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'I used to sneak in to watch Swansea - that was 80 years ago...'

Posted on 2 December 2016  - 09:00

Terry Medwin lived the footballing dream - then suffered the nightmare.

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He went from watching his home-town team Swansea on the terraces in the 1930s to playing for the Swans, Spurs and Wales, helped Swansea to promotion, played in the World Cup, scored one of Wales' most famous goals and was part of our glory, glory years of the early 1960s under Bill Nicholson.

But then his world fell apart as a broken leg ended his career at the age of 30 in 1963.

Born in 1932, Terry told us how he used to sneak into the Vetch Field, Swansea's former home before the Liberty Stadium, as he recalled those days growing up in Swansea.

Terry played for Swansea and Wales schoolboys and signed part-time forms for the Swans in September, 1949, just a day after his 17th birthday. Fit and versatile, Terry could play in all positions across the front line and having scored 57 goals in 147 appearances for Swansea, was snapped-up by Spurs in April, 1956.

Below: Terry (left) with Cliff Jones and Eddie Clayton at Wembley in November

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He went on to play 215 times for us, scoring 72 goals in the Football League, FA Cup and Europe until his footballing world came crashing down on May 31, 1963, when he broke his leg in three places on a post-season tour of South Africa. He was 30 at the time but wouldn't play again.

Capped 30 times by Wales, Terry scored one of the most important goals in Wales international history, the winner in a play-off against Hungary to take them through to the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 1958. They lost out to eventual-champions Brazil and a certain Pele scored the winner.

Born on September 25, 1932 and now 84, Terry is in fine fettle and a recent visitor to Wembley for our Champions League match against Bayer Leverkusen, where he spent the night with former team-mates Cliff Jones and Eddie Clayton.

Below: Terry (front row, far left) with our FA Cup-winning team of 1962, his proudest moment in a Spurs shirt

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Terry spoke to us this week to recall those early days at Swansea, moving to Spurs and the day his footballing world fell apart...

What do you remember about your childhood days in Swansea?
Terry: "Just about right outside our front door was the Vetch Field and I used to sneak in there as a four or five-year-old and watch. We used to wait for kick-off at three o’clock and then at about quarter-past-four they used to unlock the gates in case anyone wanted to go early. As they were doing that, we used to slide in the doors and as they were going out, we were going in! We’d stand behind the crowd on the bank. They knew who we we were!"

How were you affected by the Second World War, which started in 1939?
Terry: "We were evacuated as families and the three-night blitz in Swansea (February 19-21, 1941) brought heavy losses to the town, it was practically all destroyed. They were difficult times for everyone but being younger (Terry was eight) you don’t think much about what’s going on. You still go to school, you play in the yard, you go down to the beach and maybe marked pitch out for a game. We had a great upbringing, playing football on the beach. It was difficult times in the war. Life settled down after that and I put my mind on becoming a full-time professional."

Below: Terry (front row, far left\) with the famous Wales squad that reached the quarter-finals of the 1958 World Cup - including fellow Spurs Cliff Jones (front row, far right) and Mel Hopkins (back row, third from right)

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You played for Swansea and Wales schoolboys, then signed for Swansea. That must have been a dream come true...
Terry: "I signed part-time in 1949 and I think I was earning £3 a week. I loved it! We trained on a Tuesday and Thursday but I would train every morning. I’d get there about 6.45am, go to the main entrance and no matter if it was rain, snow, sleet, I’d be out there. I’d do three or four miles before I went to work. By the time I got into the first team, I was really fit and ready."

You joined Spurs in 1956. Can you remember your first visit to White Hart Lane?
Terry: “Yes, like it was yesterday. It was brilliant. I travelled over on a Saturday to look around the place. I met with Jimmy Anderson, who was manager at the time, but Bill Nicholson soon took over and things really took off for the club from there.”

Below: Terry in 1962

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How did you get on with Bill?
“Bill was an absolute gem, a true Yorkshireman and a lovely man as well. I didn’t really get any praise out of him though! I remember when we played Burnley in the 1962 FA Cup Final. I was working well with Cliff Jones, working hard to win back possession, not allowing Burnley to play. Bill had a right go at half-time! But he knew he could rely on us and we went on to retain the trophy.”

Can you remember what you were thinking as you went to collect your FA Cup winner's medal in 1962?
Terry: "That was the dream. We met The Queen and Prince Phillip. Burnley were a good footballing side. It was a good final, like a chess match. We won 3-1, it was a fantastic day."

Your career came to a sad end when you broke your leg on our post-season tour of South Africa in 1963.
Terry: “We’d just won the Cup Winners Cup in Rotterdam and we flew from there to South Africa. We trained the next day, just a light one, ticking over and then flew down to Cape Town where the game was being played. Cliff came in from one side to head the ball, I came in from the other side, the full-back had his eye on the ball and I ran past him but the goalkeeper turned and came right across me. I can remember the crack. It was terrible, a nasty one. The muscles never really recovered. I was in a full plaster for about 12 weeks but couldn’t get back.”

Below: Terry pictured at Swansea v Spurs last season

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That must have been a huge blow...
Terry: “I was just coming up to 31, a good age for a footballer. I looked after myself. I wasn’t really a drinker and I felt fit, 10 per cent fitter than anyone else. I’m sure I would have had a few more years left in me, if not at Tottenham then somewhere else. It was difficult but there you go. It happens, it's life and you quietly get on with it."

Do you still love football as much as ever?
Terry: "I love the game but sadly, when you get to your 80s, it's not as easy to get to the games. If I was in London, perhaps I'd still be going to Spurs every week, like Cliffy and Pat Jennings. Wembley was a great experience, something new for me and it was great to see Cliffy and Eddie. I've known Cliffy since we were 11 or 12. We played all the way through together, lived near each other in Swansea, went to the same school and then we were quite close again when we were both at Spurs. We've had some great times together."