Tottenham’s Greatest Goalkeepers
He’s the last line of defence: the man who comes to save the team when the outfield defence has let everyone down. We’re talking, of course, about the goalkeeper. His job, ironically, is to go under the radar so perhaps the best stoppers are the ones that we hardly notice.
At Spurs, we’ve had to endure a few comedy keepers at times – step forward Bobby Mimms and Heurelho Gomes. At the same time, we’ve also seen some of the best number ones in the game stand between the posts at White Hart Lane. Here, then, is our list of the best Spurs keepers of all time and you’ll have to forgive us we will need to go a long way back in time to cover some of these names.
As far as this author is concerned, there will only ever be one number one. Pat Jennings was present at my first game in 1972 and was essentially a permanent fixture until leaving the club five years later. Blessed with giant hands, big Pat was a colossus who would combine solid, dependable keeping with the ability to produce spectacular saves on the rare occasions when opposing players caught him out of position.
Having joined the club from Watford in 1964, Pat would stay at the club for 13 years and would win four domestic trophies in that time. He was part of the team that won the FA Cup in 1967 and he would go on to add two League Cups and a UEFA Cup to that list. He was essentially an ever present and first choice from the word go and it still mystifies us that the Northern Irishman left to join Arsenal in 1977.
Pat would give the Gunners eight years of solid service that could have been spent at White Hart Lane. Happily, he would at least come back to Spurs as he prepared for the 1986 World Cup. While there may be other contenders, Pat Jennings’ credentials as the best Tottenham keeper of all time will be hard to beat.
Pat Jennings had come to Tottenham as the great Bill Brown was preparing to say goodbye. Part of the double winning side of 1961/62, Brown had been signed by Bill Nicholson from Dundee in 1959. He would go on to make 222 senior appearances and claim four major honours in that time.
Brown was Billy Nick’s rock at the back of a defence that was marshalled by the likes of Dave Mackay and Ron Henry. As such, the Scottish international would say that his defence made it easy for him but that was never the case. Jennings then arrived, initially as back up to Brown, in 1964 but would quickly make the number one position his own.
Bill Brown stayed at the club until 1966 but injuries had blighted his last two seasons at White Hart Lane. However, as a man who missed just one game in the entire double winning campaign of 1961/62, his status as a club legend is undoubtedly assured.
We keep the link in the chain going now with our third inductee. While Pat Jennings was brought in to replace Bill Brown, Brown was, in turn, the replacement for Ted Ditchburn. Arriving at Tottenham from non-league Northfleet United in 1939, Ditchburn’s early Spurs career was, therefore, interrupted by the second World War.
On returning to the club after the conflict, the keeper would make the number one position his own and would become an integral part of Arthur Rowe’s push and run team that would be the precursors to Bill Nicholson’s double winning side.
Ditchburn would remain at the club until 1958 and by that time he had played 418 matches for Spurs. A phenomenal record for someone who was, by all accounts, one of the best goalkeepers ever to stand between the White Hart Lane posts.
A number of readers may well disagree with this assessment but it’s actually been quite tough to find an adequate entry post-Pat Jennings. Who should we put in – Barry Daines, Mark Kendall, Ian Walker or does Tony Parks deserve a mention just for one penalty save?
Ray Clemence arrived at the Lane from Liverpool in what seemed like a surprising move at the time. Between himself and Peter Shilton, Ray was sharing the England number one duties and he would have certainly done a job at Anfield had he been retained.
He was 33 at the time so perhaps Liverpool felt his time was up but Clemence stayed at White Hart Lane for a full seven years. While he was prone to the odd error, Ray brought calm out of the goalkeeping chaos of the late 70s and early 80s and that’s why we think he fully deserves his place on this list.
There’s definitely going to be some groans at this point: We know that Hugo has been error prone since arriving at the club from Lyon in 2012 and the most recent campaign has been particularly shaky. He’s been responsible for the concession of a number of points in 2018/19 but has also been Spurs’ saviour on far more occasions.
Like Ray Clemence, Hugo has brought some calm to the number one position following a long period of uncertainty between the sticks. Spectacular saves are his forte although his play out from the back leads to heart in the mouth time.
If he were to leave in the summer would we still include Hugo Lloris on this list? Maybe not and we were in two minds about his inclusion but it just so happened that his penalty save at the Emirates has just popped up on our Twitter timeline…