Where do you start with the man they call "Mr. Tottenham" ?
Bill Nicholson will always be the name writ large in Tottenham Hotspur's history.
The man who won the first Double of the 20th Century created two successful eras at the club and made them a recognised name across Europe and the world. His service to the club, over a period of 68 years is testament to the efforts he put to build Spurs into a famous name in the game and to set new records while always playing the game in the correct manner.
One of nine children raised in Scarborough by his parents, after he attended Gladstone Road School and Scarborough Boy's High School, Bill went out to work young in a laundry, but played football for the local Young Liberals side in the town, with the man who ran the team recommending him to Tottenham.
He was invited to join the Spurs ground staff and in 1936 he signed as an amateur and signed professional in 1938. After playing a few games (often at left back), he coached the Durham Light Infantry when WWII broke out and while the conflict prevented him playing for many years (apart from war time guest appearances for Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Newcastle United), Bill learned the arts of man management in the role as a sergeant instructor in Physical Education. He served time in Italy and was demobbed in 1946.
Returning to White Hart Lane after the end of the war, Bill resumed his football career as a centre half and then as a consistent tough-tackling right half, who linked well with team-mate Ron Burgess to make a formidable pairing. They were the heart of the side that won the Second Division championship in 1950 and then went straight through the First Division, with Arthur Rowe's "Push and Run" side to win the championship the following year. Nicholson also worked well with the right back behind him ... a player named Alf Ramsey !!
Won only one England cap against Portugal at Goodison Park, where he scored with his first kick of the match in a game England won 5-2. Chosen for an international against Austria the following autumn, where the plan to counter the opponents style would have freed Billy Wright to mark Ernst Ocwirk was thwarted by injury to the Spurs man and he was never picked for a squad again.
While playing, he took on a coaching role with Cambridge University and enjoyed it very much, having gained his FA Coaching status on leaving the Army. Was taken to the 1958 World Cup in Sweden with England as assistant to England manager Walter Winterbottom and devised a plan to play against Brazil which earned the team a draw. Bill was a coach at Spurs before becoming assistant manager and then, when Jimmy Anderson retired through ill health, took over as manager. Nicholson had a memorable first match in charge, as his side beat Everton 10-4 at White Hart Lane and while he was probably more focused on the four goals conceded, the ten scored were a hint that he would follow the Tottenham Way.
After a poor start to the 1974-75 season, Bill resigned and took up a consultant's role with West Ham United, but gained an OBE for his service to football later in 1975.
Mr. Nicholson was brought back into the fold at White Hart Lane in 1976 by Keith Burkinshaw and employed as a consultant, which included scouting and in doing so, spotting players such as Tony Galvin, Graham Roberts, Gary Mabbutt and Glenn Hoddle, among others. Bill fulfilled this role until 1991, when he was given the Life President title, as well as having the short road that lead from the High Road into the main gates named after him as Bill Nicholson Way in 1999. A popular visitor to the Lane and a perfect gentleman to everyone he met, he was not just an elder statesman of the club, but an honourable man, who never really got the recognition he deserved outside of the club.
Building the club into a major European force and building two successful teams in different eras, Bill Nicholson would have been awarded a knighthood in more modern times, but despite campaigns to gain the honour for him, the powers that be over-looked him for others, who were not as worthy.
Bill Nicholson passed away on 23rd October 2004.