Which Hotspur club came first?

As it it Christmas and I am away from home, being kindly entertained by others, it ill behoves me to wander off like Isaac Newton in the middle of a dinner party to work on the latest episode of this blog.  (Newton was famed for doing just this – although the records don’t indicate any particular interest in football – and had the virtue that he could at least report back later that he had just spent the last half hour polishing off a bottle of claret and inventing calculus.  I fear I might attempt the former but certainly not the latter.)

But I do wish to bring to your attention a communication sent to this site by Pete Smith, concerning a debate we have been having about the two Hotspurs – the original club, and the young upstarts that became the team who won the league 50 years ago.

Of course this is an Arsenal site, but as Tottenham has made it their business to criticise all we do in and around north London, I felt this detailed analysis of this particular point was worthy of broader attention than it would get if I just left it in the correspondence columns.

Here’s Pete’s letter in full…

– – – – –

Hi Tony

Following a debate on a well known football forum, where several Spurs fans refused to admit that there was another Hotspur club that pre dated THFC. I decided to do some research.

I contacted the author at Historical Kits to ask where he had got his information from about ‘Hotspur FC’, he replied that the information had been supplied by the official THFC historian Andy Porter.

I emailed Andy Porter to ask for more details about Hotspur FC and he kindly gave me the following information:


The 1921 Weekly Herald history of THFC – also known as “A Romance of Football” – mentions on page 8 that:

“the Hotspur had to change their name to Tottenham Hotspur owing to the existence of another club called the London Hotspur. Mr. Sam Casey found that he often received letters intended for the London Hotspur, while letters for the Tottenham club went to the other organisation.”

The addition of Tottenham to the Hotspur FC club name was adopted at the second annual general meeting of members, held on April 2, 1884.

(See http://www.spurshistory.com for an online copy of the 1921 history.)

In fact, there was no London Hotspur club, the other club was also known as Hotspur FC, the name adopted during 1882 by the schoolboy founders of THFC, from the Hotspur Cricket Club (founded 1880).

According to Mike Collett’s book “The Complete Record of the FA Cup” (Sportsbooks, 2003), Hotspur FC were formed during 1878.

They entered the FA Cup for eight seasons between 1879-80 and 1887-88, reaching the fourth round (last 16) during 1881-82.

A THFC correspondent whose great-grandfather played for the other Hotspur FC provided copies of his membership cards for seasons 1886-87 and 1887-88. These confirm that by September, 1886 the other Hotspur FC were playing their home matches on a ground at Merton, Wimbledon, Surrey, adjoining Merton Hall Farm, near the “Leather Bottle”. Dressing room was on the ground, about a quarter of an hour’s walk from Wimbledon Station (L. & S. W. Ry.). Club colours were listed as Dark Blue Shirt, with White Maltese Cross on the left breast; White Knickers and Dark Blue Stockings. Their Hon. Secretary, a Mr. W. H. Harding, was based at 150, New North Road, Islington, N.

Their fixture list for 1886-87 has matches scheduled for their first, ‘B’ and ‘C’ teams, including a visit to Tottenham where their ‘B’ team (reserves) faced Irmac on October 16. Between December 27 and 30 they played at Burnley, Derby County and Sheffield Wednesday. Their ‘B’ team was due to play at Tottenham Hotspur on February 26, 1887.

Only two teams, first and ‘B’, were run by Hotspur FC during 1887-88. All of their matches were within London and the south east.

The other Hotspur FC are believed to have folded by the mid 1890’s.

Prepared by Andy Porter. 23.12.2010.”


This information is also partly replicated on the official THFC website here: http://www.tottenhamhotspur.com/history/history_yearbyyear.html

I hope that this information proves to be useful for this website and for those who want to know the truth about the origins of THFC.

Pete Smith

7 Replies to “Which Hotspur club came first?”

  1. Hi Tony

    Thanks for posting the letter. The debate with the Spurs fans that I’m having still rumbles on. One of them, in an attempt to claim that Hotspur FC took their name from The Hotspur Cricket club (which became THFC) and thereby lay original claim to the name Hotspur has also been proved wrong.

    The Hotspur cricket club formed in 1880 according to the official THFC website.

    “The schoolboys who first created Hotspur Cricket Club in 1880, from which the football club came two years later, no doubt looked upon this character as their hero and named the club after him.”

    This was two years after the formation of the original Hotspur FC in 1878. Indeed Hotspur FC were already playing in the FA Cup before the Hotspur Cricket club had even been formed.

    “According to Mike Collett’s book “The Complete Record of the FA Cup” (Sportsbooks, 2003), Hotspur FC were formed during 1878.
    They entered the FA Cup for eight seasons between 1879-80 and 1887-88, reaching the fourth round (last 16) during 1881-82.”

    So, it seems whatever way they want to look at it. Tottenham Hotspur do not have a legitimate original claim to the name Hotspur.

    I have also suggested that if they were to migrate to Stratford, the name Tottenham also would no longer be authentic. So to be original and authentic they may have to change their name entirely. Naturally they were not impressed with my suggestion 😉

  2. Pete, although the last game against Tottenham is not something to be remembered, there was a terrific new chant, which I trust won’t be lost:

    North London is ours
    North London is ours
    Fuck off to Stratford
    North London is ours

    Childish I know, and unbecoming for a man of certain years with various letters after his name, but it really amused me. The irony of it being Tottenham that is thinking of just getting up and moving with far less justification than Woolwich Arsenal had. For WAFC the population was in decline and there was nothing to be done at the Manor Ground. For Tottenham there is the alternative of staying at the same ground. And I worked it out the other day – the distance between the Lane and Stratford is only three or four miles less than Woolwich to Highbury.

  3. Hi Tony,

    based on your experience on football, do you think that T*ttenham Hotspurs can really go to Stratford? Or are they going to listen the fans and don’t go?

    In my opinion, they must go away forever, disappear from Earth, go to moon, maybe. But well, just as some Arsenal fans didn’t want to build the Ashburton Grove Stadium and prefered to stay at Highbury, now the Spurs can stay and do something our club didn’t do: listen to the fans.

    So, what’s your opinion?

  4. Hendrix, I can’t accept that Arsenal didn’t listen to the fans. There was extensive consultation, including with Arsenal Independent supporters Association, which was very much involved. And as you may know, David Dein was the director who led the campaign not to move to the Ems but instead to move to Wembley. Part of the issue was the finance – the Emirates earns more than twice as much per match as Highbury, not just because of the extra numbers but also because of the boxes. The boxes at Highbury not only were of limited scope, they were also limited in number and the entrance was hardly impressive. Club Level at the Ems is infinitely superior, and there was no similarity at Highbury – just the boxes.

    So the issue was, do you want to stay at the old stadium, or move just across the road. And the background was, 22,000 more places per game, more than twice the income, proper catering s you could get a meal if you want one before the game, and infinitely more comfort. And all done in a way that meant that during the mortgage payment period the club still earned far more than at Highbury. Very few fans said no – and certainly no one on the 10 year waiting list for season tickets said no.

    Tottenham is utterly different. They need to move as Arsenal did, because the ground is an adaptation of an early 20th century stadium, and so does not make the most of the facilities. But the issue of staying or moving is different. If Tottenham stay then they have to rebuild on the site – which means two seasons of very reduced crowds while the rebuilding goes on. What’s more the transport around the ground is dreadful – exactly the opposite of Arsenal where there are 3 working underground stations and an overground station within minutes. Tottenham has one overground station, and no underground. And the proposed hotel complex looks dodgy given the neighbourhood. So I suspect that Stratford is the preferred option for them.

  5. Hi Tony,

    thank you for your views, I really appreciate read all you all say here in the blog, and I’ll always try not to commit so much English mistakes, ok? Forgive me my mistakes!

    So … I am the one who prefers the good old football. That’s my own opinion, and well, I never liked the idea of a new stadium. Other day, a friend of mine said “Mate, you took HIGHBURY and put it down! WTF?? Where’s tradition now? The Home of Football?” … and I had to agree. Some say I’m radical, but I don’t think so.

    I didn’t know the work of AISA when this consultation was running, sorry. What exactly did AISA do? And after consulting the fans, what changed in the club’s idea?

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