When exploring the history of our great club you can stumble across various stories that seem incomplete and leave you wanting more.
You can end up roaming through various sources, printed or on-line as well as old VHS tapes and such like.
When that fails you go in search of wise heads that might enlighten and guide you.
These then are the Tottenham Mysteries. The latest in this series is the strange case of The game time forgot.
To be honest the events described here would have quickly passed into the club’s history as a mere footnote, at best, if it wasn’t for what later became of the opposition. I remember being told about this game as a young lilywhite and expect this took place sometime between 1956 - 60 as Real Madrid won the European Cup five years in a row and that would have sparkled the conversation.
If I was to ask when did Tottenham first played Real Madrid some of you would I expect mention the Champions League in 2011. Some might remember the UEFA Cup meeting in 1985. Dare I suggest that few of you would say 'what about that game in 1925?'
Tottenham did not record this game as a first team game and we think they played mostly a reserve side, we only know five of the players involved. This non-first team friendly from ninety years ago certainly fails to be mentioned in most records of the period and took some tracking including the Real Madrid historian offering some assistance.
In the summer of 1925 Real Madrid were touring Europe visiting England, Denmark and France. Apart from “English” teams based in Spain such as The English Sporting Club and The Civil Service these were the first games Madrid ever played against British sides.
Their first game in England was at Newcastle where they lost 0-6. They then suffered another defeat 0-3 to Birmingham. The last game on the English leg of their tour was played at White Hart Lane (1) on 3th September.
Spurs took a 2-0 lead through Finning (9th minute) and Perry (25th). Knott made it 3-0 but the timings of the other goals are unknown. Vazquez pulled one back for Madrid. We scored a fourth, scorer unknown. Then Vazquez made it 4-2 and that’s how it finished.
As far as I can uncover, the only one of these three Spurs players to play for the first team was Vic Knott (with Spurs from 23-26) but these were non-competitive games. The only other Tottenham players we know that were involved that day were involved were Townley and Handley.
Jimmy Townley, born in Blackburn, actually came to Spurs after playing in Germany and Switzerland (where he would also end his career). His father, William, had been an England international and scored a hat trick in the 1890 Cup Final. His father later coached in these countries. Jimmy, an inside forward, had joined us just a few months earlier and then broke his leg in the October, so it was nearly two years before he made his first team debut when he scored at home to Everton. He then scored in his next game but only played three games for Tottenham with two goals before moving on to Brighton.
The one well known player involved in the Madrid game was Charlie ‘Tich’ Handley, (left).
Tich had made his first team debut in 1921 and played 131 games and scored 35 goals before leaving in 1929.
Handley was born in Edmonton and later (like Townley) ended his career coaching in Switzerland.
You should note that Spain’s La Liga was not formed until 1929 and Real Madrid did not win their first title till 1932. As for Tottenham they had played two games in the new season and won both (including a win at Arsenal). They would finish the season in mid-table.
There you have the story, or as much as I can discover, of our first meeting with Real Madrid. Top picture is Real Madrid in 1924.
The other Tottenham mysteries are - The Missing International and The Invisible Goalkeeper.
t- Keith 16024542
f- peter shearman (old non de plume)
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Notes -1 - The first reference I found to this game suggested it was played at the training ground but I have since found a reference by former club historian Andy Porter saying WHL. He also states the score was 4-2. I have seen some references claiming the game ended 4-0 but as both club historians state it was 4-2 I am inclined to believe that these two gentlemen are correct.
Although the conversation would be more than 50 years ago, I thought it was said that they had seen Madrid play Spurs which would (possibly) suggest WHL rather than a training ground game.
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