John Cameron was one of the players and administrators who made Tottenham a big name in the game through the years at the turn of the 20th century.
John's career started playing for Ayr Parkhouse and Queen's Park in Scotland, but when his work took him to Merseyside, he signed for Everton. Sharing his football with his work, he remained an amateur, which caused a stir among the players at Goodison, as they thought that he was not as committed as them and he bowed to the pressure to sign full-time.
While at the Toffees, Cameron was converted from a centre forward to an inside forward and as he was falling out of favour with the club, Tottenham's recently appointed secretary/manager - Frank Brettell - tapped up the Scotsman to join Spurs. He had little success until Everton put the player on the transfer list. Cameron had good pace and dribbled the ball well, combining this with his vision and reading of the game to know when to use his passing to it's best effect and he was just the player Tottenham needed. He signed for Spurs in May 1898 and his thin build was deceptive, as he possessed a strength on the ball that combined with his pace and intuitive play allied with an eye for a pass made him almost the complete inside forward.
John formed a fine partnership with Bill Joyce and grabbed 35 goals in his first season with Tottenham, with Joyce finishing on 38. The club finished third in each of the leagues they featured in and also go through to the First Round proper of the FA Cup for the first time. Complementing his ability on the pitch, John also had a good intelligence off it and the 26 year old's approach was appreciated by the board of directors, who picked him to replace Brettell when he retired in 1898 and Cameron also took on the role as player as well.
His knowledge of the game in the North and the South came in handy in his new role, signing top quality players and building the team to play in an attacking style to race to the Southern league title in his first season (1899-1900) in charge. It was the first major trophy for Spurs and they became known as "The Flower of the South" at a time when Northern sides dominated the English game. Not only was he behind the success, but John scored 13 goals and missed only two games of that season.
Even greater fame was to arrive the following season, as he masterminded Tottenham's road to winning the FA Cup against many experienced League sides on the way. As player manager, he had immediate contact with the players to be able to change things if they were not working. In the FA Cup Final replay at Burnden Park, his tactic of pushing the ball out wide to the wingers opened Sheffield United up, but there was no end product to the good play, so in the second half, he made the team play narrow and the wingers tucked inside. This confused the Blades and Cameron scored the first goal and created the second when his shot was saved and fell to Tom Smith to hit the second goal.
A major part of Tottenham's history, the shrewd manager stayed at Tottenham until 1907, by when he had all but taken Spurs into the Football League ... a promotion that happened a year after his departure from the club.
John Cameron died in Glasgow on 20th April 1935.