of Bill Nicholson was a big blow to everyone at the club. His
achievements over his years of service to Tottenham Hotspur will never
be eclipsed and deserved more recognition than they achieved when he was
The staging of a Memorial Service at the
White Hart Lane ground was a fitting way for fans to pay their respects
to the great man and to do so in a place he regarded as his second home.
The club should be applauded for their
production of this event and the way they have handled the whole two
weeks since Sir Bill's death. The books of condolence and the
leaflets produced have been spot on and the respect for the man shines
through in the way that fans have flocked to pay their own tributes to
With a stage erected on the edge fo the
penalty area at the Paxton Road end, the North Stand was almost full for
the Service with the lower tier packed and the top tier was well
populated as family, friends, the current players, staff and dignitaries
were seated in the Lower West Stand at the Paxton end. Some of the
scarves, shirts and banners were laid out on the running track in front
of the North Stand to provide a memory of the tributes people had laid
at the club's offices.
Some of the players who played under Bill
Nick and who were at the club while he was a Consultant attended with
other colleagues from throughout football.
Those I spotted included ...
||David Lammy MP
the first team squad
Matchday announcer Brian Alexander was
the MC for the service and he took to the stage with Reverend Toni Smith
from St. Winifred's Church Chigwell. The service began with the
video montage of the last two weeks and the moving sequence aired at the
Bolton Wanderers match to the haunting melody of "Into The
West" by Annie Lennox.
The Reverend made some comments about
Bill's life and although she did not know him personally, she was aware
of how he had touched many people's lives. Toni lead the singing
of the FA Cup Final hymn "Abide With Me".
Chairman Daniel Levy took the first slot
to pay homage to Sir Bill and told the assembly that it was Nicholson
who had made Spurs world famous and that we should not forget the debt
that we owed him. The way that things were done nowadays should
reflect the way Bill would have done them and the club will always
strive to meet the high standards he set for himself and the fans.
Some footage form the 1962 FA Cup
semi-final preceded the pairing of Cliff Jones and Jimmy Greaves
climbing the podium to add their memories of the man. Cliff
remembers that Bill would rarely give you a pat on the back when you had
done well, but once did so, adding that "A pat on the back is only
two feet from being a kick up the arse !!" The Welsh winger
remembered that Bill was always meticulous in his attention to detail,
from his first match, when Bill noticed that Cliff's studs were worn and
when he slipped in the act of shooting in a 4-4 debut draw with Arsenal,
Bill told him so at the end of the game, but told him that the club
would look after his boots from now on.
Greavsie, as always, remembered Bill for
the dour Yorkshireman he was !! Jimmy told of Cliff going in to
see the manager and reckoning he was the best winger in the world, so
should be earning £100 a week. Bill replied "That's your
opinion, not mine !" But he told of the man who turned up to
Milan to sign him in trilby hat, tweed coat and gloves, who went on to
be the major influence on his career. "When
you run out in front of the crowd, these are the people that pay your
wages. Their expectancy is high, their value of you is high, their
opinion of you is high. Do not let them down. Entertain them and you can
only do that by being honest with yourself, respect your team mates,
your opponents, and as a team, play as one." Greaves said
that Bill always regarded the fans as the most important thing at the
A couple of Spurs goals form a home match
with Arsenal preceded the scorers - Martin Chivers and Steve Perryman -
being called upon to give their reminiscences. Chivers was close
to Bill and perhaps more so after he finished playing, having been one
of those Bill found difficult to motivate during his playing days.
His tribute was short and personal and you felt he was still feeling the
loss very acutely.
Steve Perryman told that he came to the
club and it was almost entirely on the fact that Bill Nicholson was in
charge. He told Steve's parents that he would be treated exactly
the same as everyone else at the club and from the day he started there
to the day he left, that had been the case. Bill's hatred of
anything red brought big sheers from the crowd too. During his
time under Sir Bill, Steve remembered some of the sayings he used and
had put them to use in the clubs where he had been in charge.
These included ...
If one ball goes back, the next goes through and forward.
Play the ball the way you're facing.
If you're not in possession - get in position.
When the game dies, make sure you come alive.
No spectating on the football pitch - you can stand in the crowd and pay
to do that.
Stevie P said that he felt sad every time
he said them to his players, as they were Bill's words and not his
own. Steve praised Keith Burkinshaw for bringing Nicholson back to
the club from West Ham, where he went after his resignation. His
disgust at the club, around the time he was in charge with Ossie
Ardiles, was expressed, as the past was attempted to be wiped out and
Bill would have been part of that. Steve did not sound like he
would forgive those in the boardroom at the time for trying to
marginalise Sir Bill. Perryman said he would miss Bill, but
although he never received the knighthood he deserved, he would always
be a 'Sir' to us and a gentleman.
Hoddle's wonder goal against Oxford at
the Lane and Mabbutt lifting the 1991 FA Cup were seen on the big screen
before they told of their encounters with Sir Bill. Hoddle thought
that a hat-trick in the youth team would earn a favourable comment from
the boss, but he pointed out that Hoddle had taken a risk with the third
goal and he should have passed to a colleague. Hoddle was shocked,
but realised that he was pointing out that Hoddle was not playing for
the team and was going for personal glory. From that he learned
that valuable lesson. He said that he hoped that Bill would reap
the spiritual reward his earthly efforts deserved.
Burkinshaw and Shreeves were away at the
1982 World Cup, leaving Sir Bill to deal with the faxed CV's of players
who were available in the summer. He saw Gary Mabbutt's and rang
his club, who in turn rang the young Mabbutt to inform him that Bill
Nicholson would be phoning him in the next ten minutes. When asked
if he would like to travel up to London as Spurs were interested in
signing him, Mabbutt jumped at the chance. When he arrived at the
club, he walked in and met Sir Bill, saying "Hello Mr. Nicholson,
I'm Gary Mabbutt." "I know. I'm Bill," said
the great man. Immediately, he had put Mabbutt at his ease and on
the way to the Cheshunt training ground, he talked non-stop about the
club, what the had done, where they were going and how it all
worked. by the time they got there, Mabbutt was decided that this
was the club he wanted to play for. He said that he had spoken
with warmth and passion, but never from a position where he was telling
Gary about it, just recalling the good old days.
It was fitting and most moving when
Bill's daughter Linda spoke about her father. The family had to
share Bill with his "second family" - Tottenham Hotspur.
Linda said that there were so many wonderful memories that they have of
her father ad the ground was at the centre of most of them. Bill
had always said that the most important thing was the fans.
Without them, there would be no game. There would be no chance for
players to play the game they love. There would be no
spectacle. Linda said the family had lots of fabulous memories of
their father from the books of condolence and many tributes to
Bill. They thanked everyone who had passed their best wishes to
the family and the club for everything they had done including the
staging of this fitting service.
The service concluded with the singing of
"Jerusalem", the saying of the Lord's Prayer and the release
of one white dove for every year of Bill's life - 85 in all. As
the dignitaries moved back towards the tunnel, some more pictures were
shown on the Videotron and "Glory Glory, Hallelujah" was
Some Spurs songs were sung to echo eerily
around the ground, with applause for the old and current stars as the
assembled fans trooped out. It was a fitting way for those who
were there to say their goodbyes to Sir Bill.
Most of all, it gave me the chance to say