In this article, Neil Jones will continue his analysis into the impact Welsh players have had on Premier League clubs, this time looking at the Welsh players that have represented Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. It is the first part of an article looking into the history of Welsh players in London.
Tottenham Hotspur Football Club was founded in 1882 by a group of schoolboys who were members of the Hotspur Cricket Club. The football club was created so that they could continue playing sports in the winter months.
The first Welsh player of note to represent the club was John Leonard Jones of Rhuddlan, who arrived at the club in 1897 from Sheffield United for free, as Spurs were not members of the Football League then which meant that they did not have to pay a transfer fee. Jones arrived at the club at the age of 31 but would stay for 7 years and become known as the clubs first full international and in 1901 was the first man to captain the team to a trophy, winning the FA Cup. This win came against Jones’ former club Sheffield United. Not only was Jones’s a talented footballer, in his early days he would also play professional cricket. Whilst at Spurs he would coach football and cricket at Rugby School in Warwickshire (The school, which founded the sport of Rugby). In his last season at the club, Jones would go on to write a training manual about the game titled “Association Football” where he would provide guidance on the sport and go into detail on different positions and the rules of football. In his 7 years at Spurs, Jones would go on to make over 200 appearances in midfield. After retiring, Jones would go to coach cricket in South Africa before returning to England, where he would have a change of career as a pattern maker, but this would have tragic consequences as Jones died following a fall at his workplace in 1931 at the age of 62. (Image from: http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/hotspur-towers-j-l-jones)
The next Welshman to make an impact at the club was Eugene O’Callaghan, the son of an Irish soldier who served in South Wales, who played for the club between 1925 and 1935, replacing Jimmy Seed. Before arriving at the club, Eugene, who would also be known as Taffy, would play for local sides Victoria United and Ebbw Vale Corries as well as working down in the pits. He made his debut in 1927 and would help the club gain promotion to the First Division in 1933. Overall, he would go on to make over 250 appearances for the club before leaving for Leicester City, scoring 92 goals. He would win another Second Division Championship medal with the club in 1937 where after he would move to Fulham and play for them until 1947. During the Second World War, O’Callaghan was employed as a Policeman and later an ambulance driver. After 1946 he would become the club’s assistant trainer and would become a personal coach for club legend Johnny Haynes, who he would discuss various aspects of the game with and practice his passing, for which Haynes would receive praise from Pele and describe him as the “best passer of the ball I’ve ever seen”. O’Callaghan would pass away in July 1956 at the age of 49. O’Callaghan was the undoubted star of the Spurs side, being a major part of their forward line, during his time at the club, but was unfortunate to have played at a time when the club did not achieve much success. (Image from: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/5a/9b/d5/5a9bd598e6555eabca83c43a17b44cbc.jpg)
A team mate of O’Callaghan during this time, was another Welsh man from Ebbw Vale, William Evans, who would arrive at the club in 1931. Before arriving at Spurs, he too worked down the pits. He made his debut in 1931 against Swansea and would score twice in a 6-2 win. This was the first of 195 appearances Evans would make as well as scoring 86 goals from the outside left position. His career was cut short due to a severe knee injury that occurred on his 24th of birthday against Aston Villa. After several operations, he was released from the club and given a chance with Fulham where he would continue to struggle with his knee and have more operations. The last of which, gave him the grim prognosis that he would never play football again, nor would he be able to do much exercise as the knee would not be able to stand up to it. So, his playing career was over at the young age of 24 and it is impossible to say what kind of career he would have but given the start he made to his Spurs career, you would like to think it would be a successful one. Afterwards Evans would move into coaching and become a press match reporter and sports journalist, a role he would carry out until 1974. Evans would pass in 1976 at the age of 63. (Image from: http://www.whoateallthepies.tv/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/PA-4597591.jpg)
What was surprising during this era was that there was another Welsh international who came to the club from Ebbw Vale, meaning that you had 3 Welsh players who played for Spurs who came from the Welsh town of Ebbw Vale. Bill Whatley arrived at the club in 1929 but took a peculiar path to arriving at the club, although he was born in Ebbw Vale he was brought up in London and would then go back to Ebbw Vale where he would be spotted by a Tottenham scout. He would go on to make 254 appearances for Spurs, where his career was interrupted by the Second World War, where would serve with the Army in India, and would stay at the club until 1948, where he had to compete for a place in the first team in defence with future managerial great Bill Nicholson. Whatley continued to work for the club as a coach and scout and would help them identify future stars such as Harry Clarke and Mel Hopkins. Whatley, continued to live in London until his passing in December 1974 at the age of 62. (Image from: https://www.sportspages.com/media/280×280/14288.jpg)
Spurs’ habit of playing Welshmen from Ebbw Vale continued when Ron Burgess he signed professional forms for the club in 1938, he previously was employed as a pit boy down in the coal mines. Burgess would go on to have a legendary career at the club, making 324 appearances and scoring 16 goals. He was an inspirational leader who led the club to the Second Division title in 1950 and the First Division title in 1951. He might never have had such a career, but for a massive stroke of luck. He came to the club in 1936 as a forward, but after 12 months, he was told that he was not good enough and would be released. As he was making preparations to go home, he went to watch the A team play at White Hart Lane and as luck would have it, they were short of a player at half-back, Burgess duly volunteered (although he had never played that position before) and the rest is history. Burgess’ career like that of many others was interrupted by the Second World War, where he would join the RAF as a physical training instructor and would play war-time matches for the club and Wales. Burgess would return to the club and play until 1954 when he would leave for Swansea and would soon become their manager in 1955 until 1958 and then move on to Watford where he was manager from 1959 until 1963. Such was Burgess’ impact at the club, their legendary manager Bill Nicholson would describe him as the best midfielder the club had ever known, high praise considering the calibre of midfielders who have played for the club such as Danny Blanchflower, Dave Mackay and Paul Gascoigne. Burgess would be posthumously inducted into the Tottenham Hotspur Hall of Fame, which was created in 2004. Burgess would pass away in 2005 at the age of 87, and one of the lines in his obituary states that “mining’s loss was football’s immeasurable gain” which I feel is an appropriate saying considering the career he had. (Image from: http://www.tottenhamhotspur.com/uploadedImages/Shared_Assets/Images/History/Past_Players_New/burgess_ron.jpg?n=8677)
Mel Hopkins – who arrived at the club from the rugby heartland of the Rhondda Valley, was the son of a miner. He joined the club in 1951 having spurned interest from Matt Busby at Manchester United, he would remain at the club until 1964 and would go on to make 240 appearances. He was spotted by Spurs scout whilst playing for his local side Ystrad Boys Club. Although the club achieved great success during Hopkins’ time there, he was unfortunate enough to miss these occasions. When the club won the League and FA Cup Double in 1961, Hopkins was still recovering from an injury he sustained playing for Wales in 1951 when he suffered a broken nose and jaw in an accidental clash of heads with Scotland’s striker Ian St John. He would struggle to regain his place in the first team, hence the reason why he moved in 1964 to Brighton, where he would go on the first medal of his career with Brighton who at the time were in the Fourth Division and would that league in 1965. Hopkins career continued until 1970 when he retired at the age of 35, having played the last game of his career for Bradford Park Avenue. He would continue to live and work in the West Sussex area for the rest of his life, undertaking roles such as secretary of the Sussex coach’s association, sports instructor for Brighton Education Authority and then he would be spend 20 years as a sports officer and centre manager for Horsham Sports club until 1998. Hopkins sadly passed away in October 2010 at the age of 75. (Image from: http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2010/10/27/1288198865119/mel-hopkins-006.jpg)
Terry Medwin – was a player who would be a part of the squad when Spurs won the League and FA Cup Double in 1960/61. He would go on to play 16 matches that season and chip in with 6 goals. Medwin would follow this up with more success the next season when Spurs would win the FA Cup with a win against Burnley, which meant that they would qualify for the European Cup Winners Cup, which they would duly win in 1973 this would be the last trophy that Medwin would win as the in the post season tour of South Africa, a broken leg would ensure that he would have to retire at the age of 30. Medwin, made over 200 appearances for Spurs after arriving in 1956 from Swansea, whose manager at the time was Spurs great Ron Burgess, for a fee of £25,000 and from the wing position would score 72 goals. Before the 2016 European Championships, Medwin had the distinction of scoring Wales’ last goal in a major international tournament when he scored the winner against Hungary in the play-off match which set up the quarter final tie against Brazil in the 1958 World Cup. Medwin, who was born in the grounds of Swansea prison, as his father was a prison officer there at the time, would later move into coaching with Cheshunt Football Club in Hertfordshire. He also helped out with the national team, becoming their trainer on the Wales Tour of Asia and Oceania in 1971, although these matches were not considered as full internationals by the Football Association of Wales. He would also hold coaching positions at Fulham and would become assistant manager to John Toshack for a brief spell during his time at Swansea. Medwin, continues to live in the Swansea area (from where he was evacuated as a child during the Second World War) at the grand age of 84. Medwin would be among the inaugural inductees to the Tottenham Hotspur Hall of Fame in 2004. (Image from: http://www.tottenhamhotspur.com/uploadedImages/Shared_Assets/Images/News_images/Legends_(new,_Getty)/Terry_Medwin/terry_medwin730.jpg?=1176)
Cliff Jones – Another Swansea Town wing product who arrived at the club in 1958 for a then world record fee for a winger of £35,000. He would go on to make over 350 appearances for the club in a golden 10-year spell, although a winger he would go to score more than 150 goals for Spurs (an achievement that places him 4th on the club’s all-time goal scorers. Jones came from a footballing family as his father Ivor was a Welsh international who played for Swansea Town and West Bromwich Albion in the 1920’s. He also had 4 uncles who would go on to play professional football with a varying degree of success, whilst his brother Bryn, would also be in the same Swansea team as Cliff, also moving in 1958 but to Newport County. He would also have a cousin in the 1958 World Cup squad as Ken Jones was the reserve goalkeeper. Jones, who overcame a broken leg during his time at the club would go on to great success, being an essential part of the team that won the Double in 1961, the FA Cup in 1962 and the European Cup Winners Cup in 1963, defeating Atletico Madrid 5-1 in Rotterdam. His last trophy with the club came in 1967 when he was a non-playing substitute in the FA Cup Final win against Chelsea. Jones would remain at the club until 1968 when he left for Fulham. After retiring from football, Jones would go on to open a butcher’s shop and when this did not go so well, he would do sheet metal working, a trade where he did a five-year apprenticeship as a youngster in Swansea on the encouragement of his father, in case football would not work out. He would move on from to become a games teacher at Highbury Grove School, which was not too far from his rivals (Arsenal) former home ground. Jones is still connected to the club having previously worked on match days and still goes to matches occasionally to this day at the age of 82. He too was inaugurally inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004. (Image from: http://www.nationalfootballmuseum.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Cliff-Jones.jpg)
Mike England – a teammate of Jones when they won the FA Cup final in 1967, England arrived at the club from Blackburn Rovers in 1966 for a fee of £95,000. England who came from Holywell in Flintshire and was a pupil of Basingwerk County High School in the town (he was a school friend of Ron Davies, who would go on to play for Norwich, Southampton and Manchester United) before getting a trial with Blackburn at the age of 15. He would go on to make 184 appearances for the club before Spurs came calling, leaving the club after winning the FA Youth Cup in 1959 defeating West Ham United in the final and Manchester United (who had won it 5 times that decade) in the semi-final and after they were relegated to the Second Division in 1966. England made his debut for the club in October 1959 at the age of 17. When England arrived at the club, his task was to fill the role left by club legend Maurice Normal who had just left. He filled this role admirably, going on to make 397 appearances for the club, which puts him 11th on the all-time appearance list. Along with his FA Cup win in 1967 (where he kept Chelsea, dangerman Tony Hateley quiet), he would also go on to win the UEFA Cup in 1972 in the two-legged affair against Wolverhampton Wanderers. He was not a part of the squad that won the 1971 League Cup due to injury, but would win the trophy in 1973 when Spurs defeated Norwich City at Wembley. He was also a part of the Spurs team that would reach the UEFA Cup Final in 1974, scoring in the home leg, which finished 2-2 but would lose the away 2-0 to Feyenoord of the Netherlands. He would retire from the club the next season after struggling with an ankle injury, but would soon move to America to play for the Seattle Sounders in the North American Soccer League for four seasons along with a season at Cardiff City. He would become Wales manager in 1980 and stay in the role until 1988, he is the last Welsh manager to defeat English he when did so in his first match in charge and would do so again in 1984. Although Wales did get close to qualifying for major tournaments whilst he was in charge, they were unable to do so and would never manage again. He was awarded an MBE for his services to Welsh football in 1986 and after leaving the Wales role he would go on to run his own timber business and own two nursing homes in North Wales and continues to live in North Wales, near Prestatyn. He would join his fellow club legends into the Hall of Fame when he was inducted in December 2013. (Image from: http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/slides/photos/001/472/054/mike_england_display_image.jpg?1319568306)
Simon Davies – he arrived at the club in 2000 from Peterborough United for £750,000 after previously going up to train with Manchester United but Alex Ferguson did not feel ready to sign Davies and his team mate Matthew Etherington. Whilst at Peterborough, he would be included in the 1998/99 Division Three Team of the Year along with Etherington. He would remain at Spurs for 6 seasons, making make over 150 appearances, but struggled because of injuries before he moved to Everton for a fee roughly around £3.5 million. Where his injury troubles continued and would only go on to make 50 appearances before leaving for Fulham in January 2007 for £2.5 million. He would recapture some of his previous form during his time there, winning the club’s Player of the Year award in 2008 but injuries would continue to trouble him during his time there, but he would make a telling contribution on the club’s biggest night, when he scored the equaliser in the 2010 Europa League Final against Atletico Madrid which they ultimately lost in the last 5 minutes of extra time. He would stay at the club until 2013 when he was released in 2013, having made over 150 appearances in his time there. (Image from: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2014/09/10/1410348786791_Image_galleryImage_SIMON_DAVIES_TOTTENHAM_HO.JPG)
Gareth Bale – one of the best players in the world at the moment, played for Spurs from 2007 up until his then world record move to Real Madrid in 2013. He joined Tottenham after coming through the ranks at Southampton where he became the club’s second youngest ever player in 2006 and would go on to make 44 appearances before his £5 million move to Spurs (although this could have risen to £10 million with add-ons). Bale did not have the greatest of starts, he did not win his first match at the club until 2009 in his 25th match and would struggle to keep his place in the side, often being replaced by Benoit Assou-Ekotto. His form would soon pick up for the club and arguably his most famous night in a Spurs shirt happened at the San Siro Stadium in Milan in October 2010 when he scored his first professional hat trick against Inter Milan in the group stages of the Champions League even though they lost the match 4-3 after going down to 10 men after only 8 minutes. Although Bale would not win any club honours whilst at Spurs he would go on to win a batch of individual honours such as winning the PFA Young Player of the Year in 2012/13, the PFA Players Player of the Year in 2010/11 and 2012/13. He would go on to make close to 200 appearances for Spurs, scoring over 50 goals. (Image from: http://www.whoateallthepies.tv/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/PA-Photos_t_Tottenham-Inter-Champions-League-White-Hart-Lane-Gareth-Bale-photos-0311k.jpg)
Tottenham’s history is littered with success that would not have been possible without the skills and talents of its Welsh players and you would not be able to discuss the history of the club without discussing the Welsh players that have played in the white shirt. I hope that this success will continue with Ben Davies currently playing for the club. I hope you have enjoyed reading this article and will continue to look at the history of Welsh players who have played for other London clubs.
I would like to thank the following websites for their valuable information in the making of this article: