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Class of 51 - Les Medley

Posted on 15 March 2016  - 15:45

Manager Arthur Rowe used just 19 players were we won the Division One title for the first time in season 1950-51. Now, 65 years on, we pay tribute to each one. Here John Fennelly spotlights the contribution of outside-left LES MEDLEY.

Les on the attack against Newcastle at the Lane in February, 1952Les with Bill NicholsonLes, left, with Ron Burgess and manager Arthur Rowe in 1950Spurs 1951: Les Medley (front row, extreme right)

LES MEDLEY
Games: 35. Goals: 11.

In an era of predictability and established formations, left winger Les Medley was something of a maverick in that he was allowed a free role and would pop up all over the field in search of goals.

That roving existence, allied to his own individual unorthodox playing style, made him difficult to pin down and allowed him to get into regular goalscoring positions with the ability to take full advantage.

As a result, Medley top scored with 18 goals as an ever-present in our Division Two winning side of 1950 and then banged in another 11 as we raced to the title the following year.

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Born in nearby Edmonton, he was a real schoolboy star who played for England Boys and well as Middlesex and London before joining us, initially as an amateur, in 1935. Les then served his apprenticeship at our nursery side Northfleet United before returning to White Hart Lane to sign as a professional in February, 1939.

With the outbreak of World War Two, Les helped fill in the gaps in our war league side but he then joined the RAF and spent much of the conflict in Canada. He returned to Tottenham at the end of hostilities to gradually work his way into Joe Hulme’s side but then his Canadian-born wife Thelma became homesick and he left us in November, 1946, to join Toronto Greenbacks while also working in a local steel foundry.

He subsequently played for Ulster United in Canada but then came back to England in January, 1948, and this time quickly established a regular place in our side. With Arthur Rowe taking over the reins in May, 1949, Medley became key to our ‘Push and Run’ philosophy which embraced his own playing style and made him a key component in all that we achieved.

Possessing a strong physique and plenty of speed, he was a difficult player to contain. He was tricky in his play with an exaggerated body swerve but he could also be very direct when the opportunity allowed and would leave defenders trailing in his wake. In essence, a typical Spurs winger, who crossed accurately with either foot.

He won six England caps, represented the Football League and played for the Rest of the UK against Wales in 1951. After four seasons as an automatic choice, he opted to retire back to Canada in 1953. He later played and coached in South Africa.

In 1961, he moved to Horsham, Sussex, but, after Thelma's death the following year, returned to Canada, where he ran a fish and chip shop in London, Ontario, for 15 years. Sadly Les died in Canada in February, 2001, at the age of 80.

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Above: Les gets in a cross as Arsenal captain Joe Mercer tries to block in December, 1950.