Obituary - Johnnie Hills
Mon 29 November 2021, 11:00|Tottenham Hotspur
We were saddened to hear of the passing of John 'Johnnie' Hills, a defender who spent 11 years at the Club as an amateur and professional, 1950-1961. He passed away at home in Brussels, Belgium, on Friday. He was 87.
A classy full-back, Johnnie signed amateur forms in March, 1950, joining our groundstaff while playing for Gravesend & Northfleet. He signed professional forms on 17 August, 1953.
A regular in our reserve, 'A' and 'B' teams, first-team opportunities over the next 11 years would be restricted by two of the Club's greats - initially, Sir Alf Ramsey, and later, Peter Baker, right-back of our 'double' team and throughout the 'glory, glory' years of the early 1960s.
However, when he did get his chance, Johnnie grasped it with both hands. He made his debut in our First Division match at Blackpool on 14 December, 1957, and stayed in the team for the rest of the season, 21 league matches (plus two in the FA Cup) as we finished third behind Wolves and Preston. His form earned a call into the FA squad for a post-season tour of Ghana and Nigeria in May and June, 1958.
Johnnie continued to battle it out with Baker for the full-back shirt in 1958/59, and played another seven times that season before his final two first team appearances for the Club in 1959/60.
The first of those went down in history - Johnnie started our all-time record win, 13-2 in an FA Cup replay against Crewe on 3 February, 1960. Throughout his time at the Club, he made almost 200 appearances for our reserve, 'A' and 'B' teams, picking up a Football Combination title-winning medal in 1956/57.
Johnnie moved on to Bristol Rovers in July, 1961 and made seven appearances before moving to Margate a year later, where he suffered a serious knee injury. He later qualified as a PE teacher and went on to become Athletic Director at various international schools, working in Belgium, France and Sri Lanka, and coaching players of all levels from countries around the world. On retiring, he settled in Brussels.
We extend our sincere condolences to Johnnie's children Ian, Angela and Lawrence, extended family and friends at this sad time.