History, pottery and how two Spurs families were reunited - 120 years on
Thu 05 September 2019, 17:00|Tottenham Hotspur
Turn the clock back 120 years and two great friends were heavily involved as the foundations for our great Club were being laid, literally, at White Hart Lane.
One was Bobby Buckle. One of the Club's founders in 1882, Bobby was the Club's first captain, first known goalscorer, secretary at the age of 21 and played key roles in the Club becoming professional and our move to White Hart Lane in 1899.
Sam South was a lifelong friend of Bobby’s. His pottery firm, Samuel South & Sons, supplied hand thrown flowerpots to the Nurseryman of the Lea Valley. Alongside another company based in Tottenham, E G Cole & Son, they manufactured millions of flowerpots every year.
In 1899, a conundrum – how to drain the new pitch at the Lane, remembering the area’s history as marsh land. Sam had the answer and the South pottery supplied ‘crocks’ (broken pots) to be laid for drainage.
That was an example of their friendship. A shareholder when the Club first went public in 1898, Sam allowed the team to train within the grounds of his Devonshire Hill Farm nearby. Bobby was an executor of the will of Samuel South senior (1853-1919). They remained friends until Sam passed away in 1956. Sam had continued to attend matches at the Lane until his final days. Bobby parted ways with the Club when he was married in 1901. He passed away in 1959.
So where is this story going?
Incredibly, all these years later, indeed, 120 years to the day since we played our first official game at the Lane (5 September, 1899), the grandsons of Bobby and Sam are friends. The families can draw two lines through the history of Spurs and, amazingly, those ‘lines’ met on a bus on the way home from a Spurs match at Wembley.
Michael Mackman is Bobby’s grandson and Chris South is Sam’s grandson.
Chris is now a Premium seat holder in the West Stand, where our Terracotta Grill is located. The restaurant takes its name from the area’s pottery history and has been revamped over the summer into a high-end burger joint. To this day, the terracotta pot cladding which covers the eastern and western facade acknowledges the area’s history of clay manufacturing.
“It’s miraculous really,” said Chris, recalling the day the grandsons first met. “Michael climbed on a bus waving a bit of paper looking for people to support a Blue Plaque application for the White Cottage on White Hart Lane (Bobby’s former home, believed to be the Club’s first address).
“I saw the photo and said to him ‘that man was an executor to my great-grandfather’s will’. He asked, ‘are you a South?’ and the whole thing clicked from there. It turns out we’re both grandsons of very old friends, our grandfathers, Sam and Bobby.
“They were very young when they first met and, on his deathbed, Bobby sent a message to the widow of my grandfather apologising that he couldn’t get to the funeral because he was too ill himself. We still have that letter.
“My grandfather can’t claim to be marginally as important as Bobby, but he did a lot. He used to let the early Spurs train on a hay field on Devonshire Hill Farm. I’ve also heard that my grandfather used to donate football boots to the team. There are all sorts of involvements down the years.
“When they first moved to this site in 1899 the pitch didn’t drain very well. So, my grandfather, the pottery man, gave the club a few cart loads of broken pots and they put it all under the pitch for drainage. It was very generous, a very grand gesture.”
Chris was joined at the new stadium by his wife Janet, brother Stephen another Samuel South, his nephew and the great, great grandson of Sam South. The family tradition continues – who knows where we’ll be in another 120 years!
“I was overawed when I first came here,” added Chris of the new stadium. “There is something about the place. I don’t know what it is, a culture that can be carried through the years, no matter who is there. That’s what has happened at Spurs. Nothing is lost, the spirit going back to the days of Bobby and Sam is still here.”
Terracotta Grill offers an informal dining option for Premium seat holders with a selection of gourmet burgers, loaded tater tots and sides all especially chosen to accompany a relaxed matchday experience. With meal packages from £14.95 which includes a burger, tater tots and an alcoholic drink, Terracotta Grill offers a more casual approach to match day dining. The grab and go burger option allows Premium Seat holders to make their selection at the order point, collect their food and then enjoy it in Terracotta Grill, in any of the Premium lounge spaces or at their seat.