Kinnear, Robertson, England and Mullery: 1967 FA Cup heroes on playing Chelsea at Wembley
Wed 19 April 2017, 16:05|Tottenham Hotspur
It’s 50 years since we beat Chelsea at Wembley to lift the FA Cup – and some of the lesser-spotted stars of that era made a welcome return to White Hart Lane last month to look back on that memorable triumph.
Right-back Joe Kinnear, centre-half Mike England and outside right Jimmy Robertson – our opening goalscorer against the Blues – were all in fine fettle as they recounted tales of that magical cup run under the tutelage of the great Bill Nicholson before watching our current charges register a 2-1 win over Southampton in the Premier League.
Joined by legendary midfielder Alan Mullery, who operated at right-half during that period and eventually took over the club captaincy from the iconic Dave Mackay, the group cheerfully recounted the events leading up to our 2-1 victory against the Blues, in which Frank Saul also hit the target for us before Bobby Tambling pulled one back with five minutes to go.
In addition, the chaps pointed out a few similarities to our current cup run, which also sees us face Chelsea at Wembley – this time in a hotly-anticipated semi-final – this weekend…
Spurs: Great to see you gents! It doesn’t feel like 50 years ago since that Chelsea final, does it?
Jimmy Robertson (181 appearances, 31 goals, 1964-1968): “It doesn’t actually. Seeing these guys, they don’t look a day older, do they? (Laughs). That’s a lie, isn’t it! No, seriously, it’s wonderful to be back here, it’s the first time I’ve been back at White Hart Lane for probably nine or 10 years so it’s marvellous.”
Mike England (397 appearances, 19 goals, 1966-1975): “It’s great because it gives you an opportunity to bump into people like Joe and all the players you used to play with. It’s unbelievable, incredible. We had a super team then in ‘67 when we won the FA Cup and I don’t get the opportunity to see these guys very often, so it’s a great thrill for me to be able to sit down today and just reminisce and just go over the old times.”
Above: Jimmy Robertson with the FA Cup on his head during our 1967 victory celebrations.
Jimmy Robertson: “The final against Chelsea in ’67 was particularly memorable because I happened to score the first goal after Mullers’ shot was deflected back to me. I have to say that! At the time it all happens so quickly but, looking back, it was a wonderful time, a wonderful team and a marvellous day.”
Alan Mullery (373 appearances, 30 goals, 1964-1972): “I’ve got to tell you, it was a rubbish shot from me and Jimmy was on the end of it – he smashed it in the back of the net, which was great.”
Jimmy Robertson: “Yes, it would just be a typical Mullers shot!”
Alan Mullery: “Lovely, I like it! (Laughs). You don’t lose your sense of humour, do you, when you’re with this lot? We were a team of really good footballers that played very, very well for each other. We hope it comes good again in the next couple of months, that we beat Chelsea in the semi-final and go and win the FA Cup again.”
Spurs: How do you look back on that 1967 FA Cup run now?
Joe Kinnear (258 appearances, two goals, 1966-1975): “With great pride. You wish you could turn the clock back, I wish I was still doing it. It was a magnificent day (when we won the final). Me and Jimmy Robertson were obviously the best two players on the pitch! (Laughs). We tore them apart, overlapping and running up and down that right-hand side. That’s about it really. I’m glad we won.”
Mike England: “We played against Tony Hateley up front. When you marked them they were a bit of a handful at that time but on the day we took care of them. To get one over on Chelsea, we loved that!”
Above: Joe Kinnear in action.
Joe Kinnear: “We had a good philosophy because we went to Wembley three times and came away winners three times (we also won the League Cup in 1971 and 1973) so it was a really good record for that squad of players at the time. The only thing we didn’t ever win was the league but I think we finished third that season (1966-67). We were so close that year but it was a shame that we couldn’t win the league because we were good enough to do it.”
Spurs: Of course, that cup run started with a tie against Millwall, who we also faced this year…
Alan Mullery: “Yes, we drew 0-0 with them and beat them 1-0 here. Gilly (Alan Gilzean) scored.”
Spurs: Our biggest victory came against Birmingham City in a quarter-final replay, winning 6-0…
Jimmy Robertson: “Yes, I remember it. We played it here in the replay, it was a very wet night and after having such a tight game up there at Birmingham (0-0) we absolutely smashed them here so it was wonderful.”
Alan Mullery: “Going back to the Nottingham Forest semi-final, which was played at Hillsborough at the time, Jimmy Greaves scored one as we won 2-1. That season, Nottingham Forest were second and nearly won the title, so they were a good side in those days. It was good to beat them and then go to Wembley and beat Chelsea in the final but it was a tough semi-final to get there. Greavsie, who always scored goals, got one of the goals that got us there.”
Jimmy Robertson: “I’m glad of being reminded that it was Greavsie who scored. It was out of nothing…”
Alan Mullery: “Yes, which he did a million times. Out of nothing he would score goals and that’s how good he was. I would say he was probably one of the best I’ve seen at scoring goals. He would love to play today – we would all love to play today – but he was something special at scoring goals. He would score 30-odd goals a season. If he was playing today he’d probably get 60 goals a season – he was that good. The sad part about it is he’s not very well now but, bless him, let’s hope he comes good before long.”
Mike England: “I used to watch Jim playing and putting the ball in the net and thought how lucky I was that I didn’t have to play against him every week because he was just, as Alan was saying, such an incredible player. Him and Gilly between them, as a pair, were just fantastic and then big Martin Chivers came along as well, so we had some good forwards in those days. We had a good side and as Joe commented earlier, we almost did the Double and we should have done the Double because with the team we had, we were underachievers quite honestly. We should have won the Double again and we were disappointed that we didn’t. We were five points off doing the Double again.”
Above: Mike England prepares for an aerial challenge.
Alan Mullery: “If you look back on all those years, I doubt very much if we were ever out of the top five. We were there or thereabouts all season. You didn’t get in Europe because of that – you had to be a winner of whatever competition you went in for and that would get you into Europe.”
Spurs: Did the nerves get to you as you approached the final against Chelsea?
Joe Kinnear: “Not really. I think we were a very confident side and I always fancied us to go out there and win it. I’d have been bitterly disappointed if we didn’t. It’s not a silly thing to say – I was very confident because I was playing in a great side. I think we had 11 full internationals in the team and not many teams at that time had 11 full internationals, so we were the team to win it, for sure.”
Mike England: “When I was a youngster being brought up in North Wales, I used to listen to a commentator called Kenneth Wolstenholme and he used to say ‘and now the players are coming out onto Wembley, their knees are shaking and they’ll be nervous.’ I was lined up at Wembley for that match and I thought, ‘what was he talking about? This is what we’ve always wanted to do as footballers and so my knees are not shaking – I’m really looking forward to it!’ I think we all felt the same way – that this is what we’re in football to do, to win games. He wasn’t telling the truth back then, Kenneth Wolstenholme.”
Spurs: Jimmy – for your goal, did you know it was in from the moment you struck it?
Jimmy Robertson: “Yes. If you play golf, it’s like hitting it with a sweet one iron – you just get it moving straight, it hits the back of the stanchion, goal. Thinking about the question of being in the tunnel beforehand, I always felt confident with the players around me but more so with somebody like Dave Mackay as the captain because Dave was just unbeatable and if you were in the same team as him, you had more than half a chance.”
Above: Alan Mullery celebrates FA Cup glory with Dave Mackay.
Alan Mullery: “We had the legend of all legends, Dave Mackay, leading us out, who was probably the best footballer I’ve ever seen. I don’t think anybody would be able to touch him now in the modern game. As we were lining up to come out from that tunnel, he was throwing a ball up the wall and heading it backwards and forwards again and then standing behind him (was) me. He said, ‘these are a load of kids, you know’ and we went out and beat them. He couldn’t even think of losing, he was so strong in doing what he was doing and the marvellous footballer that he was.”
Spurs: Jimmy – you played on the right, but you were a left-sided player when you came down from St Mirren…
Jimmy Robertson: “I was an outside left but Bill Nick persuaded me to play on the right, although I was right-footed, which made sense.”
Joe Kinnear: “He was very lucky that I was playing behind him! I was feeding him all the time! (Laughs).”
Spurs: You clearly had a tremendous spirit among you that exists even now…
Joe Kinnear: “At that particular time we were gifted. We had a really terrific side in 1966-67, there wasn’t a better side around than Tottenham in that particular era and then another two times we went back to Wembley with two League Cups, so Wembley more or less became our home. Going there on three occasions and coming away winning on three occasions meant it was a terrific side to be in and I’m very proud of the fact that I was in it.”
Jimmy Robertson: “I would just say that most managers nowadays would give their right arm to find out how you get that blend and that mix but the manager at the time, Bill Nicholson, just bought good players. He just believed that, if you got good players and just put them on the park, they’d play and they’d win.”
Above: Mike England signs his Spurs contract in 1966 under the watchful eye of Bill Nicholson.
Mike England: “I was going to say the same thing about Bill Nicholson. I was a centre-half that came here, everyone said ‘he’s a big, rough centre-half’ but Bill Nick allowed you to express yourself and that’s what we all loved about him. He would say to you, ‘if you want to pull the ball down and push it, do that, as long as you know what you’re doing and don’t make silly mistakes.’ That’s why we all loved playing for Bill Nick, because he would tell us all to express ourselves and when you do that and you keep winning games, you love that. That’s what you want to do, you just want to keep winning and that’s what he was able to do – he had us winning games, which was great.”