottenham Reds, we did wear that colour for a short period please refer to –http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/tottenham-hotspur-kit-history-3-1882-1914
Acknowledgements – please refer to-
Top image - Believed to have been taken 1890.
see also -
Adventures in N17-http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/talking-tottenham-adventures-in-n17
Hotspur by Gaslight - http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/hotspur-by-gaslight
And - The mini series - Victorian Hotspur. -part 1 -
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