All About: Tottenham Hotspur F.C.

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Since the middle age theme is so popular these days, here goes a quick medieval story (please, read in British accent for additional thrill): once upon a time, there was an English nobleman named Henry Percy, member of the famous Northumberland family. Due to his favourable lineage, he learned the arts of cavalry and sword fighting since a very young age. He also loved cockfighting as an entertainment form of the time. A knight in many Anglo-Scottish wars, he would grow with the reputation of repeatedly hitting his horses’ spurs to make them sprint in battle – such habit would grant him a curious nickname and he would forever be known as Sir Harry “Hotspur”. If you want to know the outcome of his tale, stick around for today’s All About.

In 1882, a group of young school boys from the Hotspur Cricket Club in North London wanted to create an association that would allow them to play football in the cold and rainy months after the summer. Little did they know that their alternative to cricket would largely surpass their main sport and become a team that consistently fights for the top of the Premier League, always trying to get even with eternal rivals Arsenal along the way. The club would’ve had a predictable slow start, if it wasn’t for that sensational FA Cup win in 1901 – Tottenham became the first team outside the English top division to conquer the oldest competition in professional football. At the time, they were already professional themselves (1895) and also a limited company (1898), embracing the business side of football more than a century ago.

After the second FA Cup in 1921, Tottenham Hotspur F.C. made a brand-changing decision to their crest: the club’s logo started featuring a blue rooster (another medieval reference) that would survive until today. The team would enjoy only modest status throughout the rest of the 30’s and 40’s, dangling between the first and second divisions.

Tottenham’s golden age would come a few years after World War II, under Bill Nicholson’s coaching. League and Cup wins in 1961, another FA Cup in 1962 and the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1963. They would have an additional taste of glory in the beginning of the next decade, including the absolute first edition of the UEFA Cup in 1971/72 and two League Cups, in 1971 and 1973. In the midst of the declining trend that followed, the Spurs would get their third European title (second UEFA Cup in 1984) after gathering two more FA Cups in two consecutive seasons (1980/81 and 1981/1982).

Since the creation of the Premier League in 1992, the club has established valued consistency and international respect that comes from previous conquests – however, the harsh truth is that few trophies have arrived to White Hart Lane recently. It’s curious to see that the Spurs have never finished below 6th place in the new millennium, but they haven’t been crowned champions either.

With a good deal of their success coming in the 50’s and 60’s, Tottenham’s trophy room includes:

  • 2 Premier Leagues (Football Leagues at the time)
  • 8 FA Cups (3rd most wins, after Man. United and Arsenal)
  • 4 League Cups
  • 7 FA Community Shields (5th most wins)
  • 2 UEFA Cups
  • 1 European Cup Winners’ Cup

There are also several people that remain in the club’s unforgettable figures list, due to their contribution the club’s success. These are:

  • Arthur Rowe – A revolutionary manager who spread many tactical moves. The most famous of them is widely used today: the give-and-go.
  • Danny Blanchflower – The captain will never be forgotten by those who enjoy the Spurs’ history. He won the FWA Footballer of the Year in two occasions, in 1958 and 1961;
  • Bill Nicholson – 36 years connected with Tottenham, Bill Nicholson is the definition of a club’s legend. He was present during the club’s best moments and achieved glory both as player and manager;
  • Glenn Hoddle – Paul Gascoigne, Aaron Lennon, Luka Modrić, Gareth Bale…the reason neither of these players is considered Tottenham’s most skillful player ever is because of Glenn Hoddle. An all-around perfectly balanced midfielder;
  • Jimmy Greaves – A true goal-machine. The English international scored 220 goals in 321 official matches (0,69 goals/game) from 1961 until 1970;
  • Steve Perryman – Defensive quality and loyalty to the Spurs like very few. The defender piled up 861 games, 2 UEFA Cups, 2 FA Cups and 2 League Cups.

As of today, Tottenham are transitioning to a post-modern age with top-notch infrastructures: a massive new stadium is being built precisely where currently lies good old White Hart Lane (108 years playing there!) and they will be using Wembley Stadium until completion of the new playing ground. In addition, a training complex (including youth academy) is functioning since 2012. Relying on historic data, such big investments tend to precede a hard couple of years – will the Spurs slip through the next years’ ruffles and triumph, or fall victim of their own evolution?

They will want to avoid the fate of the noble knight whose name inspired the original Hotspur Cricket Club…Sir Harry “Hotspur” was mortally defeated in the Battle of Shrewsbury, in 1403.

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