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View from...a legend

Posted on 25 September 2009  - 12:00

There's only one legend to talk to when Spurs play Burnley - Ralph Coates...

View from...a legend

Ralph Coates must have known the phone call was coming.

"Yes, it's normally a busy time for me," said the popular wide man who most famously scored the winning goal for us in the 1973 League Cup Final.

He was, of course, referring to the week where the two footballing loves of his life, Spurs and Burnley, will meet for the third time this year.

The teams played out a thrilling League Cup semi-final in January and now meet for the first time in the Premier League, the first encounter in the top flight since 1976.

Born in County Durham, Ralph joined Burnley as an amateur aged 15 in 1961 before signing professional forms in 1963. His performances at Turf Moor earned two England caps before a big-money move to the Lane in May, 1971.

Ralph went on to make 248 appearances for us between 1971-78, scoring 23 goals. As well as his League Cup triumph, he was in the UEFA Cup-winning side of 1972.


The two clubs mean the world to him and as a 16-year-old just making his way at Burnley, Ralph had a close-up view of the great Spurs team of the early 1960s, a club that he would later join and help pick up trophies a decade later.

"I'd joined the groundstaff at Burnley and we were taken to Wembley for the 1962 FA Cup Final," reflected Ralph. "Of course, I never thought at that time what would happen.

"As we all know Spurs were a fantastic side at that time and it was a great final, Spurs eventually won it 3-1.

"I remember we were back at the team's hotel and Bill Nicholson and Danny Blanchflower came into the hotel when we were having our reception and brought the FA Cup in.

"It was such a nice gesture and everyone in the room stood up and clapped. The respect between the clubs was tremendous and I felt it in the atmosphere at the time. I was only 16 then.

"The matches between the sides were always open and attacking. I remember a 4-4, a couple of 4-2s and we even won 7-2 once at Turf Moor when I was at Burnley.

Ralph scores in UEFA semi v Leipzig, 1974

"When I went to watch the 1962 final, my admiration was for Burnley, it was my club, I was on the groundstaff but when I watched Spurs live and the players they had they went even further up in my estimation.

"I never, ever thought I'd end up playing for Spurs but as time went on and I graduated up through the ranks, the transfer happened.

"I'd actually been on tour with the England Under-23 team to the Far East and Bill was the manager, so I got to know him there. He was a lovely man, I had so much respect for him.

"A season later, Burnley needed the money and asked if I would be interested in a move to Tottenham."

So did he remind Bill of the time he took the FA Cup to Burnley's hotel? "Yes, a couple of times!" smiled Ralph.

"Jimmy Adamson was manager of Burnley and he was just making his speech.

"The joke that always sticks in my head was that as Bill and Danny Blanchflower came in, Jimmy was speaking. They stood at the edge of the dining area. Jimmy noticed them and at the time, Danny was doing advertising for Weetabix and Jimmy said '...and yes, Danny, we had Weetabix for our first course tonight'. It was a nice moment.

"Jimmy then stopped his speech and welcomed Bill and Danny and everyone stood up and clapped, congratulating each other. The camaraderie between the clubs was terrific. I don't think that would happen in today's game."

So to the present day and Ralph admits it's been the perfect start for both of his clubs.

With a fan, Villa, 1977

"I'm well pleased," he said. "At Spurs, we've had a couple of hiccups but we've just played two excellent teams in United and Chelsea. Burnley have maintained their home form and beaten some good teams already. I'm delighted with what I've seen of both teams so far.

"It's marvellous, really, because I always get a great reception at both grounds and I've been going to both for a few years now.

"I was guest of honour when we played at Turf Moor and I got a standing ovation when I came out at White Hart Lane. Both sets of fans are great to me - Spurs fans have always been fantastic.

"I loved my time at Tottenham. The players they've had - Dave Mackay, Danny Blanchflower, Jimmy Greaves - I was just in awe of them, never thinking, yes hoping, but never thinking that I'd achieve something near that status."

Your name sits there proudly, Ralph.


Take advantage of the Club's newly-introduced match experience package and meet a Spurs legend!

If you've not managed to visit the Lane this season then now's your chance.

We are offering a limited number of exclusive matchday deals for forthcoming Premier League home matches against Stoke City, Sunderland, Wigan Athletic, Wolves and Manchester City.

The offer includes a seat in the West Stand Upper, a two-course pre-match meal and access to a bar in the comfort of a match lounge. You'll also get the chance to meet a Spurs great such as Pat Jennings and even ask them a question or two as part of a Q&A session.

Prices start at £150 (+ VAT per person), but remember you'll be getting much more than 90 minutes.

For more information or to make a reservation call 0208 365 5010 or email