His work has appeared in just about every national newspaper, most recently his ‘You Are The Ref’ series, first seen over 55 years ago and a regular in the likes of ‘Shoot’ and ‘Eagle’ comics, appeared again for 10 years in the Guardian/Observer.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg of a remarkable career. His 'Gary Player Golf Class' series was syndicated to over 1,000 publications worldwide, and we’ve not even mentioned ‘Roy of the Rovers’. Perhaps the biggest compliment of all came from Disney animator Milt Neil, who described him as the ‘Master of Movement’.
Paul turns 83 this Saturday and his life both with and without the sketchbook went full circle last weekend.
As he’s jetted all over the world, one thing has remained constant - his love for Tottenham Hotspur.
On February 22, 1937, we beat Everton 4-3 in an FA Cup fourth round replay. That was the day that cemented Tottenham-born Paul’s ties with our great Club forever, his first visit to White Hart Lane. Over 80 years later, he was back pitchside as we played - yes - Everton.
A whirlwind of enthusiasm, Paul was almost lost for words when the great Ledley King appeared from the tunnel to present him with a special ‘Trevillion 80’ home shirt.
Eighty years at the Lane! Paul’s seen it all, from the ‘push and run’ teams that won back-to-back titles 1949-51 to Bill Nicholson’s double winners in 1961, the glory, glory days in Europe, more success in the early 1970s, relegation, promotion, Ossie and Ricky, more success in the early 1980s, Gazza, Lineker, 1991, Klinsmann, Sheringham, Bale, Modric, Champions League and now Mauricio Pochettino’s era and a new stadium progressing by the day.
We tapped into Paul’s memories and he did the rest…
Below: Paul at the Lane on Sunday
1937 - Spurs and Dixie Dean
Paul: “My biggest love is Tottenham and that has never changed. It was coming up to my birthday and my dad said ‘Paul, you are three and you are old enough to go and see a football match and understand what is going on’. It was an FA Cup replay against Everton. I couldn’t believe the noise when the Spurs players came out. It was deafening. But then Dixie Dean came out and they were all shouting ‘Dixie, Dixie’ and I never took my eyes off him. Spurs were 3-1 down but went on to win 4-3. When I came home my mum said ‘did you enjoy it?’ and I said ‘yes, I saw Dixie Dean, can you put him on my scarf?’ and she said ‘no, it’s a Spurs scarf!’”
“I never learned to read or write and I used to spend all my time here at Tottenham. At the age of 11, I did a drawing of Dixie Dean. That was pinned up on the school wall. When I failed my 11-plus, the teacher said ‘you better take this home with your school report, it’s not very good’. I took my report home and my dad said ‘these marks would be terrible if it was out of 10, it’s out of 100!’ I’ve been drawing footballers ever since. I’ve had the greatest time of my life meeting and getting to know Spurs players. As I walked in today, I bumped into Alan Mullery and he said ‘hello Paul’. Imagine that!”
The Barcelona of their time...
Paul: “I always say my teachers were Bill Nicholson and Alf Ramsey because I was always over here drawing. The ‘push and run’ team managed by Arthur Rowe was all about ‘give and go’, just like they play now. People think it’s all new now but no, this Spurs team was all about push and run, they were the Barcelona of their time. They knocked teams over one after the other. I couldn’t do my times-tables at school, but I could reel off the Spurs team - Ditchburn, Ramsey, Willis, Nicholson, Clarke, Burgess, Walters, Bennett, Duquemin, Baily, Medley. All the kids in the classroom used to clap! And I got to know all of those players.
Below: 1950-51 title-winning goalkeeper Ted Ditchburn
“Ditchburn could catch bullets, he had the greatest pair of hands I’ve ever seen. He looked like (film star) Burt Lancaster and I never saw him beaten in the six-yard box. The full-backs Willis, unbelievable. Ramsey, I did a drawing of him heading the ball and he tore it up. He said ‘the longer the ball is in the air, the lower the standard of the football’. I thought ‘wow, he’s right’. It was push and run, on the ground. I picked up my torn-up drawing but remembered that. Bill Nick never missed a tackle, a 50-50 ball was Bill’s, 40-60 was also his. Harry Clarke, the centre-half, he was so tall he had snow on his head. He could head everything away. We had the great Ron Burgess, Bill Nick’s favourite player, he was up and down, up and down. Walters the winger, Duquemin, ‘The Duke’, he was a ball-playing centre-forward, he came here from Jersey, a terrific player. Eddie Baily was different class, he could trap a ball and pass it in the same movement. Bennett could beat four players and then lose it to the fifth! A great player. He was a genius. Then Medley, they used to call them ‘M and B’, Medley and Baily and sing ‘M and B for England’. Medley was a terrific winger, very fast.”
Below: Paul shows an illustration of Paul Gascoigne
I was Gazza’s neighbour!
Paul: “The funniest thing was his first game against Arsenal, he lost his boot but scored with his sock! I was coming home in the car and the car in front kept on stopping. I was thinking ‘who is in that car?’ because people kept going up for autographs. In the end, I got out and it was Gazza! Anyway, we left and we were going along and going along and we got to some country lanes, and I was still following him! Eventually, the car stopped, Gazza got out and said ‘I don’t know where you are going but this is where I live!’ and I said ‘so do I’. I was his neighbour! In all my days, he’s the most skilful and I’ve seen some great players here. Look who we’ve had here, John White, Jimmy Greaves, Gazza, Linker, Klinsmann. Look at the players we’ve seen here and look now, Harry Kane, Dele Alli, we’ve got half the England team! Rose and Walker, they are dynamite! I love Eric Dier, he will be unbelievable. And they are all kids!”
Below: Paul with an illustration of Mauricio Pochettino
80 years at Spurs...
Paul: “When I stand here pitchside, I can still see all those great players. I can see Dixie Dean running around, I can see John White floating the ball over, I can see Gary Lineker taking a penalty, I can see them all now. They are out there, my heroes. As a kid, I didn’t need Batman or Superman, my heroes were the Spurs players, and they still are. I love our manager. That man makes me jump up in the air when I see Tottenham play. They play like the push and run team, they play like the double team of the 1960s, I never thought I would see it again. He's the man!"