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Maurice Norman remembers... arriving at Spurs

Posted on 19 June 2017  - 11:58

It’s 50 years since one of the defensive giants of Spurs was forced to retire.

Maurice in action against Birmingham City at White Hart Lane in February, 1956Maurice, second left, in strength and fitness training in 1960

Maurice Norman joined us in 1955 and played 411 times in the next 10 years, placing him 11th in our all-time list of appearance-makers.

The cornerstone of our back line in the double season of 1960-61, Maurice was Mr Dependable as we attacked from all angles on our way to championship and FA Cup glory. Get through Dave Mackay, and Maurice was waiting!

Maurice added the FA Cup in 1962 and European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1963 as Bill Nicholson’s team delivered the ‘glory, glory’ days. His performances earned England recognition as well, 23 caps between 1962-64 including selection for the 1962 World Cup Finals in Chile. He played 21 of those caps alongside Bobby Moore.

Unfortunately, Maurice’s glittering career came to an agonising end when he badly broke his leg in November, 1965, aged just 31. He battled to recover fitness for 18 months but had to call it a day in the summer of 1967.

maurice_instory2

Fifty years on, Maurice lives with his wife Jacqueline (they got married during the double season!) in Suffolk.

He was unable to attend the wonderful White Hart Lane ‘Finale’ but was proudly represented by his son Michael and son-in-law Stewart at that never-to-be-forgotten day against Manchester United in May.

So wonderful with words and with so many fascinating stories, Maurice put pen to paper to remember his days at the Lane. In this first instalment of a three-part series, we hear from him about his initial arrival at the Club…

Can you remember the first time you stepped into White Hart Lane?
“I joined Spurs in January, 1955. I was 21 in May that year. I had never been to London before. I arrived at Liverpool Street station and then took a bus to Tottenham. I had to ask where the stadium was, I didn’t know where I was going. I remember turning into what became Bill Nicholson Way, beside what was then The White Hart pub. Then there, before me, stood the memorable view of those famous black and gold gates and the imposing steps in front of the stadium (the old entrance to the West Stand) leading to the turnstiles with the name of the Club emblazoned over them, and a first glimpse of the floodlights. There I was standing with a few belongings in a holdall wondering what to do next. What was I here for? What would the Club, this great Club, Tottenham Hotspur, need of me? It must be remembered that I had only played 35 games in the first team at Norwich City. I’d never seen floodlights before!”

maurice_instory1

Can you remember your debut?
“Having signed the necessary transfer forms, I found myself on the following Saturday morning on the way to Tottenham via Liverpool Street and a bus to the ground to make my debut against Cardiff City (November 5, 1955). I met the players in the dressing room and asked myself time and time again, how could I be here? How could I be playing alongside these players, some of whom where great names to me? To say I was naïve is understating the situation I found myself in.

“Danny Blanchflower and Ted Ditchburn (who remained a dear friend until his death) were both so supportive and they told me ‘just do your best, we will be out there with you’. There was an ambience, quite a unique feeling and a quality in the dressing room about the players. Even though I knew there would be many thousands of fans watching, with their kindness, I felt uplifted and strangely calm.

“The match went so very quickly. I did not even know where Spurs were in the league at that time, I had to rely on press reports on the Monday after to gauge how well (or not) I’d played. All this happened, but, the thing, the ‘moment’ that stands out more is standing in the tunnel waiting to go out onto the pitch, the noise, the anticipation, the sensation of emerging and the roar that engulfed us, the atmosphere, the light of the stands, the condition of the pitch was suddenly quite frightening! I was completely stunned! In fact I can still, 62 years later, remember that feeling, the ‘Tottenham feeling’.

“A funny thing happened on the way home to my village (Mulbarton, I didn’t have digs arranged), I found myself on the train with some fans who chatted about the game, even my performance. I sat near them and chuckled to myself. My new life had begun…”

Click back here on tottenhamhotspur.com later this week for part two of our fascinating interview with Maurice as he remembers White Hart Lane…