The month of September opened with a game that was described as their most telling display. ‘With White, Blanchflower and Mackay they had a trio to dictate the course of any game. Their accuracy was faultless their invention inspired. They slowed the game and accelerated it at will’ (1)’. The author claims the first thirty minutes were flawless and could have been used as an instructional film for any international side. Great praise indeed as, Spurs put on a pyrotechnic display that made the watchers blood race and the hair stand on end with excitement (1). It was the home game against Manchester United and once again Spurs started fast and were a goal up in five minutes.
A lazy ball played across the defence was swooped on by John White who passed to Bobby Smith to finish. Tottenham were well on top when the second came after 20 minutes, after a terrific hammering (2). White again pulling the strings and this time Allen finished the move after rounding two defenders. Medwin, Dyson and Allen behind Smith ensured ‘United were given the sort of grilling no defence could be expected to relish.’(2). While another report quoted ‘ White , delicate precise ingenious made the open spaces and lured United’s defence into one crisis after another, (7). The Tottenham defence was caught making a rare mistake as United pulled one back but Tottenham were never in any danger of being caught and with twenty minutes left it was White, again, setting up Allen to head the third. With just a few minutes left on the clock Terry Medwin found Smith to head home for his second and a 4-1 score which better reflected the difference in the sides.
One West Stand fan that day told me recently ‘we went home knowing we had a good chance of the title but it was still very much lets see how it goes at that point.
Once again Spurs travelled midweek this time to Burnden Park, Bolton, and the scene of their 1901 FA Cup success. Frank Saul, a seventeen year old lad came in on debut for Bobby Smith who was injured. This time it was the home team, well known for being a hard team that started best and took the lead in the third minute. The first time Spurs had been behind during the season. Bill Brown was called on several times and the Wanderers hit the bar. Spurs managed to hold Bolton to one goal and appeared to have survived the onslaught when a few minutes later the game turned on an injury. Their defender Banks torn his thigh muscles and in those pre-substitute days Tottenham knew against ten men it must be a matter of time. In fact it was just a couple of minutes when White sent over a cross that eluded the goalie with Allen coming in at the back with a magnificent header to level the scores. Bolton held on for a point to the last ten minutes when Blanchflower sent a ball into the box for White to turn and hook the ball home for a marvelous strike giving Tottenham both points and leaving Bolton frustrated. Saul’s debut was described as ‘a fast thinker and fast mover.’
Spurs were away again in the next game and the short trip to Highbury would produce a classic game, one report calling it ‘Britain’s finest soccer exhibition for years.’ Just less than sixty thousand were in the ground when the gates were locked and reports claim people were hammering on the gates as thousands more were locked out. Those inside watched what the Daily Herald called ‘Britain’s finest advertisement for years.’
Arsenal in mid-table started well and had several chances but were struggling to contain Spurs. Frank Saul in his second game gave us the lead after quarter of an hour with his first goal for Spurs.
Left - Bobby Smith V United.
Several reports calling it a brilliant right footed strike, and Spurs had two other chances. Just eleven minutes later Mackay with one of his long throws into the box found Saul again who nodded on and the smallest man on the pitch Terry Dyson (five foot three) found the space to head home our second. The work on the training round paid off as every time a Spurs man had the ball he was surrounded by red shirts but still had two or three passing options open to him.
A true battle raged and Arsenal pulled one back just after the hour mark from a corner. Then a few moments later a long range shot beat an unsighted Brown and it was 2-2. The Sunday Dispatch claimed if Arsenal had got a point it would have been robbery. The home fans believing they had ended Tottenham 100% record but Spurs now showed their resilience where even last season Spurs sometimes could be knocked out of their stride now they stood strong. Danny Blanchflower stepped up at and a defence splitting ball left Allen eased past his marker to finish with a neat lop over the goalkeeper for a 3-2 win.
The year before Spurs had slipped out of the title race and there was as suggestion they did not have the fight to maintain a season long challenge, This game seemed to kill those doubts with the press calling for Maurice Norman to be in the England team after another outstanding performance, he would win his first cap the following year.
That victory, the seventh at the start of the season, broke the First Division record for the best ever start to a top flight season, set by Preston in the Leagues first season and had only been equaled once by a First Division team,(3). It also equaled the clubs best ever start to a season, set in Division two in 1919. If that wasn’t enough, Spurs had now opened up a two point gap at the top, (4).
Right - Calls for Maurice Norman to be in the England team.
The midweek game and Bolton, still feeling they were robbed in the first game, arrived at the Lane and again took the lead in the opening ten minutes. We saw the return of both Smith and Jones as Blanchflower set up Smith to level after 24 minutes with a lovely chip over the keeper.
Bolton were never out of it in what was becoming a bad tempered affair. Tottenham were awarded a penalty just after the hour after Dyson was pushed to the ground. Blanchflower keeping his cool and gave us the lead. Bolton now feeling even more aggrieved and had several players booked before Smith forced home the ball after a goal mouth scramble in the last few moments after good work by Jones and Blanchflower to give us a 3-1 win.
The second half saw their goalie shaking his fists at Spurs players. This led to him being booed by the home fans. He in turn twice refused to take goal kicks because of the crowd he claimed were throwing missiles and demanded the police step in. While their winger Birch had his name taken by the ref twice in ten minutes, but stayed on the pitch.
Next up was a trip to Leicester’s old Filbert Street ground. Tottenham where had the artistic touch of Champions (5) and their slender win was well merited. Tottenham took the lead on twenty minutes once again it was Smith on target. The home side leveled but Smith got the winner just on the hour and with it ended any Leicester threat to our 100% record. This on the day Sheffield Wednesday drew as we increased our lead to three points.
It was about this time that a story emerged that I could not understand at the time. With Nicholson having a starting eleven the reserves were becoming disenchanted and there was talk of asking for transfers. This would of included players who were internationals or former first teamers, all quite capable of being in most starting elevens in the league. Players such as Terry Medwin, Tony Marchi, John Hollowbread, Tommy Harmer and Mel Hopkins were named. The story went round that some of them (I can’t confirm which) had even written to The Chairman but he backed Nicholson’s decisions. As a lad, the thought of wanting to play for a team other than Tottenham was unbelievable.
Left - The Dressing Room after the record setting win V Villa.
Bill NIcholson has been 'awarded' the Chairman bowler hat.
The month would end with more than sixty one thousand at the Lane as we put Aston Villa to the sword by 6-2. This day Tottenham scaled the heights again with their performance. It was another fast start out of the traps for Spurs and in the sixth minute it was as Baker to Blanchflower (the beguiling skill) to Jones whose cross to White (that cunning genius) to volley home, (wonderful). On the quarter of an hour White was again involved as his cross came in Smith’s rush into the danger area distracted the keeper and the ball went straight in for our second. Just before the half hour the keeper couldn’t hold a stinging drive from Mackay and Smith was on hand to slot home number three. Almost immediately Whites pass found Dyson (a little tiger) with plenty of time to make it 4-0.
After the turnaround Dyson and White (the delicate artistry) set up Allen for number five (top picture). The only downside was the team then clearly took the foot off the pedal. Bill Nicholson on the sideline was clearly unimpressed as Villa pulled two back. Then in the last five minutes Ron Henry came down the left found Mackay who in turn moved it on to Allen, it was laid back into the path for Dyson but a thundering roar from Mackay made him jump out of the way as the Scot came onto the ball and volleyed home for the best goal of the day, and according to sports writer Alan Hoby ‘a goal I shall always remember.’
The descriptions of players in this game come from the Sunday Express which also included “nothing I can write can remotely convey the majesty, rich theatre and sheer entertainment of Spurs’ enchanting brand of football.”
61,356 watched Tottenham set yet another record fell that day, the most wins at the start of the seasons in any division. Hull City had won nine at the start of their promotion season in 1948/49. Hull sent a telegram to the Tottenham dressing room upon hearing their result. Don’t forget Tottenham had also won the last two games of the previous season. To mark the achievement the club would present engraved trays to all the players who had appeared in the games so far at that year’s Christmas party (8).
The month ended with us on 20 points, three ahead of Wednesday who turn were three ahead of Everton, Wolves and Blackburn. Burnley the champions were back in 7th and Arsenal 11th. Wales traveled to Dublin for a friendly on the 28th and lost 2-3. Jones scored two goals with Terry Medwin in the team. However the Welsh FA have no report of the game.
The title comes from the Sunday Express report which said “Stupendous Spurs of 1960 playing football as polished as a 22- carat diamond with every player gliding uncannily in open space…”
Part 4 – We reach October and Bill Nicholson gives us his opinion.
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Notes – 1 –Julian Holland football historian and author of ‘Spurs-the double.’
2 – From the News of the World.
3 – Everton managed to equal Preston’s winning start in the top in Division One, fifty years after Preston achieved it.
4 - A sign of the times, that day Blackpool lost at home to Bolton in a (described as a dire) game that was televised in parts of the country as an experiment for the future of TV and Soccer in this country. Don’t forget football on TV was limited to international games and in just over five years the World Cup would be played in England.
5 – Reynolds News agency.
7 – The Sunday Chronicle
8 – There is a picture of one on f these trays in101 Objects -http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/talking-tottenham-101-objects
For the rest of this series see go to – http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/the-double-chronicles
See also - Talking Tottenham, Adventure in N17 - http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/talking-tottenham-adventures-in-n17
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