Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Club Spotlight : Tottenham Hotspur The Official History

   In the early nineteenth century Tottenham, now an integral part of London, was a 'semi-rural area on the borders of London and Essex providing a pleasant country retreat for substantial citizens'. On the Roman road to Lincoln, there was nothing particularly attractive about the area, the River Lea, the marshes, a few farms, the houses of reasonably well-off families and plenty of open spaces. But that was all to change with the spread of the railways. In the 1840s, the opening of Northumberland Park station on the Northern and Eastern Railway's line from Stratford to Cambridge saw the first residential developments. Large, typically Victorian houses, the type now converted into three or four flats, were built for those fortunate families who could afford to escape from central London. But the real expansion came in the latter half of the century. Tottenham's population increased from 9,120 in 1851 to 46,456 in 1881 principally due to the advent of 'workmen's trains'. As part of the compensation to be paid for acquiring the land that allowed the Great Eastern Railway to expand into Liverpool Street, the railway company was obliged to provide a cheap travel service. Thousands of London's workers moved out to Tottenham, safe in the knowledge that a 2d (Ip) return ticket would quickly get them to work and home again. The working classes flowed out over the Stoke Newington border into Tottenham and the large, comfortable houses that used to line the High Road were soon submerged.

With the influx of the workers and their families came an increase in the demand for schools. Tottenham Grammar was already well established and there were several boarding schools around catering for those Londoners who wanted their children off their hands but still within easy reach. One of the new schools, based in the High Road, was Mr William Cameron's St John's Middle Class School, which was exactly that, a school for the children of middle class families. Despite the population growth there were still plenty of open spaces and in 1880 some of the pupils of St John's, together with a few friends from the Grammar School, decided to form the Hotspur Cricket Club. Exactly why the name was chosen has never been established for sure. Legend has it that two of the members, brothers Hamilton and Lindsay Casey, were studying the reign of Henry IV and had been enthralled by the battlefield exploits of 'Harry Hotspur', the name given to Sir Henry Percy, teenage son of the Earl of Northumberland and a fierce opponent of the king. True or not it was an apt name. The Tottenham area had been part of the Percy family estates, many of the boys lived in or around Northumberland Park and Percy House was near the headquarters of the local Young Men's Church Association. The cricket club played for two years but at the end of the 1882 season the members, looking for a winter sport, decided to turn their attention to football. Well-established in the south through the Public Schools and the network of Old Boys Clubs the balance of power in the game was beginning to shift to the north. The first serious challenge to the southern amateurs had just come with Blackburn Rovers reacting the FA Cup Final. Blackburn Olympic were to win the trophy the following season and it was then to be another 18 years before the Cup returned south.

The earliest known records of the Hotspur Football Club are six torn and faded pages that appear to come from the original club book. Written in the hand of Lindsay Casey, honorary treasurer, they record that the club's initial funds, shillings (25p), came from the cricket club, augmented by sixpenny (2.5p) subscriptions from former cricket club members Hamilton and Lindsay Casey, Edward Beaven, Fred Dexter, |ohn Thompson, Bobby Buckle, Tom and John Anderson, Stuart Leaman, P.Thompson and E.Wall, and a one shilling (5p) subscription from D.Davis, who was called upon to pay twice as much as the others because he had not been a member of the cricket club. These funds were used to purchase goal posts for 2s 6d (12.5p), flag posts for Is (5p), flags for sixpence (2.5p) and other essential equipment such as tape for the 'crossbars' and white paint. Later in the year further members joined: C.Iverson, Lovell and John Fisher paid one shilling subscriptions, R.Howlett Is 6d (7.5p), Tom Bumberry Is 3d (7p) and Billy Tyrell 9d (4p). These documents also show that Spurs' first-ever match took place on 30 September 1882, a 2-0 defeat by another local team, the Radicals. Sadly no further match details were recorded and the only other result known that season was another defeat, by 8-1 against Latymer, an Edmonton school club whose rivalry with the fledgling Spurs was to prove every bit as keen as the modern day rivalry with Arsenal.

The first meetings of the club took place in some houses being built in Willoughby Lane or under a street lamp in Northumberland Park, but where to play was not a problem. Between the railway line and the River Lea were Tottenham Marshes where other clubs such as Park, Star and Radicals played. They provided plenty of open space for any bunch of lads willing enough to put in a little hard work and prepare a football pitch. The Spurs lads were so willing, but the same could not be said of other local teams. There were several occasions when Spurs had to defend their pitch by force against gangs of local youngsters who preferred to find their Saturday afternoon entertainment in baiting those who wanted to play. Spurs decided that if they were going to enjoy their sport, then adult help was needed. They approached John Ripsher, a clerk in an iron works who lived with his brother's family in Northumberland Park and had been involved in the running of the cricket club. He was warden of the Tottenham YMCA and took Bible classes at the Parish Church of All Hallows. 

 A bachelor and 'favourite uncle' type figure, he was very popular with the boys, especially when he readily agreed to lend his support. At his instigation Jim Randall, a clerk in Edmonton County Court and former Radicals player who had switched allegiance to the Hotspur, summoned a meeting for a Friday night in August 1883 held in a basement kitchen at the YMCA. Twenty-one boys attended and by the end of the evening their football club had been properly organised. Ripsher was appointed president and treasurer, Randall captain, Billy Harston vice-captain and the first committee was made up of Tom Bumberry, W.G.Herbert, Fred Dexter and Billy Tyrell. Matches were to be played at the Park Lane end of Tottenham Marshes, where the only competition would come from Park and the rugby playing University College Hospital. Navy blue was adopted as the club colours and all members were required to wear a scarlet shield on the left side of their jersey with the letter 'H' on it...





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  La formule est signée Danny Blanchflower, joueur réputé dans les années  1950 : « Tottenham, c'est le -glory game! » Le « jeu de la gloire » pour un des clubs les plus importants du football de Londres et d'Angleterre, pour le premier anglais à avoir remporté une Coupe d'Europe. Mais, club de tradition, il court toujours après les temps héroïques. Son stade, White Hart Lane Ground, avec ses 36 000 places (toutes assises), demeure un des endroits fréquentables du football britannique; en 1999, pour la finale de la League, on y a même entendu un joli chant : « Glory, glory, Tottenham Hotspur. » Un chant d'amour pour un club réputé pour son goût du panache, son jeu aventureux.

Son histoire a, comme souvent en Angleterre, débuté à la fin du XIXe siècle. Quelques élèves de la grammar school vivent entre les cours sur Richard ///et Henri Vêt le Hotspur Cricket Club. En 1 885, ils décident de créer le Tottenham Hot-spur Football Club pour s'adonner à leur sport favori : le football. Ils ont trouvé ce nom de Hotspur dans une pièce de Shakespeare : c'est le personnage Harry Hotspur, surnom de sir Henry Percy de Nor-thumberland. Le club quitte le Northumberland Park pour le tout nouveau White Hart Lane en 1 899, remporte la Southern League en 1900 et, surtout, gagne la Cup en 1901. L'histoire raconte aussi que, lors du dîner d'après-match, le président accrocha des rubans bleus et blancs sur la coupe, instituant ainsi une tradition qui perdure. Dès lors, l'équipe londonienne va s'installer dans le paysage du football d'Angleterre, allant et venant de la première à la deuxième division, sans heurt, toujours avec élégance. Une autre Cup s'ajoute aux trophées en 1921, grâce au génie du spectaculaire Jimmy Seed contre Wolver-hampton. Avec les années 1950, un vent nouveau souffle sur les Spurs. Le temps de l'ambition avouée au grand jour, ce qui, jusqu'alors, aurait pu paraître indigne, presque vulgaire. Tottenham veut jouer au plus haut niveau. Avec les grands. Un ancien joueur du club, Arthur Rowe, dont la carrière a été stoppée par une grave blessure, est nommé manager. Il met en place un système de jeu vite appelé push-and-run, « pousser et courir », basé sur des passes courtes et des courses rapides. Les résultats sont immédiats : en deux saisons, Tottenham remporte le titre de deuxième division puis celui de champion d'Angleterre (1951}! Dans cette équipe, on trouve Alf Ramsey (qui sera plus tard le sélectionneur de l'équipe d'Angleterre), Bill Nicholson et Eddie Baily, ces deux derniers devenant rapidement les entraîneurs de l'équipe. Commence alors le temps heureux, l'âge d'or de Ibttenham Hotspur.

Dans le dispositif mis en place par Nicholson et Baily, toujours inspiré par l'expérience Rowe, deux joueurs brillent d'un talent peu ordinaire : Dave McKay, toujours inspiré et maître dans l'art du tacle, et surtout Danny Blanchflower, génie de l'anticipation et de la tactique en mouvement. Et quand s'y ajoutent John White et Jimmy Greaves (de retour du Milan AC), l'équipe s'installe au sommet, réussissant même, en 1961, le premier doublé championnat-coupe du football d'Angleterre! Les titres, les trophées, les coupes viennent régulièrement remplir la vitrine aux souvenirs des Spurs. A Tottenham, on entretient une obsession : le beau jeu. On veut toujours du spectacle, du panache. C'est pourquoi on admire particulièrement deux joueurs qui ont endossé le maillot blanc : l'Argentin Oswaldo « Ossie » Ardiles dans les années 1980 et le Français David Ginola, ailier élégant et joueur de l'année 1999 selon les professionnels du Championnat d'Angleterre. Le jeu de la gloire, vous dit-on à Tottenham.











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