NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 81
Submitted by Norman Giller
Eddie Baily - The "Cheeky Chappie" of the Push and Run side
Premier League chief Richard Scudamore has thrown a cat among the pigeons – or the cockerel among the Gooners – by proposing that Arsenal and Spurs ground share while White Hart Lane is being rebuilt.
On paper, it makes much more sense than sending Tottenham fans scuttling up and down the M1 to and from Milton Keynes. Over one or more years that is going to be a lot of mileage and a lot of money.
From the reaction of some diehard Tottenham fans you would have thought Scudamore was suggesting they go to watch Spurs play in a snake pit.
When I came into this mortal coil – ouch – 75 years ago, Arsenal were ground sharing at White Hart Lane with Tottenham, while Highbury was being used as a wartime Air Raid Precaution centre.
There was a good spirit among the rival supporters, and for many seasons the Spurs boardroom had an Arsenal plaque on the wall thanking Tottenham for their friendship and their hospitality over a period of six and a half years.
But in recent years what used to be banter among the fans has developed into bad and at times ugly feeling, and where there was once respect there is now mostly revulsion.
Ideally, Daniel Levy wants Tottenham to play their home matches at Wembley while the space-age White Hart Lane is brought kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. But Chelsea have the same idea while Stamford Bridge is getting a facelift, and Scudamore is making it clear that he does not want either club to enjoy the luxury of playing at the national stadium.
He has stamped on the idea of Spurs cherry picking which matches to play at Wembley when the MK Dons capacity of 32,000 would be stretched. They must play all their home games on one ground. Scudamore feels down-the-road Emirates is the obvious answer.
Yes, it is logical that Spurs should temporarily play on their neighbours’ patch in return for a fair rent. But when was logic and football last mentioned in the same breath?
I am from the old school and would be quite happy to see Spurs playing at the Emirates. The problem is that there is a generation growing up that is blinded by naked hatred of the Gunners and they would rather sit on a volcano than Arsenal-red seats.
My hope is that they will grow up and accept that while Arsenal are local rivals, they are not deadly, poisonous enemies.
But I won’t hold my breath.
(Ed:- I personally would not want to share The Emirates. I also do not think that the hosts would want it. Sadly, I suspect Spurs would be paying for damage caused every week. That's another reason not to play there, other than for Arsenal v Spurs official fixtures)
Continuing our Spurs Odyssey salute to great figures from Tottenham’s proud past, I am today spotlighting arguably the greatest passer in the club’s history, rivalled only by Glenn Hoddle. Bow the knee to Eddie Baily, who served Spurs on and off the pitch across four decades.
Nicknamed the Cheeky Chappie after music hall comedian Max Miller, Eddie was stockily built, with powerful thighs and footballer’s legs so bowed that you could have driven a pig through them without him knowing.
I knew Eddie well and we shared an East London background. To wind him up I used to rib him that he was the role model for Alf Garnett. He was always lord mayoring and had a loud opinion on just about everything and anything. But for all his rabbiting, he was very likeable and an absolute genius with a ball at his feet.
He once bet me he could chip the ball on to the crossbar from the penalty spot, and then performed the trick with three successive shots
Eddie seemed never to be able to forget that he served his country with distinction in the Second World War, and he was always using wartime phrases. When playing and coaching, he invariably sent the team out on to the field with the battle cry: “Fix bayonets, chaps, time to go over the top.”
In the early days of the war he was an amateur with Spurs after joining them straight from school at the age of 14, and during the summer playing cricket for Essex colts. While fighting abroad with the Scottish Royal Fusiliers it was reported to Tottenham that he had been killed in action, and his name was removed from their books. On his demob he signed with Chelsea in the first confused months after the war, but once the mistake had been pointed out he was allowed to rejoin his first-choice club Tottenham in February 1946.
It is difficult to imagine Arthur Rowe’s Push and Run tactics would have been so successful without the Baily passes to make the team tick. He could land the ball on a handkerchief from 30 yards, and his slide-rule passing made goals galore for Tottenham’s twin strikers Les Bennett and Len Duquemin.
Eddie spent a couple of wind-down seasons at Leyton Orient when I was sports editor of the local paper. We used to chinwag for hours about the “good old days,” and he described the push and run side as “the perfect football machine.”
Never one to hold back on an opinion or three, Eddie told me:
“We were far too good for the Second Division in the 1949-50 season, and played our way to promotion with ease. I remember we were top of the table from September and had a run of twenty-three matches without defeat.
“These days I suppose I would be called a playmaker, but then I was just a good old-fashioned deep-lying inside-forward. My job was to provide the passes for the goalscorers, and I think you’ll find I had a foot in the majority of the goals we scored. That’s not me being big headed. That was fact.
“An important aspect is that we had a very good dressing-room spirit. There were no stars. We all took equal praise when winning, and shared the blame if things went wrong.
“We were the thinking man’s team. Players like Alf Ramsey, Bill Nick and Ronnie Burgess were obsessed with tactics, and of course dear Arthur Rowe was the man who led us with clear and concise instructions. There was no mumbo jumbo. We just got on with playing the game in a simple direct way that bewildered the opponents.”
Eddie, born in Clapton on 6 August 1925, played for Spurs from 1946 to 1955. He won nine England caps in an era of great inside-forwards like Raich Carter, Wilf Mannion and Len Shackleton. In 1955 he joined Port Vale from Tottenham, and later played for Nottingham Forest and Orient. Spurs stats: 296 League games (64 goals), 29 cup matches (5 goals).
He was reunited with Bill Nicholson as coach at Tottenham in 1963 after Bill’s assistant, Harry Evans, had been cruelly lost to cancer at the age of 43. Harry was father-in-law to tragic lightning victim John White, so the family was ripped apart by two appalling tragedies in just a couple of years.
Baily was the perfect foil and balance to the quieter, more thoughtful and constructive Nicholson. The ‘bad cop’ to the ‘good cop.’ Eddie could hardly get a sentence out without decorating it with swear words, while Bill rarely turned to obscenities to make his point.
Late in his life, I asked Eddie for his assessment of Bill Nicholson as a manager. “He was one of the greatest managers there has ever been,” he said. “Matt Busby, Bill Shankly, Arthur Rowe, Stan Cullis, Alf and Bill, they were the best of my time. The only thing he was not good at was delegation. He tried to do everything and worked himself into the ground for the club. And how did they reward him? Let him go with a pathetic pay-off that players today can earn in a week. To rub it in they delayed the cheques to me and Bill for so long we both had to sign on the dole. How humiliating.”
The swearwords that peppered Eddie’s outburst have been censored.
I reminded Eddie that when he was playing he tried to maximize his earnings, There was, for example, an advertisement in which he endorsed Craven “A” cigarettes – “they offer smooth clean smoking”. The ad quoted Baily as saying: “You’d be surprised how dry your mouth feels after a big match. That’s why I stay with Craven “A”. Whenever I light one up, the flavour of the tobacco comes through mellow and satisfying, just the way I want it. I couldn’t afford to smoke a cigarette that irritated my throat.”
Eddie was not in the least bit embarrassed when I pointed out the advertisement. “You have to remember,” he said, “that when I sponsored those fags nobody knew how they caused cancer, and I was earning just fifteen quid a week. I owed it to my family to get every penny I could. That was one of the things that got me angry with Bill. He did his job for peanuts, which meant none of his staff could earn decent money either.
“We had a short fall out when we left Spurs. I felt I deserved a crack at managing the club, but Bill wouldn’t put my name forward. I got the right hump over that. But our friendship was strong enough to get us over that little squabble. I loved the bloke really, you know. The most honest man I ever met. Too honest for his own good.”
I couldn’t resist asking Eddie a loaded Spurs question: “How would the Push and Run side have got on against the Double team?”
“I’m biased because I played for the Push and Run team,” he said. “I am tempted to say we would have won by a couple of goals, but let’s settle for a score draw.”
Eddie passed on six years after his pal Bill Nick. Both reached 85. Both unforgettable. Both with the spirit of Spurs deep in their soul. Both hugely missed.
THE GILLER TEASER
Each week while waiting for the kick off to the second Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, I will be challenging you here with a question to test your knowledge of Tottenham.
Most of you were on the ball with last week’s teaser: Who started his career as a trainee with Tottenham in 1998, won 42 international caps and returned to Spurs from which club in 2009?
Yes, it was Peter Crouch, the Leaning Tower of White Hart Lane, who returned to Tottenham – where he had started his career as a junior – from Portsmouth.
First name drawn from the correct answers is Keith Hills, from the Isle of Man via Islington. I will email a screen version of one of my Tottenham-themed books to Keith, who has supported the Lilywhites since 1957 and was a founder member and chairman of the official Spurs supporters’ club for four years.
This week’s teaser: Which former Premier League manager won 26 international caps while playing 196 League games for Tottenham between 1965 and 1975, and which club did he join from Spurs?
Email your answers, please, to email@example.com.
Don’t forget to add your name, the district where you live and how long you’ve supported Spurs.
Please consider purchasing any of my books direct from me at
www.normangillerbooks.com, including No 99 that I have written in tribute to Muhammad Ali for whom I worked as a publicist on his European fights. All profits from my Tottenham-themed books go to the Tottenham Tribute Trust to help any of our old heroes who have hit difficult times.
Thanks for your company. See you same time, same place next week. COYS!
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