Between 1961 and 1963, Bill Nicholson’s Tottenham Hotspur team took football to new levels. The team won modern football’s first domestic Double in 1961. The following year they won the FA Cup again, finished second in the league, and reached the semi-final of the European Cup – further than any British side had been before. In 1963, exactly 50 years ago today, Spurs became the first British side to win a European trophy, beating Atletico Madrid to lift the European Cup-Winners Cup.
The bare facts are impressive enough. But what made this team stand out was not what was achieved, but the way it was achieved. To win the Double, 11 straight wins from the opening day of the season and over 100 goals scored by the end. The football played was sublime, taking the game to a new level. The European Cup semi-final against the Benfica of Bela Guttmann and Eusebio is still described as one of the best matches ever played. And the thrashing of highly-fancied Atletico Madrid in 1963 announced the arrival of British clubs as a force in Europe.
Much has been written about that team, and many memories rekindled in the last two years since the 50th anniversary of the Double. And yet… Continue reading