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:-

Spurs

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.

Rangers

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

FINAL SCORE

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

COYS

My first live football match

Having lived in Warrington all my life, when I was a teen watching Rugby League at Wilderspool was where most of my pocket money was spent. I eventually experienced my first taste of a live football match while over in Yorkshire visiting relatives. Rotherham’s Millmoor ground was literally 100 yards down the street from my great aunt’s house.

Jan 22,1977 Rotherham United 0 Peterborough United 0

It was never going to be the first match up on any edtion of Match of the Day, but I had ‘caught the bug’. I enjoyed the atmosphere at rugby league matches, but there was something about a footie crowd that made it far more exciting. Visits to Witton Albion, Northwich Victoria and Chester soon followed in the next few weeks, all easy to get to by bus for a 14-year old. In ‘those days’ you could do stuff like that on your own, but as enjoyable as those trips were, it wasn’t Tottenham.City Programme 1977

I missed the chance to go to the Everton away game that April, but our penultimate match that season was at Maine Road. Unfortunately we were pretty dire that season, that bad we got relegated. It even could have been the day we went down, but I honestly cannot remember.

Getting to Manchester was easy enough, train straight to Oxford Road in a matter of minutes and then a short bus ride. I still remember getting on the bus, scarf tucked away under my coat, and asking the driver how much to the nearest stop to Maine Road, to which he replied

‘You’re not from round here are you?’

I looked bemused until he explained they operated a ‘rover ticket’ system whereby it was just one price no matter where you were going. So I paid my fare (20p I think it was) and followed the Sky Blue shirts to the ground when they all got off, before eventually ending up, a little scared, right at the back of the Kippax Stand with hoards of City fans.

The match itself was very much a blur, we lost 5-0, but thanks to the wonders of YouTube I have relived the action a few times since that day. Tommy Booth headed them into the lead from a Peter Barnes corner and it stayed 1-0 upto half-time. Unfortunately, the second half was just one-way traffic. Dennis Tueart made it 2-0 from another Barnes assist, before the skillful winger added the third himself.

No prizes for guessing who supplied the corner that led to Asa Hartford making it 4-0 and a dreadful backpass (sound familiar) led to Tueart setting up Brian Kidd to complete the rout. I do remember having to clap each City goal to try and avoid showing my true colours, but then getting brave with about five minutes left and cheering when we finally when a corner. Surprisingly I didn’t get a good kicking, just a load of pats on the head from the locals and a few sympathetic ‘Good lad’ and ‘Never mind son’ comments.

Luckily I was not scarred for life by that performance and the following season I got to see us draw 3-3 at Mansfield in the old 2nd Division. To finish off what I would say is, when anybody ever thinks we have been poor in recent times,have a quick search on YouTube for that match in 1977 it won’t cheer you up, but my God it makes you appreciate not matter how bad you might think we have been, it could be a whole lot worse.