Mr. J T Howcroft

This is the face that
refereed the first Football
league match at White
Hart Lane


Cocky’s Not Afraid of the Big Bad Wolves

Date: 01/09/1908 At White Hart Lane

After two month of not know if a football was ever to be kick on the green grass of White Hart Lane again, over 20,000 home and away fans packed into the stadium for Tottenham’s first football league game. The Tottenham players where being paid £4 each for the match apart from Vivian Woodward as he was not only a director of the club but also remained an amateur to allow himself to switch between his beloved cricket/tennis and Football.

In front of the one the biggest gates of the day, boasting more than Chelsea and other 1st division teams and more than double what the southern league side QPR could muster Tottenham players walked out onto the field of play and much like the FA cup winning side of 1901 and the first professional player 1896 they walked out to make club history.
Their opponents today where Wolverhampton Wanders, who had four months earlier stunned crowds and football lovers by beating the heavily favorites Newcastle United side in the FA Cup final, the final score of 3-1 at crystal palace in front of 74,967 fans, the score did not flatter the second division team who had defended and attacked so well against a strong Newcastle side.

Wolves had been relegated in 1906 and were looking to get back to top flight football having finished the 1907/8 season in mid table obscurity. The Same side that beat Newcastle so well was now put in front of the Tottenham squad.Within the Tottenham squad there were three new players who would be stepping out in the Lilly white of Tottenham, Hewtson, R steel and Macfarlane. The weather was cold overcast and had been raining earlier that day which had impacted the Reserves 2-1 win over Clapton Orient.

The wind whistled along the ground as the toss for kick off was done and it was Captain Daniel Steel who won it for the Spurs and the teams lined up as such.

Tottenham Hotspurs
Hewitson;
Coquet; Burton;
Morris ;Steel D; Darnell;
Walton; V.J.Woodward; MacFarlane; Steel R; Middlemiss

Wolverhampton Wanderers
Lunn;
Jones; Collins;
Kenneth; Hunt; Wooldridge Bishop;
Harrison; Shelton; Hedley; Radford; Pedley

 

Referee:  Mr  J.T. Howcroft

The Spurs were facing their first league game and wolves FA Cup holders must be considered favourites to win, But Tottenham went into this match with high expectations and confidences, knowing that they wanted to be playing 1st Division football come the April 1909.

It was that confidence that was shown right from kick-off and it took only six minutes for Tottenham to open their account in the football league. After an explosive opening five minutes, Lunn picked up the ball from a Tottenham attack but instead of letting it go quickly; Lunn had travelled with the football in his hands and the referee Mr. Howcroft had no choice but to award a free kick to the Spurs. The outside left Walton stepped up to take the kick; his shot to want a better word was terrible and was saved by Lunn but he was unable to hold onto the ball and Woodward was the Spurs player who was on hand to pick up the lose ball and strike into the back of the net; one nil to the Spurs.

Spurs Continues to press Bob Steel and MacFarlane both worked well showing skill with there feet and great vision, Coquet was not fully on his game and errors crept in causing Spurs problems in the back only for Darnell and Morris to save the day. With the rare attack Hedley causing most of the problems for Spurs backs,  but he was effectively on his own.

Wolves for a short period but pressure on the spurs defense and looked to score an equalizer, Radford received the ball and scored but was disappointed to hear Mr Howcroft whistle for offside. A little later Croquets game didn’t improve and caused some issues with a bad clearance and was rescued by Darnell but he had to conceded a corner In the process, the resulting corner caused some goalmouth scrambles in front of Hewitson but was eventfully kicked out of played by the Wolves forward Pedley.

As the half time whistle got closer and closer to the referees mouth, Spurs pushed forward and in a Fantastic move, McFarlane made space for a great shot, that was well saved by an alert Lunn in the Wolves goal.  Lunn was only able to push the ball to the left of the goal which fell to the feet of Walton, With him driving the ball back across goal, Middlemiss delighted the crowed by hitting it into the net. But the crowed roar was short lived as he was also offside.

Woodward had also thought he had scored his second before the interval but had also been offside. Just after Darnell who had a great first half was beaten by Harrison but only to be denied by a smart save from Hewitson.

The half time whistle went with the score at 1-0 to the Spurs, with Wolves lucky not to be on the end of a bigger half time score.

The Second half kicked off the much the same way the first half did, much to the delight of the home crowed with Walton crossing the ball in from a great attack down the wing. Woodward showed his tastes for goals was not left in the dressing room and scored.

2-0 to the Spurs , this was almost made three nil by another attacking move with Lunn almost beaten by the head of Middlemiss. This then woke the Wolves up, Hedley put Radford through only for him to send the ball over the goal.

Another Mistake by Croquet almost cost Spurs again as he let Radford free to run at goal only for Morris to save his Spurs from conceding.

Tottenham continued to press and the wolves goal came under constant attack, MacFarlane had another chance only for the ball to miss the top corner, Woodward showed what skill he had on the ball run through two or three Wolves players and struck a clever shot that was just off target , this little move got a ovation from the crowd around him.

Although Lunn was having a great game and had kept Wolves as best he could in the game, it was only a matter of time before he was going to be beaten a third time and this was to come in the form of a thunderbolt from Morris. Being over thirty yards away he took aim and smacked the ball between the stretching arms of Lunn and under the crossbar, 3-nil to the Spurs.

Wolves tried there best to reduce the goal difference and almost did with Pedley striking the upright, but started to become frustrated with the flowing football of the Spurs. Tottenham could have had one or two more goals with Young Steel (R.) having a strong appal for a penalty being waved away after being pushed in the back as he went clear through on goal and MacFarlane also striking the crossbar and Walton missing from close range by sending the ball clear over.

With the match all but over with the Spurs leading 3-nil and dominating the match, Mr Howcroft called an end to Tottenham’s opening match and Spurs started the league with not only two points but a strong show of intention to the football League.

Full time Scores

Tottenham 3— Wolverhampton Wanders 0