Tottenham Hotspur’s unique connection with North America can be traced back our first ever visit there for a summer tour in 1952. Fittingly, given that Toronto is one of the venues we’ll head to on this year’s tour, our first ever opposition on the continent was Toronto & District FA - a match we won 7-0 on May 22, 1952 thanks to braces from Sonny Walters, Len Duquemin and Tommy Harmer, while Les Bennett added another.
We played eight further matches in Canada on that 1952 tour, which included games with Saskatchewan FA (May 28, 1952), British Columbia FA (May 31, 1952 and June 5, 1952), Victoria & District FA (June 2, 1952), Alberta FA (June 7, 1952), Manitoba FA (June 9, 1952), Manchester United (June 14, 1952) and Quebec FA (June 18, 1952). Cities visited included Toronto, Saskatoon, Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Winnipeg and Montreal, seeing us score an incredible total of 78 goals, conceding just five and winning all nine games. This including an 18-1 victory over Saskatchewan FA and a 5-0 win against Manchester United in Toronto.
We got our first taste of the Big Apple on June 15, 1952, beating Manchester United 7-1 in an exhibition match in New York. Len Duquemin was the star of the show with four goals, while a brace from Les Bennett and another strike from Sid McClellan saw us run out comfortable winners.
We were back in North America in 1957, again visiting New York where we beat Glasgow Celtic 4-3 on May 19, 1957 with Bobby Smith scoring a hat-trick in the win and Micky Dulin also on target. Our starting line-up including many players that would go on to secure ‘the Double’ - the League Championship and FA Cup - in 1961, including Smith, Peter Baker, Ron Henry, Tony Marchi, Terry Dyson and legendary skipper Danny Blanchflower.
Our summer of 1957 continued in Canada, where we faced matches with Essex County All Stars in Windsor (May 22, 1957), Ontario All Stars in Ontario (May 25, 1957), Alberta All Stars in Calgary (May 29, 1957), British Columbia All Stars in Vancouver (June 3, 1957) and Mantioba All Stars in Winnipeg (June 5, 1957). We also had time for three more match ups with Glasgow Celtic, winning 6-3 in an incredible game in Vancouver on June 1, 1957. Smith and Alfie Stokes both scored a brace in the win that Danny Blanchflower and Johnny Brooks on the score sheet too. We won the June 8, 1957 encounter 3-0 in Toronto thanks a Bobby Smith hat-trick. The following day in Montreal the Celts got their revenge with a 2-0 triumph.
We would again meet Celtic during our tour of North America in 1966, with the first of three clashes taking place at the University Stadium in Toronto on May 21, 1966. We lost that game 1-0 and also went down 2-1 to the Hoops at the Kezar Stadium in San Francisco on June 1, 1966, with Dave Mackay grabbing our consolation. Our only result against the Glaswegians that summer came on June 4, 1966 as Terry Venables scored in a 1-1 draw in Vancouver.
While on that tour, we also visited Hartford – capital of the US state of Connecticut – for a match with a Hartford Select XI on May 25, 1966. A brace from Keith Weller and a further goal from Frank Saul saw us win 3-0. We played Italian side Bologna in Jersey City on May 29, 1966, losing 1-0 and travelled to Vancouver to face British Columbia XI on June 8, 1966, winning 3-0 thanks to strikes from Saul, Alan Mullery and Dave Mackay.
The 1966 tour was completed with two matches against Bayern Munich. The first saw us win 3-0 in Detroit on June 17, 1966, with Weller, Saul and Terry Venables scoring. Ron Henry scored a rare goal for us as we drew with Bayern two days later in Chicago.
Our 1969 tour of North America gave fans in the United States an opportunity to experience matches between English clubs on American soil. We had a London derby with a difference on May 15, 1969, beating West Ham United 4-3 in Baltimore. Jimmy Greaves, who would sign for the Hammers a year later scored twice, while Jimmy Pearce and Roger Morgan also netted. Two days later, we travelled to Atlanta, where Greaves again got a brace in a 2-2 draw with Aston Villa.
In keeping with our two previous visits to North America, we were back in the Canadian province of Ontario that summer for the Toronto Cup. Featuring ourselves, Fiorentina and Glasgow Rangers, the exhibition tournament at Toronto City Soccer Club saw us lose 3-0 to the Italian side in our first match on May 28, 1969. Fiorentina would go onto win the trophy, beating Rangers 2-0 on June 7, 1969, while we beat the Glaswegians 4-3 on June 1, 1969 with a Jimmy Greaves hat-trick and Roger Morgan also scoring.
The summer of 1976 saw our team travel to a number of far-flung destinations including Australia, Fiji and New Zealand. With our domestic season finishing earlier than usual, on April 24, 1976, we also made time to visit to visit Toronto again, beating the Toronto Metros-Croatia 1-0 on April 27, 1976 thanks to a Ralph Coates winner.
During the 2002-2003 season, we played two matches against DC United, the first of which was the ‘Tottenham Tribute Match’ at White Hart Lane on October 17, 2002. Fittingly for a match against North American opposition, USA international goalkeeper Kasey Keller started the game and was replaced as a substitute by Canadian Lars Hirschfeld. We also had a number of star players of the past return to wear the famous Lilywhite shirt for one game only, including Paul Gascoigne, David Ginola, Paul Allen, Chris Waddle and current US Soccer manager Jurgen Klinsmann. We were beaten 1-0 by our visitors from Washington, who included Ryan Nelsen in their squad, who of course spent half a season with us in 2012.
DC United subsequently invited us to play a friendly match in Washington on May 14, 2003. Once again, the Americans got the better of us with a 1-0 win in front of a crowd of 14,028 at the RFK Stadium.
Our strong bond with US football was strengthened on October 9, 2008 when we announced an official partnership with MLS side San Jose Earthquake. The focus of the relationship between two clubs is to exchange ideas of best practice and development on and off the pitch, as well as for officials and players to spend time in one another’s company. Back in December 2008, John Doyle, Frank Yallow, Ian Russell and Jason Batty from San Jose’s technical staff met their counterparts here in London and took in a Premier League match at White Hart Lane.
The Earthquakes based themselves at our former training ground Spurs Lodge for ten days in March 2010, which included player three exhibition matches there. The won all three, beating West Ham United and Colorado Rapids both by two goals to nil and they as achieved 1-0 triumph over our reserve side. That summer, we played a first-team friendly against San Jose Earthquakes on July 17, 2010, which ended a 0-0 draw. There was a near sell-out crowd of 10,712 spectators at the Buck Shaw Stadium for that match. San Jose have visited our training ground a number of times since and loaned our former striker Simon Dawkins for a period in 2011.
While in the United States in 2010, we also took part in the Barclays New York Challenge, along with hosts New York Red Bulls, Manchester City and Sporting Lisbon at the Red Bull Arena. Our 2-1 win over the Red Bulls on July 23, 2010 in the first match of the tournament, with goals from Robbie Keane and Gareth Bale, put us in a strong position to win the trophy. However a 2-2 draw with Sporting Lisbon on July 25, 2010 saw the Portuguese side edge us to the title, by virtue of scoring one more goal than us in the competition.
Trips to North America have continued to be a regular occurrence for us. We took part in an attractive, showpiece friendly against LA Galaxy on July 24, 2012, with a crowd of 25,676 watching the match at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. Our former striker Robbie Keane skippered Galaxy, with Gareth Bale getting our goal in a 1-1 draw.
Our biggest stateside crowd of 42,723 came for a game with Liverpool at the M&T Stadium in Baltimore on July 28, 2012. Aaron Lennon hit Liverpool’s post in the first-half, but despite plenty of good play, the match ultimately ended in a 0-0 draw. We finished our tour of the states that summer with a 2-1 win over the New York Red Bulls at the Red Bull Arena, with Gareth Bale and Gylfi Sigurdsson scoring in front of 21,701 fans.
The long established connection between Tottenham Hotspur and North America continues this summer as we spend time in Seattle (July 16-19), Toronto (July 20-23) and Chicago (July 24-26), in what is sure to be a festival of football.
By Andy Greeves