With the Club not playing until Monday night here is a poser for you. What is the most important day in the clubs history? it’s a question that has divided fans over the years on many a long journey. Of course there is no real right or wrong answer. You may already have started a mental shortlist there are certainly eight or nine days you can make a reasonable argument for. Was it maybe the day we won the Double or won that first European trophy. I’ll suggest another date not just because of what happened that day but also the ramifications from it.
When Phil Soar wrote his official history of the club he raised the same question and he put forward a case for a date which is very compelling. He said that when Tottenham were admitted to the Football League in 1908 (no that’s not the date) it was after they had been rejected at their first attempt, coming fifth out of six in the ballot. They then only gained entry when Stoke withdrew a month later. At that time Tottenham were only one of a few teams in the Southern League that ‘could’ be worth admitting.
Remember at that point the other teams were spread between the North and the Midlands. They only had the one expensive trip to London (well Kent to be exact) once a season and that was to play Woolwich then south of the river. Who were themselves struggling to avoid bankruptcy. Not the most appealing day out.
Tottenham were in the Southern League, yet we were drawing higher attendances than that team south of the river. Those attendance figures and the reputation for playing good football from our earliest days can both be linked to the fame we earned for winning the FA Cup in 1901.
I’ve seen it suggested that our case was not harmed by the directors wives of some of the north west clubs not being opposed to a trip to what they saw as a club a lot nearer the center of the metropolis rather than one somewhere south of the river in an industrial area similar to the ones they already knew.
The ramifications from our 1901 victory Soar suggests that if Tottenham had failed to gain admission when they did they would have had to wait until at least 1920 and the formation of the Third Division to enter the Football League. In the meantime Arsenal who moved north in 1913 would have had seven years of Football League games against the most famous teams in the land to establish themselves in their new home and become the main attraction in the area.
Thus Spurs ‘quite possibly’ he suggests would have only ever risen to the level (no disrespect) to that of Brentford or Orient. The glorious history may never of happened. As Soar says all this is conjecture and we will never know.
He does suggest that the most important date in the clubs history therefore occurred on a pitch in Lancashire, in front of the smallest crowd to watch a FA Cup Final throughout the twentieth century way back in 1901 on April 27th.
You may of course disagree, as well as the events mentioned earlier, there was the first championship, turning professional, joining the league or possibly inviting Bill Nicholson for a trial and why not those schoolboys gathering under a gas lamppost at the end of the cricket season? You may have an event in mind that I’ve not mentioned. Either way it would be interesting to hear your views on either Soar’s conclusion or in support of the date of your choice for the most important date in our history.
t- Keith 16024542
f- peter shearman (old non de plume)
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