My first time at WHL – Rangers 1968

Hi all, I have been threatening to write about how I came to support Spurs and my first visit to the Lane. At school I didn’t really have a team until the FA Cup Final of 1967, the first all London final dubbed the cockney cup final. Spurs won and from then on they became my team. Even after all these years some of the players from that side are still among my all time favourites.

Now in my family no one was really into football, I had a couple of uncles on my mums side who were Gooners but my dad and his brother seemed to have a fondness for Spurs but never went to games. I had never been to a game, but this was about to change when my sister who is 7 years older than me met the guy who was to become her husband. It turned out he was a massive Spurs fan and so we got on like a house on fire and I would spend hours pestering him to tell me all about Spurs and White Hart Lane, much to the annoyance of my sister.

The next thing I should mention,for younger readers, was that my sisters boyfriend was a barber and in those days most shops that opened on a Saturday would usually be closed all day or half day on a Wednesday. This was because in those days banks were only open Monday to Friday 9 to 5 so shops closed on Wednesdays to compensate the staff for having to work on Saturday and also so they could bank their takings etc. The consequence of this was that my future brother in law could never get to a game on a Saturday because it was one of the busiest days for a Barber and he would lose too much money and customers if he took a Saturday off. But he used to go to all the Wednesday night games he could.

After going out with my sister for a year he asked my Mum and Dad if it would be OK to take me to a game, and they said yes. To say I was excited was an understatement. The game in question was to be held on Wednesday 31st July 1968 a pre season friendly against the mighty Glasgow Rangers.

Tottenham v Glasgow Rangers 1968

When the day came I was so excited and so we set out to the tube station. Even on the tube to Seven Sisters I was getting caught up in the anticipation excitement and buzz, looking wide eyed at all the people wearing scarves and  lapel badges (replica shirts and clothing had not emerged then) chatting about the team and the game. When we got out at Seven Sisters the amount of people heading to the ground was mind boggling to me in those days. The thing is I still love that walk even all these years later. I still get the same buzz of anticipation and excitement going to games now.

Another thing I should add was my brother in law liked a drink, so the walk to WHL was broken up with visits to various pubs on the way, where i had to stand outside with a coca cola and a packet of crisps while he had a pint. I think the first one was The Beehive and the last one was the Corner Pin.

Now as a little kid in those days it seemed to me that the crowds around the ground were huge.There was a large number of Rangers fans. Lots more away fans than we would see at the Lane these days. Because those days you could turn up and pay at the gate for a lot of games. Speaking to my brother in law we both estimate that there were around 10 000 Rangers fans in the ground that night. We were in the upper North that night and as far as I can recall the whole lower terrace was filled with Rangers fans. Again to my 10 year old mind the ground was rocking with the atmosphere as 2 of the biggest teams in Britain emerged prior to kick off. My only regret was that one of Spurs most iconic players from those days Dave Mackay had just left the club so I would not get to see him play.

The 2 teams were as follows:-


1 Pat Jennings

2 Phil Beal

3 Cyril Knowles

4 Alan Mullery

5 Mike England

6 Peter Collins

7 Jimmy Robertson

8 Jimmy Greaves

9 Martin Chivers

10 Terry Venables

11 Alan Gilzean


12 Sub Jimmy Pearce.

Long sleeved white shirts with cockerel on ball motif. Blue Shorts. White Socks.


1 Kai Sorensen

2 Colin Jackson

3 Billie Mathieson

4 John Greig

5 Ron McKinnon

6 Dave Smith

7 Willie Henderson

8 Sandy Jardine

9 Andy Penman

10 William Johnston

11 Orjan Persson


12 Sub Norrie Martin

Blue shirts with a deep white V. White shorts. Black socks topped with red.

Referee : Mr A Dimond (Essex)

Linesmen : Mr D Pond (Essex) and Mr A Turvey (Essex)

(The officials collectively known as The Essex Boys)

☼ Dry sunny afternoon.

1 Substitute per team.

So pretty much full strength for both teams.

To be honest I don’t remember too much about the game but we won 3-1. I have found a couple of extracts of the match report but nothing in full. As i said before the thing that has always stuck in my mind was the rocking atmosphere obviously contributed to by the amazing away support of Rangers. It obviously helped that we won comfortably and heres a little extract of the match report

First Half. Spurs kick towards the Paxton Road goal, Rangers towards the Park Lane End.

In the early moments, Rangers look disorganised and sloppy with Spurs taking the initiative.

Chivers is played through, but McKinnon clears for a corner.

4 mins 02 Seconds: GOAL 1-0 SPURS

Jimmy Greaves takes a corner. Peter Collins moves unmarked into the box. Collins heads downwards, Sorensen under pressure from Robertson lets what should have been a routine save in to the net.

8 mins 15 secs: GOAL 2-0

A Greaves corner  again met by the head of Peter Collins is stopped on the line by Dave Smith. Sorensen does not move quickly enough to gather and Collins follows up to force the ball home


SPURS 3 (Collins 2, Mullery/Jackson OG) RANGERS 1 (Penman)

Attendance : 37,998

Researching on-line I think because of his shaky performance the rangers keeper Sorensen never played for the first team again.

I would love to find anyone who went to the game (Spurs or Rangers fans) to hear their views on the game. This turned out to be the first of many mid week night games I would go to with my brother in law seeing many highs and lows along the way. The lowest being Arsenal sealing the double at WHL in `71 to the absolute euphoria I had of being behind the goal as Alan Mullery headed in the goal that would ultimately seal our UEFA Cup win of 1972. After this period I started to go to Saturday games on my own. By that I mean without adult supervision as my mum said I was old enough to go on my own, or with mates in a crowd.

It’s why even these days I still love the midweek games in the Europa League. I know Champions league would be great, but Spurs in Europe holds a special place in my heart thanks to my brother in law taking me to many great games in the late 60’s and early 70’s

So that’s the story of how I came to be a fan. At least I have seen us win a few trophies but I still dream about seeing Spurs winning the title in my lifetime


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11 thoughts on “My first time at WHL – Rangers 1968

  1. Thanks Matthew, that certainly looks like it could be. Like I said I cant actually remember too much about the game now, and have been trying to find a full report of the game. On wickipedia it says the crowd at WHL was 48000 for his debut against Rangers in that friendly, but other reports say it was around 38000. Thats the one thing I do remember well was the amazing atmosphere, helped by my reckoning the 10000 or so rowdy Rangers fans in the ground.
    Thanks to everyone else who took the time to read my post. Its not my strong point writing an it tookj me ages trying to put it down without sounding too boring.
    Been looking through my old programmmes from those days to see if there are any other interesting games I can recall and write about.
    Its what my kids would call one of my "when I were a lad" stories lol

  2. Actually, having a closer look I dont think that is from that game just from the away kit, how ever I have just found this-


    Spurs 68 Spud 1 Rangers 0

    4 mins in to the game a Jimmy Greaves corner is finished off by debutant Peter 'Spud' Collins. 4 minutes later another Greaves corner was again finished off by the Spurs player

    • That is definately the first goal
    • COYS
  3. That looks like the goal! Yes it was a great game – made better that the young debutant scored two in the first 9 minutes, Roy Of The Rovers stuff! I collect Spurs bits and have some newspaper clippings of this game – I will try and post them here for you.

  4. Very enjoyable read nexus, thanks for sharing.

    Don't remember the Rangers game but I too was there and share your pain over the Ar5e game at WHL in May '71.

    The intensity of the build up to that game was like no other. I still remember the relief at being safe inside the ground when the shock announcement came over the tannoy something like 90 mins before ko that the gates were already closed. It was later estimated that another 50,000 were locked out.

    The game itself remains to this day the tensest and most eerie I have ever experienced. I just could not fathom how we found it so difficult to break down their defence, we just could not make things go our way. As for the utter desolation felt at the result – well I'm sure you don't need me to describe it.

  5. Hi guys, thanks again for the replies.
    @Spur of the moment, that was probably one of the worst nights I can remember at WHL. Again I dont remember too much about the actual game, but the whole night with so many people around the ground was actually a bit scary. I am only a small fellow and had a job seeing anything in the crush. Also I remember it took me hours to get back home.

    @Matthewjames71 I found that picture on a site about Rangers called
    Some interesting stuff on there.

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