Football has always had its fair share of run-ins with the law – just ask Terry Dyson. He was some striker was Terry – he’s still the last Tottenham player to score a hat-trick against the Arsenal – but things didn’t always go quite as well for him when it came to matters off the field. Terry was involved in the biggest football-related court case of my era when he was hauled up for receiving a batch of stolen Rothmans. Apparently, he’d got a couple of thousand from someone on the cheap, they got nicked and Terry was in the frame as well.
We went to Liverpool after he’d been done and there we were, me and Terry, knocking the ball into Bill Brown as part of our warm-up. All of a sudden the whole Kop – around 20,000 people – erupted into a chorus of, ‘Ee-aye-addio, Dyson nicked the ciggies’. I don’t know how they start these things, but it went all the way round Anfield. It was magnificent to experience and everyone was laughing, even Terry. “Hark at those b*******, Jim,” he said. “Well, you did nick ’em,” I replied and he countered, “No, I just received them.”
Harry Redknapp will know that, despite the outcome of his case, he’s going to get some stick at away matches as well. But the one thing he has got is a great sense of humour and laughing off the chants is the only way he’ll really be able to deal with it. I have to tell you that offshore accounts weren’t really something you heard mentioned back in my day – not unless you banked at Barclays on Canvey Island, anyway.
Alfie Stokes, who played for Tottenham in the late 50s and early 60s, was another one who had found himself in a bit of bother with the beak. In his case, it was for the bus pulled away, the conductor would start collecting fares and the lads would jump off just before he got to them. It was a great trick and, being athletic, they could do it.
But Alf wasn’t quite so nimble this one day. He got caught and was hauled up before the magistrate. Bill Nicholson said to him: “Alfie, whatever you do, keep a low profile. We do not want any publicity out of this.” “Okay, guv’,” came the reply, yet he then turned up at court in his club blazer and tie – and you can imagine dear old Bill’s response to that. But they were all petty crimes, quite innocent, really.
When I was at Chelsea, I remember going round to Peter Sillett’s house one night because we were going to present some award and then have a couple of pints afterwards. I’m waiting while Pete and his wife are bathing the three kids and, suddenly, there’s a knock on the door. He opens it and it’s the gaffer, Ted Drake. In walks Ted and Pete’s gone, “For f***’s sake.” All the kids were being dried in Chelsea club towels. But it wasn’t just the players or managers back then, either.
I remember at one club during the monthly board meeting, the groundsman would sneak up to the chairman’s motor, pop the boot and drop in a couple of bottles of scotch that had come from the club’s stash. Even the chairman was on the take. We had a band of followers at Tottenham and we all knew a lot of them were villains and petty criminals. They’d always be saying, “I’ve got a few washing machines, do you want one?” You’d ask what sort and they’d say, “Well, what sort do you want? I’ll get you one.”
I never did hear of any of the lads joining the police or becoming a judge once they’d hung up their boots. Although I did always used to chuckle at the fact that Alan Gilzean’s wife was a policewoman. It was the most unlikely combination and I’ve no idea how it ever worked. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, they always say. Perhaps that was what Gilly was thinking.
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