Planet Spurs - 15
On Planet Spurs we try and find some of the stories that might otherwise escape. On this trip we look at how close Spurs came to being involved in a disaster. There is the story of the team that when they played at WHL brought their own band and just what happens in between games.
Tottenham were nearly involved in a disaster that could have left hundreds dead. Due to play at Stoke City in a FA Cup replay on 7th January 1976 just eight hours later when a large section of their Butler Street stand collapsed. This was mostly a wooden structure and fell onto an area containing over eleven hundred seats which would have been occupied mostly by children. Most of the damage had occupied the previous Friday in a storm. The club had called in the police, the council and the insurers and they agreed it would be safe after a few repairs. Then just after midday with the work under way the roof gave way and one man was injured.
The game was postponed with many Spurs fans already on route and police were sent to the various motorway stations to try and warm them. Stoke played some of their games at nearby Port Vale and had to replace much of the roof. The first game at WHL had ended 1-1 and the replay was finally played on the 24th when we went down 1-2.
The Stoke chairman warned of the dangers of these old wooden structures, this was five years after the Bradford City fire and thirteen before the Hillsborough disaster.
In brief …
The Tottenham team would be attending the pantomime “Bo-Peep” at the Barnet Palace Theater on the 8th January 1905 ‘Lovers of football we trust will be present in large numbers to give them a hearty reception.”
How about this for a way to travel to the Lane! When the Middlesex Regiment played at WHL, they were marched from their barracks to the ground, with accompanying band, to see their side play. News reports from the game state that amongst the several thousand in Khaki there was a ‘good sprinkling’ of civilians. They played Tottenham Thursday who we have mentioned before having played a number of games at the ground from 1899 into the early 1900’s. The side was made up of local tradesmen who played on their half-day. At that time there was an abundant of “Thursdays” in London, including Walthamstow, Clapton, Fulham, and the ‘local friendly rivalry’ with Edmonton Thursday. This game ‘played by kind permission of the Tottenham Hotspur Directors’ was in March 1915 and was ‘a fine game’ (Thursday won 4-2), as they prepared for the LFA Midweek Cup Final the following week. I can’t tell just how long Thursday who date back well before Spurs were formed played regularly at WHL, I would expect it was a short lived arrangement and by the middle part of the next decade they were playing at a number of other venues. They do seem to have returned to WHL for some of their ‘big’ or ‘charity’ games. The Middlesex Regiment that day featured one of our former players C. Beedell in their side.
Return visits saw them at The Lane against Tuffnell Park (April 1911) in aid of the Hospital Fund and October the following year they met Metropolitan Police X Division. How good were Thursday? Who were often referred to as the ‘Tottonians.’ Well it seems in 1911 we signed one of their players, E. Bowering (a vastly experienced half back) and if you’re wondering, they won their cup final in a replay beating West Ham Tramway with a goal in the last two minutes.
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