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.
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.
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
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
English Football National Archive.
Spurs by Julian Holland.
Spurs – A complete record by Bob Goodwin.
Jimmy Greaves by Jimmy Greaves.
‘My Eyes Have Seen the Glory’ – Spurs website.