Spurs go on a spending spree, the fans lining the ropes are intoxicated with delight and Spurs score much to the great surprise of the visitors. The Rumour mill is in full flow and supporters are asked to be more sparing in their criticisms of players. While the full back has a dashing game.
Football reporting has changed over the years and is a delightful insight into the club. Join me for a quick perusal of the Victorian media and be surprised just how little the game has changed.
One common denominator with today’s media is you wonder if the various reporters were at the same game. Starting with our entry into the FA Cup in October 1895 and the West Herts Advertiser felt ‘a draw would have been a fair result and Spurs were forced to play their hardest and do their upmost to stave off defeat and the goal that won the match was the one of the luckiest imaginable.’
The reporter commented ‘what pleased me very much was the friendly manner in which the contest was conducted too often bitterness of feeling and rough play is introduced into cup tie games and the pleasure of the players and the spectators is spoilt of course there was some vigorous charging but nothing to which exception could well be taken in fact the game was fought out in a sportsman like way from start to finish.’ Moving to the action we learn that Herts started the better, ‘the Spurs were profoundly impressed with the idea that victory would not be theirs without a titanic struggle.’ Monk (Spurs GK) ‘was not called upon as his counterpart but was needed to keep out some warm ones.’ Of the Spurs men ‘Cubberley and Payne being most conspicuous. Hunter Goodard and Ecceles all deserving a word of praise of the two sets of forwards the visitors showed the better combination but a little less dash.
The Weekly Herald however and Spurs had ‘a very hard struggle’ and after Hunter opened the scoring ‘Spurs attacked almost continuously until half time and having had four fifths of the play with the slope against them it was naturally expected that the Spurs would be the superior lot in the second half but how often does the unexpected happen whether they had been dosed with some wonder physic during the interval I can’t say but West Herts now played with the utmost vigor.’ One last comment ‘In the later stages after Spurs regained the lead Tottenham’s Eccles tried his luck and it appeared that the ball went under the crossbar but the referee ruled otherwise. (we won 3-2).
It was not uncommon for journals to carry two accounts,one more an editorial. This account tells of the their teams journey by rail, changing at Broad Street, and arriving in Tottenham in good time and appeared shortly after the advertised time. It comments on the considerable interest with 3,000 spectators who ‘lined the ropes.’ Jull having won the toss decided to take the advantage and Herts played with the first half with the sun in their faces. Herts would have the ball in the net from a free kick after Julian handed, but no goal was allowed as ‘the ball was not touched in transit.’ After a slow start it is said that Spurs ‘now put a lot more dash and science into their play.’
Another visiting journalist for the Sunderland game in 1899 commented on the Spurs fans when Spurs equalized. ‘The air of Tottenham must indeed be a great lung factor for the way the spectators shouted was something to be remembered – they were fairly intoxicated with delight.’
Money it seems isn’t the new evil to the game you might think, the Belper News (August 18th 1899) claimed Spurs were offering 'big salaries.'
“This noted South County Club has been fortunate enough to secure the services of W. Johnson, late trainer to the Sheffield Wednesday club, as their trainer for the coming season. Johnson trained the Wednesday team for a number of years including their English Cup victory. He held the sprint record of 12 and one eighth seconds for 130 yards, accomplished at Fenham Park February 9 1887. He won a Sheffield Handicap on August 8 1865. He goes to ‘Spurs’ at a big salary. “
Predictions are still rife but are much more gentile for instance when Spurs traveled to Chatham at the start of the 1899/00 season we are advised ‘ Tottenham Hotspur should settle Chatham’s claims in a manner pleasing to their supporters.’ (we won 3-2)
The Berkshire Chronicle, 11th Jan 1896, covering the Reading game at Northumberland Park, ‘Spurs have made rapid strides since the teams met two years earlier, both having turned professional.’ Later it states ‘Hotspur have a capital piece of turf and appear well supported.’ An interesting note ‘Hotspur kicked off down hill.’ The Spurs fans came to the reporters attention when with just the goalie to beat and the shot was yards wide ‘amid derisive laughter.’ Then when Tottenham took the lead ‘this success caused an extraordinary outburst of enthusiasm among spectators who had been particularly noisy throughout the afternoon, hats and umbrella being thrown into the air .’
A couple of descriptive snippets from various papers worth including, The Berkshire Chronicle (March 1889) and our game in Windsor Great Park V Windsor Phoenix the Spurs goal is described ‘The visitors were the first to score from a good center by Goddard, Buckle heading home the ball in a clever fashion.’ (we lost 1-2.). Our own Weekly Herald (November 1883) and for the young Hotspur side its claimed Bobby Buckle had scored after five minutes ‘to the great surprise of the visitors.’
Staying with The Herald, we included a number of comments in our tribute to WHL series but we do learn from the press regarding the grounds opening that the local MP Colonel Bowles was to perform the ceremony of kicking off but at the last moment was unable to attend. Chairman Charles Roberts stepped in. The crowd paid 115 pounds, eighteen shillings and three pence. Of which fifty eight pounds was paid to the visitors.
I leave you with this from the Sporting Life in November 1900 as the Victorian era was drawing to a close and the world and football would never be the same, well…..
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