Maurice Norman remembers... White Hart Lane
21 June 2017|Tottenham Hotspur
It’s 50 years since defensive lynchpin Maurice Norman was forced to retire – and in this second part of our exclusive interview with one of our all-time greats, we hear the 83-year-old's memories of White Hart Lane.
Maurice joined us in 1955 and played 411 times over the next 10 years, placing him 11th in our all-time list of appearance-makers. He was a key member of our 1961 double-winning side and added the FA Cup in 1962 and European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1963 to his collection of honours.
He won 23 caps for England between 1962-64, including selection for the 1962 World Cup Finals in Chile, but sadly his career came to an untimely end when he badly broke his leg in November, 1965, aged just 31. He battled to recover fitness for 18 months but had to call it a day in the summer of 1967.
Fifty years on, Maurice recently put pen to paper to share his fascinating stories and memories with us. After touching on his arrival here at Spurs in Monday's first instalment of this three-part series, here Maurice discusses what it was like to play at our world-famous home stadium in N17, in addition to recalling those glorious double-winning days of 1961...
What was it like playing in front of 60,000 fans at White Hart Lane in those days?
“There was a unique feeling being involved with the Spurs team but for me, at times, it was also very intimidating. You think you would know what it would be like but the stadium was itself so different from Carrow Road (Norwich City, Maurice’s former club) to me as Tottenham had seating in the stands and it was encased like a bowl on all sides. There were floodlights and evening matches and as I’ve said, the roar from the fans in this amphitheatre was always intoxicating but everyone was there to encourage us. Usually having accepted there would be such fantastic numbers of supporters in the ground we had to put it all aside and get on with playing well. But, we never forgot who we were out there for, the supporters. Without them, there would be no point, no team and no Club.”
Above: Maurice in action against Manchester United at the Lane in March, 1964.
You must have so many memories of White Hart Lane. Do you have a favourite?
“There really are too many wonderful, spectacular matches to choose from. Naturally, I will never forget the 1960-61 season with the double (and getting married in March, 1961!), the season 1961-62 with the European matches, with the travelling and flying, seeing countries that I’d only heard of. Meeting and playing against fabulous teams and players was at times too much to take in. I suppose that although I was part of those wonderful, magical, stunning matches it is probably true to say ‘The Norfolk Swede’ (my nickname from the players), the ‘country boy’ was always with me.
“I truly cannot pick out one match as there were so many great times – especially the second leg matches of some of the European games when we were sometimes the underdogs, but the fans lifted us with a fervour and almost always with their great support we went through. I remember the supporters going around the pitch before kick-off dressed in white sheets with wings and halos, the Tottenham Angels. That was when the ‘Glory, Glory Hallelujah’ chorus came into being – the Spurs anthem had arrived.”
What was it like to play in that famous double team and those ‘glory, glory’ European nights in the early 1960s?
“I remember the almost frenetic roar and the supporters, they were buzzing for these games. We began to as well and their energy seemed to lift and take hold of us, pushing us, willing us and forcing us to bigger and better things. We had to win for their sakes. When that roar reached its crescendo, it was quite phenomenal. Also, we wanted to win for Bill Nick. He was firm, dedicated and determined that we would be successful. Because of his tactics and discipline we were more like a family, each helping the other, knowing and understanding what was expected. To be honest, it’s almost impossible to explain the tremendous buzz that we felt. We believed in ourselves and that we would be successful. After all, Danny Blanchflower did say that we’d win the double!”
Make sure you come back here to tottenhamhotspur.com later this week for the third and final part of our interview with Maurice, where he discusses his injury-enforced retirement and speaks about our modern-day supporters…