ted ditchburn - fact file

1938 - 1959            goalkeeper


Born October 24, 1921 in Gillingham, Kent, England.

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Ted Ditchburn was a giant of a goalkeeper, who suffered with other competitors for a place in the England side of the time, but was a great servant for the club, making a record number of appearances, while re-inventing the role of the goalie during his career, which was interrupted by World War II.

Ditchburn started his career at Northfleet United and played for Northfleet and Kent Schools, having a trial for England Schoolboys.  While starting his football career, he also worked at the Kentcraft Paper Mills and played for the Northfleet Paper Mills team.  He was selected for a trial for Northfleet in August 1937 and was spotted playing by Bob Ives, Tottenham's chief scout at the time.  He brought the keeper to White Hart Lane and Ted signed as an amateur on 8th June 1938 and was sent to Tottenham's nursery club Northfleet United, where he began his career in the 1938-39 season.  Ditchburn also made his Spurs debut in the 'A' team on October 12th in a 4-2 win over Three Counties Hospital.  Also featured in a 5-2 win over Cambridge University for the Reserves six weeks later.

Having impressed in the games he played as an amateur, Spurs moved to sign Ted as a professional on 8th May 1939, resulting in him being paid £3 a week.

The keeper played in one 'A' team game in the 1939-40 season before World War Two was declared and he made two first team appearances before football was suspended.  Made his full debut on 25th May 1940 in a 3-2 win against Chelsea. 

Ditchburn served in the RAF as a physical training instructor during the war and played as part of the Tommy Walker XI in the Far East.  He also guested for Dartford, Birmingham and Aberdeen during war-time.  He represented the RAF and the Combined Services football teams during the war years.

Following the declaration of peace, Ted made his Football League debut against Birmingham City on 31st August 1946 and the keeper missed only five games out of a possible 381 until November 1954.  By 1947-48 he was earning the princely sum of £12 each week.

Ted's ability between the sticks had caught the eye of the selectors and he was a regular in the Football League XI side, playing six games. He also played twice for an FA XI against his old RAF side.  England came calling and he made his full international debut against Switzerland at Highbury, but the match had to be delayed for 24 hours due to fog.  The match was played on 2nd December 1948 and England won 6-0.  Ditchburn was a member of the 1950 World Cup squad, but was not used.  He did not play again for his country until June 1953 when playing against USA.  He did win two B caps, against Holland in May 1949 and Switzerland in January 1950.  

Ted gained six caps for England over a period of eight years in total.  He also played in two wartime internationals, got two 'B' caps and represented the Football League XI, the FA XI and further representative acclaim came his way when he played for the Football Combination XI against Diable Rouge and the Paris League.

Ditchburn's huge frame and bravery, some of which came from his schoolboy boxing days, were major factors in Tottenham's defensive record in the consecutive championship seasons under Arthur Rowe.  Spurs won the 1949-50 Second Division Championship before storming through the 1950-51 season to win the First Division Championship with their push and run style, which gained all the attention, but many of the moves the team put together started at the back from Ted Ditchburn's hands.  Possessor of a prodigious kick upfield, he also used the ball out of his hands to feed the full backs, who then started moves up the flanks.

During March, 1951 he passed the previous club record of 122 consecutive league appearances, set by Cyril Spiers in 1931 taking his uninterrupted run to 269 games, including 22 in the FA Cup.  At the end of 2005, he still held the club record of 247 consecutive league appearances set between April 1948 and March 1954. 

He held the club record of 418 league appearances from 21st December 1957, when he played against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and overtook Jimmy Dimmock's mark of 400, until 1975, when Pat Jennings took over the appearance record.  He also played for Tottenham in 34 FA Cup ties plus 53 wartime matches.

Ditchburn dislocated a finger at Chelsea on 27th August 1958 and that was his last game for the club in the first team, although Ted stayed with the club for the rest of the season, but only played in the reserve and ‘A’ teams.

Released during July 1959, Ditchburn joined non-league Romford as player/manager, helping them gain promotion in 1959-60, but he gave up management in March 1962, although played on until 1965, making 147 league appearances.  On leaving Romford, Ted moved to another Essex side, Brentwood Town to finish his career.

Ditchburn was a keen cricketer and tennis player. 

During April 1949, he opened a Northumberland Park shop selling theatre and coach tickets, also selling action photos of Spurs players.  This turned into a grocery store and Ditchburn had other businesses - a toy shop and an electrical retailers at Potters Bar; a sports shop in Romford, in which he regularly worked.

Ted lived in retirement at Wickham Market, Suffolk and died on 26th December 2005.



Career Record
Club Signed Fee Debut Apps Goals
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (amateur) 8th June 1938 - 12th October 1938 v Three Counties Hospital (Metropolitan League)  won 4-2 ?? 0
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (professional) 1939 ?? 25th May 1940 v Chelsea (Division One)  won 3-2 ?? 0
Romford ?? ?? ??  147 0
Brentwood Town ?? ?? ??  ?? ??

Career Record
418 League appearances; 0 goals
34 FA Cup appearances; 0 goals
53 War-time appearances; 0 goals
- Other appearances; ?? goals
- League appearances; ?? goals
- FA Cup appearances; ?? goals
- League Cup appearances; ?? goals
- Other appearances; ?? goals

- League appearances; ?? goals
- FA Cup appearances; ?? goals
- League Cup appearances; ?? goals
- Other appearances; ?? goals

England international
6 full caps;  0 goals
Debut :  2nd December 1948 v Switzerland (Highbury) (friendly) won 6-0
2 war-time internationals;  0 goals
2 B caps; 0 goals
First Division Championship winners medal 1950-51
Second Division Championship winners medal 1949-50
Represented the Football League XI six times
Represented the FA XI twice v RAF
Represented the Football Combination XI twice

- appearance



Lived in Gidea Park.

Ran thriving sports outfitters at the market end of South Street, Romford. Had another shop opposite selling toys and games. Also had an interest in a printing business in Potters Bar.
Worked in the shop on Saturday.

Followed football through the newspapers and the TV.

His happiest memory was “the team he played with. The standard of skill and team spirit was tremendous. The names talk for themselves. Ramsey, Willis, Nicholson, Clarke, Burgess and the rest.”

Ted Ditchburn drove a converted hearse during his playing days.


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