So now there are no survivors of the 1951 push-and-run side and so far as I know no film however short or blurred of them in action. A few weeks ago when I wrote about Bobby Smith a number of people said how much they had enjoyed my piece. But I was aware that no-one who commented, probably no-one who read it, had ever seen Bobby Smith play. So in saying something about Eddie Baily I know that I might as well be talking about the 1901 team. But part of what you value when you follow a team is its history. And at Bill Nick’s side, Eddie was in later years to provide a link to what came a decade later.
I first saw Spurs in 1952/53. Those who had played in the team – newly promoted from the Second Division – that had won the League in 1951 were all still at the Lane so I can claim to have seen the push-and-run team. Is there anyone else who reads oog’s blog who goes back to the Fifties?
I can’t claim much in the way of insight into that team. Though past their best they were still a good team and I loved watching them. But I saw them only through the eyes of a small boy and didn’t see them that often. In order to be able to see at all, I had to get down to the front of the terraces and watch from a height of four foot nothing. I had two favourite players. One was our keeper Ted Ditchburn. He used to interact with the crowd rather like Robbo all those years later. On a gloomy day with no floodlights and the light fading (winter kick-offs were 2.15pm but it could still be hard to see the far end in the last few minutes) he would join in discussion with the crowd behind the goal as to who had just scored for us. “Ted, who was that?” asked the fans behind the goal. “I reckon it was Baily” said Ted – and it was. And Eddie was my other favourite player.
That team did not really have stars. But to say that is as much a comment on the media of the early Fifies. No football on the telly, not much on the radio, the papers had no more than 6 or 8 pages and that was the whole paper not the sports section! It may sound strange but match reports concentrated on telling you what happened in the game! Typically they would be along the lines of “Spurs kicked off towards the Park Lane end against a brisk wind and forced two corners in the first six minutes. Baily took them and from the second DUQUEMIN (goal scorers got upper-case letters!) nodded the ball home to give the Lilywhites an early lead”.
Eddie Baily was in fact as close to a star as we really had. Because he came from Clapton, as did so many of the fans, we identiified with him. Eddie had a sharp eye for an opening and could deliver a killing pass. He was our playmaker. All teams played in the W formation and Eddie was our inside-left who would feed Les Medley on the left wing or carve out a chance for Bennett or Duquemin. He could also score goals himself. Sadly I can’t visualise any particular goal that he scored. But I know that an important link with our past is broken.