Many of us, in addition to watching or playing football, have other interests. One of mine is that of the history of trolley buses, particularly those in the Greater London area and, more specifically, in those that travelled past the Spurs ground in the High Road. I have in my possession two books that cover the history of the trolleybus from its introduction in the Feltham area in 1931 until the last trolleybus ran in 1962. Both books are profusely illustrated with views of the different types of trolleybuses that ran for 30 years in London.
Two of these photographs concern the queues of trolleybuses outside the Spurs ground after the match played on October 16th 1948 against QPR, at Tottenham, when we were still in Division 2, which, incidentally, we won 1-0 thanks to an Eddie Baily goal. Both views were taken moments after the final whistle had gone and the 69,718 spectators were streaming from the ground. In one photograph, the camera is looking north to Snells Park. The trolleybuses are queueing up, as far as the camera can see, waiting to pick up passengers. The queues at the bus stops are very long for very few people owned a car in those days. Indeed, as I have pointed out elsewhere, only Ted Ditchburn of the 1951 Championship side owned a car. The rest either walked to the ground alongside the supporters walking in the same direction or they caught a trolleybus to the ground.
In the other photograph, the camera is looking at a factory called Crest Motor Products, which, if my memory serves me correctly, was the building now occupied by local government on the corner of Paxton Road. (Please bear in mind I have not been to Tottenham since April 1998 so am not aware of any changes that have occurred in my absence.) The supporters are streaming across the High Road, with hair styles that are only seen in grainy black and white films from that era. A striking (to those of you who have grown up with car ownership) omission from the scene is the almost total absence of cars. Today, the same scene would be one of total gridlock in both directions.
The crowd that day would have been happy as Spurs were playing well at the time. They had only lost two matches, away to Coventry City and away to West Ham United. But Spurs were dropping too many points, drawing games they should have won, something which ultimately cost them promotion and Joe Hulme his job. And yet the bulk of the side that was to run away with the championship the following season was already present. Vic Buckingham was in his last season as a player and would be replaced by Harry Clarke. Sid Tickridge was soon to give way to Alf Ramsey when he was signed during the following summer. Ernie Jones was swapped with Alf Ramsey in order to accommodate Les Medley, who had returned from Canada. And Freddie Cox was soon to leave for Arsenal, allowing ‘Sonny’ Walters to replace him. All it needed was the genius of Arthur Rowe…..
Many of you will have, like me, begun a lifetime of supporting Tottenham by standing on the Shelf, now alas just a memory as much as Liverpool’s Kop. I can remember going through the turnstiles as soon as they opened at 12.30pm in those days and scrambling across the terraces to the Shelf and grabbing a position by the fencing. Around 1pm, the Enfield Central Band would appear to entertain us until the match started at 3pm. The team never emerged before 2.55pm and they always ran out to the strains of McNamara’s Band, a tune I will always associate with some of my happiest moments. The cut and thrust of the game was accompanied by the crowd swaying as everyone jockeyed for position to obtain a better view of the proceedings. At half-time, there was no rush for a tea bar or the loo because if you left your position, you’d never get it back again. As the teams re-emerged for the second half, there would be guys working to put up the half-time scores against various letters of the alphabet which corresponded with a printed list of fixtures in the four-paged programme. The crowd politely applauded the departure of the Enfield Central Band as the game re-started. And at 4.40pm we all filed out of the ground, discussing the afternoon’s events and looking forward to buying the classified an hour or so later with reports and results of other matches.
Football was at its most popular in the ’40s and ’50s. There was an innocence present that was only to be shattered by the ending of the maximum wage in 1961 and the rise of the hooligan in the mid 1960s.
By Brian Judson.