First featured in MEHSTG Vol.2 Issue 18 – January 2001
Recent Premiership games and reserve games have shown Spurs lacking in general wing play and a preference for the tap-tap of passing down the middle. In general, weaving without using the wings to build attacks. The sale of Ginola and Dominguez has emphasised how much Graham prefers to play without the flair wide-men.
Bill Nicholson signed Alfie Conn from Glasgow Rangers in the summer of 1974 for £150,000 and he became Bill’s last signing for Spurs, but what a player Alfie was. It was during the last seven games of the 1974-75 season that Alfie became the king of White Hart Lane to help steer Spurs away from relegation to finish in 19th place. With long hair and a brilliant dribble, Alfie was a fantastic sight in full flow, as he beat defender after defender to excite the crowd and to lay on chances from down the flanks. He managed to weave his tricks all over the field, but drove Bill mad when he went across the park rather than directly towards the goal !
Spurs were in desperate trouble during that season, but Alfie managed to keep the crowd enthralled by his brilliant skills and flair. He scored a sensational goal as Spurs beat Wolves 3-0 at the Lane and was absolutely brilliant throughout the game, leaving Spurs just six games to go to stay up. A 1-0 away win at QPR was followed by a 2-1 home win over Luton. When Spurs went on to lose 2-3 at Burnley, things looked bad. However, Alfie lifted Spurs to great heights in the next game at home to Chelsea when 50,998 watched the game. Chelsea had both the Wilkins brothers in their team, with a young Ray Wilkins as captain. His brother, Graham was sent off and Spurs survived the pressure well to win 2-0 with Alfie Conn again brilliant in his dribbling and shooting and creating chances for the others from the wing.
Now there were just two games to go. A 0-1 reverse at Highbury against Arsenal left Tottenham having to win the last game of the season to stay up. It was at home to Leeds on Monday 28th April and Leeds had a European final to play later that week. Spurs were absolutely brilliant that night and Alfie’s skills inspired Spurs to a 4-2 win and he bagged one of the goals. The others were scored by Cyril Knowles (2) and Martin Chivers.
It had been a breath-taking end to the season and Alfie had been in inspiring form as Spurs stayed up. Conn had made 17 League starts in the season and scored six goals. The next season Alfie suffered an injury and made just eight appearances in the starting line-up as Spurs finished 9th. His final season for Spurs was in 1976-7, when he made just 13 appearances.
So Alfie Conn made a lasting impression for Tottenham with just 38 appearances in the League. He had great dribbling skills, a brilliant box of tricks with which to beat defenders and a terrific shot. Alfie was a big game player who did not hide in the games when he had to perform. By his skill, he took several defenders away from marking fellow teammates who were able to benefit. He was a creative ball artist and a real Spurs type of player, who lifted the crowd by his presence alone and was always exciting to watch. I feel so privileged having seen him play. It is not possible to truly convey his brilliance, he was that good. Thank you Bill Nick for signing him.
Where would Alfie be now if he was a Spurs player in the current generation? He would probably be sold, as I can’t see GG being able to manage or cope with his individual skills and wide play. Alfie would probably go the same way as Daveed or Jose. Mind you, he was a Scot like GG, so they had something in common!
Oh for great wide-play or great skill … back to tap, tap … tap, tap.