NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 315
Submitted by Norman Giller
20/04/20 … Adolf Hitler would have been 131 today. Just thought I’d throw that in to try to grab your attention during these strange times. Talking birthdays, I hit the big 8-0 on Saturday and the icing on the cake for me was a call from Irene and Jimmy Greaves, wishing me a happy eightieth.
Difficult to find anything to smile about, but I got the double whammy of both Jimmy and Dave Mackay’s widow, Isobel, being released from hospital and allowed home on the same day. This old hack was euphoric.
Val Mackay, Dave’s proud daughter, told me that the charming Isobel was even well enough to join in my one-man singalong party here: https://youtu.be/jhdHoAZLz40. No accounting for taste.
My regular readers (okay, reader) will recall that I advised people to hold back on the premature kicking and knocking of Daniel Levy over how Tottenham were reacting to the fall-out of the coronavirus crisis.
They knew they had fired off too quickly (when the entire world was in panic mode) and I was privy to inside information of club plans that would put things right, including an about-turn on their contentious decision to ‘furlough’ loyal staff.
Chairman Levy will be condemned by some people regardless of what he does, but he deserves praise and support for the way he repaired a public relations disaster. And I know that he has fantastic plans to help the local community, on top of turning our magnificent stadium into a Covid19 testing facility. Levy is not the cold, callous man his enemies paint him, and (like most of us, I hope) has the best interests of Tottenham at heart.
It amuses me that the In-the-Knows (who have hardly got a right call in the last three years) are continuing to buy and sell Tottenham players despite the total lockdown. I have news for you: nobody is going anywhere until this virus is conquered. And we could be talking months.
So just chill out, enjoy the time you have on your hands and perhaps join in the chorus to this sad old git, the poor man’s Pavarotti … https://www.facebook.com/norman.giller/videos/10222660050949777/
Onwards and upwards to the 90s :-) That irrepressible stadium announcer and inveterate interviewer Paul Coyte has made a date to interview me on my 90th birthday when I have promised to sing over the Tottenham Tannoy: "We are the champions …" Well, an old man can dream. COYS.
Our Spurs Odyssey guru Paul H. Smith and I have decided the only safe and rewarding place to exist at the moment is in a pleasant past where we remember our old heroes who brought us all together as Tottenham disciples.
The enforced standstill in the season gives us the chance to remember and revere the achievements of Lane Legends. So – continuing today here on the Spurs Odyssey stage – we serialise my latest book lauding the past performances of our goal-grabbing players.
The book is called Shooting Spurs, with all profits going to the Tottenham Tribute Trust. It focuses on every player in Tottenham’s history who has scored more than 50 League and Cup goals since the formation of the club in 1882. Today the spotlight is on the fifth man to join Tottenham’s 100 League and Cup goals club …
Born Belvedere, Kent, 26 March 1911
Playing career span with Spurs: 1932-1939
Goals in 154 matches: 101
JOHNNY MORRISON was an outstanding advertisement for the nursery club system set up by the major Football League clubs in the 1930s. A thrusting, energetic old school centre-forward, he started out on the playing fields of Kent and rose to the exalted height of being Tottenham’s main marksman before the Second World War cut short his career when he was 28 and in his prime.
Because of the sudden curtailment of the Football League programme on the outbreak of war, Johnny is the least celebrated of Tottenham’s centurions and he drifted into oblivion. But we now bow the knee to his memory and acknowledge that his goals collection was extraordinary.
There was no such thing as apprenticeships or soccer academies when Johnny started to make a name for himself in Kent schools football, and he was given a trial by Luton after starring with his local Bostall Heath club. It did not work out with Luton, and he returned to Kent as centre-forward for amateur club Callenders Athletic. Meantime Tottenham – at the instigation of Peter McWilliam – had taken Northfleet (before their amalgamation with Gravesend) under their wing, saving them from having to wind up because of debts.
The McWilliam plan was to use the Northfleet team as a conveyor belt for Spurs, and in 1931 they became Tottenham’s official nursery club. In charge of the Kent operation was Jimmy Anderson, before his climb to Spurs manager. It was he who recommended Morrison’s rapid promotion.
Thirty-seven Spurs players, nine of whom became internationals, launched their playing career at Northfleet. They included later Tottenham legends Bill Nicholson, Ron Burgess, Taffy O’Callaghan, Vic Buckingham and a young agile goalkeeper by the name of Ted Ditchburn.
Morrison was first to use the nursery club as a springboard to the Spurs first-team when promoted by manager Jack Tresarden ahead of club idol George Hunt, who was allowed to take the short hop down the road to Highbury. This infuriated Tottenham die-hards, and it meant Johnny had a mountain to climb to gain their affection and support.
He found the quickest way to win their hearts was to score goals, and he provided them by the bucketful. There was nothing elegant or polished about his play, but it was explosive and he showed he knew the way to the net by scoring at an even quicker rate than the much-mourned Hunt.
Johnny was leading Tottenham marksman for three successive seasons from 1935, including a personal record 35 goals in 1935-36. All but one of his goals were scored in the Second Division, and so his feats tend to be down-played but there was no doubting his shooting power and eye for goal.
He featured in one of the most memorable comebacks in Spurs history, which was mirrored when Lucas Moura’s hat-trick lifted Tottenham to their dramatic Champions’ League semi-final victory over Ajax in 2019. Playing First Division Everton in an FA Cup fifth round replay at the Lane in 1937, Spurs were trailing 3-1 with five minutes to go. They won 4-3, with Morrison completing a hat-trick with a last-minute winner.
In the final season before War broke out he was joint top-scorer with Willie Hall on eleven goals. By this time Peter McWilliam was back in charge and had followed Morrison’s progress closely as he came through the ranks at Northfleet.
‘The objective of the nursery club is to make it a smooth transition to the Tottenham reserves or even first-team,’ McWilliam said. ‘We encourage them to follow the Tottenham principles of playing with accuracy, doing the simple things well and always with a pride in their performance.’
He had returned to Tottenham following his bruising experience with Middlesbrough and then a spell as chief scout with the Arsenal, when he was a main go-between for George Hunt’s transfer to the old enemy.
McWilliam was an admirer of the made-in-Northfleet play of Morrison, and had plans for him to spearhead a Tottenham revival. Then, on 3 September, 1939, war was declared and suddenly it was a different type of shooting that took the attention. Johnny Morrison, the unsung hero, never kicked another ball in the Football League.
Next week: Arthur Rowe’s Push and Run Revolution. Can’t wait!
We are carrying on with our weekly Spurs Odyssey Quiz League, and hope you continue to take part. Question No 38 in this 2019-20 SOQL season … just three weeks to go to the dreaded shoot out for the title of Spurs Odyssey Quiz League champion 2019-20. No virus is going to stop us!
Who came on as a substitute to collect an FA Cup winners’ medal with Tottenham, and against which club did he score a spectacular last-minute winner in a European Cup Winners’ Cup final?
Please email your answer to me at SOQL38@normangillerbooks.com.
Deadline: midnight this Friday. I will respond to all who take part.
The rules are the same as in previous seasons. I ask a two-pronged question
with three points at stake. In the closing weeks of the competition I break the
logjam of all-knowing Spurs-history experts with a tie-breaking poser that is
based on opinion rather than fact. That is now just three weeks away. Gird your loins.
Last week’s SOQL question: Who played 209 games for Tottenham, was one of the squad singers on Ossie’s Dream but did not play in the FA Cup final, and from which Lancashire club did he join Tottenham?
The answer: Don McAllister, who joined Spurs from Bolton Wanderers in 1975. Many remember how he scored a crucial winner against his old ‘Trotters’ club in 1978. It virtually clinched promotion back to the top table for Keith Burkinshaw’s Tottenham. Don now resides in Queensland on the Gold Coast. If any of our followers Down Under are in touch with him please give Don our best wishes from all Spurs Odyssey readers.
This year’s prizes for the champion: a Harry Kane framed and signed photo, two books from my Spurs collection with autographs from Jimmy Greaves, Steve Perryman and Dave Mackay, and, most important of all, a framed certificate announcing the winner as SOQL champion.
See you back here same time, same place next week. Carry On Regardless. COYS!
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