The late Cyril Knowles in action for Tottenham Hotspur, at White Hart Lane, during their game against
Coventry City - won by Spurs 1-0.
(Part 1) 1964-69.
Cyril Knowles joined Spurs from Middlesbrough in May 1964 for a fee of
£45, 000. The full-back made his debut in August's 2-0 home win over
Sheffield United. The stylish 20 year old defender missed only 4 of
Spurs 46 league and cup games during that first season at the club. His
first taste of the North London derby came at White Hart Lane in
October, when Spurs defeated Arsenal 3-1. With his side finishing 6th in
Division 1, it was a solid start to the Yorkshire man's Spurs career.
The following season Knowles missed only a single game throughout the
whole campaign. His first goal for the club came in August in a 4-2 home
win over Leicester City. Two further goals came in January's two 2-2
home draws with Everton and Newcastle. Throughout the 1966-67 season
Cyril was an ever present as Spurs finished 3rd in the league and won
the F.A. Cup, courtesy of a 2-1 victory against London rivals Chelsea.
In December 1967 Knowles made his full England debut in a 2-2 draw with
the U.S.S.R. at Wembley. The following season saw Knowles ever present
again in the Tottenham defence, making 52 appearances as Spurs finished
7th in Division 1 and lost out to Olympique Lyonnais in the European Cup
Winners Cup 2nd round. Cyril won the remainder of his England caps in
1968 when appearing against Spain, Sweden and West Germany. Knowles
played 45 games for Spurs during 1968-69, as the Londoners reached the
League Cup semi-final and finished 6th in Division 1. Manager Bill
Nicholson described Cyril as having an 'educated' left foot and praised
his tough tackling defender for his style and composure. His willingness
to give his all for the cause and to attack at any opportunity made him
a genuine hero to adoring Spurs fans. As the sixties drew to a close,
there were skinheads on the terraces and Cyril Knowles was about to
become a cult hero. (Tony Smith).
Tottenham Hotspurs's Cyril Knowles is pictured on Saturday February 3rd 1973 during the game
with Derby County at The Baseball Ground. Photo George Herringshaw. ©
(Part 2) 1969 -1974.
Tottenham endured a very mediocre 1969-70 season, finishing 11th in the
league and going out of both cup's at the early stages. Thereafter the
early 1970's proved to be the most successful period of Cyril Knowles
Spurs career. The Londoners finished 3rd in Division 1 in 1970-71 and
won the League Cup, beating Aston Villa 2-0 in the Final at Wembley.
Although no longer an England international, Knowles appeared in 49 of
Spurs 54 competitive matches. He played 47 times for Spurs during the
following campaign, scoring twice in April's 4-3 home win over Leicester
in the league. Tottenham finished 6th in Division 1 and were beaten
League Cup semi-finalists but in the UEFA Cup they tasted success,
beating Wolves over two legs in the first ever all British European
final. In 1972-73 Knowles gained further silverware with Spurs and found
himself the subject of a chart topping hit.
Injury prevented the
Yorkshireman playing in seven league games, but he appeared in all of
his side's League Cup matches, culminating in the Londoners defeating
Norwich City 1-0 in the final. In a brave attempt at retaining the UEFA
Cup, Knowles played in all 10 of Spurs games, with Liverpool defeating
the holders in the semi-final on the away goals rule. In a 1973 ode to
Cyril Knowles, the Cockerel Chorus reached number 14 in the charts with
'Nice One Cyril'’ and it became a popular tune on the White Hart Lane
terraces. Bill Nicholson's side were by now beginning to fade and in
1973-74 could only manage 11th in Division 1. Although exits in the
opening round of both cups were largely over looked by another European
campaign, the writing was on the wall for many of the Spurs team.
Knowles had missed most of the season with injury and played in only 4
of Spurs UEFA Cup games. The ex-England international missed the latter
stages of the competition, where Spurs lost out in the final to
Feyenoord. It had been a poor season for Cyril Knowles and, sadly, there
was worse still to come. (Tony Smith).