From Brownhills to Tottenham

Back in May, 2013, Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler turned up the intriguing story of Cecil Poynton, a footballer of some note from Brownhills. At the time, we could find little about the chap, and it seemed that in the annals of local sporting history, Cecil was somewhat overshadowed by the seemingly more well-know Dickie Dorsett, whose career has been covered here previously.

Fast forward to a week or two ago, and Clayhanger man Terry Harrison emailed me to ask if I was still interested in anything relating to Cecil Poynton. Of course, I bit Terry’s hand off – no story is ever closed here on the Brownhills Blog, and I welcome all contributions. Terry kindly obliged.

I had no idea what to expect, but what arrived was stunning – a full, beautifully researched and sourced article all about this footballer’s life and times, so complete it could (and probably should) replace the stub in Wikipedia about Cecil.

Are there any Wikipedians watching who can help there?

My thanks to Terry for a wonderful thing indeed. I really am quite, quite speechless about this. If there’s anything else you’d like to contribute, Terry you’d be most welcome.

Cheers.

Image64

Trainer Cecil Poynton (left) with Manager Bill Nicholson – the men behind the Spurs double winning team of 1960-61. Image supplied by Terry Harrison.

Cecil  Poynton: A history

Born:     10th August 1901               Brownhills, Staffordshire

Died:     12th January 1983              Tottenham, London

The son of Mr A. Poynton of Chester Road (High Street), Brownhills, he began his football career with Brownhills Town. Somehow he progressed to Ton Pentre FC in the Rhondda Valley of South Wales. The club were members of the Southern League when he played for them and he was a member of the Ton Pentre team defeated 2-0 by Cardiff City in the Final of the Welsh Cup 1921-22.

Before the start of the 1922-23 season he was signed by the Tottenham Hotspur manager, Peter McWilliam. He, however, did not make his first-team debut until the following season when he deputised for the England international left-half, Arthur Grimsdell, in the Division 1 fixture at home to Birmingham on 29th December 1923 (1-1 draw).

Originally a wing-half, Spurs turned him into a full-back and he was a regular in the 1924-25 season. He won recognition from the Football Association; firstly he was selected to play for the Professionals v. the Amateurs in the 1925 FA Charity Shield match. They then selected him for the tour to Australia as part of the FA squad during the summer of 1925. Unfortunately he picked up an injury that kept him out of the Spurs team for the 1925-26 season and plagued him throughout the rest of his career. He did regain his place for the 1926-27 season, playing 31 games as Spurs finished 13th in Division One.

In 1927-28 Spurs were relegated to Division 2 and struggled to mount a challenge for promotion over the next few seasons. In November 1929 he was made captain of the team but his appearances for the first team were sporadic. In fact when Spurs finished second in Division 2 in 1932-33 and therefore gained promotion, he only made four appearances. He was then made player-coach of the Reserve team in 1933-34. At the start of the 1934-35 season he became player-manager of Ramsgate Town. Sometime later he severed his connection with football and was employed as an electrician by the North Metropolitan Electric Company.

thfc1934_35

Cecil Poynton is third from left, back row in this Spurs team lineup from the 1934-35 season. Image from ‘My Eyes Have Seen The Glory’ football history site.

However, the call of football proved too strong and he became a scout for Spurs. He studied physiotherapy and general fitness training, and at the end of World War II he was appointed assistant-trainer at White Hart Lane. Promotion to chief trainer followed in January 1947, and his expertise received official recognition when he was appointed trainer to the England team which played Italy on the Spurs ground in 1949. He continued as club trainer until 1972 and as team physio until 1975.

He died at St Ann’s General Hospital, Tottenham on 12th January 1983.

He also holds one record for Spurs which was highlighted by a story told by former England, Chelsea, AC Milan, Spurs and West Ham legend, Jimmy Greaves :-

One night in 1963 I was playing in the away semi-final of the European Cup-Winners Cup against OFK Belgrade when I was sent-off. I returned to the dressing-room, where trainer, Cecil Poynton, was cleaning up after half-time.

 ‘What are you doing here?’ he said.

 ‘I’ve been sent-off’ I replied.

 ‘That’s a disgrace. We haven’t had a player sent-off since 1928”’said Cecil.

 ‘And who was that?’ I asked.

 ‘Me’ came the reply.

He received his marching orders on the 17th April 1928 in the away game v. Stoke City to become the first Tottenham Hotspur player to be sent-off.

Senior playing career                      – all for Tottenham Hotspur.

League                                 FA Cup

Season                                 League / Position             apps      goals                      apps      goals

1923-24                                Division 1 / 15th                  10           1                              0              0

1924-25                                Division 1 / 12th                  24           0                              1              0

1925-26

1926-27                                Division 1 / 13th                  31           0                              1              0

1927-28                                Division 1 / 21st                  14           0                              0              0

1928-29                                Division 2 / 10th                  22          1                              1              0

1929-30                                Division 2 / 12th                  15            1                             0              0

1930-31                                Division 2 / 3rd                      5            0                            0              0

1931-32                                Division 2 / 8th                     25           0                            2              0

1932-33                                Division 2 / 2nd                    4            0                              1              0

Sources:

Walsall Observer.

English Football National Archive.

Spurs by Julian Holland.

Spurs – A complete record  by Bob Goodwin.

World Sports.

Jimmy Greaves by Jimmy Greaves.

‘My Eyes Have Seen the Glory’ – Spurs website.

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9 Responses to From Brownhills to Tottenham

  1. Andy Dennis says:

    Great stuff, Terry!
    According to the 1911 census, Cecil’s parents were Alick, a coal miner, Emma (nee Heath), who had been married for 19 years. They lived at Catshill with Emma’s mother, a short distance from Ogley Road, going towards the canal. Cecil, at school, was the youngest of four surviving children (there had been six in all).

  2. Pedro says:

    Great to get a more detailed account of Cecil’s life.

    As he spent most of his life away from his roots it makes his donation of the Ashes ball to Ogley Hay school even more special.

    What a shame that no one knows what happened to the ball!

  3. Clive says:

    Great work on a local lad. Thank you.

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  5. Clive says:

    Found this in the Lichfield Mercury, date 27 March 1925; FOOTBALLER HONOURED. Cecil Pointon, son of Mr Alec Pointon, of Chester Road, Brownhills, who plated with Tottenham Hotspur, has been selected by the Football Association as one of the players to go with the team to Australia. Pointon before signing for the above named Club, used to play with Brownhills Town FC.

  6. Clive says:

    plated should be played, the keys on this keyboard keep moving around!

  7. Pingback: Ninety years, a true Brownhills sportsman | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  8. Charles Poyser says:

    During the war i lived with Cecils brother Frank Poynton, at their shop at 21 High Street Brownhills. Frank I remebre was a miner and referee and his wife Ethel was the kindest woman I ever met. I also met Cecil when visiting White Hart Lane some time after the war. He was not very welcoming but did show us around the dressing rooms.

  9. jonahthemonaTrev Jones says:

    Hi, I just came across your article. My Grandad played with Cecil in the Ton Pentre Team and there is a great photograph of that team on Ton Pentre’s website. When I was a lad I my uncle played for Spurs, Cliff Jones and I recall going to St Andrews one Saturday and my grandad running off to meet the trainer who was wearing a white coat and dragging a big picnic style basket onto the sideline. I never found out until years later that the guy was Cecil Poynton and my grandad obviously wanted to reminisce with him and their playing days together back in Ton Pentre.

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