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Pat at 60: Just call me Bill

Posted on 2 September 2005  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Pat Jennings turned 60 this summer and to mark the occason, we look back on the career of the goalkeeper many consider the best in the world...ever.

The facts say it all. 'Big Pat' played 673 games for Spurs between 1964-1977 and another 300-plus at Arsenal before winding down his career in a second spell at White Hart Lane. He also played 119 times for Northern Ireland, including two World Cups.


In his time at White Hart Lane, he won the FA Cup in 1967, League Cup in 1971 and 1973, UEFA Cup in 1972 and on a personal level, the PFA (1975-76) and Football Writers' Player Of The Year (1972-73) Awards.


Part three: Just call me Bill


I REMEMBER my first game for Watford was late in the season at QPR at the old White City Stadium. It was a 2-2 draw and as I’ve often said, ignorance was bliss for me in those days. We never had goalkeeping coaches in those days and I just didn’t know what was required. Most teams played with wingers and the crosses would come in with snow on them a lot of the time and being brought up playing Gaelic football, those crosses were a doddle for me.


I played the last couple of games that season and then the full season in 1963-64. I couldn’t believe my luck really. I was getting pad £25 plus bonuses a week in comparison to back in Ireland when I was on £4.18 a week, or something like that. It’s a job I would have done for nothing. I started at the bottom but I kept climbing every rung of the ladder and I played for Northern Ireland in my first year at Watford as well.


I came back at the end of the 1963-64 season and the Watford manager Bill McGarry was waiting for me at London Airport. On the way to Watford he told me that Spurs were in for me. I couldn’t believe it. I’d always read about how big a club Tottenham were, the great Spurs that won the double in 60-61 and won in Europe. And they were coming to sign me!


I remember going into the room to meet Bill Nicholson for the first time. Bill introduced himself and I referred to him as ‘Mr Nicholson’. He said to me straight away ‘forget the Mr, just call me Bill’. Straight away that barrier was broken and I was on first name terms with the great man. All the years I was at Tottenham, no-one ever called him Mr Nicholson, just Bill. Everyone had the utmost respect for him. I more or less decided that I wanted to join Spurs as soon as I met Bill but I didn’t sign there and then on the day, I actually went back home without signing but it wasn’t long before everything was sorted out.