Tottenham are 125 years old this season and Monday’s game against Aston Villa will be the official ‘anniversary match’. More importantly it is being dedicated to the greatest manager the club has ever had, Bill Nicholson.
It might be hard to imagine but Tottenham were the top club in England in the early 1960’s and it was all down to Nicholson. Not only did Spurs win trophies – The League and Cup double in 1961, The FA Cup in 1962, The European Cup Winners Cup in 1963, The FA Cup again in 1967, as well as European Cup semi-finalists in 1962 – but they did so playing stylish attacking football. He also built another team in the 1970s that won two League Cups and a UEFA Cup before retiring in 1974.
I was lucky enough to have met him once, not due to my footballing talents, but in the local barber’s (he lived near White Hart Lane) and was simply unable to speak as I was in awe of the man so much. By then he had retired from managing the team though he would still go to all the games till his death in 2004.
What would he think of the current state of the club? No Championship title since that 1961 victory, languishing in the relegation zone, boardroom interference causing turmoil, irate fans wondering where the next win /manager will come from and the fact that the club jersey advertises an online gambling company would probably make him feel uncomfortable. Though I feel he would appreciate what Martin Jol is attempting to do at the club with regard to the style of play and the plans for the future.
Great sides are invariably run by disciplined, strong-willed managers with a clear vision for the club. Shankly at Liverpool, Busby at United, Stein at Celtic, Clough at Forest. And Bill Nicholson at Tottenham.