Tottenham Hotspur FC had been founded in 1882 as Hotspur FC and where playing at the public pitches in Tottenham Marshes and in 1888 still an amateur club when the oldest Football league competition in the world, “The English Football League” was formed. The league was founded by William McGregor, the director of Aston Villa and twelve clubs became the founding members of this league, these twelve clubs where:
- Aston Villa
- Blackburn Rovers
- Bolton Wanderers
- Derby County
- Notts County
- Preston North End
- Stoke F.C
- West Bromwich Albion
- Wolverhampton Wanderers
Tottenham continued to play as an amateur club for another seven years after the formation of the league, the first southern team joined the second division of the English league in 1893 was Woolwich Arsenal after failing to start up their own league. Not soon after Tottenham finally made the choice to become a professional football team in 1895 and in the following year joined the Southern League Division One.
The clubs first success came in 1900 when they achieved the league trophy in becoming Champions of the Southern League. The following year they became the first and only professional non-league side since the formation of the football league to win the FA Cup in 1901.
In 1905 a newly formed Chelsea applied to join the Southern league but Tottenham and Fulham both objected about Chelsea’s application to join and due to this on the 29th May 1905 Chelsea then became the second team from London to join the Football League and Fulham soon following them there in 1907.
After 2 more years in the Southern League, Tottenham had enough and decide to leave the Southern League and join the English Football League, but this decision was anything but a smooth transition. Tottenham where the first to announced they were quitting the Southern League at the end of the 1907/8 season; this declaration in February was also followed by Queens Park Rangers and Bradford announcing the same. A bitter battle between the clubs and league started, 27th May 1908.
The result of this meeting meant that both Tottenham and QPR were expelled from the league by the AGM Committee and Bradford subsequently resigned their team from the Southern League. Fortunately for Bradford the Football League accepted their application into the football leagues second division thanks to a last minute change of heart from QPR, they changed their minds and withdrawing their request to leave. This was accepted by the Committee and QPR were accepted back into the Southern setup but were made to play most of their games midweek as punishment.
Tottenham’s request to join the second division of the English Football League was originally rejected and the club was left in limbo. But in mid-June there application was reviewed after Stoke FC were voted out from the football league and a second meeting was called to discuss Tottenham’s application and another teams (Lincoln city’s) re-application.
After two voting sessions between Spurs and Lincoln City was both called in as a tie but it was the London club who by the decision of the management committee prevailed and was accepted into the English football league’s second flight by five management committee votes to three. With the inclusion into the Football League Tottenham commissioned a former player, William James Scott to create a copper casting of a cockerel standing on a football, the casting was placed above the West Stand in 1909. The inspiration came for the cockerel on the football from the original owner of the club “Harry Hotspur”, after whom the club is named and reputed to have been a devotee of cock-fighting. The Cockerel stands on the west stand today.