A brief history of Tottenham Hotspur

November 12, 2010
By Rob Smyth

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Formed: 1882
Previous names: Hotspur FC
Admitted to Football League: 1908
UEFA Cup 1971-1972 ,1983-84
European Cup Winners' Cup: 1962-63
First Division: 2
Second Division: 2
FA Cup: 8
League Cup: 4

Tottenham Hotspur's position as one of the glory teams of British football was cemented in 1961, when they became the first English team to do the Double in 20th century. That was one of two championships the club has won, but they have added 15 major cups to their collection - including, in 1963, the first European trophy won by an English club.

At first the club was called Hotspur, having been formed in 1888 by a group of grammar-school boys. They were not elected to the Football League until 1909, but by then Spurs had already won their first FA Cup. In 1901 they beat Sheffield United in the final, thus becoming the only non-league side to win the tournament after the formation of the Football League.

Tottenham were relegated immediately after the war, but returned to the top flight at the first attempt and then won the FA Cup in 1921. After finishing runners up in the league the following season, Spurs slipped down the table; they were relegated again in 1928 and also - after a brief, two-season return to the top flight - in 1935.

After the war, under the progressive management of Arthur Rowe, Spurs become one of the most attractive sides in England. They were promoted in 1950 and won the club's first championship in spectacular style a year later. After finishing as runners up in 1952 and 1957, a third title was won under Bill Nicholson in 1961 - and this time Spurs added the FA Cup.

To Nicholson, glory was as important as victory. His Spurs side combined the two: in that Double season they romped to the title by eight points, scoring 115 goals in 42 games, and their 11 consecutive league wins at the start of the season is still an English top-division record. Their team included the great Danny Blanchflower and Dave Mackay, and in the summer of 1961 they added the supernatural goalscoring talent of Jimmy Greaves, whose 266 goals over the next nine years remain a club record.

Although Spurs were almost omnipresent in the top six in Greaves' time, they steadily became known as a cup side. In 1963 they thrashed Atletico Madrid win the Cup Winners Cup, and in 1972 they would become the first winners of the renamed Uefa Cup, beating Wolves over two legs in the first all-English European final.

There were also triumphs in the FA Cup (1962 and 1966) and League Cup (1971 and 1973), but rioting after a defeat to Feyenoord in the 1974 Uefa Cup final led to Nicholson's resignation. A hideous few years followed, including a year in Division Two after a shock relegation in 1977.

The man who took Spurs down, Keith Burkinshaw, revitalised the club and oversaw another productive spell at the start of the Eighties. In 1978 he pulled off an almighty coup by signing the World Cup-winning duo of Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa, adding them to a midfield that already contained the sublime talent of Glenn Hoddle.

Spurs triumphed in the FA Cup in 1981 - when Villa's amazing solo goal beat Manchester City in a replay - and 1982; then, in Burkinshaw's final game in 1984, they won the Uefa Cup at White Hart Lane after beating Anderlecht on penalties.

There were third-placed finishes in 1985, 1987 and 1990, but the next trophy came in 1991, the fifth consecutive decade in which Spurs had won a trophy when the year ended in 1. Paul Gascoigne took Spurs almost single-handedly to the final against Nottingham Forest, but injured himself and was stretchered off. His team-mates recovered marvellously from that, and going a goal down, to win 2-1.

Much of the Nineties was spent grimacing at Arsenal's success, although 1999 was a successful year: Spurs beat Leicester to win the League Cup and David Ginola was named Player of the Year.

They won the League Cup again in 2008, but the thing Spurs really wanted - Champions League football - finally came their way when, in Harry Redknapp's first season, they became the first side in five years to break into English football's Big Four. Almost fifty years on from their last visit, Spurs were back in European football's premier competition, but an impressive campaign could not be repeated the next two years and Redknapp paid the price for Andre Villas-Boas to take over.