Spurs V Rangers 1968
Summertime Blues?

● Wednesday 31st July 1968 Kick-Off 7.30 pm


The directors also seemed to enjoy a good rapport and I would say that they shared a number of ideals about the game and traditions. Add in the famous White Hart Lane hospitality, a sumptuous pre match 4 course meal followed by cigars and drinks in the Blue Room afterwards. Then seats in a mini section of the West stand directors box and further refreshment at half and full time. Not many better ways to spend a summer evening and I don’t think there was any danger of this invitation being rejected by the Ibrox board.



Other big city teams had come to the fore during the 1960’s and were prepared to match Spurs spending power. Managers and coaches were now all doing what Bill Nicholson had been doing years ago. Similarly a generation of outstanding managers had emerged. Matt Busby already a legend had rebuilt his third great Manchester United team, Don Revie and Bill Shankly were starting to work miracles at Leeds and Liverpool. Ron Greenwood had his West Ham team playing (albeit not consistently) a progressive and entertaining game. Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison were changing the whole perception of how a club should be coached and prepared at Manchester City and Harry Catterick was maximising Everton’s huge resources. A new generation of managerial talent was starting to make it’s mark, including a young man called Clough with his assistant and best friend Peter Taylor. The duo had a knack for picking up unwanted or supposedly finished players and getting the best out of them, not least with a helping of unconventional but very successful motivational techniques. Tactics, coaching, preparation and motivation, everyone was now at it.

The fans and Bill Nicholson made unfavourable comparisons with the Glory, Glory Team, which could not have helped. Perhaps Spurs should have brought in a younger man to help with the coaching. To bring in fresh ideas, impetus and approaches. Danny Blanchflower?

Tactics were all very well, but since England’s wingless triumph in 1966, football had become a much more defensive dour affair. Whereas the key to England success had been the fact that at any given time a midfielder would taken on the winger’s role, a lot felt that the 4-3-3 formation and absence of wingers was spoiling the game as a spectacle. This was not the way Billy Nic or Spurs fans wanted to see the team play.

There was also an unpleasant cynical side creeping into football. Sadly clubs were taking their cue from the European Cup Winning Italians rather than Real Madrid. For instance the effective tactic of putting a marker on your opponents best creative player was not something Nicholson would consider doing in a competitive match even though for his own interest he had carried out it out as an experiment in training and friendlies. There were also darker arts creeping in perhaps best exemplified by Don Revie’s Leeds United. For instance shirt tugging, harassing referees, players cynically taking it in turn to kick an opponent, feigning injury to interrupt the play when under a period of pressure, sharpened boot studs etc... were things Nicholson hated to see his own team doing let alone anyone else’s.

In between breaks during the pre-season, the players talked about cars, girls, clothes, holidays, money and music. Some things never change, so it was not so much this but Bill Nicholson and his assistant Eddie Baily were now coming across a new problem, a generation gap had grown up between them and their players. Baily a teammate of Nicholson’s in the push and run team and former England international, rejoined the club shortly after the sad death of Harry Evans in 1963. Baily brought to the club a great sense of humour, not only could he make Nicholson laugh he had even brought a smile to the face of that dourest of men and Spurs full back, Alf Ramsey. Like Nicholson, he was honest, passionate and knew what he was talking about and even though several stones heavier than his playing days still one of, if not the most skilful player at the club.

The players had total respect for their manager, they only had to look at his record and see the admiration the senior players had for him. They also respected the achievements of Eddie Baily and enjoyed their banter with the razor witted cockney.

However both men had served in the Army during World War 2 and somehow found it harder to empathise and relate to the new breed of more cosseted, independent minded and sensitive players. Baily saw active service in Belgium, Holland and Germany as the only cockney in the Royal Scots regiment.

Spurs players were expected by their manager to put in a top performance every week. The players understandably expected a pat on the back when they played well but the one glaring criticism of the management was that they were too slow to praise and give confidence to their players. Nor was there a Danny Blanchflower to emphasise the positives. Another problem was that both men constantly preached the virtues of the 1951 and 1961 teams and made unfavourable comparisons so what could have been an inspiration became a millstone. It would also be fair to suggest that in 1961, there were not constant references to a decade earlier.

Both Baily and Nicholson had a particular aversion to the long hair now sported by some of their players. Again a generational thing. Not only did it run the risk of getting over the eyes, but it was felt to show a lack of discipline and set a bad example to youngsters.

Once Spurs got the ball into the opposition’s penalty box, their trio of forwards were lethal. One could argue that it might have been more effective to play a pair and perhaps Chivers was signed as the long term replacement for Greaves. But goals win matches, and with these 3 forwards, if the service was half decent there would always be goals.

Since 1962-3 Greaves had continued to plunder goals anywhere and everywhere and it looked like he could possibly even break Arthur Rowley’s record of 423 League goals. Greaves game did not deteriorate with age as his game was never about pace but about clinical marksmanship and uncanny positional sense. Despite being the best English striker of his generation, hepatitis affected his career in 1965-66 and he missed the latter stages of the 1966 World Cup Final with injury, replaced by the fit and in form Geoff Hurst. In the next 2 seasons, he was back to peak form with 48 League goals in 77 appearances. Despite English football becoming much more defensive and his well documented drink problems that were starting to cause him personal problems. Certainly all his teammates who had enjoyed his kindness, humour and friendship were stunned and upset when the extent of his alcoholism was later revealed.

Alan Gilzean was part of the 1962 Championship winning Dundee team which then went on to impress in the European Cup and Spurs beat off a host of top clubs for his signature in 1964. He scored prolifically and was particularly adept at bringing teammates into attacks. Especially with his heading that could be deft, accurate or powerful if it was an attempt on goal. A clever player, he formed a terrific partnership with Jimmy Greaves for whom he laid on a stack of goals. Physically very strong, he would accept the knocks rather than getting involved in running battles with referees and opponents. Bill Nicholson said of him. “I liked Gilly. He was easy to talk to, never moaned and got on with the job in an uncomplicated way… I could be open and frank with him and he wouldn’t get angry or sulk. He was very trustworthy and likeable.” (Tottenham Hotspurs’ Greats by Harry Harris)

Martin Chivers £125,000 transfer to Spurs from Southampton in January 1967 was a British record but his first season was marred by a bad injury. Chivers had everything a forward needed, a tall powerful physique, great skill, powerful shot, clever dribbling, fast and fit, and with a lethal finish. The one weakness in his game was that he did not use his powerful physique to greater effect, something that Nicholson and Baily constantly reminded him of in no uncertain terms, be that as it may in his first injury ravaged season at the club he still netted 10 goals in 23 games.

Dave Mackay had left Spurs in July to join Brian Clough’s Derby County. There was no ill feeling on either side, he even travelled to Athens on Spurs tour of Greece in May. In Spurs subsequent fixture against Arsenal they devoted 2 pages thanking him for his special contribution. Under the heading ‘Thanks Dave and good luck.’ Mackay stated,

Brian Clough manager of Derby, snapped Mackay up for a cut price fee. The giveaway £5,000 fee, was a testament to his service to the club so he could negotiate a better deal and also the fact that the club would not have to grant him a Testimonial. Several ‘experts’ raised their eyebrows thinking Mackay was washed up, over the hill. Clough had a typically humorous riposte for them. “I am young and therefore more likely to make mistakes than the older managers. But I won’t make many mistakes about buying players because my assistant manager, Peter Taylor is a better judge of a player than anyone I know.” (Goal Magazine, 26 October 1968, No. 12)

In October 1970, Phil Beal told the same magazine. “I felt really sad when he left. It was a privilege for me to have played with him. Dave is the greatest professional I have ever met. I’ve never met anyone quite like him for bringing out the best in his teammates. It was great to play with Dave Mackay. I go further and say it was a privilege for me to have played with him. Dave was the greatest professional I have ever met. You can’t replace a Dave Mackay. They will replace him, it is true, but there will never be another Dave Mackay.”

Davie spent his entire playing career at Clyde before going on to become player coach and manager and was rightly respected as an exciting managerial talent, as proved by Clyde’s 3rd place finish in 1967. He travelled abroad with both Celtic and Rangers on their European sojourns as an observer and this was how he became better known in Rangers circles. When the Ibrox board appointed the 33 year old as assistant manager to Symon in Summer 1967, the most probable explanation was they wanted to groom him for the longer term. Although others have seen this as a deliberate shot across Symon’s bows. Davie White must have been as stunned as anyone with his premature appointment although it is almost certain that Willie Waddell was approached before White was given the job but would not tolerate any sort of boardroom interference.

In terms of approach, White was from a different planet to Symon. He tried to introduce a more relaxed and informal style of management to Ibrox. Players were allowed to dress casually and discipline was dramatically relaxed. He also tried to introduce fresh ideas and was a keen student of tactics. Sometimes he would socialise with the players and he encouraged them to talk and open up to him, for players brought up in the traditional Rangers way it must have been something of a culture shock. A key problem for White was that he lacked gravitas. Without the odd exception he lacked the medals, caps and playing reputation of the players at the club. Had he done so it might have compensated for the sense in some quarters that he was too young for the job, barely older than some of the players.


Spurs : 1 Pat Jennings 2 Phil Beal 3 Cyril Knowles 4 Alan Mullery 5 Mike England 6 Peter Collins 7 Jimmy Robertson 8 Jimmy Greaves 9 Martin Chivers 10 Terry Venables 11 Alan Gilzean 12 Sub Jimmy Pearce.

  Long sleeved white shirts with cockerel on ball motif. Blue Shorts. White Socks.

RANGERS : 1 Kai Sorensen 2 Colin Jackson 3 Billie Mathieson 4 John Greig 5 Ron McKinnon, 6 Dave Smith 7 Willie Henderson 8 Sandy Jardine 9 Andy Penman 10 William Johnston 11 Orjan Persson. Sub Norrie Martin.
 Blue shirts with a deep white V. White shorts. Black socks topped with red.

 Referee : Mr A Dimond (Essex).
 Linesmen : Mr D Pond (Essex) and Mr A Turvey (Essex).
(The officials collectively known as The Essex Boys)

Dry sunny afternoon.
1 Substitute per team.


1st Half : Spurs kick towards the Paxton Road Goal, Rangers towards the Park Lane End.

In the early moments, Rangers look disorganised and sloppy with Spurs taking the initiative.
Chivers is played through, but McKinnon clears for a corner.

4 mins 02 Seconds : GOAL 1-0 SPURS : Jimmy Greaves takes a corner. Peter Collins moves unmarked into the box. Collins heads downwards, Sorensen under pressure from Robertson lets what should have been a routine save in to the net.

8 mins 15 secs : GOAL 2-0 : A Greaves corner (1962 again) again met by the head of Peter Collins is stopped on the line by Dave Smith. Sorensen does not move quickly enough to gather and Collins follows up to force the ball home

FINAL SCORE : SPURS 3 (Collins 2, Mullery/Jackson OG) RANGERS 1 (Penman)
Attendance : 37,998

Rangers physio is kept fully occupied as: Mathieson, Penman and Smith of Rangers require treatment for minor knocks.
Eric Sorensen’s 1st half display was to have more serious repercussions. He never played again for Rangers.


Alex Cameron (Friday 2nd August) was concerned that the Rangers dressing room was split, with different opinions on the state of their club.

He quoted one anonymous player as saying, “There was nothing wrong with Rangers,” and that “they would win the League in the forthcoming season.”

However another anonymous player told him, “They were a poor side by Rangers standards and would have to sign a quality player immediately.” Cameron indicated that this was very much the boardroom line.

Although another player disagreed with this thinking. “Every team hits a bad patch. OK we’ve been having one. But surely we can’t be as bad as all that, for we took 3 points off Celtic and finished second to them in the League. Of course we threw points away but this can damn well happen to anyone.”

When Arsenal arrived in Glasgow for their big Saturday game at Ibrox, the Daily Record caught up with Bertie Mee. Having made the traditional comment about expecting a tough game at Ibrox, he made these observations. “I was impressed by several Rangers players. Greig, McKinnon, Henderson and Johnston. They looked good.”

“Admittedly there was a bit of trouble in defence. They looked unsettled.” Before going on to say that he expected this to be ‘remedied’ by the time they faced Arsenal.



Everyone has their own view of football hooliganism, how it started it when and why.

Football hooliganism has contrary to what has sometimes been written, always been with the game. However around 1967 it took on a new format. In the past, major fighting between rival sets of fans tended to be limited to the ‘local derby’ fixture as few fans were able to follow their teams around the country. Therefore hooliganism tended to take the form of pitch invasions, objects thrown at the referee, linesmen or players or the occasional lone fan running on to the pitch to remonstrate with them normally as a result of something that had taken place on the pitch.

However this pattern changed as large number of youths and young adults started to travel to away games many miles away from their home towns and cities. They were able to do this partly because of :

•Increasing Incomes for younger people
-Meant youngsters could afford to travel to away games, buy alcohol and pay for their admission fee.

•Better Road Structures
-The advent of motorway construction in the 1960’s meant that it was possible to catch a coach (cheaper than rail) to and from an away game within one day.

•Cheaper Train Fares
-British Rail noticed the desire of fans to follow their football teams. In a rare dash of public sector entrepreneurship, they decided to run heavily subsidised trains to away matches enabling any hooligan to follow his team. Even better it was possible to take drink onto the trains. I’ve stated that this was BR showing enterprise, it may also have had something to do with segregating the fans from their regular weekend clientele and being able to lay on their worst rolling stock so their better stock would not get vandalised.

•Football was cheap and standing up at football cost the same amount as a trip to the cinema.


•Alcohol + Groups of Young Males = Boisterous Behaviour = Trouble
-Get any group of heavily drinking young males together, be it on holiday or in a town centre on a Saturday night and there will be violence. Male testosterone has always manifested itself in violence and probably always will.

•A ‘liberty’ begets a ‘liberty’ and it becomes a matter of pride based upon local identity.
It goes like this, a group of Youths supporting one team mock a group supporting another team. That group retort in an unpleasant way. The first group is larger and chase (just to scare) the other group who run away. Later in the day the group of Youths who ran away are joined by more fans of their team they spot the group from earlier. ‘They attacked us and so with their friends go out to do what they the felt first group intended to do unto them.’ The bruised group will look for revenge later or if not the following season. They repay the ‘debt’ with interest and if they can’t find the same set of lads, fans of the same team will do. And so goes on the ‘vicious’ circle.

•Gang culture
-Being in a gang was then a part of youth culture, football clubs afforded being part of a much larger regional gang where local gangs would in turn come together and fight for the honour of their community.

•Football grounds could have been purposely built for violence, Terraces in particular enabled groups of Youths to run at each other with nothing to slow them down and gave proceedings the feel of a medieval battle. Nor was there any segregation to keep the rival factions apart. Holding the high ground, forcing your opponents to retreat and taking their ground. I actually agree with the chap who attributed the ‘english disease’ to the English ‘martial spirit’. Battling at football gave a new meaning to those history lessons about Henry V at Agincourt and assorted medieval battles.

•Similarly the decrepit, run down stadiums gave the subconscious impression that low standards of behaviour were not just acceptable but actively encouraged.

•Matchday Anarchy
For some young men stuck in boring day time jobs there was nothing better than letting off steam on a Saturday afternoon. Pretty much since the outset of television, violence has been glamourised so as the world’s most popular soft drinks manufacturer would deduce, for some what is going to be more enjoyable than the real thing? Then of course there is the anti authority angle. Avoiding arrest and outwitting the police to start ‘aggro’ provided a feeling of power and achievement. Indeed for youngsters with a dislike of the Law, the cover of a football match enabled them a golden opportunity to exact their revenge.

•The Enjoyment of Football Hooliganism as a Hobby
Look at any young man who has a hobby and I bet you that his hobby will encompass at least a few of the following.

-Adventure : Anything can happen, especially on an ‘awayday’.
-Social Grouping and Friendship : Making new friends and meeting new people.
-A ‘Buzz’. The unique excitement related to that hobby. Many football hooligans talk of an almost chemical like buzz that goes through them when they are in the midst of aggro.
-Opportunity to Travel : Every other week is an away game.
-Different Tests of Skill and Aptitude : The easy one’s like Coventry or Charlton at home, the difficult one’s against Newcastle, Birmingham, Liverpool. The Mission Impossible’s away to West Ham and Millwall. I’m surprised certain newspapers were never charged with incitement when they published hooligan league tables but of course they justified their inclusion with a sanctimonious editorial.
-Souvenir Hunting : Mainly but not exclusively the sort of thing, any football fan collects (programmes, ticket stubs etc) to commemorate a famous day. The early hooligans collected scarves of vanquished opponents amongst other things.

•Taking Audience Participation To Another Level
-For some there was nothing more satisfying in seeing their exploits become far more newsworthy than the event they were supposed to be spectating and frankly how else would some hooligans otherwise have ever made the newspapers or even the televised news. Though football hooligans are often among the most knowledgeable and passionate fans, events off the pitch were usually far more exciting and unpredictable than those on it.

-There was also something satisfying in seeing authority figures from club chairmen, managers to star players desperately pleading for good behaviour. Or a politician working himself up in a lather of self righteous indignation. In what other circumstances could the hooligans have got attention from someone like that?

•Hardmen and Nutters
Of course young toughs keen to make a name for themselves and those already with a reputation found matchdays an ideal way to boost their credentials. Nutters who enjoyed violence found somewhere they could easily find it, complete with another likeminded, consenting nutter to fight against on the side.

•Lenient Penalties for Getting Caught
-Say this for the old Communist eastern Europe, they rarely had trouble of Youths fighting at the match. The thought of a couple of years in a Siberian Gulag could sober up the most high spirited youth. The English Courts usually opted for a fine of £5 to £10. A nuisance but not a deterrent.

•It Became a Youth Hobby or Cult
-Football found itself at the heart of the latest Youth cult. Namely through the emergence of the ‘Skinhead’, the first youth tribe to be directly linked to football and the latest tribe for youngsters to join.

•‘The Permissive Society’
Yes and No. Yes, in the sense of lenient sentences but not in the form of the politics and mentalities of many of the hooligans.

Football hooliganism has had thousands of individual participants, each deriving their own unique thrill, satisfaction or pleasure from it. If they didn’t enjoy it, they wouldn’t be there. Certainly in many instances it’s become a drug, with participants unable to pack in the activity even though it can result in serious injury, imprisonment and all the implications that go with it. There is simply nothing else to replace the adrenalin of it all.

When academics try to find simple answers and solutions, they will not succeed, it is much more complicated than that.

Of course any reader will point out the historic violence associated with Old Firm fixtures or indeed the ‘brake’ gangs of supporters that pre-dated the turn of the century. (Think a gang of hooligans originally travelling away by horse and carriage.) They might also correctly suggest the political and religious dimension. However local derbies in every city attract trouble, for instance we have noted how the North London derby even in the 1920’s and 1930’s witnessed serious disorder. Like North London, Glasgow was essentially a duopoly. Add in to the mix Glasgow’s fanaticism for football, and the fact that Glasgow is not known as ‘no mean city’ for nothing especially when alcohol is part of the equation and the thriving youth gang culture (for the main part also based along religious lines), you had a very potent cocktail at Old Firm clashes.

The Billy Boys were formed in 1924 following a football match between Kent Star and a scratch 11. One Billy Fullerton of Bridgeton had the temerity to score the winner against Star and after the match was attacked with a hammer. He later assembled 30 friends together for revenge and this was when the gang was born.


Rangers were League Runners’ Up for the 4th consecutive season. They had a great opportunity to seize the Championship but threw away what seemed like an unassailable lead with just 3 wins in the last 8 fixtures. So Rangers ‘bottled’ it, well actually they didn’t but were victims to one of the most disgraceful and despicable episodes in the history of Scottish football. Colin Stein joined Rangers in October 1968 and right from the outset was phenomenal. Football is a team game but with the focus of the team built around Colin Stein at the apex of the attack, Rangers were unstoppable. On 15 March 1969 as Rangers hosted Clyde the striker was subjected to an afternoon of thuggery from the visitors defence. With a minute and a half remaining he is whacked not once but 4 times in immediate succession by a nonentity named Eddie Mulherron. Unprotected by the officials, how much more was Stein expected to take, so he kicked out at the clogger and both men were sent off. Then events were to take a sinister turn. The Scottish Referee’s Committee chaired by none other than Celtic Chairman Bob Kelly handed out a ridiculously disproportionate 6 week suspension to Stein. The suspension ending on 1st May by which time the domestic Scottish season had ended. If ever there was a conflict of interests. With Rangers most important player sidelined for the remainder of the season and the inferior Alex Ferguson recalled, Rangers season disintegrated.

Kelly must have been well pleased with the title already won, Celtic then notched up a 4-0 victory against Rangers in the Scottish Cup final in late April. Minus Colin Stein, with Alex Ferguson in his place and a team now shorn of confidence and momentum.

Rangers were not a bad team and on 14th and 21st May 1969 contested the 2 legs of the European Fairs Cup semi final. Stein was back but with lack of match practice and dare I say it a bit sickened with the injustice done to him was nowhere near his best and nor were the out of confidence Rangers. Newcastle won the tie and went on to lift the trophy.