The date on the calendar was March 16, 1936 when 17-year-old William Nicholson presented himself at White Hart Lane. He could never have imagined on that day that over the next sixty-eight years he would become the most important figure in the club's history.

In 1936 Nicholson was invited for a trial with Tottenham Hotspur. He recalls: "When the letter came no-one knew what to do. We weren't even sure exactly where Tottehnam was. My mother and father had never once seen me play football. They knew I was keen, but had no idea whether I was any good or not."

The letter which took Nicholson - one of nine children - from Scarborough to Tottenham was treasured by his mother for many years. Bill left his job looking after a washing machine in a laundry in Scarborough to try his luck at football. Spurs paid him 2 a week.

From that moment on, his life in football was devoted to Tottenham Hotspur.

He had a month's trial at White Hart Lane, and was taken on as a ground-staff boy. "We were cheap labour really," he said later, "I think I painted every single girder under those stands out there, eight to five we worked, every weekday. We trained two afternoons a week, including a lot of running around the pitch."

Nicholson signed as a full professional aged 18, on the same day as Ron Burgess. The two youngsters played a few odd games for the first team before 1939, but on the outbreak of war, Bill joined the Durham Light Infantry. Because he was a professional footballer, he was sent on a PE course and soon became a sergeant-instructor. He trained new intakes throughout the war, eventually ending up in Italy where he took over a rest camp from Stan Cullis.

He probably lost half his playing career to the war, but he doesn't regret it because he is convinced that his wartime experiences made what came afterwards possible. "It was invaluable. What I did for six years in the Army taught me how to handle people and how to talk to people," Bill recalled.

In 1946 Bill went straight into the Tottenham first team at centre half for two seasons. He then moved to right half and stayed there until Danny Blanchflower took over the position in 1954. As a solid, dependable, ball-winning, hard-tackling and robust half back, Bill was a vital part of Arthur Rowe's legendary "push and run" Tottenham team, which won the league championship in 1950-51.

He made his full international debut for England on 19 May 1951 against Portugal at Goodison Park, and made an immediate impression by scoring with his first touch of the ball after only 19 seconds. Sadly this was to be his only cap, due to injuries, the dominance of the outstanding Billy Wright and on many occasions putting club before country because in his words: "My duty is to get fit for Tottenham. Well, they pay my wages, don't they?"

With one eye on the end of his playing career, Bill took an FA coaching course and joined the coaching staff at Tottenham upon his retirement as a player. He soon rose through the ranks of the coaching staff to become first team coach in 1955.

At lunch-time on 11 October 1958, Nicholson was called to the Tottenham boardroom and appointed manager of the club in succession to Jimmy Anderson. That afternoon in the club's first game under Bill Nicholson's management, Tottenham Hotspur beat Everton 10-4 at White Hart Lane.

Only two seasons later, Bill Nicholson wrote the name Tottenham Hotspur into the history books when he led the team to the first league and FA Cup double of the modern era. Tottenham quite simply decimated all opposition in that season, winning their first eleven games and scoring an incredible 115 goals in 42 games.

The following season Tottenham retained the FA Cup and narrowly missed out on a place in the European Cup Final, falling to Benfica in the semi-final. Then in 1962-63, Nicholson again put Tottenham Hotspur in the history books when they became the first British club to win a major European trophy. On 15 May 1963 in Rotterdam, Tottenham destroyed favourites Atletico Madrid 5-1 to win the European Cup Winners Cup.

In 1967 Nicholson took Tottenham back to Wembley, where they won their third FA Cup in seven years by beating Chelsea in the first-ever all-London final. This was followed by a flurry of trophies in the early 1970's. The League Cup was won in 1970-71 and 1972-73.

In between those two League Cup victories, Nicholson wrote Tottenham's name in the history books yet again. Tottenham beat Wolverhampton Wanderers in the UEFA Cup Final, making them the first British club to win two European trophies.

With dramatic changes to the game as a whole taking place during the early to mid-1970's - in particular negative tactics, player power and general attitudes - Bill felt he could no longer tolerate being in an industry which was in contrast to his upbringing and personality. He resigned as Tottenham manager in September 1974, and a parting of the ways took place between the club and Bill, which was unfortunate. A brief sojourn followed, as Bill spent a year assisting West Ham United.

However, when Bill's successor Terry Neill was replaced by Keith Burkinshaw in 1976, one of the new manager's first requests was that Bill be brought back to White Hart Lane as a consultant. Bill's knowledge and experience were invaluable, and he showed that he still had an eye for players by recommending several to Burkinshaw, including Graham Roberts, Tony Galvin and a young Gary Mabbutt.

Bill continued to work as a consultant until 1991, when he was awarded the title of Club President. This was the perfect title for Bill, and his position as the club's figurehead could not have been more appropriate.

Mr Nicholson continued to attend every match that his beloved Tottenham Hotspur played at White Hart Lane until shortly before he passed away on 23rd October 2004, aged 85.

He will be sorely missed by everyone associated with the club.



This biography was compiled from various sources, but mainly the
club's official history. Thanks to Mark Jacob for his assistance.