The Tottenham Mysteries returns and over the coming weeks we will look at several more stories that seem incomplete or where the various accounts contradict each other as we try and unravel the facts.
This first case I’m delighted to say is one that we have finally closed the file upon but the journey to reach that point was a long and winding one.
So lets look back at The Oxford Affair.
Sometime ago I was looking at this photo and the caption just said the Prince of Wales, Oxford, 1924. Digging deeper it became clear that this photo had been the subject of heated debate, not once but twice, on the internet over the last ten years and nobody had ever come up with a satisfactory conclusion.
I decided to investigate, the first stop was the clubs records and no games could be found that season with either Oxford United or City, although we did send a reserve side to play away at Oxford City. The date 18th February had been suggested but then no first team games were found to have been played on that date.
Stadium spotters claimed the ground in the picture was in fact Everton’s Goodisum Park, (ok the stand is similar), still not convinced well the man behind the Prince is Charles Roberts the Tottenham chairman.
(note - you will have to go to top image, and Charles is extreme left with walking stick. The picture below is better quality but our chairman has slipped off the edge).
So who were the team the Prince was being presented to? We had played both the Universities regularly over the years dating back to the turn of the century, but these were first team fixtures. Then someone claimed it was Oxford University, you can tell by the socks. Yes the players are wearing different ones, thus indicating it was the University side and that the students came from different colleges.
However at that time Oxford played in halved shirts and not strips. The OUFA were contacted but they declined to reply. It seems the university gives them an education but not manners. Meanwhile it was suggested that it therefore must be the annual varsity game (V Cambridge). Back to the records and as far as I can discover this game had never been played at White Hart Lane.
Another keen soul informed the world that he has checked a history of Oxford University AFC and it does confirm they played Tottenham that day but did not give the venue or any other details. Meanwhile, other people put forward these details must be wrong as Spurs played at home in the League that day (no they didn’t).
The next step was oblivious, The Court Circulars, which record public appearances of members of the Royal Family. For some reason the Circulars (online) for that period doesn’t reveal his movements.
Next, in that case, what did the press tell us? Our journey even took in references from Singapore’s Strait Times (and they were closer than some of the London papers would be). It quickly became clear the press was not paying attention. Why did he have his arm in the sling?
The UK press was quick to tell us he was hunting in Ascot near Windsor Castle, Berkshire, (no he wasn’t) when he had fallen from his horse. Then you wonder, well if that was the case why was he first taken to Leighton Buzzard hospital and then to a hospital in Tottenham.
Well news editors take note he was riding near Ascott (two t’s), in Bedfordshire, whilst staying with the DeRothchild family. The hospital he was taken to in Tottenham was actually the Prince of Wales hospital (!) which has since closed but Tottenham had been involved in a number of fund raising events for the hospital over the years including some of the Music Hall games we looked at in Star Billing, see - http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/hotspur-towers-star-billing
So, now knowing who and where, we are still unaware of when this game was arranged, but it would be ‘slightly spooky’ that the Prince would have agreed to support the charity and then required treatment at the same hospital before the game was actually played.
The club programme for the game was referred to, in which it said “We are very pleased indeed to welcome HRH the Prince of Wales to our enclosure. We hope he will witness a good game and also that the attendance at the match will enable us to write out a substantial cheque to augment the funds of the Prince of Wales Hospital.’ And “The visit of Oxford University is an agreeable diversion from the strenuous strife of League and Cup football.”
The game on that Monday afternoon raised £200, “a very pleasing result.” The club later reported that the Prince claimed “He thoroughly enjoyed the game and expressed a wish to see the Spurs in a First League match. We certainly hope the Prince will come to Tottenham again very soon.”
The press of the time were on hand to record his visit and informed its royal watchers that ‘The Prince was looking fairly well and he was enthusiastically cheered by the crowd He was received by the Chairman of Tottenham Urban council and then presented to Mr. C.D. Roberts the Chairman of the Directors of the Hotspur Club.’ The report also tells us that ‘The prince had planned to leave at half time but he was enjoying the game and stayed for the first part of the second half.’
As for the game, Tottenham won by 8-1. It could have been worse as “despite the brilliant goalkeeping of N.M. Archdale which was much admired.” (THFC programme for next game) which also explained the score line “The Varsity players were rather outclassed.”
Harry Hargreaves scored a hat trick that day, our other goals coming from Buchanan Sharp (2), Sid White, Sammy Brooks and Frank Osborne. At this point I can’t tell you of the other players involved that day but Hargreaves, who had been a sergeant in the First World War before becoming a prisoner of war, had made his debut earlier that month and played seven games with three goals that season.
Sammy Brooks turned out three times, Brooks had played against Spurs in the 1921 Cup Final and also appeared in a Victory international at the end of the war.
Sharp made two appearances that year and White five. The only one with claims to becoming a first teamer was Frank Osbourne who had also made his debut the month before and finished with one goal in 12 matches that season. Frank would play for England and scored 82 times in 219 games for Spurs.
In the next mystery we find a much darker tale as we explore the life, and death, of an England international.
Other Tottenham Mysteries – The Missing International, The Invisible Goalkeeper, The Game Time forgot and The Lost Goal Mine.
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