‘It’s lucky for Spurs when the year ends in ‘one’, so they say. A cup team for year’s, but it has been 13 since the last trophy was lifted, which is why it is time for the rekindling of trophies and Tottenham Hotspur.
A History of Trophies and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club
The Cup Specialists
Trophies and Tottenham Hotspur seem to have been words that belonged together throughout the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s, and even started that way in the 90s with the club’s last FA Cup final success when they beat Nottingham Forest 2-1 after extra time.
So why the link between Spurs and trophies? It needs a look back into history to examine where the relationship started and how it developed.
Non-League Cup Winners
The first piece of silverware to be lifted by Tottenham Hotspur was the 1901 FA Cup when they ran out winners over Sheffield United in the final. Not only was this the first time that Spurs won a trophy but it also means they remain to this very day the only non-league side to lift the famous old trophy.
The club had only been formed in 1882 and it was in 1895 that they entered into the Southern League, so this was some achievement and one that is unlikely to be matched any time soon.
The Wilderness Decades
So whilst 1901 marked a seminal moment in the clubs’ history, it did not lead to evidence of trophies and Tottenham Hotspur being great bedfellows. What followed was fifty years of not very much, although the year ending in ‘one’ did show its hand in 1920/21 when Spurs secured their second FA Cup victory.
It would then be a long wait until 1951 when the League Title became the property of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.
Push and Run
That 1951 title triumph came with former Spurs player Arthur Rowe at the managerial helm, playing what was called ‘push and run.’ In the modern era, you can look to Manchester City under Pep Guardiola and even Spurs themselves in the early season’s under former boss Mauricio Pochettino for examples of what you might call push and run football. It was and is all about passing the ball and moving into space quickly.
Tottenham were considered to be the greatest exponents of this in the early 50s and it saw them gain promotion from the Second Division and become title winners in consecutive years. Of course, the year ending in ‘one’ may have helped a little as well.
Was this to be the start of a deluge of trophies? Well, not quite.
Bill Nicholson – A Tottenham Legend and Trophy Machine
There have been glimmers of success for Tottenham over the years but history still dictates that the greatest manager in the clubs’ history is Bill Nicholson, who did make trophies become synonymous with Spurs.
In 1958, Nicholson took charge at White Hart Lane and took the footballing world by storm, winning eight trophies in 16 years. Nicholson had played in the Arthur Rowe side of the 1950s and so continued the tradition of playing for and managing Spurs. His playing career had been cut short due to the outbreak of the Second World War but the Scarborough-born player never lost his appetite for football.
Make Mine a Double
Tottenham again set the trend in English Football when, in 1960/61, they became the first team to win the coveted, league and FA Cup double with the likes of Danny Blanchflower, Les Allen, Bobby Smith and Cliff Jones. Success was on the cards from his very first game in charge at White Hart Lane when his attacking team conceded four goals but also scored ten past Everton who were run ragged and were on their knees come the final whistle.
Not content with being the first team to win the FA Cup as a non-league club and being the first to do that double, Tottenham under Nicholson then went on to become the first British club to win the European Cup Winners Cup in 1963.
Up for the Cup
Spurs continued adding trophies to their cabinet, winning the FA Cup again under Nicholson in 1962 and 1967 as well as the League Cup in 1971 and 1973 and UEFA Cup in 1972. It was an incredible record and fans across football regarded Tottenham as being a ‘cup’ specialist. The FA Cup would again be Spurs’ in 1981 when Ossie Ardiles’ dream came true, 1982 and finally in 1991 when Paul Gascoigne was meant to be the star of the show but ended up being stretchered off in a sad end to his Spurs career.
1999 brought another League Cup victory and it was the same competition that then brought Tottenham’s last trophy in 2008 when they beat Chelsea 2-1 at Wembley Stadium.
13 Years of Hurt and Trophies Have Become Just a Dream for Tottenham Hotspur
In the 60s, 70s and 80s, Tottenham were cup specialists, but that is something that has slowly ebbed away over time and in the present day, the club have not been able to celebrate trophy success for 13 years. Progress has been made with top-four finishes but when it has come to the business end of winning, they have continued to falter at the final hurdle.
In 2009, Spurs had the chance to retain the League Cup but lost out in a penalty shoot-out to Manchester United. The following season was arguably one of the best for the club without winning anything as they took the Champions League by storm in their very first season in Europe’s elite football competition. Gareth Bale scored a hat trick in Milan and took one of the world’s best defenders in Maicon apart at White Hart Lane. Spurs made it to the quarter-finals but fell at that hurdle after a valiant effort.
2015 brought another League Cup Final but once more Spurs were beaten. Pochettino was looking to get that silverware but Spurs never looked at the races. Once more, a trophy had proved elusive to the North London side with Jose Mourinho ironically being the winner.
The dream of winning a first league title since 1961 was on in 2016 when Spurs gained ground on Leicester City but, once again, got to that final hurdle and were left with dreams in tatters. Tottenham needed to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and went 2-0 up to keep the dream alive. Then the players lost their heads – tackles went flying in, yellow cards were handed out like sweets and Chelsea came back to hand Leicester City the unlikeliest of Premier League title wins. For Spurs, it was once more back to the drawing board.
2021 – The Year Ends in ‘One’
The year ends in ‘one’. Tottenham have already secured an April date for the Carabao Cup Final where Jose Mourinho’s men will take on Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City for the first silverware of the season. Mourinho has won the trophy four times whilst City have won it for the last three seasons in a row.
The Premier League and Champions League crowns will be what Mourinho most craves but what he needs to do first is to make Tottenham Hotspur winners once more. If a League Cup, FA Cup and/or Europa League title can get them started in 2021, maybe we will, at last, see the return and rekindling of trophies for Tottenham Hotspur.