Admittedly, there is a considerable amount of ground to cover before Tottenham can even dare to envisage equalling Arsenal’s haul of three Premier League titles. However, as key moments in Tottenham’s history will indicate, records are there to be set – and broken. Founded in 1882, the club took only 19 years to rack up its first major achievement, and establish itself as a potential goldmine of trivia and ‘pub ammo’.
1901 – Tottenham become first FA Cup-winning amateurs
In winning the 1901 FA Cup final, just seven years before becoming a professional club, Tottenham became the first amateur team to win England’s flagship knockout tournament. The Lilywhites are still the only team to win the cup as a non-league side, and barring a miracle far greater than Leicester’s title win of 2015/16, they will remain so until the very end of time.
Under player-manager John Cameron, Tottenham’s very first FA Cup match of the twentieth century was played on 23 February 1901 against Bury at White Hart Lane. A 2-1 victory saw Tottenham proceed to the quarter-finals, where another home tie – against Reading – yielded a 3-0 win. West Bromwich Albion awaited Tottenham in the semi-final, but the Baggies were somewhat distracted by a relentless fight to regain the club’s top flight status. A 4-0 win for Tottenham set up a final with first division Sheffield United.
The final was played at what is today known as the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre. The Blades had only recently secured mathematical survival against relegation, and appeared jaded against a Tottenham side playing without pressure. Despite taking a tenth-minute lead through Fred Priest, Sheffield United eventually buckled, with a brace of goals from Sandy Brown either side of half time giving Tottenham the lead.
Hence the club motto, Tottenham had dared to do, and with 51 minutes played, could now dare to dream. On 52 minutes, Tottenham dared to dwindle, and paid what could have been the ultimate price. An equaliser from Walter Bennett proved to be the last goal of the match, with Tottenham barely clinging to the hope of becoming FA Cup winners.
At 20 stone, William ‘Fatty’ Foulke proved a towering presence in the Sheffield United goal.
Burnden Park was only closed as recently as 1997, but in hosting the replay, it had the privilege of witnessing a unique piece of history. The second encounter was every bit as gruelling as the first, but a well-conditioned Sheffield United went in as 1-0 leaders at halftime, with Fred Priest once more the opening goalscorer.
One can only imagine the rousing speech uttered by John Cameron, but Tottenham came out as an indefatigable force after the break. High on half-time oranges, Cameron himself scored the equaliser just eight minutes into the second half. Further goals, from Tom Smith and Sandy Brown, sealed victory and an F.A Cup win that would echo through the generations to come.
1963 – Tottenham triumph in Cup Winners’ Cup
Tottenham would set another notable record in 1920, when (as a second division side) the Lilywhites gained promotion with a total of 70 points. In today’s second tier, that tally would barely scrape a playoff place – but this was back when only two points were awarded for a win. Tottenham won 32 games from a possible 42 and scored 102 goals, and like the club’s FA Cup win of 1901, it is a record that is now guaranteed to stand the test of time.
Though crowned English champions in 1951, the dawn of the 1960s truly represented Tottenham’s most recent golden era. In 1960/61, the club became the first to win a domestic double, but it was at the end of the 1962/63 season that Tottenham would accomplish that which no other English club had dared to do.
In Jimmy Greaves, Tottenham boasted a striker very much in the mould of present-day hero Harry Kane, who is surprisingly priced at 3/1 and tipped to once more be the Premier League’s top goalscorer next season. After successfully defending the FA Cup in 1962, a Tottenham side managed by Bill Nicholson found itself making a short journey north. The destination was Ibrox, with Glasgow Rangers awaiting the Lilywhites in what promised to be a ferocious cross-border battle.
Already 5-2 up on aggregate, the Tottenham squad that took to the Ibrox pitch on 11 December 1962 could not rest on their laurels. With Tottenham drawing first blood, all realistic fears of a comeback from Rangers were quashed. Beaten though the Rangers squad must have collectively realised they were, the Scottish Cup winners fought a brave and defiant battle to the last:
Now safely through, Tottenham were drawn against Slovan Bratislava in the quarter finals. In front of a 32,000-strong Tehelne Pole Stadion, Nicholson’s side were stunned 2-0 by the Czechoslovakian heavyweights. Humiliated and wounded, Tottenham would be brutal in their vengeance for the return leg. Jimmy Greaves scored twice en route to a 6-0 win over Slovan Bratislava, and there were also goals from Dave Mackay, Bobby Smith, Cliff Jones and John White.
After a brace of relatively straightforward semi-final wins, yielding a 5-2 aggregate victory over Yugoslavian side OFK Beograd, only Atletico Madrid stood in the way of Tottenham and ownership of an unprecedented piece of history. Though Tottenham only had a 2-1 lead by the hour mark, the navy and white section of the Feijenoord Stadium in Rotterdam erupted three times without reply, with a brace of goals from Terry Dyson sandwiching an obligatory Jimmy Greaves goal to give the final scoreline a deceptively slanted look.
With a 5-1 rout of the Spaniards, Tottenham duly became the first ever British team to win a major European cup.
2010 – Tottenham ‘two good’ under Redknapp
Tottenham would go on to win two more European cups, lifting the UEFA Cup in 1972, and again in 1984. The first of those triumphs saw Tottenham become the first British team to win Europe’s secondary club competition. After remaining one of football traditional giants throughout the 1980s, the 1990s and 2000s saw undulating fortunes for the men from the Lane. After a dismal start to 2008/09, Harry Redknapp took the reins and guided Tottenham to mid-table respectability.
The following season, Redknapp’s side defied the odds and finished fourth, to qualify for the Champions League. Tottenham survived the qualifier, against BSC Young Boys, and proudly took their place amongst the European elite for the first time since the competition’s rebranding in 1992. Nobody expected Tottenham to get anywhere near the final – and they didn’t. However, Tottenham had one more record to set.
5th May 2010 – Tottenham beat Manchester City to fourth place with a win at the Ethiad Stadium.
In a group containing the reigning cup holders Inter Milan, Tottenham were a potent force. The Lilywhites scored ten goals in three home matches, including a famous 3-1 win over the holders. Curiously, Tottenham scored eight times in their away matches, but took just two points from nine. In doing so, Tottenham became the first team in history to score two goals or more in every Champions League group game.
Seven years on, Tottenham fans have every reason to be excited ahead of the 2017/18 Premier League season, with the club having now finished in the top three for a second consecutive year. Nobody is in any doubt as to which record Tottenham want to smash next. Chelsea’s record title-winning tally of 95 points is impressive, and is likely to remain unbeaten forever. Yet, as the famous motto goes: “to dare is to do” – and attempting to become the first Premier League side to hit 100 points is as big a dare as it gets.