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Maurice at 80 - a special Q&A, Part 2

03 June 2014|Tottenham Hotspur

The legendary Maurice Norman turned 80 last month.

The defensive rock of our double-winning team and an England international who played at the 1962 World Cup, Maurice made 411 appearances for us between 1955 and 1965, when his career was cruelly cut short by injury.

To mark reaching his personal milestone, we asked Maurice to reflect on his glory, glory days with Spurs and his experiences with the England squad at the World Cup in Chile.

His answers to 40 questions - 30 on Spurs, 10 on England - provide a fascinating insight into the career of one of Spurs' and England's greats, almost 60 years after he first walked through the gates at the Lane.

After memories of his early days yesterday, we now turn to the all-conquering double-winning team...

Can you remember what it was like when Bill Nicholson took over as manager in October, 1958? How did the players feel about that?

Maurice: "Although the team adjusted to Jimmy Anderson's ways, he really was just a chief scout who had given good service to the club. Now, here was Bill Nicholson, who had played for Spurs and England and was steeped in football. We all felt that Bill 'Nick' saw a future for Spurs that was onwards and upwards. A perfectionist, strict but fair, a private person but dedicated to 'his' team. He was with Tottenham as manager for 16 years and brought success to the club."

Bill soon signed Dave Mackay and the team that would win the 'double' was just about in place. What was Dave like?

Maurice: "Dave was signed by Bill Nick in 1958-59 (March, 1959) and he was to bring such energy and dynamics to the team. Dave never believed in losing matches and he never went around a player if he could go through him. In other words, you kept away from him when he was at full pace! He was strong, fast, determined and he was quite a destructive force to deal with. Rather an unpredictable person and often up to tricks off the pitch, you always wanted to be on his side even on the training ground."

Below: Maurice, back row, second from right, with Bill Nicholson and the double-winning team


When did you know the double team had something special?

Maurice: "I suppose it all started when we managed some great results at the beginning of the 1960-61 season, winning our first 11 matches. Danny Blanchflower had said that we could have done it the season before. We all seemed to be in tune with each other and we enjoyed being together - like one happy family. With Bill Nick at the helm and Danny's captaincy and tactics on the field, we felt almost invincible!"

What was the most important match of the double season?

Maurice: "For me, the match against Chelsea at the beginning of April, 1961 remains in my mind because I had just been married (on March 27) and when we beat Chelsea, I scored the winner. What a great wedding present for Jacqueline and me!"

What do you remember about FA Cup Final day, 1961? The build-up, the match, picking up your medal, what did you do after the final?

Maurice: "I remember being taken out to the cinema on the Friday night and we watched the movie 'The Guns of Navarone'. On the Saturday, we left Hendon Hall Hotel around 11am by coach to Wembley Stadium. We were upbeat and we had Bill Nick's words going around in our heads. He had talked at length about each of Leicester's players' good and bad strengths. I was apprehensive because I had only played a couple of times against their centre-forward. The match started slowly, the teams sizing each other up and probably one of the defining moments was when Len Chalmers was badly injured and carried off (the Wembley jinx struck again). The game changed dramatically with this 19th-minute injury (no substitutes in those days - it would be another four years before the first substitute was used in English football). Chalmers returned to the left wing but was unable to really play in the rest of the match. It was not a good match, but we won.

"After the match, I remember people patting us on our backs as we went up the 39 steps to the Royal Box to receive our medals (and the cup) from the Duchess of Kent. After the victory celebrations out on the pitch with the cup we met up with our wives and girlfriends and were coached to the Savoy Hotel for the victory dinner and for photographs to be taken for the next day's newspapers.

We entered the European Cup for the first time after winning the title. What are your memories of those first European nights and what was is like travelling abroad to play European teams?

Maurice: "Entering into European football, one of the first English teams to do so, was exciting but such a new experience for us. seeing countries that we had only heard of before. We had been on a summer tour to Russia in 1959 and that had been an eye opener for us all, as we did not know what to expect. Our first match was against Gornik, a team from a coal mining town in Poland. Having flown to the nearest airport we then had a four-hour train ride to the stadium. These countries were still far behind Britain in modernisation, were bleak and very poor by our standards. The 'Iron Curtain' between Russia and the rest of the outside world was still in place and Russia had many satellite countries in their grip. The match was poor and we lost 4-2. Gornik came to Tottenham the following Wednesday and 60,000 fans shouted and sang through the match. The 'Glory, Glory Hallelujah' songs were born that night. Although they were tough men they were surprised by the atmosphere and we won 8-1 on the night.

"Next up were Feyenoord, a Dutch side where we won 3-1 in the away leg and had a 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane. Our quarter-final opponents were a Czech army side, Dukla Prague. We arrived and played on a rainy day and lost 1-0 but in the return leg we won 4-1 before another capacity crowd. The atmosphere was electric. In the semi-finals we were drawn against Portuguese champions Benfica. In their team was a great star by the name of Eusebio who at 19 years old was inexperienced, but extremely powerful. In Lisbon, we stayed in Estoril, the weather was very good. The Stadium of Light was packed and we started badly, went 2-0 down quickly and lost 3-1. In the return, we did everything except score, hitting the woodwork at least three times. I was even moved up to centre-forward but to no avail. This ended our time in the European Cup."

Below: Maurice and Bobby Smith carry skipper Danny Blanchflower on their shoulders after retaining the FA Cup in 1962


Jimmy Greaves also arrived that season. What was he like? Did you kick him a few times in training?

Maurice: "He was still so young and cheeky, but quite experienced because of his time abroad in Italy, and so ethusiastic. It was very difficult to play against him in training as he was tricky and cunning. He became a great asset to the club."

What was it like to retain the FA Cup in 1962? Not many teams did that in your day and it was a great final against a good Burnley team.

Maurice: "The final against Burnley was a much better match than 1961 and I felt we were all more satisfied with our performances. There was also no injury to mar the result. So we won the FA Cup two years running, quite a feat then. Again, we had our celebrations at the Savoy."

Tomorrow: European glory, Danny Blanchflower and the arrival - 50 years ago - of the great Pat Jennings...