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Maurice at 80 - a special Q&A, Part 3

04 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.

In Part Three, Maurice looks back on our historic European triumph in 1963 and talks about fellow legends Danny Blanchflower, Dave Mackay and Pat Jennings...

After the double and retaining the FA Cup in 1962, our next moment of glory was winning the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1963, becoming the first British team to win a European trophy. That must have been a very proud moment.

Maurice: "The European Cup Winners Cup Final in Rotterdam was yet another experience completely. We beat Atletico Madrid 5-1. We played really well and were all 'over the moon'. Dave Mackay did not play due to injury and Bill Nick brought in Tony Marchi and introduced a new idea, dual centre-halves. We had played well in the tournament and had won all three qualifying rounds quite easily (we beat Glasgow Rangers 8-4 on aggregate, Slovan Bratislava, a Czech side, 6-2 on aggregate and OFK Belgrade, who had been the toughest, 5-2 on aggregate).

"For the final in Rotterdam, our wives and girlfriends were flown in to see the match and to attend the celebrations if we won. This was the first and only time the club had involved our partners and the first time that some of them had flown. It was to be quite a night. We really played well and were all elated by the result and our performances. Bill Nick did not say much but we knew he was thrilled."

Below: Maurice holds Danny Blanchflower aloft with Bobby Smith after our 1962 FA Cup Final triumph


How would you sum up that period - the double in 1961, the FA Cup in 1962 and European CWC in 1963? What was it like to play for Spurs at that time?

Maurice: "What can I say about that period in the club's history? I think we felt almost invincible. We rarely looked at a teamsheet to see who we would be playing because we had only used 15 players during those seasons. It seemed that continuity played a large part in the team's success."

What was it like to play behind Danny Blanchflower and Dave Mackay?

Maurice: "I learnt so much from Danny, coming in from Norwich to play behind and with one of the greatest technical brains in football at that time helped to refine and stabilise my game. Danny helped me by always talking to me, explaining the finer points and had taken me 'under his wing' from the beginning. Playing behind both Danny and Dave, both attacking wing-halves, at times left space around me so I would fall back in line with our full-backs Peter Baker and Ron Henry to defend Bill Brown in goal. Dave was so dynamic, strong and forceful that you felt safe behind him."

Who was your favourite defensive partner? Can you explain to younger fans how we lined-up in those days? It was different to 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 - didn't we play in a 3-2-5 system?

Maurice: "I suppose Tony Marchi was my favourite defensive partner - as Bill Nick had started using two centre-halves as they do today, but it depended on who the opposition was, we did not always play that way. We did always line-up 2-3-5 with Bill Brown in goal, full-backs Peter Baker and Ron Henry, half-backs and centre-half Dave Mackay, myself and Danny Blanchflower, forwards Cliff Jones, John White, Bobby Smith, Les Allen and Terry Dyson."

Pat Jennings joined in June, 1964 - 50 years ago. What was he like as a young goalkeeper?

Maurice: "I was fortunate to play in the old 50's 'push and run' side, then with the double side in the 1960s and towards the end of the 1960s when the double team was beginning to break up I was asked to go scouting (as I was injured at the time) to Watford to watch a young Irish goalkeeper called Pat Jennings. What I saw I liked, he was tall, strong, agile and commanding in his area, with such big hands that he could pick a football up with one hand. I like to think that I may have been instrumental in bringing him in to Spurs. Pat and Cyril Knowles were to become great mates with me and we often went pitch and putting in the afternoons after training. Pat is still a great friend to me and my family."

Danny Blanchflower finally retired at the end of June, 1964. Can you describe the impact he had on the club?

Maurice: "I think it is possibly true to say that without Danny Blanchflower on the pitch and Bill Nicholson off the pitch, the success of the double and following results may not have happened. Danny was the epitome of the ideal footballer with a great tactical brain and presence on the pitch. Next to Bill Nick, he was Mr Spurs! As so often happens, it really only came home to us as a team how great he had been when he retired. We knew Bill was having problems signing a new player to take his place. That player eventually turned out to be Alan Mullery from Fulham."