Looking back at a football legend

Bill Nicholson
Bill Nicholson
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On this day in 1919 Bill Nicholson was born in Scarborough.

The football legend would go on to have a fine career as a player and manager, especially at Tottenham Hotspur where he became the first manager to win the league and cup double in the 20th Century.

Bill led Tottenham Hotspur during the greatest chapter of their history as they dominated football to clinch the Football League and FA Cup double in 1961 and become the first British team to lift a major European trophy two years later.

The innovator, who went to Gladstone Road Junior School and Scarborough Boys’ High School, joined the London club as a promising defender in 1936, and was part of the famous push and run side which swept to league glory in 1951.

Despite being a gifted player he amassed just the one cap for England, scoring with his first touch after just 19 seconds in a game against Portugal at Goodison Park in 1951.

Due to injuries, and the dominance of Billy Wright, he never played for his country again but typically of the man he said that his loylaty lay with Tottenham as ‘they pay my wages’.

Bill Nicholson, David MacKay F.A. cup 1967

Bill Nicholson, David MacKay F.A. cup 1967

He took over as Spurs’ manager in 1955 and his brand of attacking football, based around keeping the ball on the floor and crisp passing saw him create one of the great club sides in English history.

In 1961 he took Spurs to a league and FA Cup double, the first domestic double of the 20th Century.

Two years later Tottenham became the first British team to win a major European trophy when they beat Atletico Madrid 5-1 at the Feijenoord Stadion in Rotterdam.

England striker Jimmy Greaves scored two of the goals with Malton-born Terry Dyson also netting a double.

File photo dated 03/05/1961 of  Bill Nicholson (left) and Spuirs' captain Danny Blanchflower. Tottenham's legendary manager Nicholson has died, aged 85, after a long illness. Nicholson, who led Spurs to their double-winning triumph in 1961, passed away peacefully at a Hertfordshire hospital early Saturday October 23 2004. Nicholson also guided Spurs to become the first British club to win a European trophy when they landed the Cup Winners' Cup in 1963. See PA story SOCCER Tottenham Nicholson. PA Photo

File photo dated 03/05/1961 of Bill Nicholson (left) and Spuirs' captain Danny Blanchflower. Tottenham's legendary manager Nicholson has died, aged 85, after a long illness. Nicholson, who led Spurs to their double-winning triumph in 1961, passed away peacefully at a Hertfordshire hospital early Saturday October 23 2004. Nicholson also guided Spurs to become the first British club to win a European trophy when they landed the Cup Winners' Cup in 1963. See PA story SOCCER Tottenham Nicholson. PA Photo

Under Nicholson, Tottenham continued to dominate the 1960s and early 1970s, lifting the FA Cup in 1967 for the third time in seven years before winning the League Cup in 1971 and 1973 and clinching UEFA Cup glory in 1972 after beating fellow English side Wolverhampton Wanderers in the final.

In 1975 he was awarded an OBE for services to football months after he resigned as manager of Spurs in August 1974, soon after they had lost the UEFA Cup final to Feyenoord, having been appalled by the hooliganism and rioting he witnessed during the match.

Despite his death in 2004, aged 85, Bill Nicholson is still fondly remembered by Tottenham fans and former players, with the club renaming the approach road to White Hart Lane as Bill Nicholson Way.

His philosophy is ingrained in the club he loved and this year his ethos is never far from the minds of players like Harry Kane and Dele Alli.

Library filer dated 15/08/1973 of former Tottenham Hotspur manager Bill Nicholson with the League Cup. See PA story SPORT Christmas Era. PA Photo

Library filer dated 15/08/1973 of former Tottenham Hotspur manager Bill Nicholson with the League Cup. See PA story SPORT Christmas Era. PA Photo

In total, the Yorkshire native had a 68-year association with the club as a player, coach, manager and president.

However, he never forgot where he was from.

His home in London, just a few minutes walk from White Hart Lane was named ‘Peasholm’.

In 2003 Nicholson was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in recognition of his impact as a manager