Pat Jennings MBE
Goalkeeper 1964-1977 & 1983-1986
Goalkeeping consultant 1993-
Full name : – PATRICK ANTHONY JENNINGS
Born on 12th June 1945 in Newry, County Down, Northern Ireland.
Height : 1.88m (6′ 2″)
Weight : 87kg (13st 10lbs)
A legendary goalkeeper for club and country, Pat Jennings was a hugely likeable man and that perhaps bridged the awkwardness that might have been caused by him leaving Spurs to join Arsenal.
Jennings started playing football in the streets in Newry aged five or playing it on the only pitch available on a local recreation ground, as there were no football leagues, only organised Gaelic football leagues. Pat attended The Christian Brothers and St. Josephs schools in Newry and started his footballing career with his local team Newry Town. He also played midfield for County Down at Gaelic football (representing North Downs Schools) and enjoyed basketball at school, but this was not a problem for Pat, as both sports honed his handling skills. Playing in an under-18 street football league team at the age of 11, he went on to earn a place in Newry Town’s team and after leaving school in Newry, he worked as a tree-feller.
The keeper had played half a season with Newry Town before he was selected for Northern Ireland Youth team, in an international tournament in Bognor Regis in 1966. And it was there that he was spotted playing for his country, who reached the final – losing 0-4 to England – and although Coventry City were interested, Jennings signed for Watford – having been spotted by former Spurs captain Ron Burgess, then the Hornets’ manager. Other sources report that Bill McCracken, the former Newcastle defender, was the man who recommended Pat Jennings to Watford having seen him play in the competition. Pat played his part in the last two games of the season after the Hornets secured their place in the old Third Division and then was ever-present the following season as the team missed out on promotion by just one point.
Bill Nicholson was looking for a replacement for Bill Brown and watched Northern Ireland with Watford manager Bill McGarry, who persuaded the Tottenham boss to sign Jennings. The Irishman signed for Spurs from Watford after playing just 48 games for the Hornets. Spurs beat Sheffield United 2-0 on his debut at WHL against Sheffield United, but the following month lost 1-4 to Manchester United for which Jennings received a lot of flak for his performance. Then, just two days later against Blackpool, he played brilliantly in a 1-1 draw.
Pat’s development at Spurs perhaps came quicker than he might have imagined, but his size, confidence in dealing with the physical side of the game (honed in Gaelic football) and his magnificently large hands aiding his catching ability made him a formidable man for forwards to try and beat. Used to playing a different game to association football, Jennings used any part of his body to keep the ball out and Spurs were grateful for his presence on many an occasion.
But it was not only keeping them out that Pat could achieve. He scored for Spurs in the 1967 FA Charity Shield match against Manchester United at Old Trafford when he kicked the ball out from his hands and it bounced over Alex Stepney at the other end of the pitch into the goal !
In 1973, Pat was selected in goal for The Three as they faced the Six in a game to celebrate joining the European Common Market. It took place at Wembley on 3rd January 1973 with players chosen from Denmark, the Republic of Ireland and the UK pitted against a selection from Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy and Luxembourg, which ended in a 2-0 win for the Three.
When the UEFA Cup final of 1974 was lost to Feyenoord, it was virtually the end of Bill Nicholson’s reign at the club and the team he put together was breaking up.
Jennings’ ability in goal was equal to what George Best could do with a ball at his feet, but for both stars, playing for Northern Ireland was always going to be second best to what club football could offer. Pat regarded it as a great privilege to wear the Northern Ireland shirt, but his early success came with Spurs as they took the 1967 FA Cup with a win over Chelsea, then two League Cups in the early 1970s, sandwiching a UEFA Cup win against Wolves in 1972. However, unlike Best, he did get to play at the World Cup finals in what must have been a dream come true, especially in 1982, when they beat Spain on their own soil.
Having broken the Tottenham appearance record in August 1975, Jennings received MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List of the Summer of 1976 for services to football, but when Spurs were relegated from the top flight in 1977, the management looked at the squad and did not want Pat to play in the Second Division, feeling that he was coming to the end of his career and having Barry Daines in reserve to cover his position, so agreed to sell him, but when he joined Arsenal for a paltry sum, many Tottenham supporters were outraged. Not with Pat, but with the Board.
Up to that point, Pat had played a record 472 League matches, 43 FA Cup matches, 39 League Cup matches and 36 European matches – a total of 590. And scored his one goal !!
Pat Jennings played three times at the World Cup finals and all were as a Spurs player. After 20 years of playing in the competition, with his first appearance was in a qualifier against Switzerland, he finally got onto the big world stage in Spain in 1982 and then again in Mexico four years later. When he took his place between the sticks in Ireland’s opening game against Algeria in 1986, he became the oldest player to take part in the finals at that time at the age of 40. The match ended in a draw, but their next match, against Spain in Guadalaraja, saw them lose 1-2 before Pat was in goal again for the final group game – a 0-3 defeat by Brazil – on the day he was 41. While a disappointing end to a glittering career, it marked Jennings’ 119th cap, which was another world record at the time.
At Arsenal, he played in three FA Cup finals, winning one and losing two. Halfway through the 1984-1985 season, Big Pat had been replaced in goal and looked set to retire at the end of the season, but when Spurs offered him a return to the Lane to maintain his fitness for the 1986 World Cup Finals, he jumped at the chance. Although re-signed by Tottenham and having played in a ScreenSports Super Cup tie in April 1986, Spurs agreed to cancel his registration so that he could sign on loan for Everton and provide cover for reserve keeper Bobby Mimms and injured first choice Neville Southall, with a FA Cup semi-final approaching.
Pat returned to Spurs in 1993 at the behest of Ossie Ardiles to take up a position as a goalkeeping coach and worked part-time helping out with the goalkeepers at the club for a further 20 years.
Pat and his wife Eleanor (a former singer) also have three daughters – Siobhan, Ciara and Mairead – and one son – Patrick junior, who was also a goalkeeper, was with Spurs and Wimbledon as a youngster, going on to play professionally with UCD and Derry City (with whom he won the Eircom Cup), Sligo Rovers, Shamrock Rovers and Glenavon in the Irish Eircom League.
NICKNAME : –
|Watford||May 1963||£6,000||13th May 1963 v Queens Park Rangers (Third Division) (White City) drew 2-2||48||0|
|TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR||9th June 1964||£27,000||22nd August 1964 v Sheffield United (First Division) (Home) won 2-0||673 + 3 as a sub *||1|
* Includes one match which was abandoned
Tottenham Hotspur career
473* League appearances; 0 goals (*one match abandoned)
43 FA Cup appearances; 0 goals
39 League Cup appearances; 0 goals
36 European appearances; 0 goals
82 (3 as a sub) Other appearances; 1 goal
Northern Ireland international
119 full caps; 0 goals
Debut – v Wales 15th April 1964
Final cap – v Brazil 12th June1986
1 Under-21 cap; 0 goals
UEFA Cup Winners medal 1972 (THFC)
UEFA Cup Runners-Up medal 1974 (THFC)
European Cup Winners Cup Runners-Up medal 1980 (Arsenal)
FA Cup winners medal 1967 (THFC); 1979 (Arsenal)
FA Cup Runners-Up medal 1978, 1980 (Arsenal)
League Cup winners medal 1971, 1973 (THFC)
FA Charity Shield Winners medal 1967 (THFC)
FA Charity Shield Runners-up medal 1979 (Arsenal)
Football Writers Footballer of the Year 1973
PFA Footballer of the Year 1976
Played in the 1982 and 1986 World Cup Finals.
Represented The Rest of the UK, All-Star Ireland XI and The Three against The Six (European Common Market match) 3rd January 1973.
Spurs Supporters club Player of the Year 1972.
400th League appearance for Spurs (Derby County away 01.03.1975).
1,000th competitive match – West Bromwich Albion v Arsenal (First Division) Drew 0-0
700th League match – Watford v Arsenal (First Division) Lost 1-2
100th Northern Ireland cap – 21st September 1983 v Wales (Belfast) – First player to achieve 100 Northern Ireland caps
Pat & wife Eleanor live in Cheshunt with daughter Siobhan (4 months).
With wife Eleanor, 2 years old Siobhan and six-month old Ciara lived in Broxbourne.
Lived in Broxbourne.
Director of a contract furnishing company and a shop-fitting company both based at Hoddesdon.
Enjoys golf and plays off 12 on “a good day” and previously he said his handicap was “the clubs.”
Pat said his brother Brian (18) was the best footballer in the area at the time. He went on to be an amateur international and played for Irish champions Coleraine, including participation in the European Cup.
Pat played for Newry Town and was selected for Northern Ireland’s youth team to take part in an international tournament in Bognor Regis.
“I had never been to England and at first did not want to leave home, not even for the fortnight.”
Passed Ted Ditchburn’s record of appearances for the club in October with the match against Manchester City at the Lane.
His wife Eleanor had just given birth to their third daughter Mairead.
Lived in Broxbourne.
Ran a company – Pat Jennings Sports Co. Ltd. in Stanstead Abbotts.
Enjoys golf and gardening.
Spurs Supporters Club held a dance at the Chingford Assembly Rooms on 02.12.1976 as part of Pat Jennings’ Testimonial. Tickets were £1.00 each.
Most memorable part of Spurs career – Arriving at club as a new signing and winning the 1967 FA Cup Final.
Worst night of life – When Arsenal won the Championship at White Hart Lane in 1971.
Pre-match meal : Started with tea and toast, then fillet steak and finished with baked rice pudding.
What player of today would you have liked to play alongside : Cristiano Ronaldo; he’s got everything and his goals record speaks for itself. But every team has a special player you could select, for example, Steven Gerrard would grace any midfield.
Which player from your playing days would have been worth £30 million today : My international team-mate George Best (Manchester United), without doubt the best in the country at that time.
Favourite away ground : Anfield, I always got a great reception from all the Paddys in the crowd. And because I save two penalties from Tommy Smith and Kevin Keegan in one game in 1973.
Most memorable game : Our cup wins were great, but it would be Northern Ireland’s World Cup game v hosts Spin in 1982, when former Spurs striker Gerry Armstrong scored a great goal.
When were you at your best ? : For me when I was around 37/38, when I went six international games without conceding a goal. Five of them were away to Turkey, Spain, England, France and Romania.
Most difficult opponent ? : Everybody. I treated all opponents with the same respect in the knowledge that they had to be good to be playing at that level.
Hardest opponent ? : Joe Jordan loved to launch himself at goalkeepers, but I never had a problem with him having been brought up playing Gaelic football. I remember one Scottish forward – Alex Dawson – who was an old-fashioned centre forward, tried to stick his head on me in a Cup game with Preston in 1966. You knew you’d been in a game when you came up against him.
What was in your first pay packet ? : £23 at Watford, going up to £25 a week if I was in the team. I went straight into the first team for most of the 1963-64 season, but they kept me on the same wage. I left for Spurs at the end of that season.
How would your Spurs side do in the Premier League ? : Very well. If you look at the cup-winning sides of the 1960s and 1970s, they were skilful players. Maybe we would have to quicken up a bit. We all thought we trained really hard, so maybe it would be a question of modern training methods.
|Pat Jennings played for Rest of UK v Wales, in a specially arranged game for the Coronation of the Prince of Wales. Alan Mullery was on the same side, with Mike England playing for the Welsh.
|What they said about Pat Jennings|
.. … .. (-)
… after a performance at Leeds .. (Guardian)
“If Jennings had been available on that memorable occasion when the Romans met the Etruscans, Horatius surely would have had to be satisfied with a seat on the substitute’s bench.”
Pat Welton (Spurs coach) … about Pat’s effect at THFC … late 1970s (Marshall Cavendish Football handbook)
“Pat plays so much within himself and he is able to stretch himself when necessary. His influence on the younger players at Spurs was enormous. Even though he is now at Arsenal, you can still see what the young keepers here think about him – they all try to catch the ball one-handed like big Pat. But that’s something you can only do after years of experience … and if you have got hands like Pat Jennings.”
Steve Heighway (Liverpool winger) … on keeping out on of his shots ..
“Pat’s save left me wondering how he had got to the ball. I burst through with half a dozen Spurs players behind me and I had to shoot quickly. I really caught the shot just right and it was going over Pat’s right shoulder as he came out. I could hear the crowd behind the goal, stretching right up into the Kop, shouting “goal” – but there was the ball in Pat’s hands. It was amazing. One of the finest saves I‘ve seen in my life.”
|What Pat Jennings said about …
… returning to Spurs as goalkeeping consultant … 21.08.1993 (THFC programme)
“Spurs are my team – so I didn’t think twice.
Specialised coaching of this kind is crucial, to my mind, and I regret that it wasn’t available to me during my time as a a player. I worked with Bob Wilson towards the end of my time at Arsenal, but , apart for that, such coaching was rare.
Their (goalkeepers) response has been brilliant and that makes it all worth while. And working with the likes of big Erik Thorstvedt and Ian Walker really shows you how good they are.” “I know I’m biased, but, personally, I would have relished these sessions when I was a player because, sometimes in games, I hardly touched the ball six or seven times and then that happened again the following week. With a goalkeeping coach you get good, solid goalkeeping for anything up to five hours a week.I was delighted at the opportunity to return to Spurs and to be fair to Ossie, he also involved me when he was at Swindon Town. It would not have worked anywhere else, although I had offers because that would have meant me spending hours on a motorway and I wasn’t prepared to do that. Coming back here is a real labour of love.”
… his goal in the 1967 FA Charity Shield at Old Trafford … (“Pat Jennings – An Autobiography”)
“We had been awarded a free kick just outside our penalty area and I shouted for the ball to be played to me so that I could thump it upfield in the hope of reaching Alan Gilzean, who I had spotted in an on-side position about 25 yards from the United goal. I kicked; Alex (Stepney) advanced as the ball soared towards Gilzean so that he could win the race if Alan didn’t reach the ball or it bounced clear as he tried to control it. Instead, it dropped between them and in one bounce on the bone-hard surface went over the head of Alex and into the net.
Everything went quiet, especially at the Stretford End where the United fans could hardly believe their eyes. I was a bit dazed and thought “What happens now ?” I wasn’t sure if a goal would be awarded so didn’t give a clenched fist salute. Even the referee seemed to hesitate before deciding it must be a goal. Not one of the other Spurs players came rushing to congratulate me. Most of them just looked in my direction as if to say ‘lucky blighter’.”
… on losing 2-8 at Derby County in 1976 … (Pat Jennings An Autobiography)
“We lost 8-2 and I can still picture the scene in our dressing room at the end with Keith Burkinshaw clearly at a loss for words, sitting down with his head in his hands. If Keith took it badly, imagine how I felt. I had never been beaten eight times in a game and Spurs finished so demoralised it could have been ten or twelve.”
… on his double penalty save at Anfield on 31.03.1973 … (Pat Jennings An Autobiography)
“Anfield will forever have a special spot in my memories because I saved two penalty kicks in a 1-1 draw with Liverpool on Grand National Day, 1973. It was a morning kick-off, so that the fans have time either to go on to Aintree or to have a quick lunch-time drink before watching the big race on TV.
Although those saves earned a great deal of publicity, it has to be admitted that neither was exactly in the super class. Kevin Keegan and Tommy Smith, who took the kicks, must both have been annoyed they didn’t connect as cleanly as they intended. On each occasion, I simply picked the right direction to go and stopped both shots without a great deal of bother. I made four or five better saves that morning which gave me considerably more satisfaction.”
… working as a tree-feller in Newry … 18.10.1975 (THFC programme)
“I was happy enough as a member of a timber gang. It was a good healthy life. Times were hard and I was glad to have any sort of job.”
… playing Gaelic football as a youngster … 18.10.1975 (THFC programme)
“It meant a lot of catching and handling of the ball. It was just the right kind of groundwork for a goalkeeper.”
… his appearance record … 18.10.1975 (THFC programme)
“The club is so steeped in tradition, and has had so many great players, I find it all a little hard to believe and I don’t feel I have been here that long. It has been my good fortune to have played in such good teams for Spurs over the years. My only regret is that I have never won a League Championship medal. It’s quite something to put up a new League appearance record, but I hope one of our younger players will perhaps go on to exceed it some time in the future.”
… being spotted by Watford and in his first season in England, playing for the Rest of the UK against the England Youth team at Wembley … 18.10.1975 (THFC programme)
“I had a bad first half and was at fault with two goals. I pulled myself together and did well at the other end in the second half. As I came off at the end, a white coated dressing-room attendant, who had obviously watched the match from the remoteness of that long tunnel entrance, patted me on the back and said, ‘Well done, son – Good job they put you on at half-time – that goalkeeper in the first half was bloody awful !”
Other articles on Pat Jennings …
Books on Pat Jennings …
“An Autobiography” by Pat Jennings in association with Reg Drury.