mel hopkins - fact file

1951-1964        defender

Born on 7th November 1934 in Ystrad Rhondda, Wales.

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Versatile Welshman who fitted in at left back, his preferred position, but could also play at centre-half or in midfield if required.   

Signed from Swansea Town in May 1951 as a 15 year old after attending a trial with 40 other boys and was offered a 3 a week apprenticeship.  Although he found his way to the left back position barred by Charlie Withers and Arthur Willis, he didn't have to wait long until those two stalwarts had given way and as a 17 year old he was a regular in the side and had upped his earnings to 20 a week, while living in digs near Lincoln Road, Enfield.  However, Mel later found Ron Henry as his big competition for the left back spot, but despite all the others wanting to play there, he still made 220 games on the left side of defence.   

Spending four seasons in the left back berth after replacing Withers, Hopkins showed good positional sense and a strong, fearless tackle making him one of the most highly regarded full backs in the country.  Being a youngster in the side did not phase him, bringing him experience at a time when the team were not doing so well and then shining under the management of Jimmy Anderson and Bill Nicholson before injury struck. 

Hopkins broke his nose and upper jaw in November 1959 while playing for Wales in a collision with Scotland's Ian St. John and he was out of the side for two years, during which time Ron Henry took his place in the team.  Establishing himself in the team, Mel found it increasingly difficult to displace him when fit again, thus he became the back-up full back on either side of the pitch.   

Having already played at the World Cup finals in 1958 with Wales - reaching the quarter finals, Mel was very unlucky to miss out during the Double season, Hopkins stayed with Tottenham and played through to the mid-1960s, before leaving to continue his career with Brighton and Hove Albion, a very short stay at Ballymena United and then ending his playing days with Bradford Park Avenue, who dropped out of the league when they failed to gain re-election at the end of the 1969-70 season.

In the early 1970s, Mel lived at Shoreham-by-Sea and worked as a sports teacher at the Dorothy Stringer Secondary School in Brighton, coached works teams three nights a week and was appointed as Secretary of the Sussex Coaches Association.  He was a regular attendee at Spurs home games and worked in the Spurs Legends lounge at the game, as well as other duties as a match-day host.

Mel Hopkins died on 19th October 2010 in a hospice in Worthing following illness.

 

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Career Record
 
Club Signed Fee Debut Apps Goals
Swansea Town ?? ?? ??  ?? ??
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (amateur) May 1951 ?? ??  ?? ??
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (professional) May 1952 ?? 11th October 1952 v Derby County (First Division) (away)  drew 0-0 ?? ??
Brighton & Hove Albion October 1964 8,000 ??  ?? ??
Ballymena United 1967 ?? ??  ?? ??
Canterbury City 1967 ?? ??  ?? ??
Bradford Park Avenue 1969 ?? ??  ?? ??

Career Record
Swansea Town
- League appearances; goals
- FA Cup appearances; goals
- Other appearances; goals
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
- League appearances; goals
- FA Cup appearances; goals
- League Cup appearances; goals
European appearances; goals
Brighton And Hove Albion

58 League appearances; 2 goals
- FA Cup appearances; goals
- League Cup appearances; goals
- Other appearances; goals
Ballymena United
- League appearances; goals
- FA Cup appearances; goals
- League Cup appearances; goals
- Other appearances; goals
Bradford Park Avenue
30 League appearances; 0 goals
- FA Cup appearances; goals
- League Cup appearances; goals
- Other appearances; goals

Honours
Wales international
34 full caps;  0 goals
Under-21 caps; goals
- Cup winners medal 19---

Milestones
- appearance

 
2008

Pre-match meal :  Breast of chicken, toast and a cup of tea.
What player of today would you have liked to play alongside :  Any left sided midfielder who would let me have a few runs down the wing, which I loved doing although it wasn't normal for a defender in those days.
Which player from your playing days would have been worth 30 million today :  John Charles (Leeds/Juventus/Wales) because you had two great players in the body of one man, at centre-forward and centre half.
Favourite away ground :  Maine Road
Most memorable game :  Wales v Brazil in the quarter final of the 1958 World Cup, only losing 0-1 to the eventual winners.  They had a young player called Pele playing his only second game and we were without the injured John Charles.
When were you at your best ? :  The late 1950s, as injury disrupted my career in the 1960s.
Most difficult opponent ? :  Stanley Matthews (Blackpool) and Tom Finney (Preston North End).
Hardest opponent ? :  Roy Paul (Manchester City).
What was in your first pay packet ? :  At Spurs it was 3.  What I did like though was the 10 signing on fee when I turned professional at 17 because I had never seen a 10 note before.
How would your Spurs side do in the Premier League ? :  We would have done OK.  People think there weren't any good players before the Premier League what rubbish !

           

 

What they said about Mel Hopkins
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What Mel Hopkins said about ...
... his time at Tottenham ...  27.12.1971 (THFC programme)

"Spurs are a great club to play for. I came to White Hart Lane as a boy and always felt it was a second home for me.."
 

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