Glory still echoes for Bill Nicholson

Bill Nicholson, David MacKay F.A. cup 1967
Bill Nicholson, David MacKay F.A. cup 1967

Ten years ago today one of Scarborough’s most famous sons passed away.

William ‘Bill’ Nicholson revolutionised football and is remembered as a trailblazing and record breaking manager.

Born in Scarborough the wing-half would never forget his roots, even after leaving for the bright lights of London and the club he would come to define, Tottenham Hotspur.

Today, a decade on from his death, relatives of the great man will be in Scarborough to see a bench in Peasholm Park that now bares a plaque honouring Bill and his wife, known to all who knew her as ‘Darkie’.

His family are then travelling to London where Spurs have invited them to be the guest of honour at White Hart Lane on Sunday before the team plays struggling Newcastle United as the club marks the anniversary of Bill’s death.

Scarborough Borough Councillor, Andrew Jenkinson, a longtime friend of the Nicholson family, said: “We made sure we got the plaque in place so it was ready for the family to see on their visit.

“He certainly deserves [the recognition] and it is nice that the family can see that Bill and his wife are very fondly remembered in Scarborough. He is our most famous son in my opinion.”

Some of the family members jetted in from the United States for the Peasholm dedication and are now travelling to London where the club and its fans will welcome them.

The club are producing a special programme to mark the occasion and a full house of 36,000

Bill, who was born in the town in 1919, 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’.

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.

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 Christian Eriksen and Hugo Lloris.

This year’s kit has one an excerpt of Bill’s most famous quotes imprinted within its fabric.

It reads: “It is better to fail aiming high than to succeed aiming low.

“And we of Spurs have set our sights very high, so high in fact that even failure will have in it an echo of glory.”

The ‘Echo of Glory’ was chosen as with it Bill was urging his players to go out and play ‘The Spurs Way’.

His daughters, Linda and Jean, said: “[These are] fine words from a perfectionist who was a true Yorkshireman with the utmost integrity, and who dedicated his life serving Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.”

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