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It was 55 years ago today...

Posted on 11 October 2013  - 10:33

Today marks the 55th anniversary of the great Bill Nicholson’s first game as manager of Tottenham Hotspur.

Bill at workA press report following Bill's first game as manager

It was described in the press at the time as “the greatest day in the history of White Hart Lane”.

Of course it was before our famous Double-winning season in 1961 and subsequent successes, and came after our FA Cup-winning campaigns in 1901 and 1921, and 1951 title success.

But on October 11, 1958, our incredible 10-4 victory over Everton in Division One trumped all that had gone before it on our own patch, according to the papers.

Bill, who had made 341 appearances for us as a player between his debut in October 1938 and final showing in December 1954, had already cemented his place in our storied history and went on to join our coaching staff. But upon taking over as manager, he led the club to greater heights than we had ever reached.

On the morning of October 11, a 39-year-old Nicholson was summoned to the club boardroom and tasked with succeeding departed manager Jimmy Anderson.

The players were told of the news shortly before heading out onto the White Hart Lane turf to oppose the Toffees that afternoon, with 37,794 fans watching with anticipation.

Terry Medwin, who scored in the match, recalled: “We didn’t know (Bill had been appointed manager) until he came down on the day of the game.

“I remember it even now – Everton at home, 10-4 it was. Bill was a great man as a player, and as a coach. Everybody respected him.

“He was very quiet as a person, but he would soon pull you up if there was a problem. Everything was so much fun when Bill was manager, it was very enjoyable.”

The game itself was just two minutes old when Alfie Stokes fired home, but Everton soon levelled through Jimmy Harris.

What came next was described by the Daily Mirror as an ‘avalanche’, as a brace from Bobby Smith, plus goals from Stokes, Medwin and George Robb saw us surge into a 6-1 lead before the first half was out.

Everton, despite being humbled by the scoreline, had not looked a bad side, and after the interval, Harris completed his hat-trick, while Bobby Collins was responsible for the visitors’ fourth goal.

Nicholson’s new charges, though, were rampant, and two further goals from Smith, one from Tommy Harmer and a late strike from John Ryden completed a stunning scoreline.

Club skipper Smith said at the time: “We were sorry to hear that Jimmy Anderson had to quit, but we were pleased for Bill.

“And believe me, we played this one for him.”

It was the beginning of a managerial reign that would cement Nicholson as one of, if not the most influential figure in our club’s history.

He guided us to the historic League and Cup Double in 1961, further FA Cup triumphs in 1962 and 1967, plus European Cup Winners’ Cup glory in 1963, UEFA Cup success in 1972, and League Cup wins in 1971 and 1973.

He resigned as manager in 1974, soon after our UEFA Cup final defeat to Feyenoord, bringing to an end a 36-year association with the club. Bill passed away on October 23, 2004, at the age of 85.