Phil Beal has a footnote in Spurs history. He was the first of the modern youth team to climb through the ranks of the Trainees, Juniors and Reserves to claim a first team place. He made his first team debut at Villa Park on Monday 16th September 1963. Blanchflower was dropped because he could not cope with two games in three days at the age of 37. It was the first sign that the Double squad was about to break up.
Beal stayed with Spurs until being given a free by Terry Neill at the end of the 1974-75 season when there was a general clear out of the more experienced players. He had become one of the most versatile players in Spurs history, playing in at least eight different positions. No one who saw Beal will doubt that he was good enough to play for England had he been selected. His problem was that he was unfortunate enough to reach his peak at the same time as the legendary Bobby Moore.
Beal’s early experiences were at right back but he missed the 1967 Cup Final due to a broken arm, thus allowing Joe Kinnear to establish himself. But when Beal was fit again, he was groomed to play as a sweeper behind Mike England and was very successful in that role.
No one who witnessed Beal’s only goal for the club against Queen’s Park Rangers in January 1969 will forget it. He broke up a QPR attack on the edge of his own penalty area. He raced upfield, swapped passes with Jimmy Greaves and then cracked the ball into the QPR goal off the crossbar.
Beal played in the League Cup winning teams of 1971 and 1973, the UEFA Cup winners team of 1972 and the losing finals of the same competition in 1974. He was awarded a testimonial against Bayern Munich in December 1973 but it was alleged he lost money on the night as the outgoings exceeded the gate.
Beal wound down his career by playing for Brighton, Los Angeles Aztecs, Memphis Rogues and Crewe Alexandra, retiring for good at the end of the 1979-80 season.
There is little doubt that he would have won a hatful of international caps had it not been for Bobby Moore. Beal was probably a victim of his versatility as much as Stevie Perryman was.
Football League: 330 Apps (3 sub) 1 goal
FA Cup: 30 Apps, 0 goal
Football League Cup: 27 Apps, 0 goal
European Matches: 30 Apps
Other Matches: 62 Apps (1 sub)
Total: 479 Apps (4 sub) 1 goal
By Brian Judson.