Consent Preferences Spurs Odyssey - Norman Giller's Blog (No. 22) - 09.06.14
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Norman Giller's Spurs Odyssey Blog (No. 22) (09.06.14)

Submitted by Norman Giller

Norman Giller writes for Spurs Odyssey With the whiff of the World Cup finals in our nostrils, I got to thinking how rare it is for the greatest football show on earth to be taking place without a Tottenham player in the England squad.

It has happened only once before, in the 1954 finals (won by Germany in Switzerland, with the Magical Magyars of Hungary runners-up, when the gamble of playing a half-fit Puskas boomeranged on them).

The first time England deigned to take part in the World Cup after shunning the first three tournaments was in 1950 in Brazil. That was during the era of Arthur Rowe’s Push-and-Run Spurs, and four of the Lane heroes were included in the England squad: goalkeeper Ted Ditchburn, right-back Alf Ramsey, schemer Eddie Baily and solid right-half Bill Nicholson.

Only Alf ‘The General’ Ramsey played in all three games in a festival of football that became funereal for the English game. I remember, as a ten year old, crying my eyes out when we heard on the wireless that England – the Old Masters of the game – had been beaten 1-0 by the part-timers of the United States.

Eddie Baily was the only other Tottenham player who got a game, a 2-0 defeat by Spain that sealed England’s early exit and total humiliation in the eyes of the rest of the world.

The Spurs boys came home to more comfortable, welcoming surroundings and pushed and ran their way to the League championship in the following season.

For the record, these are the other Tottenham players who have been included in England World Cup squads:

1958: Bobby Smith and Maurice Norman (Mel Hopkins, Terry Medwin and Cliff Jones made it into the quarter-finals with Wales, and Danny Blanchflower led Northern Ireland into the quarter-finals). England were grounded by Russia in a quarter-final play-off.

1962: Jimmy Greaves and Maurice Norman, with Jimmy scoring his only World Cup finals goal against Argentina in a group match victory. England were beaten 3-1 by eventual champions Brazil in the quarter-finals.

1966: Only Greavsie made it into England’s triumphant 1966 World Cup winning squad, and of course he lost his place after getting injured in the third match against France. Enter Hurst, Hurst, Hurst!

1970: Alan Mullery and Spurs new boy Martin Peters were in the England team beaten in the quarter-finals in that heart-breaking match against West Germany in Leon after leading 2-0.

1982 (following England’s failure to qualify in 1974 and 1978): Ray Clemence and Glenn Hoddle were in Ron Greenwood’s squad that were undefeated but eliminated at the second phase because of a lack of goal power.

1986: Hoddle, Chris Waddle and Gary Stevens carried Tottenham’s hopes into the finals in Mexico, where Maradona’s Hand of God theft followed by his goal of genius saw off England in the quarter-finals.

1990: Gary Lineker and crying hero Paul Gascoigne helped fire Bobby Robson’s team to the sem-finals and the bridge-too-far of a penalty shoot-out against West Germany (by which time Waddle was with Marseille).

1998 (following our non-appearance in the 1994 finals): Sol (remembered so fondly) Campbell, Darren ‘Sick Note’ Anderton and ‘Sir Les’ Ferdinand were Tottenham’s representatives in Glenn Hoddle’s squad that again suffered the agony of failure in a penalty shoot out, this time with Argentina.

2002: Teddy Sheringham was Tottenham’s only representative as England fell at the quarter-final hurdle against Brazil in Japan.

2006: Paul Robinson, Jermains Jenas, Michael Carrick and Aaron Lennon gave a strong Spurs look to an England squad that yet again found the challenge of a penalty shoot-out too great, and they were eliminated in the quarter-final by Portugal.

2010: The strongest ever Tottenham contingent as Michael Dawson, Aaron Lennon , Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe and Ledley King made the trip to South Africa, but the not-so-fabulous Fabio Capello’s England failed to fire on all cylinders and went out tamely in the second phase to Germany.

And so to Brazil 2014, and not a Spurs player in sight in the England camp. It’s the price we pay for having so many overseas imports.

Call me old fashioned, but I preferred it when we had local heroes.

Limited England will astonish me if they get beyond the quarter-finals, and I expect the World Cup to return to South America, either with Brazil or Argentina. There’s nobody there to Spur on England,

MY comments last week about the Second World War records of Tottenham players triggered a lot of favourable responses, and it all brought to mind the exploits of a true hero from the First World War 100 years ago.

In 1908 Spurs signed a young player – Walter Tull – from Clapton who was to make history as the first black footballer to appear in the League in the 20th century, following in the footsteps of Ghana-born Arthur Wharton who had played with distinction for among other clubs Preston and Sheffield United late in the 19th Century.

The grandson of a slave, Walter was born in Folkestone in 1888. His father was a West Indian who had arrived in Britain from Barbados in 1876 and married a Kent girl.

His parents both died before he was ten, and Walter was brought up along with his brother in a Methodist-run orphanage in Bethnal Green in London’s East End. A Tottenham scout spotted him playing amateur football for Clapton), and he started on an adventure that could have come out of the imagination of a Hollywood screenwriter.

A quick and powerful inside-forward or wing-half, he spent two seasons with Tottenham during which he was involved in an unpleasant and unsettling racial incident while playing at Bristol City. He was verbally abused by ignorant City fans, who according to one report used “language lower than Billingsgate.”

It led to a loss of confidence, and in 1910 Tull was sold to Northampton where he played 110 games. He was good enough to attract the interest of Rangers, a move that appealed to him because his brother, Edward, was working in Glasgow as a qualified dentist. Just as a deal was being discussed, war was declared. He enlisted with the 1st Football Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, and was quickly promoted to sergeant.

Tull served on the Somme until being invalided back to England in December 1916 suffering from trench fever. On his recovery, he was sent to officer’s training school at Gailes in Scotland and received his commission in May 1917. This was an astonishing achievement at a time when the British Manual of Military Law specifically excluded “Negroes from exercising actual command” as officers. It was Tull’s superiors who recommended him for officer training, a remarkable testimony to his charisma and leadership qualities.

Second Lieutenant Tull was sent to the Italian front, and he was mentioned in dispatches for his “gallantry and coolness” following the bloody Battle of Piave. The obscenely named ‘Great War’ was into its last months when he was transferred to France, where a push was on to break through the German Western Front defence.?He was ordered to make an attack on a heavily fortified German trench at Favreuil on March 25 1918. Soon after entering No Man’s Land, leading from the front, Tull was hit by a German bullet and fell mortally wounded.

Walter was 29. His commanding officer personally broke the news to Walter’s brother, Edward. “He was so brave and conscientious and popular throughout the battalion,” he told him in extraordinarily emotional terms. “The battalion and company have lost a faithful officer, and personally I have lost a good friend.”?

It was 1999 before Tull, a hero on the pitch and in the trenches, got long overdue recognition with the opening of a Walter Tull Memorial Garden next to Northampton Town’s Sixfields Community Stadium.

Many White Hart Lane fans put their names to a petition to try to get Tull the posthumous Military Cross that he so bravely earned.

Spurs Odyssey regulars are razor-sharp with their knowledge. I said last week that Len Duquemin was a native of Jersey, which is like calling a Scot an Englishman. Ken Reynolds and David Ingham were quick to point out that The Duke, of course, came from Guernsey.

He scored 114 goals in 275 League games for Spurs, and had a prolific partnership with Les Bennett. Neither earned more than £17 a week for their efforts.

These are the sort of old timers I am trying to help with my latest book: Danny Blanchflower, This WAS His Life. All profits to the Tottenham Tribute Trust to help our old heroes who have hit troubled times.

Please order the book direct from me at It is not for sale anywhere else.

Thank you on behalf of myself and the Tottenham Tribute Trust for your support. We know all true Spurs supporters will want to get behind this great cause. I will be discussing the book on TalkSport tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday 10/06/14). You have been warned.


Each week here in my Spurs Odyssey home I test your knowledge of Tottenham. Last week I asked: Who joined Spurs from Chelsea in part exchange for Johnny Brooks and later played for QPR?

It gave a lot of you problems, and several came up with Terry Venables, Tommy Harmer, Greavsie and Bobby Smith. The answer is Les Allen, from the famous footballing family and whose son, Clive, became such a powerful force for Spurs. Les, magnificent alongside Bobby Smith in the 1960-61 Double year, was unlucky to always have to live in the shadow of the great Greavsie, both at Chelsea and Spurs.

The first name chosen at random from the correct entries: Harry Barber, of Chelmsford, who wins a signed hard-back copy of Bill Nicholson Revisited.

This week’s teaser is about another Tottenham golden oldie: Which of the players who represented England in World Cup finals started his career with Southampton after playing as an amateur for Portsmouth?

A signed Bill Nicholson Revisited book (one of the few remaining hardback versions) to the sender of the correct answer whose name is randomly drawn first. Email your answer please to

The book is now available in paperback, with profits going to the Tottenham Tribute Trust:

Thank you for joining me. COYS!

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