Football has become a year round sport, with the top players having very little time to rest.
The same is true of cricket. International cricket players have a hectic schedule, with tests taking place throughout the year, across the world. A traditional game that started on village greens has become big business in the professional age, with a global audience watching every ball on TV and sites like cricketbetting.biz offering gambling opportunities.
Yet once cricket and football were sports that co-existed in harmony. Football was played from autumn to winter and then cricket took over for the summer.
Such a neat schedule meant that it was not unusual for sportsmen to play both cricket and football at a high level. An exclusive group of twelve men played both test cricket for England and represented the nation at football too.
No player from Spurs achieved such an honour, but the club does have a history of playing cricket. In the fifties, Eddie Bailey and teammates formed the Tottenham Hotspur Cricket Club.
Bailey was captain of the cricket team and a pretty decent footballer too. Part of the side that won the league in 1951, Bailey was capped by England and after his playing days were over, became Bill Nicholson’s assistant manager, serving the club in that capacity between 1963 and 1974.
As a cricketer, Bailey played for Essex’s second XI before concentrating on football. Bailey skippered a Tottenham cricket team that included Nicholson, along with other Spurs stars such as Len Duquemin, Arthur Willis, Ralph Wetton, Chris Adams, Les Dicker, Len Garwood, Johnny Gibbons, Tommy Harmer, Charlie Withers, Harry Clarke, Ron Reynolds, Harry Robshaw, Billy Rawlings, Sid McClellan, Johnnie Hills, Doug Spivey, ‘Tex’ Henty, Dennis Uphill and Ken Flint.
The cricket team continued throughout the fifties. By 1959 Johnnie Hills was captain and the squad included the likes of Dave Dunmore, Bobby Smith, Terry Dyson, Tony Marchi, Terry Medwin, Peter Baker, Johnny Hollowbread, Johnny Brooks, Maurice Norman and Mel Hopkins.
In 1973 there was a North London derby played on a cricket pitch at Finsbury Park. The Arsenal manager Bertie Mee and Nicholson were the umpires. Arsenal set a target of 178, with Spurs failing to match it, as they scored 160. Cyril Knowles was Tottenham’s top scorer with 45, with John Pratt, Ray Evans, Martin Peters, Martin Chivers, Mike Dillon, Jimmy Neighbour and Pat Jennings also appearing.
If Tottenham were to play Arsenal at cricket these days, we imagine that they would be heavy favourites with betting sites such as oddsgurus.in, due to the lack of players from cricket playing nations in the Gunners camp. Sadly, the modern realities of the football world, mean that the carefree days of Spurs players spending their summers playing cricket together are now long gone.