Five minutes with... Cliff Jones
Thu 09 June 2022, 15:00|Tottenham Hotspur
Cliff Jones, 87, scored 159 goals for us in 379 appearances between 1958-68, and remains in our all-time top five goalscorers to this day. A double-winner in 1960/61, he also played the last time Wales reached the World Cup in Sweden in 1958 - 64 years on, he proudly watched his beloved Dragons finally make it again by beating Ukraine on Sunday.
How are you today, Cliff?
Cliff: “I’m okay, thanks, still delighted to see the boys getting back into the World Cup. Look out, the Welsh are coming!”
How does it feel to see Wales back in the World Cup?
Cliff: “It's fantastic, it took me back to 1958, I must admit. It's a very special moment. I always believed we'd get there again. Over the years, we've had some good sides and some outstanding players, we've been close, I just didn't think it would be so long... 64 years, it's a lifetime, isn't it?”
Tell us about Pele and 1958...
Cliff: “We played Brazil in the quarter-finals in Sweden. They were the favourites and had some great players - Didi, Vava, Garrincha - and a youngster called Pele. As soon as he touched the ball you knew he had it all. They beat us 1-0 and he scored. Although we were so disappointed, I have to say it was a privilege to see the emergence of the greatest footballer the world has seen.”
You’ve a great story about your Spurs debut in February, 1958...
Cliff: "I was doing my National Service at the time, and I was stationed in St John's Wood. Bill Nicholson (then first team coach to Jimmy Anderson) told me to meet at 1.30pm at Highbury - and that I would be making my debut. I arrived at the entrance to the famous Marble Halls at Highbury and the big Commissionaire on the door didn't recognise me and wouldn't let me in! I said, 'but I'm playing today' and he said, 'yes, I've heard that one before, son' and left me standing there! Bill came out, pointed at me and said to the Commissionaire, 'yes, that's him, good to see you Cliff', but he then looked down at his watch and declared, 'by the way, you're late'. What a great start - I couldn't get in and then I was late!”
What is your favourite moment at Spurs?
Cliff: “It has to be achieving the double, beating Leicester City in the FA Cup Final in 1961. It was a great feeling walking off the pitch at Wembley, knowing that you were part of the first team to win the double that century. And we did it in style. Bill Nicholson told us, ‘you don’t know what you’ve achieved here, lads, in years to come, you will’. He was right - as he always was!”
What was it like to then be a teacher in Highbury?
Cliff: “I was a ‘Games Instructor with specialised skills’ at Highbury Grove School until I retired in 2001. I taught football, cricket, badminton, swimming... lot of sports. I was there for 28 years, surrounded by Gooners, but I managed to survive! It was one of the toughest jobs I had, but one of the most rewarding.”
What is your most treasured Spurs possession?
Cliff: “I still have the tracksuit top that we wore when we walked out for the 1961 FA Cup Final. It’s framed, signed by all the players. That’s got to be it, the day we won the double!”
What is a typical day for you now, Cliff?
Cliff: “First of all, I have to bring my wife a cup of tea. Usually, I’ll go out into the garden. Then, we’ve got four children, nine grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren. They’re all local as well, so there’s always something going on. I’ll also get in a round of golf every now and then. Lovely.”
We spoke to Cliff earlier today (Thursday 9 June)…