The legendary double-winning manager made the short trip from his Tottenham home and it coincided with the squad’s official photo call for the coming season. They then trained on the hallowed turf as he watched from the front row of the stand.
The current crop of players were not even born when he completed his most famous feat in 1961, but they know all about Bill Nicholson.
They shook his hand, smiled and all said they were looking forward to Wednesday.
Just in case you didn’t know, we honour the great man by staging Bill Nicholson’s Testimonial against Italian giants Fiorentina at the Lane on Wednesday.
Forty years on and, rightly, the name of Bill Nicholson will be at the forefront of every Spurs fan’s thoughts again.
Of course, he’s never really been away. Bill still attends every home game and if this was just a regular friendly against Fiorentina, he would be there. But it’s not just a regular friendly, it’s Bill’s night.
“It is, I hope, going to be a good day for everyone and a good game,” he said. “I feel we’ll see a decent game because Fiorentina are a very good Italian team.”
You have to go back to 1936 for Bill’s arrival on the groundstaff in N17 before joining the playing staff two years later.
“I was at the club before the war started and it was a good attraction for me then, even before I joined the staff as a footballer,” he recalled. “When I joined as a footballer was important as well. It was always a nice place to be.”
He went on to play over 350 games for club and was part of the famous ‘push and run’ title-winning side of 1951.
But he will always be remembered for his managerial career at the Lane.
He took over in 1958, won the double in 1960-61 and added two more FA Cups, two League Cups, the European Cup Winners Cup and UEFA Cup before stepping down in 1974.
So what did he prefer, playing or managing? “I’ve never really thought of it like that,” he laughed. “I had a long time at the club as a player and that was always very special for me.
“My whole career at Tottenham has been good. Even after I finished as manager, I still continued to do scouting to help out after that. This club has always been a good attraction for me.”
Coming soon: Bill on Glenn Hoddle, Glenn Hoddle on Bill and we talk to some of Bill’s great players.
Bill Nicholson Testimonial
Bill Nicholson was back ‘home’, surveying the scene as the players were put through their paces at White Hart Lane.